In the past couple of years, Tata Motors hasn’t seen the kind of sales figures it would have liked. To counter that, it recently announced a new strategy and a new product line-up for the coming year. Along with the refreshed Nano, Tata Motors has also started rolling out a refreshed version of the Indigo eCS from its plant in Pune.
In front, the reworked bits include smoky headlamps, and a redesigned grille and reshaped bumper. At the rear, is a chrome strip running along the width of the boot lid. There have been changes inside too. And not the nice kind. The dashboard is jet black and glossy. Plastic quality is atrocious and everything feels flimsy and not built to last. But on the plus side, it gets new features. In the top-end variant, there’s a music system with AUX and USB inputs and Bluetooth connectivity. It also gets all-four power windows with auto-down feature on the driver’s side. Plus reverse parking sensors.
Despite being under four metres long, the cabin is spacious, with enough leg- and shoulder room for the rear passengers. The front seats too are comfortable, with height adjustment for the driver’s seat.
But the ergonomics could have been better – the power window master switches are in the centre instead of on the driver’s door, making them hard to reach for the driver, and the steering column is not adjustable. Still, with 380 litres of capacity, the boot is big enough to carry a weekend’s worth of luggage.
The eCS is available with three engine options – the CR4, the TDI (BS III) and the petrol MPFI. We tested the diesel CR4. It’s a 1.4-litre unit that puts out a modest 69bhp and 140N – it’s the least powerful engine in its class. NVH levels, improved in the new version, are not bad, and within acceptable standards. Power delivery is quite linear, without that surge that you get when the blower kicks in.
The engine is mated to a new five-speed gearbox. The shifts are smooth and the throw is not too long. The ratios are well sorted for both city and highway driving. Plus one for the eCS, then. For every litre of diesel, this car will go 14.7km in city traffic and a good 17.9km on the highway. And if you show it some beans, it’ll hit 100kph from standstill in 16.5 seconds.
The new eCS has excellent ride, probably the best in its segment. It goes over bad roads without any fuss, making sure none of the undulations reach your back. But the soft suspension setup results in a lot of body roll. Apart from that, there’s not much to complain about in the handling department. The eCS will go about its duties nicely as long as you don’t go into hooligan mode.
Tata has played the price card very well with the new eCS. It’s pegged at Rs 6.16 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai) for the top-end CR4 engine. At that price point, it’s a good Rs 1.6 lakh cheaper than the top-end diesel Maruti DZire.
The eCS is worth considering if you’re looking for a compact sedan on a shoestring budget, and are not too
fussy about interior fit and finish.
1,396cc, 4cyl, diesel, 69bhp, 140Nm, 5M, 0-100kph: 16.5sec, 30-50kph (3rd): 4.32sec, 30-50kph (4th): 8.79sec, 50-70kph (5th): 13.66sec, 80-0kph: 27.22m, 2.45sec, city kpl: 14.7, highway kpl: 17.9, 150kph, Rs 6.16 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai)
The cheapest compact sedan in India. Excellent ride, decent features, aggressive pricing, interior plastics a big letdown.