The Vista D90 ZX: First Look

My new year started on a pleasant note. I was invited to test drive and review the Vista D90 from Tata Motors thanks to the bloggers’ review initiative of Blog Adda. After a few exploratory calls, the car was dropped off at my place for me to use.

tata indica vista D90
Don't Miss the No Parking sign.For some, there are no rules!

To call the Vista D90 ZX an upgrade on the earlier Vista would be unfair, since other than the body shape and size, almost everything else has got a significant makeover. As a matter of fact, Tata Motors calls it a sedan class car in its promotions. Before I get to how it felt driving it, here is a quick look at what it is made of. Skip the next three paragraphs if you cannot wait or if it doesn't matter. I wouldn't, however.


The engine is a BS4 compliant 1.3 L quadrajet with intelligent injection control from Fiat. The gearbox is a matched Fiat piece too. Max power is 90 PS at 4000 rpm. Ground clearance is 165. The tank takes 44 L of diesel. Front wheels are disc braked with drums for the rear.

From what I could gather, the external dimensions are the same as the earlier Vista, but possibly due to interior redesign, the car feels a good deal more spacious. The steering is powered and collapsible. The driver’s seat has height adjustment, a nice touch, and the controls and information systems are power-packed. The exteriors are lavish with chrome without overdoing it, and the roof trim is in contrasting colors, setting it apart from most cars on the road. The model I got was spice red with a black trim, perfectly matching my flamboyant, outgoing, almost page three persona. The Summer Sparkle (chrome yellow) and Jet Silver look perfectly balanced between who I am and how I wish to appear. The wheels are eight-spoked factory fitted alloys on Bridgestone 175 tubeless radials, once again "very me." Okay, okay, I will stop. But that doesn’t mean it will not be "very you," does it?

The body comes with two crumple zones (according to the sales team), the usual sidebeamed cage that is standard for top end hatchbacks, and dual airbags. All windows are powered, a child lock is provided, and there is a seat belt not fastened alert on the dash. Along with the stability of the car at high speeds, this is probably as safe as you will get with this category.

When you start the car, inserting the key with ease by following the illuminated ring around the keyhole, you do feel that you are starting a diesel car. With the windows rolled down, you can hear it as well as feel it. But that is the beginning and the end of the story. With the windows up, the interior is amazingly quiet. As you rev up, the vibration disappears entirely, and does not return even at the lower ranges of the higher gears.

We took it out for a spin in late evening city traffic, and it is extremely responsive, holding up very well to the stop go even on third gear. While I did not get a chance to test the top power on this, it picks up very well, and I rarely used the full play available on the accelerator pedal. Now to the things that really pleased me.

The driver information system gives you a variety of readings, including ambient temperature, distance before empty, etc., but what I liked the most was the real time mileage/fuel consumption. Most regular followers of this blog know about my views on the environment and emission. Many of you might also be familiar with my post on how to drive better and save gas. This feature made up for anything else that I might have been critical about in this car.

tata indica vista D90 dashboard
The dash is large and driver friendly - basically the same that ships with Manza.

This basically reads the transmission and translates it to a real time mileage figure. It changes as you shift gears and pump more fuel. In the short time that I was driving, I was actually able to use this feedback to improve and optimize my use of gears and acceleration. If one needs one reason to go for this car, this would be mine. On regular diesel in heavy city traffic, I was able to stay within the 17-22 kmpl range with some learning, which I thought was pretty good for a car this large and heavy with three passengers. On open roads, it gives a consistent 25.

Shubhorup's hand. For the rest of him, visit subhorup.blogspot.com

The audio system not only gives you the standard features of top end cars, but also the ability to pair up to five mobile devices via Bluetooth. There is minimal conflict, setup is intuitive, easy, and stored in memory, stream quality is smooth, and the microphone is powerful. All controls are available on the wheel. This is when I learned that there can be no greater joy than driving around Hussainsagar at one in the morning under the quizzical but bemused gaze of the Hyderabad Police with bass-heavy soulful jazz playing softly.

The interiors have some thoughtful touches too, with a charger power point at the rear for back seat use, a flippable rear seat, a lumbar support for the driver, cushioned door trims, and a host of storage utilities. The adjustable display light for the dash was a nice touch too. The interior colors are a standard dual tone and the upholstery is, yes, fabric. The dash build is nice, and given the width of the car, manages to fit in enough without eating into the driver's leg and arm space.


Though I did not have the need to use them, the Vista D90 comes with intelligent 7-speed front and rear wipers, so that if you shift to reverse with the wipers on, it automatically turns on the rear wiper. The lights are powerful, triple barreled, and with fog lamps at the front and the rear. They look really good too.

The car handles remarkably well, and at the top speeds that city roads permit, took curves very solidly, with little if any feedback from the steering wheel. The suspension will have you wondering why they could not do something like this on the earlier Indica offerings. As I noted earlier, pick up is powerful, and on your first few drives, you will turn heads as they hear you rev. Similarly, engine shake and vibration is minimal when coming down, even though there seems to be nothing visibly different about the mounting if you look under the hood. It still is noisy on the outside, though I am told that the higher end model will come with noise reducing cladding.

Overall, I think it is a swell car, very capable of beating the competition and setting a new trend of sedan class value for hatchback money. The ZX is great value for money, gives a great ride, and promises to be trouble-free and comfortable over time. I thought the suspension was really good too. It manages to pack in a host of features and utilities that are not standard for the segment. The higher end version is said to be fitted with climate control and navigation, which puts it ahead of the rest. Even the VX version (a good 70Kish cheaper) has pretty much all of this minus the alloys and the airbags, which also makes it a very attractive value-for-money proposition. The Vista was good, but somehow it was still associated with budget cars, but the D90 positions it solidly in the luxury segment and breaks a few myths about diesel engines and cost modelling. My overall rating is a happy 8/10.

Disclaimer: Though I was provided with a Vista D90 ZX by Tata Motors for the purpose of testing and reviewing, this post is based purely on my personal experience of using the car, and I have not been influenced in any way by Tata Motors or Blog Adda as far as my opinion is concerned.

16 comments:

  1. Good info. It would have been better, had you given the current on-the-road prices of the variants in your city. You should also consider giving the costs for maintaining this car, especially when replacements are to be carried out. The replaceable plastics of Tata-Vista cars are too costly. I could be wrong !

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    1. The car comes with a two year or 75000 km warranty extendable to four years. This review was primarily to share my experience of test driving it, and even this information is from what I recall while talking to the sales guys, so you might want to double check on that.

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  2. Nice Subho, even I had a test drive of the vehicle, though I am not aware all the specifications which you described, it was good, but I felt a slightly overpriced...

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    1. I noticed that you were on their Facebook page too. It is a nice drive. Strangely, after checking out all the features, (engine dynamics, suspension, safety, DIS, and audio) I thought it compared very well pricewise not only to cars in the same category but also to entry level sedans.

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  3. Subho..I know nothing about cars but read this post because my son recently joined Tata Motors. After this post, I am going to spill some technical jargon and see how he responds.
    :)
    Happy New Year.

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    1. I have some affinity to the Tata group too - one of the reasons I didn't mind doing this post - and I hope there is enough material here to impress your son, Alka.

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  4. Hi Subhorupgaaru,
    Good Review. But sad to say that you started the review from a wrong place (No Parking Zone) LOL :-)
    Hope you escaped from the horrible Hyderabad Traffic Police (Horrible, because, they always try to find fault on vehicle drivers just to fill their weekly and monthly quota to show their concerned depts.) for this lapse :-) But be careful at least while parking :-)
    Indeed a good review provided lot of info about this vehicle, which is very useful for a new customer. Not only that the link given on how to save fuel while driving is more useful. Thanks for sharing. Happy New Year and Happy Driving !!
    Philip Verghese Ariel
    Secunderabad

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    1. Nice to see you here after a while, Sir. Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts and a very happy new year to you and your loved ones too.

      The No Parking is at the entrance to our apartment, and as far as lawless me is concerned it means no parking for anyone except me. :) Kidding. I took that photograph there in order to get the no parking sign in the picture. Just the way I am.

      The traffic police does not work after regular hours other than to make money from hapless drivers in the name of checking for drunk driving. The people we encountered were the regular police. They were actually nice for a change, even appreciative perhaps. But I know what you mean. Is it possible that there were no police at the Nirmal meeting where Owaisi spoke? What was their duty when they heard those inflammatory comments being made?

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  5. it seems small for me , my legs wont fit in there ..

    but nowadays I have stopped trusting TATA as such.. have had some unpleasant expereinces with them

    Bikram's

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    1. It is actually quite spacious. Even if you are taller than my tallest friend, it is likely you will be comfortable up front. I have been fortunate in many small ways regarding customer service. For example, I keep hearing horror stories regarding ICICI Bank; yet, in my 15 years with them, I have found my customer experience with them to be better than with other "slicker" banks. I know quite a few people who shun both Maruti and Tata for their bad experiences, yet I have always been totally satisfied. Maybe I am just lucky. Fingers crossed anyway.

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  6. Great review! Look forward to a test drive, am looking for a car for long Delhi commutes. This sounds perfect.

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    1. Thanks, Shubho. In case you haven't done it yet, you can register online for a test drive by clicking here. Dang, I am turning into a marketing man for these guys.

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  7. Lovely review : a few queries.

    1. How is the leg room in the rear ? By chance did anyone test it while you were driving ?
    2. What is the reported price for the high end model ?

    Thanks.

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    1. Thanks, Roshan.

      Great leg room in the rear, I got one of my tallest friends to sit in while we went for a ride, with the front seat pushed all the way back, and it was still comfortable. With the front seats all the way, you can stretch out fully.

      The ZX comes for 6.56 ex showroom and about 7.8 on road.

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  8. my dad always wanted to buy vista but i don't know .. frankly speaking i never liked this model from TATA so i somehow forced him to buy VW instead :-)

    good review btw !

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  9. Now I think you agree with your father's decision.Tata Indica Vista is a perfect hatchback which is spacious and looks great.People just love Tata's car.They have blind trust in its efficiency and performance.

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