Tata Indigo Manza Quadrajet 1.3, test drive
One look at the Manza and it’s easy to figure that this car has been designed from the inside out. The huge cabin and boot identify this as a design where form follows function, and that’s not surprising; this is a Tata car after all.autos Updated: Jan 21, 2013 18:26 IST
The Manza is clearly a car that appeals more to the head than the heart
One look at the Manza and it’s easy to figure that this car has been designed from the inside out. The huge cabin and boot identify this as a design where form follows function, and that’s not surprising; this is a Tata car after all. The Vista is cavernous enough on the inside, but Tata has taken its tag of even more car per car to the next level by stretching the Manza as much as possible. The wheelbase at 2520mm is 50mm longer than the Vista’s and the overall length a full 260mm longer than the previous Indigo to accommodate the increased passenger and luggage area.
This, of course, presented a serious challenge to the styling team which had to work with these dimensions to make the car look attractive. The fact that the Manza is essentially the Vista right up to the rear doors (to save costs) also limits what designers can do. However, Tata designers have managed to integrate the boot quite seamlessly with the roof. There is a prominent crease along the side, just like in the Vista, that provides some much-needed definition. The chrome garnishing on the door handles works well too. But this is still not a car you would buy on the strength of its looks. The bigger, protruding front bumper and massive boot have created huge overhangs and have sent the proportions for a toss. Even on larger 15-inch wheels, the bulky Manza looks under-tyred.
The tail-lights, which sweep back almost halfway along the boot lid, attempt to break the block-like appearance of the rear but unsuccessfully so.
There are some nice details though. The front grille is differentiated from the Vista’s with smart chrome slats and the lights too have been upgraded with triple-barrel lamps.
Step inside the Manza and you can see how far ahead Tata has taken its game. The interior ambience is quite upmarket and we loved the high-quality seat fabrics. The large seats, though similar to the Vista, have extra bolstering but the cushions, especially for the driver, are a touch too firm. What stunned us was the surplus of space, especially in the rear. This is, without doubt, the most spacious mid-sizer and the Manza even rivals the Accord for width! Three abreast at the rear is no problem and there is plenty of legroom even with the front seats pushed all the way back. Tata engineers are proud of the 28-degree backrest recline angle in the rear but we found it a touch too reclined and would have preferred a more upright stance.
The front seats are generous too and the driver is pampered with adjustable lumbar support and height-adjust for the seat and steering which makes it easy to find a comfy position.
The boot too is huge, swallowing 460 litres of luggage, but the metal bracing (for better rigidity) closer to the seats compromises the boot’s flexibility. The back seats can be dropped however to increase luggage space.
Though the Manza’s dashboard is based on the Vista’s, it looks completely different and is all the better for it. The main change is the instrument cluster which has been moved from its central position back to the traditional location, making way for a multi-information display which is packed with information like fuel consumption, distance-to-empty and ambient temperature readings.
The new instrument cluster, though a bit small, is easy to read while the central console looks very busy with all those buttons. The large four-spoke steering wheel and dashboard give the insides a grown-up look, especially when illuminated at night and we were pleasantly surprised by some feel-good items. The gear lever is finished with a genuine quality feel and the air-con knobs, which work with servo motors, feel far better than the mechanical system that opens and closes flaps. Tata has packed the Manza with steering-mounted controls, electric mirrors plus the usual stuff. The best piece of kit though is the Blue5 system which allows you to pair five phones separately via Bluetooth.
While the interiors are impressive on one level, look closer and you can spot some quality issues. Fit and finish, though improved, is still not as good as competition. Plastic panel gaps are still large and inconsistent,
the door pockets are lined with hard, sharp-edged plastic. Also, the door levers and window switches feel flimsy. The insides of the Manza maybe the best seen in a Tata yet, but there’s still some way to go before the quality matches global standards. However, the extra space and features more than compensate.
The Manza also comes with driver and passenger airbags, putting this car on par with the competition with regard to safety features.
Performance & Economy
The Manza is powered by an engine we are familiar with — the same 89bhp version of Fiat’s 1.3 Multijet diesel that’s under the Linea’s bonnet. It’s quite a punchy engine delivering adequate performance and we managed to hit a top speed of 168kph in the Manza, probably a record for a Tata car! The engine’s strong mid-range makes highway cruising effortless and overtaking is quite a breeze. The Manza is quicker than the Linea and there’s a gratifying tug when driven in the right gear. It’s a full second faster to 100kph and by the time the car has reached 150, the gap is more like two seconds.
However, this version of the 1.3 Multijet diesel with its big Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT) is notorious for its prominent turbo-lag which we’ve experienced in the Linea. The Manza’s tall gearing further accentuates this engine’s lack of initial response. Below 2000rpm, the Manza feels sluggish, and it’s only beyond 2100rpm that the motor wakes up and gets into its stride. So while the shorter-geared Linea takes 11.8 seconds to go from 20-80 in third, the Manza takes 13.7sec. And the Tata is slower in fourth gear as well.
As a result, driving the Manza in traffic can often be painful. You either need to constantly downshift or drive in a gear lower than is ideal. The Fiat gearbox thankfully is nice to use but you need a firm push to slot through the gate. Of course, Fiat’s Multijet is pretty smooth throughout its rev range and Tata engineers have worked hard to achieve a high level of refinement. The engine is never obtrusive and at cruising speeds you can’t tell it’s a diesel.
Using the same engine as the Linea and having a slight weight advantage, we expected the Manza to beat the Fiat’s consumption figures but that wasn’t quite the case. In the city, the Manza returned 11.6kpl which is decent but clearly not the class best. On the highway, a figure of 17.1kpl is again nothing to get excited about. We suspect the tall gearing penalises city fuel efficiency while on the highway, the upright body and truncated boot creating a fair amount of drag. In isolation, the fuel consumption figures are pretty acceptable and with diesels, a kpl up or down usually doesn’t matter.
Ride & Handling
The Manza rides on the same suspension as the Vista but it’s been completely re-tuned with different spring / damper settings and optimised suspension bushes to suit the saloon. Ride comfort has been given priority and that’s instantly obvious within 50 metres of driving the car. The Manza is extremely pliant and soaks up potholes with ease. Even sharp ridges, the kind that catch out more sophisticated suspensions, are smoothened out without jarring passengers. It’s fair to say that the Manza with its relatively soft suspension has the best low-speed ride in its segment. However, at high speeds, the mushy suspension isn’t as impressive. At speed and on an undulating or uneven surface, there is a fair amount of vertical movement. The Manza heaves and pitches quite a bit and at times the front suspension feels out of synch with the rear. The handling too isn’t exactly sporty. The steering has the typical inert and inconsistent feel of the Vista. It’s a little stiff around the straight-ahead position and doesn’t self-centre easily.
For normal, everyday driving, the Manza is easy to handle and manoeuvre. It’s just that the Tata saloon doesn’t quite have the dynamic finesse to make it fun
The Manza does not get the independent rear suspension of the previous Indigo but uses the capable twist beam suspension carried over from the Vista. A big step forward however is the inclusion of anti-lock brakes which, along with the wider 185/60 tyres, gives better stability under braking.
The Manza is clearly a car that appeals more to the head than the heart. The design is more functional and doesn’t have the flair of the more upmarket Linea. It’s not exciting to drive either and doesn’t quite have the dynamic ability to put a smile on your face. However, what will make you more than happy is the masses of space and high level of comfort, not seen in a saloon in this segment.
Tata in true fashion has stuffed the Manza with equipment that belongs to cars thrice its price. True, the Manza isn’t quite built to international standards of quality but at Rs 6.9 lakh for this fully loaded Aura + version, we don’t k
Tata Indigo Manza Quadrajet 1.3
What it costs
Ex-showroom (Delhi) 5.30-7.78 lakh
Warranty 24 months/75,000km
Installation Front, transverse
Compression ratio 17.6:1
Valve gear 4 valves per cyl, DOHC
Power 89bhp at 4000rpm
Torque 20.4kgm at 1750-3000rpm
Power to weight 73.5bhp per tonne
Gearbox 5-speed manual
Length 4413 mm
Height 1550 mm
Wheel base 2520 mm
Ground clearance 165mm
Chassis & Body
Tyres 185/60 R15
Front Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs
Rear Non-independent, twist beam, coil springs
Type Power-assisted rack and pinion
Type of power assist Hydraulic
Front 240mm ventilated discs
Rear 200mm drums
Tank size 44 litres
Range at a glance - Engines
Petrol 1.4 litre
Diesel 1.3 litre