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Review: Tata Vista D90

Driven January 2013

Review: Tata Vista D90

The car you see here is no ordinary Vista, it’s the sportiest hatchback in its segment which can play a role of your daily car as well. At least that’s what Tata wants us to believe its new Vista D90 is.

Although the Vista first hit our roads in 2008, it was never a benchmark in the premium hatchback segment. Cosmetic and mechanical updates too didn’t help its case much. Now Tata says, with the Vista D90 it has pushed the envelope to the next level by offering more power and better performance than its rivals. No, the Vista doesn’t get a V8 yet, instead makes do with the 89bhp 1.3 Quadrajet motor from its Manza sibling. Although both cars used the same basic engine, the sedan uses a variable geometry turbo while the hatchback so far had a fixed geometry turbo.

For the Vista, which is 100kg lighter than the Manza, Tata has re-tuned the engine, tweaked the suspension set-up and improved NVH levels. But when it comes to exteriors, nothing much has changed and the D90 looks identical to the ordinary Vistas. The new model only gets Quadrajet 90 and Vista D90 badges, and a slightly altered Tata logo on the front grille. However, in comparison the cabin gets bigger a change, which is a Manza-inspired dashboard. It means the instrument cluster now proudly sits right behind the steering wheel, exactly where it was supposed to be in the first place. This is only a D90-specific modification and the rest of the Vista variants will continue to sport the centre aligned dash.

Like the Manza, the centre console in the top-end ZX+ variant comes with a touch screen infotainment system with in-built sat-nav and Bluetooth connectivity. The D90 also gets a trip computer with a dedicated display, and fully automatic climate control. The lower-spec VX variant only gets a 2-din music system, manual AC, and misses out on sat-nav.

So how does the “new” engine in the Vista feel? Obviously different. The 89bhp, 200Nm 1248cc turbo-diesel engine feels better than the FGT-equipped motor, but it’s not mind-blowingly quick. The initial pick-up isn’t exhilarating, but once you get around 3000rpm in the second gear and beyond, the motor comes into its own. Tata has improved low-end driveability and the motor now offers a small spike in power at around 1800rpm and a greater boost in performance at 2500rpm, that’s when the turbo kicks in. The motor pulls smoothly till 4500rpm before limping to its 5000rpm redline where the needle turns red to indicate ‘stop being too optimistic’. The D90 is coupled to a 5-speed gearbox, a unit that feels good to use, and comes with a light and progressive clutch that helps while driving in the city.

Although the oversized steering feels on the lighter side, it offers enough feedback for you to throw the Vista around corners at speeds. But don’t get too carried away. The carmaker has worked towards making the Vista feel sportier and a stiffer suspension setup echoes that. The Vista now handles better than before and the body roll is less. However, the sportier setup has compromised the ride comfort to some extent and you do feel the bumps on broken surfaces. The D90’s brakes have enough bite in them and the VX+ also gets an additional aid in the form of ABS.

Tata claims a combined fuel efficiency figure of 21.1kpl (ARAI tested), which is only 1.3kpl down on the 75HP motor. Impressive!

From the onset, the Vista was a good product and offered great value for its money. Now the D90 offers more power and better dynamics, but it still isn’t your 0-60kph car. What you will like it for is space, comfort, value-for-money and now improved dynamics. And if you wondered, it costs Rs 5.99 lakh for the VX variant, and Rs 6.83 lakh for the fully-loaded ZX+ version (all prices ex-showroom, Delhi).

The numbers
1248cc 4cyls turbo-diesel, 89bhp, 200Nm, 5M, 21.1kpl (claimed)

The cost
Rs 5.99 lakh (VX), Rs 6.83 Lakh (ZX+) (ex-showroom, Delhi)

The verdict
Not a 0-60 hatch this, but feels better than before. Buy if you are on a tight budget.

Rating: 5/10



Devesh Shobha

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