The facelifted Tata Aria makes up for barely noticeable cosmetic upgrades with a much more refined engine and better performance

Tata Motors recently launched a facelift for its Aria MPV and this is the first one in four years. In that regard, we were slightly disappointed to see how subtle the cosmetic changes to the 2014 car are. The smoked projector headlamps come to notice immediately but it's kind of hard to spot other changes like the transparent lenses instead of yellow ones for the turn indicators at the rear.

The interiors aren’t that different either, and the changes are restrained. Only the top-of-the-line Aria gets a new colour-screen infotainment system. Everything else, including the slightly awkward driving position, are the same. Although the reversing camera is a welcome addition as parking this big SUV can be difficult in the city, the image quality from the camera could definitely have been better. There's also Bluetooth telephony added to the mix now, though surprisingly, you won't be able to stream music from your Bluetooth devices.

Music comes in through USB, aux-in or CD. The top-spec Tata gets a Harman audio system, which sounds much better than the older unit.

The main changes are under the hood. The retuned 2.2-litre VariCor diesel engine now produces 148bhp (10bhp more), and the engine feels more refined, free-revving and is also quieter. Also, power delivery is smoother to an extent. The gearbox, though with a nicely finished knob, feels a little low on quality and a fair bit of vibrations creep up to your palm through it.

When it comes to comfort, the Aria's front seats are supportive, the second row is also decently comfy with enough knee room for even those taller than six feet. The last row, on the other hand, with its squatted seating position and limited room, is best for children. If you leave this row folded flat, the boot space is large enough to hold all the holiday luggage of a family.

The Aria rides well on our streets, handling broken surfaces with ease and only larger potholes manage to unsettle its composure. Unless you push it too hard, the Aria handles predictably and although there’s a fair bit of body roll, it’s not too unnerving. The on-demand all-wheel-drive system makes it feel surprisingly surefooted.

So, to sum it up, the Tata Aria facelift doesn't improve on the looks but instead, feels nicer to drive and its engine also feels smoother.

Prices start at Rs 9.95 lakh for the base two-wheel-drive variant and goes on to Rs 14.74 lakh for the range-topping AWD.

It does what it's meant to, well enough, with decent performance, comfort and road presence. For the price it's available at, the 2014 Aria is definitely worth considering.

The top-spec Tata gets a Harman audio system, which sounds much better than the older unit.