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'DNA 'drive: Tata Manza Club Class

Friday, 2 November 2012 - 11:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

With so many more features, you’ll wonder if that price is a misprint of some sort. Let’s dive right in and dissect the new Manza.

As cars go, Tatas have always been about giving the customer as much space and as many features as they can cram in, and that has generally worked out very well for them, as they’ve come to be known as the value -for-money choice in the segments they’re competing in.

But this time, they’ve gone a little overboard. Enter the Tata Manza Club Class. With so many more features, you’ll wonder if that price is a misprint of some sort. Let’s dive right in and dissect the new Manza.

They really weren’t kidding around when they said they’re going to push the Manza upmarket. Okay, so the basic shape is pretty much the same. We were expecting at least new bumpers and possibly, differently designed headlights and tail lamps, but for what could be a mid-cycle refresh, it’s surprisingly tame.

There’s generous embellishments of chrome accents outside, starting with the fog light surrounds and along the sides all the way to the back of the car, it doesn’t seem to have been overdone though, and suits the car quite nicely. There’s also new design alloy wheels, with a split-spoke pattern which fills out those wheel wells quite nicely. And, of course, there’s now a new element called the infinity contrast roof, which sees the roof painted in a different colour than the rest of the body. From the right angles, this contrast looks quite striking. Looking down at it from a higher perch, for example, certainly gives it that premium feel.

Overall, it’s a great way to extend the life of this design, but we’re definitely looking forward to more from the Tata design studios.

Come inside and you’ll be greeted by a host of changes. In fact, save for the basic layout of the dash, everything is different. In place of the old stereo now sits a double DIN touchscreen unit that has Bluetooth and navigation capabilities. Below that, instead of the traditional three knobs for the air conditioning, now sits an automatic climate control unit.

Okay, so the navigation system, you could have fitted in the aftermarket, but something like a climate control system is a boon to have and is near impossible to retrofit. The stereo produces some decent quality sound and can be paired with your phone for hands free calling and such. The Navigation, we didn’t really get a chance to test out, but given how mapping and guidance has improved for our country, we’re pretty sure that this one will keep you from getting lost.

Apart from that, it comes from the factory upholstered in some supple Italian leather on all the seats and a quirky looking dash. Little things like a centre armrest in the rear seat and completely adjustable steering wheel help you get comfortable, whether it’s behind the wheel or in the back seat. To top that off, there’s so much space (they claim best-in-class legroom, and we’re not about to argue with that) that you can stretch out and relax.

Ride and handling
The features don’t just stop at what you can see and feel though, the Manza has a long list of safety features, like dual airbags and ABS with EBD. Those apart, they didn’t seem to mess with the ride and handling too much though. It’s not like the Manza needed any help in the ride-quality department. Low speed and high speed undulations and bumps are negotiated with ease. Nothing generally unsettles the car, but it does seem to be a little too soft for our liking though.

That means that when it comes to handling and changing directions, the Manza does start to show its weight. Steering response is a little slow and there’s a good amount of understeer when you turn, but that’s expected anyway, the Manza isn’t exactly a corner carver. What it does offer though, is some great ride quality that will make sure you arrive comfortable at your destination.

We would have preferred if the car was just a little bit stiffer in the suspension department. That would have given it great ride still but would have improved the handling loads.

Under the hood of the Manza sits the 1.3-litre Quadrajet or Q-Jet as they call it now. By now, everyone and their uncle knows of the merits of the Fiat MultiJet engine and this engine is none other than that with different badging. In 90 bhp guise, there’s power across the rev range, but there’s also some persistent lag. Note that the Manza is one of the heavier cars that the MultiJet goes into, so performance won’t be as blistering as it is in the other applications.

Right off the line, there’s some lag, but once the turbo comes off, you’re well and truly in business, the car takes off with confidence and this steady push of power doesn’t peak and drop off quickly either. Thanks to the variable vane turbocharger, the power comes on a little earlier and sort of plateaus before falling off, so you’ve got a very meaty powerband to work with, and in city traffic, that’s a real boon.

Fuel efficiency is a big factor, of course, and the Manza sure doesn’t disappoint. In a city cycle, it managed figures close to 15 kmpl. Which for something that weighs as much as it does and given the heavy traffic conditions, is quite a feat, and you can be sure that that figure will only go up as you hit the open roads of the highways.

So, it would seem that Tata has managed to pull it off once again. They’ve managed to cram in as many features as they can without affecting the price of the car. It’s another thing that we were expecting a more comprehensive refresh (Who knows, that could well be around the corner as well) but for a stop-gap solution, the Manza Club Class does perfectly.

Tata Manza Club Class

Price (ex-Delhi): Rs5.7 Lakh
Kitna deti hai? 15 kmpl in our test
Fuel tank: 44 litre
Full tank good for: 660 km
Engine: 1248cc, I-4, turbo-diesel
Power: 88 bhp@4000 rpm
Torque: 200 nm@1750-3000 rpm
Suspension: Good for family of 5: Yes
Dimensions in feet: L/W/H: 14.47/5.58/5.09

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