Old is Gold: History of Tata Indica

by Kshitij Rawat | 24/04/2020
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From the recent “first Indian car to achieve a 5-star NCAP safety rating” with the Nexon to the oldest “first car to be designed in India”, Tata Motors has had a lot of firsts to its name. The most significant one, however, was inarguably the “India’s first indigenously developed car” with the Indica.

Tata Motors has always been proud of its technological advancements. In the 90s, when all other carmakers were scared of developing new cars for India, Tata took the opportunity and brought the Indica into the world. India’s first indigenously developed car was a valiant effort, but it was not without flaws. Although Tata (TELCO at the time) had been building cars for quite a while, their expertise lay in commercial vehicles, trucks, and UVs. Passenger cars were a new game for the company, and one that had a steep learning curve.

Ratan Tata rolling out the first Indica off the production line

Ratan Tata rolling out the first Indica off the production line

As years piled on and the company gained experience, there were remarkable improvements in the Indica. Here, we shall cover a brief yet detailed history of the Tata Indica, tracing its entire journey, from a bare-bones commuter to a worthy competitor to the best Japanese hatchbacks sold in India.

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First Generation Tata Indica (1998 to 2018)

Launched with the tagline “More car per car”, the Indica’s USP was its brilliant interior space. Even though the car had small overall dimensions, the smart design allowed the interior to be as expansive as possible. It had three major iterations.

Indica (1998 to 2001)

Old is Gold - Tata Indica first generation model

Tata Indica

The first Indica was introduced in 1998, and was extremely well received by consumers. It even threatened the popularity of Maruti 800 for a brief period of time, which was no small feat! The Indica was available with two engine options- a 1.4-litre petrol and a 1.4-litre diesel. These were the short-stroke versions of the same engines TELCO used in its UVs.

Tata Indica (1.4 petrol) Specs

Engine Size

1,405 cc

Engine Type

Carburetted, inline, naturally aspirated (475DL)

No. of Cylinders

4

Max. Power

60 PS

Max. Torque

105 Nm

Gearbox

5-Speed Manual

 

Tata Indica (1.4 diesel) Specs

Engine Size

1,405 cc

Engine Type

Indirect Injection, inline, naturally aspirated (475DL)

No. of Cylinders

4

Max. Power

54 PS

Max. Torque

85 Nm

Gearbox

5-Speed Manual

 

The Indica offered plenty of features that weren’t available in other affordable cars at the time, like AC, central locking, and tachometer. It also came with a five-speed gearbox, which was another luxury back in the day.

Indica V2 (2001 to 2011)

Old is Gold - Tata Indica facelift

Tata Indica V2 (facelift model)

The first car may have been popular, but people soon realised that it was also quite poorly built. The electrical system would malfunction quite often, which raised a lot of reliability concerns. Many users also reported that they could never achieve the claimed fuel efficiency figures. To fix all these issues, Tata Motors launched the Indica V2 in 2001. All the major concerns people had with the Indica were fixed in this upgrade.

In 2005, Tata introduced a turbocharged version of the 1.4 diesel engine, which made the Indica the first turbocharged passenger car in India. In 2006, a new 1.2-litre petrol engine was also added to the line-up. Then, in 2008, the older 1.4-engines were replaced by newer ones- a new 1.4-litre ‘Safire’ petrol and a new 1.4-litre diesel ‘DICOR’ mill.

Tata Indica V2 (1.4 Turbo-diesel) Specs

Engine Size

1,405 cc

Engine Type

Direct Injection, inline, turbocharged, intercooled (475DL TDI)

No. of Cylinders

4

Max. Power

63 PS

Max. Torque

118 Nm

Gearbox

5-Speed Manual

 

Tata Indica V2 (1.2 petrol) Specs

Engine Size

1,193 cc

Engine Type

Fuel Injected, inline, turbocharged, naturally aspirated (Safire)

No. of Cylinders

4

Max. Power

65 PS

Max. Torque

98 Nm

Gearbox

5-Speed Manual

 

Tata Indica V2 (1.4 petrol) Specs

Engine Size

1,368 cc

Engine Type

Fuel Injected, inline, turbocharged, naturally aspirated (Safire)

No. of Cylinders

4

Max. Power

70 PS

Max. Torque

105 Nm

Gearbox

5-Speed Manual

 

Tata Indica V2 (1.4 DICOR Diesel) Specs

Engine Size

1,396 cc

Engine Type

Direct Injection, inline, turbocharged, intercooled, common rail (DICOR)

No. of Cylinders

4

Max. Power

70 PS

Max. Torque

140 Nm

Gearbox

5-Speed Manual

 

Indica eV2 (2011 to 2018)

Old is Gold - Tata Indica second facelift

Tata Indica eV2 (second facelift design)

In 2011, Tata launched the Indica eV2, which was essentially an improved version of the Indica V2. It continued to sell alongside the new generation Indica (Indica Vista) as an entry-level offering. Only two engine options remained- the 1.2-litre petrol and the 1.4-litre ‘DICOR’ diesel.

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Second Generation Tata Indica (2008 to 2015)

While the first generation Indica was still on sale, Tata Motors introduced the second generation model of the car to the Indian market. The new model got a significant redesign for the front fascia, although the side and rear profiles bore resemblance to the original design. The car’s underpinning platform was all-new, with nothing in common with the previous model.

Indica Vista

Old is Gold - Tata Indica Vista

Tata Indica Vista

The first Indica Vista was launched in 2008. It was previously showcased at the 2006 Auto Expo at Pragati Maidan, and managed to generate a lot of buzz. It was initially rumoured to be called the Indica V3, but Tata decided to keep the V2 in production and renamed the new car as the Vista. The Indica Vista was now offered as the premium version of the Indica, whereas the V2/eV2 were the entry-level versions.

The Vista was initially offered with the following four engines- a 1.2 petrol, a 1.4-litre ‘DICOR’ diesel, a 1.3-litre ‘Quadrajet’ diesel, and a 1.4-litre petrol. The turbo-diesel, however, was discontinued in 2010 due to BSIV emission norms. Apart from the DICOR motor, all the all engines were sourced from Fiat.

Tata Indica Vista (1.2 petrol) Specs

Engine Size

1,193 cc

Engine Type

Fuel Injected, inline, turbocharged, naturally aspirated (Safire)

No. of Cylinders

4

Max. Power

65 PS

Max. Torque

98 Nm

Gearbox

5-Speed Manual

 

Tata Indica Vista (1.4 DICOR diesel) Specs

Engine Size

1,396 cc

Engine Type

Direct Injection, inline, turbocharged, intercooled, common rail (DICOR)

No. of Cylinders

4

Max. Power

70 PS

Max. Torque

140 Nm

Gearbox

5-Speed Manual

 

Tata Indica Vista (1.3 Quadrajet Diesel) Specs

Engine Size

1,248 cc

Engine Type

Direct Injection, inline, turbocharged, intercooled, common rail (Quadrajet)

No. of Cylinders

4

Max. Power

75 PS

Max. Torque

190 Nm

Gearbox

5-Speed Manual

 

Tata Indica Vista (1.4 petrol) Specs

Engine Size

1,368 cc

Engine Type

Fuel Injected, inline, turbocharged, naturally aspirated (Safire)

No. of Cylinders

4

Max. Power

90 PS

Max. Torque

116 Nm

Gearbox

5-Speed Manual

 

Indica Vista D90

Old is Gold - Tata Indica Vista D90

Tata Indica Vista D90

In 2013, Tata Motors launched the most powerful version of the Indica, the Vista D90. This model used the same Fiat-sourced 1.3-litre multijet diesel engine, but employed a VGT to boost power to 90 PS and peak torque to a massive 200 Nm.

Tata Indica Vista (1.3 Quadrajet D90 Diesel) Specs

Engine Size

1,248 cc

Engine Type

Direct Injection, inline, turbocharged, intercooled, common rail (Quadrajet D90)

No. of Cylinders

4

Max. Power

90 PS

Max. Torque

200 Nm

Gearbox

5-Speed Manual

 

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Fun Trivia

  • Tata Indica was developed in India, but designed in Italy by I.DE.S Institute.

  • From the commencement of bookings till the day of launch, Tata Motors had received over 1 Lakh orders for the original Indica.

  • From 2003 to 2005, Tata Motors exported the Indica to UK, where it was rebadged by MG Rover and sold as the CityRover.

  • Tata Motors and Jayem Automotive have collaborated in several projects and created several concept cars, many based on the Indica. There was an Indica Sport, Indica Vista Concept S, Indica Bolt Sport, Indica D90 Xtreme, and Indica Silhouette. The last one was powered by a 3.5-litre V6, producing 330 PS of maximum power.

  • Only one of the Tata-Jayem cars was homologated- a race/rally spec version of the Indica, with a 1.5-litre petrol engine, producing 115 PS of maximum power. Sadly, it was also never put on sale, along with the other Indica concepts.

  • Tata Motors had also started the development of an electric version of the Indica, called Indica Vista EV, in 2008. The car was never launched, and the project was scrapped after four years of development.

Images: Wikipedia, Tata Motors official, autoevolution.com

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