India was flooded with cars back in the late 1990s. Maruti Suzuki’s WagonR, Hyundai’s Santro, Premier’s Padmini, HM’s Ambassador and many other cars were rolling on the Indian roads. But something was still missing. Indians wanted more car per car. Tata Motors heard them. And there it was, the Tata Indica. The fully indigenously grown 5-door hatchback that ruled the segment for almost 20 years. Let’s have a look at the history of Indica.

1998 – The car is born

Tata Indica: India's own Hatchback
Tata Indica: India’s own Hatchback

As told earlier, people were craving for more affordable space inside a car. Tata introduced the Indica on 30th December 1998 with a tagline ‘More car per car’. The hatch was spacious inside and was really affordable. This is what made it so popular amongst the customers that the Indica gained more than 1,15,000 orders within a week of launch. Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company (TELCO), the previous name for the Tata motors, made sure that now the Indians won’t have to get stuffed inside a car as if they are the mashed potatoes inside a Samosa (a fried pastry).

More Car Per Car
More Car Per Car

Maybe it was designed locally, but the engine would have been a borrowed one. Right?

The In-house engine
The In-house engine

Totally wrong, when I say a car totally developed in India, I mean the engine too. It was powered by a homegrown 1.4-litre petrol engine named 475DL.  It was able to produce 60hp of power and a peak torque of 105Nm. The multipoint injected engine was mated to a 4-speed manual transmission. It was also offered with a 1.4-litre diesel engine which could produce a little less than 54hp of power and a peak torque of 85.3Nm. Indica was priced between ₹2,59,000 to ₹3,90,000 (ex-showroom). Tata Indica could reach a top speed of 150kmph, thanks to the engine that was also used in the pickup trucks lineup of Tata, the only difference was a bigger bore length.

The Most Modern Car the company built at that time!

There’s a reason why the Tata Indica is said to be the most modern car at that time. It was equipped with some of the most modern features that were a thing of imported cars only. The hatch was equipped with air conditioning and power windows, the features that one had to spend a lot more to feel. The top-spec DLX variant had central locking with remote, digital clock, tachometer and a 5-speed gearbox. Within two years of the launch, Tata Indica became the best selling car in the segment.

MG Rover's CityRover
MG Rover’s CityRover

The car was also launched in European markets with a rebadging of CityRover under the collaboration of Tata Motors and MG Rover Group. The CityRover was not able to stay for long in the European markets as the company went bankrupt in 2005.

Well, Not everything went as planned!

The company had a great start when Indica was launched. But as soon as the popularity rose, complaints dived in too. Customers were complaining that the car was not delivering the power and fuel efficiency as promised. Was the car going to fail?

Definitely not!

Tata Motors was quick to understand the dire need of an upgrade. The Indica V2 was launched with better internals which made sure that the major issues were taken care of. With this quick response, Indica became the most sought-after cars in the Indian automobile industry. The rivals were facing some real heat.

Tata Indica – Different Versions

Tata Indigo
Tata Indigo

The popularity gained by the Indica made the company introduce a sedan version of it. It was named the Indigo. There was a station wagon version too, known as Indigo Marina.

Tata Indica EV
Tata Indica EV

In 2009, a more modern Indica was revealed named Indica Vista. It was more focused towards the customers who wanted a hatch for themselves. But with Fiat Palio, Maruti Suzuki Alto, Maruti Suzuki Swift and many others as rivals, Vista was no able to gain a lot of attraction in the market.

In 2012, the company also introduced an electrified Indica Vista that was a concept which never took off.

Downfall! Even Tata Indica had to face it!

With the advent of companies like Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai, the competition became really tough. Maruti Suzuki Alto was launched in 2002. This launch made sure that people would spend their money on the Maruti Suzuki cars only. Alto became the highest selling car in India only to be dethroned after 15 long years and that too by its own sibling, the Swift.

After dragging the Indica Vista till 2018, the company decided to discontinue the model. This is where things ended for the Indica.

But still being the first India-made hatchback makes it stand apart from the others in the timeline.

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