THE Cape winelands area is looking beautiful with spring busting out everywhere – an ideal place for the Tata Indigo Manza Ignis sedan launch. The venue – the Santé Hotel Resort and Spa near Franschhoek – has a checkered history with previous owner, J Arthur Brown of Fidentia notoriety, facing many charges including fraud, theft, corruption and money laundering.
Santé is now back in business under new ownership of Franz Gmeiner's Orion Group.
All in all, it is a top-end resort fitting for Tata's new flagship car, the Indigo Manza.
What is it?
The Manza is Tata's latest offering for the budget market for first-time buyers. Powered by an engine built by Fiat, the car is surprisingly good with many features only found in more expensive cars.
Only the Ignis model was available to drive at the launch and not the base model, which is a pity!
How does it look?
Made in India, the car is primarily aimed at developing countries, for whom styling is not as important as reliability and cost. It passes first muster but on closer inspection, the rear end has a chiselled look which does not follow form and function.
The front wraparound three-barreled headlamps – one of the most striking headlamp units on any car – add to the linearity while giving the Tata Indigo a feline, aggressive appearance. The large 15-inch alloy wheels, ensconced in their flared arches, give it a more commanding stance.
What's it like to drive?
The Manza handled some very bumpy sections of the short 75km test drive with ease. It was comfortable with no rattles or squeaks discernible except for wind noise from the B-pillar on both sides of the car.
Power from the Fiat engine is adequate for city driving but runs out of steam on the open road when encountering hills.
The clutch is very "light" and took some getting used to for smooth pull-offs and gear changes.
Any special features?
Yes, there are surprisingly plenty for this budget beater!
A 2 DIN music system offers connectivity with a USB port and Bluetooth connectivity through the Blue5, a feature not even available in premium cars. The audio controls of the music system are mounted on the steering wheel, for ease of access while driving.
The safety features include a collapsible steering column, anti-lock braking system and dual frontal airbags.
However, the car does not have any official safety rating. For example, the European Ncap rating system or any other, which must be taken into consideration when making a decision on whether to purchase the vehicle or not.
When questioned about this, Johnny Oommen, Tata's head of international business passenger cars, said the Manza did in fact have many of the features required for an Ncap safety rating, but Tata had not had the vehicle tested yet.
Should you buy one?
The budget segment is one of the most keenly contested. However, the Tata Indigo Manza has the edge as far as the many standard features are not even available in premium cars.
But one will have to take into consideration what the residual value will be in four years' time and only market forces and conditions then will determine this.
Tata Indigo Manza Ignis Sedan
Engine:1.4 litre SAFIRE
Power: 66kW at 6000rpm
Torque: 116Nm at 4750rpm
0-100km/h: 15.3 seconds
Top Speed: 165km/h
Fuel Consumption:6.9/100km (claimed combined)
Price: Ignis R134995
Price: Ini (base model) R119995
We like: Fully loaded specs
We don't like: Not having an Ncap safety rating