Tata Indica opens up whole new vista for previous critics

WHEN I was asked for the keys to the test car I had over the festive period I felt like saying: "C'mon, let me have it for one more week!"

WHEN I was asked for the keys to the test car I had over the festive period I felt like saying: "C'mon, let me have it for one more week!"

And no, it wasn't the keys to the stunning new Audi S5 cabriolet we had a look at last week.

But it was the keys to the new Tata Indica Vista Safire Aura.

It is not often we get a Tata on the press fleet and I was keen to find out what the vehicle was actually like.

We all have preconceptions when it comes to cars. When it comes to reviews, let's just say the Tata brand has not always scored highly.

In the early days the criticism was harsh ... but that was then and this is now.

Let's kick off by noting that the design of the new Indica leaves the previous versions for dead.

Out go the awkward lines and angles that made the original hatchback look like a breadbox to be replaced with an attractive car that has curves in all the right places.

It has lost that cheap look to be replaced with a style that wouldn't look out of place zooming about on the streets of Europe.

But to have the look and to perform are two different sides of the coin. So how does it measure up?

Well, the 1,4-litre petrol engine kicks out 55kW, which I found more than ample for the hustle and bustle of the streets of Jozi.

As an urban commute it was ideal and over an extended period I achieved fuel consumption in the region of 6,5litres per 100km.

In the past there was a question mark hanging over the quality of the interior of Tata products.

It seems that the powers-that-be at the assembly plant in India have listened to the complaints and responded by producing a vehicle that equals its competitors in build quality in the small car segment.

There were no rattles and the various storage bins all opened and shut with the minimum of fuss.

Now for R127900 what does the Indica Aura include and what does it leave out?

Yes, it does come standard with air-conditioning, central locking, MP3 CD player with USB facility, power windows (front and back), a rear wiper, power steering and an adjustable steering wheel.

What it does not have, though, are two safety features that many motorists are looking for - airbags and ABS brakes.

It's a pity that these two features are missing because apart from that, the little Indica is a well-rounded vehicle that will hopefully have its critics having second thoughts about the brand.