The 13-year-old Indica's latest eV2 variant is one of the most fuel efficient cars with a spacious cabin.

Tata Motors continues to churn out more from the 13-year-old Indica hatchback. Tata has just launched the eV2 variant and says it's the most fuel efficient car on sale. According to the official Indian Driving Cycle (IDC), the eV2 gives an unbeatable 25kpl but how does it fare outside the laboratory and in the real world?

The engine essentially the same 1.4-litre common-rail, direct-injection motor but the ECU has been remapped for better efficiency. There are some subtle changes to the body as well which Tata claims has lowered drag and helped efficiency.

One thing you notice as soon as you press the throttle is how responsive the engine feels at low revs. It pulls forward strongly from 1400rpm and really gets into its stride once past 2000rpm, with minimal turbo-lag. The responsive engine adds a new dimension to the Indica's performance and it feels fleet-footed in most situations. It's reasonably quick for a budget diesel hatchback and 100kph from a standstill is crossed in under 16 seconds.

This added performance is a boon since you don't have to use the rubbery, imprecise gearshift much. The engine is pretty free-revving , which is useful on the highway, and most owners will find its performance adequate for their needs. The engine is slightly smoother than before but it's still a long way behind the levels of refinement we have come to expect from a modern diesel motor. At high revs, the 1.4 Dicor is noisy and there's a fair amount of vibration coming through the floorboard and pedals.

The low-speed ride is absorbent enough but the eV2 still jiggles over road undulations. The suspension is quite clunky, and at higher speeds, the car feels unsettled. The steering is non-linear , especially around the straight-ahead position.

The high-set steering wheel, tall dashboard and awkwardly placed pedals mean that a few long stints behind the wheel will have your back hunched up and leave you with aching feet. The power window switches placed low and ahead of the gear lever, make you stretch to reach them.

Other than the engine and some minor changes, there are no other changes to the eV2. The only difference on the outside is the eV2 badge on the hatch. Over its 13-year lifespan, we have complained of panel gaps, early rattles and quality issues. Though these problems have been addressed, none of them are properly fixed. Panel gaps remain uneven and the rubber beading still does not look refined.

However, all this is forgiven when it's time to tank up. The eV2 is genuinely fuel efficient, returning an amazing 15.3kpl in the city, which betters the old Dicor engine by 1.5kpl. The eV2 even beats fuel-efficiency champs such as the Swift and Figo diesels and that's saying something.

On the highway, the eV2 is very impressive, cruising along efficiently to clock 19.3km for every litre of diesel. What truly helps the Indica's efficiency is the terrific driveability of the 1.4 Dicor.

You can stay in a higher gear in city traffic and don't need to downshift frequently. The way the Indica pulls from a crawl even in third gear is genuinely impressive.

If your main concern is running costs, the eV2 makes a good case for itself.

Priced at Rs. 4.77 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), there is no car that can match the economics this ubiquitous Tata hatch offers. The spacious cabin makes it very practical too.


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