Tata Motors has over the years introduced a whole array of cars into the Indian market. While some of these versatile cars have worked, others haven’t and have slowly been forgotten. We take a look at 10 such forgotten cars and SUVs from Tata Motors.
The Tata Sierra was India’s first-ever compact SUV that hit the Indian roads way before that term was coined. This three-door SUV had a four-wheel drive and its butch look gave it a very masculine appeal. However, at the time it was launched, not many Indian’s could afford to splurge on something so unconventional. Tata sold the Sierra in India with 2.0-litre engines (non-turbo and turbocharged) sourced from Peugeot.
The Tata Estate was just what its name suggested, a station wagon. It borrowed most of its looks and mechanical parts from the Sierra. However, many people have remarked that it looked similar to estates from Mercedes Benz, which is not surprising considering the fact that Tata used to assemble Mercedes Benz cars in India before the German carmaker decided to go it alone in India. Unfortunately for the Estate, India has never been interested in station wagons and Tata’s attempt at it wasn’t that successful either.
The Tata Mobile was the carmaker’s first pick-up truck. It was aimed at family car buyers but was perhaps too early for its time, especially in a market that still has mileage and compactness as the most important selling factors.
The Mobile was not popular with those who wanted to haul goods either as they went for the Tata 407 instead. Also, that big 2.0-litre diesel engine, the same non-turbo 68 Bhp unit used by the early Sierra and Estate, didn’t help matters much.
Tata once offered the Safari SUV with a petrol engine. Yes, you did read that correctly. The petrol engine in question was a 135-Bhp 2.0-litre unit that was offered in the early 2000s and allowed the Safari to travel rather briskly. Unfortunately, this meant low mileage, which saw buyers migrate to the more efficient 2.0-litre 90 Bhp diesel instead. This spelt the end of the road for the petrol Safari.
Safari 3.0 DICOR
Tata once offered the Safari with a massive 2.0-litre engine similar to the one on the 407 pick-up truck. The reason for this was the arrival of the Scorpio in 2002, which forced Tata to give its flagship SUV a bit more grunt with a common rail fuel-injected 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine. However, a year after it was introduced, Tata managed to get the same amount of performance from its smaller 2.2-litre engine. The 3.0-litre Safari DICOR was then quietly phased out and the engine was reserved for commercial use.
The Indigo Marina was another attempt by Tata Motors at an estate car. The Indigo sedan was developed into a spacious station wagon called the Marina and even Ratan Tata himself bought one to transport his dogs with him. Unfortunately, the Marina fell victim to India’s aversion to estate cars and though both petrol and diesel models were offered, none of them really sold well.
The Indica platform is perhaps the most versatile one that Tata has ever used. One of the biggest cars on this platform was the Indigo XL which showed just how far the Indica could be stretched. The Indigo XL offered more space than a Honda Accord and offered a massive amount of legroom for those sitting at the back. A few made their way into the cab segment though personal car buyers found it a bit too strange and unconventional.
The Manza was Tata’s answer to the Honda City and the Maruti SX4 but came with a more affordable price tag. Launched in 2010, the Manza was offered with both petrol and diesel engines. The latter of the two was well accepted in the taxi market. Unfortunately, the Manza didn’t do so well in the personal-car segment and was eventually dropped in favour of compact sedans.
The Spacio was essentially a canvas-top Sumo and was launched in the early 2000s as the Spacio 3.0. It was offered with the Tata 407’s 3.0-litre diesel engine. The engine offered prodigious low-end grunt, which along with the canvas top allowed rural cab operators to squeeze in more than 20 people at a time. However, Tata abruptly pulled the Spacio out of the market and we haven’t seen a vehicle like it since from the carmaker.
The Tata Bolt was a slightly redesigned Indica Vista with better interiors, ABS and airbags. However, despite the makeover, in terms of design, it still looked too similar to the Vista, which didn’t really help its cause. The Bolt continues to be built by Tata Motors but is only sold for commercial use. Instead, Tata Motors sells the Zest to Indian personal car buyers and the compact sedan shares its mechanical parts with the Bolt.