Tata Motors is among the few Indian automotive brands that have made a name for themselves internationally. The brand has been in the passenger vehicle business since 1988, although its origin dates back to a much earlier date. The company has made and launched a lot of cars till now and in almost every segment of the Indian car market. Some of them were hits while others did not go down that well. The ones that didn’t do very well on the sales chart were slowly forgotten. Here are 10 such forgotten cars and SUVs made by Tata.
The Sierra was among the first proper SUVs to be sold in the country. It had three doors, a large rear glass area and the later variants even came with a 4×4 drivetrain. On the inside, it came with several class-leading features that made it ahead of its time. The butch looking Sierra, however, never really took off as few Indians could afford to splurge on something so unique, and unconventional. The Sierra was sold with 2-litre diesel and turbo diesel engines. A few enthusiasts still maintain their Sierra SUVs like new.
Tata forayed into a lot of vehicle types during their initial years. This also included a station wagon that was known as Tata Estate. The Estate shared a lot of its mechancial and aesthetic parts borrowed from the Sierra. It is said that the exterior body design of the Estate was inspired by the Mercedes Benz station wagons of the 1980s. This makes sense too as Tata used to assemble Mercedes Benz vehicles until the latter decided to part ways. As with the Sierra, the Tata Estate didn’t really catch the fancy of the buyers. Moreover, station wagons have never done well in India and the Estate was no different.
The Tatamobile was, in fact, the vehicle on which many other Tata vehicles like the Sierra and the Estate were based. The pickup truck was aimed for personal use but the concept was way too early for India. People who wanted to haul goods bought Tata 407s and those who wanted a pick-up truck for occasional use hired one. Therefore, Tata Mobile became the unwanted child of the company and was a sales failure. It used to share the 2 liter, 68 Bhp non-turbo diesel engine with the Estate and the early Sierras.
A petrol powered Safari? Well, don’t be surprised. The Safari Petrol did exist in the early 2000s. The SUV used a 2 liter, 135 Bhp petrol engine, which gave it tremendous sprinting ability. Fuel efficiency kept up with the sprinting ability, promptly forcing prospective buyers to look at the much more efficient 2 liter, 90 Bhp TCIC diesel instead. The Safari Petrol soon joined the list of the Tatas that never made it BIG.
Safari 3.0 DICOR
Did you know that the Tata Safari once shared its engine with the 407 pick up truck? Well, almost. As the Scorpio arrived sometime in 2002, Tata went back to the drawing board and gave its flagship SUV a big diesel motor and common rail fuel injection. The Safari 3.0 DICOR was born. Less than a year later, Tata found that similar power and torque could be squeezed out from a 2.2 liter motor. The 3.0 DICOR was then reserved for commercial use, and the Safari that featured this engine was squeezed out.
After failing with the Estate, Tata again tried to experiment and launch a station wagon several years later. It launched the Indigo Marina, which was based on an elongated Indica platform and was a spacious station wagon. Even Ratan Tata used one to transport his dogs. However, station wagons were never quite a thing in India and even after so many years of Estate’s failure, the Indigo Marina again proved to be a sales failure.
Tata was not the one to shy away from experimenting a bit with its cars and the same led to the development of the Indigo XL. Built on the same Indica platform which saw a number of vehicles spun from it, the Indigo XL offered more space than a Honda Accord at the rear. Massive legroom was its forte and the cab segment even bought a few cars. Personal car buyers, however, didn’t really go gaga over it and hence sales were low throughout its production spin.
The Indigo Manza came as a more stylish and premium alternative to the regular Indigo sedan. It was launched in 2010 and was meant to be a rival for the likes of the Hyundai Verna and the Honda City among others but at a much lower price tag. The Maza came with both petrol and diesel engines and was a definitive step in quality by Tata. It even came with a Fiat Multijet diesel engine in 90 Bhp-200 Nm state of tune and was well accepted by the cab market. Lacklustre private ownership sales though made Tata discontinue this one too.
The Spacio is not only a very different type of vehicle from Tata but also something that is now as rare as Dodo. The canvas top vehicle was based on the Sumo and existed in the early 2000s. It was called the Spacio 3.0 (Don’t confuse it with the Sumo Spacio). It was powered by a 3.0 litre DI diesel engine that was taken from the Tata 407 and was reputed to be load lugger. This engine’s prodigious low-end grunt, along with the flexibility that only a canvas top can afford, allowed rural taxi operators to squeeze more than 20 people at a time. Tata pulled the plugs on this vehicle abruptly, which probably is the reason why is it no longer seen on the roads.
The Bolt was a refreshed version of the Indica Vista that came with updated body design, along with new headlamps and tail lamps. Also updated were the interiors of the hatchback and were way better than that of the Vista’s. The overall quality of the car was improved along with the Bolt gaining ABS and Airbags. Despite all the aesthetic and other improvements, the Bolt could not bring enough customers to the dealerships. The car is still on sale but has been forgotten by people. It is a rare sight on roads too which further diminishes its existence.