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Tata Manza

posted 2 Dec 2011, 06:44 by olnf Admin   [ updated 11 Feb 2012, 03:18 ]
Author: Gikesh Nair

Likes:

  • A proper sedan, offering good space on the inside.
  • Ride and handling worth mentioning. This is the best handling car in the Tata group.
  • Good driveability and an excellent highway car.
  • Acceptable levels of refinement and quality, a huge improvement from its previous avatar.
  • Good seats with excellent lower back support.


Dislikes:

  • Quality could improve in certain areas, still contains some sharp edges.
  • Suffers from turbo lag at lower RPM.
  • Sound insulation could be better.
  • Fuel economy not among the best in class.


Introduction:

Tata Indigo Manza as it is known in the consumer circles was rechristened as Tata Manza recently by TMC. This is part of Tata group to drop their older monikers and make their vehicle sound more for personal use (than have a taxi image).

Launched back in 2002 as the Tata Indigo, it was more than an Indica with a boot. With redesigned suspension setup, more space and killer pricing it was soon one of the best selling cars in the Indian market.

Later it appeared in many models (as stretched XL and the boot cut CS), but with changing times, Tata had to replace the Indigo with a newer and technically advanced model. Come the new Indica Vista on which the current Indigo is modelled, which saw Tata improving on all fronts and present a better quality vehicle for the people (more car per car redone).


Looks:

The external appearance of the Tata Manza is more evolutionary than revolutionary. Based on the current Vista, it does look handsome, with strong European lines giving it a sharper look unlike the softer old model.

The front chrome grill and the stretched back headlamps catch the attention while the double barrelled headlamp bulbs give it a character. The rakish windscreen is well matched by the plastic surrounds and wiper blades that give a clean sweep of the glass area. To the sides the doors are wide and the lower stance make the vehicle look longer than it actually is.

At the rear Tata has given a Cadillac-ish treatment to the tail lamps which look sharp and gives the rear design a sharper and proper look (Unlike the Swift Dezire which looks as if a boot has been stuck on the swift).


Interiors:

The interiors are a huge improvement from the previous generation. The new look dashboard is high mounted and the seat position gives a commanding view. Pedals are placed far away and there is enough space there, but a dead pedal is sorely missed.

Switchgear quality is a huge improvement and feels of much better quality (Better than its Japanese and Euro-American counterparts). Steering is meaty and good to hold but the steering mounted controls are oddly placed. It interferes with the horn usage. The six speaker stereo comes with Bluetooth (in Elan model), as well as leather interiors, ABS and Airbags.

Small things that are an eyesore are the door pockets which are too slim for bottles and are useless by and large while the being sharp to actually hurt you. The power window switches are oddly placed, specially for the driver as he would most of the time be controlling the rear power windows. But some things like the central console with brushed aluminium finish and the soft materials on the upper portion on the dashboard make up for them.

The seats are excellent and give more than enough room at the front and rear to stretch your legs. The rear seats are a treat and it is one of the best chauffer driven cars. The RPM meter does not have a red lining as the dial changes colour on reaching 5000 revs (cool). The white on black colour of the clocks are good and the MID sysystem gives nearly true data on the fuel efficiency.


Engine and Gearbox:

The fiat derived 1.3 litre multijet unit found its first usage in the Vista and here it uses the more powerful 90 BHP version of the same engine. The gear ratios are redone while the performance remains similar to the Linea. But here it has been remodelled to give better fuel efficiency.

The downside is that this change has resulted to a higher gearing, which means a relaxed highway cruising ability while at city speeds it does suffer as to be in the power band downshift become necessary. There is prominent turbo lag and this does affect the city usage. But rev above 2000 RPM and it changes its mind and you would be cruising in its power band right up to 4500 RPM where it runs out of steam.

The insulations are a bit less and results in some bit of engine sound to creep into the car (quite amusing is the fact the owner manual gives an option to improve the insulations by paying extra. It’s a dealer extra, not quite the right place for cost cutting, still better than the Toyota Etios which lacks it completely).

The gearbox is a good unit and the shift quality is the best among Tata range (as it is not made or designed by Tata). All this stress on fuel economy does not improve it as it is an average performer giving around 12-14 in city and 18 on highway under practical driving conditions.

Performance wise it is brisk and keep it in the power band and you would love to drive it. All day cruising at 100Kph is effortless while the engine would be lazily doing around 2200 RPM In gear accelerations are good and 60 to 120 Kph in 5th gear comes handy, specially for highway overtaking.


Ride and Handling:

This would be a surprise for any previous Tata owner as the ride and handling is a revelation. It is not just the best among other Tata vehicles but gives a balanced ride and handling compared to other cars.

The steering is light and direct, good for city use but at the same time does not feel as disconnects as in an Aveo or even the Dezire. The Ride quality is on the stiffer side which does send some bumps and thumps inside the cabin but improves the high speed ride as it is done away from the pitching and rolling of the older model.

Drive over a patch of rough surface as reasonable speed and you can see the improvement. The handling is a huge improvement and is safe to  say is better than the Dezire (which unlike the swift hatch is soft an wallowy).

The brakes are good and pedals give a good feel and bring the car to a sudden stop quite easily. At high speed the brakes perform much better and hold its line quite well. The handling does not match the levels of say a Ford Fiesta but is better than the Japanese and Korean counterparts.

The 14 inch tyre (15 in case of Elan) offer good levels of grip and tyre squeals are minimal. The tyre roar and overall insulation at higher revs and highway speeds are quite good. Ground clearance is acceptable and it easily tackles the Indian pot-hole ridden roads.


Overall:

Prices start at around 5 lakh rupee for the petrol base model, going up to 7.5 lakh for the Elan diesel. For the price the Elan comes loaded to the gills with even parking sensors coming as the latest entry, other than leather interiors, ABS, EBD, Airbags, Blue five, Steering mounted controls, rear central hand rest.

As a complete product Tata offers a valid contender for the price. Among the competition mainly the Etios and the Dezire, Tata offers a fight to provide excellent value for money. Quality has improved vastly but niggling problems cannot be ruled out as it is a Tata product. (the older Indigo was infamous to rattling).

But the extended warranty comes handy and is available as a dealership extra. It is a must have option. Unlike the Toyota (which has the worst quality interior of any car and the flattest seats) Tata is a revelation. What it doesn’t have it the bulletproof reliability of its Japanese competitors. It is overall a nice car to live with and is the first Tata car which can be brought by the heart than head.


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