When a group of 15-17 year olds turn their heads to check out a new car, it means the design team has hit the right notes. In Goa, while driving the new Tata Zica last week, not only schoolchildren but almost everyone appeared to be curious about this cute little hatchback, which will be launched in India next month. So, how good is the new Zippy Car (Zica) that, within the company’s portfolio, will sit between the Nano and the Bolt?
Exterior: Arrival of a new Tata
This Zica, from any angle, looks very good. It embraces the Designext language pretty well and stands out among the company products. In fact, there are absolutely no underpinnings from the previous design language (the Indica).
Even though some cues appear to have been borrowed from the competition – such as the Grand i10 – a closer look shows that the Zica’s design is very unique, very modern. Measuring 3,746mm in length, 1,647mm in width and 1,535mm in height, the Zica is slightly bigger than the Celerio and slightly smaller than the Grand i10. At 170 mm, it has 5mm more ground clearance than both.
Design is seen as among the top key factors for car purchase decisions and the Zica clearly reflects the company’s future direction.
Interiors: Roomy and now far better quality
Despite the Zica being an entry-level hatchback car, Tata has not compromised on plastic quality inside the cabin, which is clearly better than what is found in the Celerio and matches the fit and finish of the Grand i10. The dashboard is elaborately laid out and all switches are within easy reach. The steering wheel is just the right size and offers decent grip. There is a tiny multimedia display that also works for the turn-by-turn navigation app that you need to download. It gets an intelligent Connectnext infotainment system exclusively developed by Harman. Among other things, there are eight speakers in the car and the audio experience is the best you will find in the segment.
The interior design is very functional and there are as many as 22 utility spaces to store things ranging from files to books to glasses to bottles. The boot space is a decent 240 litres, most of it usable. However, we found the luggage loading lip to be a little higher than some cars in the segment.
The colour scheme, body-coloured air-vent surroundings, good quality plastic, new gear lever, supportive seats … all make the Zica feel plusher than many of its rivals.
Engines: A tron and a torq
Tata has developed all-new engines for the Zica – the Revotron and Revotorq.
The Revotron – the 1199cc, three-cylinder petrol engine made of aluminium – produces a peak power of 85PS and a torque of 114Nm. On the road, while its performance is adequate, the engine produces relatively more sound than most other petrol engines. It is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox and soon might get an AMT too. While Tata has not disclosed its fuel-efficiency figures, during our 100-odd km drive we got 14 kmpl, as displayed on the on-board computer.
The Revotorq is a 1047cc, three-cylinder diesel engine made of cast iron but with an aluminium head. It produces a peak power of 70PS and a healthy torque of 140Nm. Its performance is quite good and once the turbocharger kicks in at around 1,800rpm, the driving it is effortless and fun. We got a very impressive mileage of 22.5 kmpl from the diesel. (The Revotorq, in fact, is Tata Motors’ new diesel engine family and the Zica is the first car to be powered by it.)
We don’t expect the Zica to offer the maximum mileage figures in this segment; one of the reasons is that it is a heavy car. The petrol weighs 1,012 kg while the diesel weighs 1,080 kg.
Both petrol and diesel come with multi-drive modes – City and Eco – thus giving the driver an option to choose from peppy or frugal performance.
Safety: Both active and passive
The Zica will be equipped with a number of active and passive safety features, including dual front airbags, anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and corner stability control, rear parking sensors, etc. However, Tata has not yet announced which all variants will get which all safety features.
Verdict: The best Tata we’ve seen
We expect it to be priced somewhere between the Celerio (starting R 3.9 lakh, petrol) and the Grand i10 (starting R 4.69 lakh, petrol). The Zica might just be a Grand i10 you aspire for at the price of a Celerio.