Tata Motors Philippines now offers the new LX variant of their Indigo sub-compact sedan which features an anti-lock brake system and dual airbags up front. Apparently, what they first introduced as a possible fleet vehicle contender with their DLE variant is now being trimmed up to take on family car duties with the option for GrabCar and Uber side jobs as well, and for good reason.01-2T5C9702-final-sized

With tall seating in a passenger box with low shoulders, big headspace and lots of visibility through generous window glazing, the Indigo is an easy sedan to drive or ride, board or disembark from. And, the uncompromisingly large trunk space (which could even fit a wheelchair) is enough for long vacations as well as daily carpool commutes to school and office.

Dashboard with dual airbags on new LX variant
Dashboard with dual airbags on new LX variant

The most visible change is in the dashboard where the passenger side airbag goes into a modular enclosure resting atop the deep-sunken dash ledge but which is also kept flush with the windshield line. Not really obtrusive, the enclosure serves as excellent reminder not to let young children, much less infants in booster seats, sit up front.

Unchanged are the model’s unique powertrain, large-rimmed 14” wheels, robust yet supple suspension and, consequently, its surprisingly good handling. The 1.4L 475 TCIC turbodiesel is the newest, most powerful engine offered on this model globally, and is tuned to the same 70ps (69hp) @ 4500rpm and 135nm (100lb-ft) @ 2500rpm power specifications as the engine on Tata’s workhorse Super Ace light truck (see our full story review, The Tata Super Ace passenger prototype on a real world mission).

The 68hp Tata 1.4L 475 TCIC engine--note large scoop duct mounted under the hood to shunt air directly into the turbo intake)
The 68hp Tata 1.4L 475 TCIC engine–note large scoop duct mounted under the hood to shunt air directly into the turbo intake)

Very telling is the engine’s 5.5L oil capacity. The relatively large lubricant store (compared to 3.2L for the FIAT based engines on Tata’s newer sedan model, the Manza) is indicative of the kind of mileage this engine is engineered to endure. All told, this makes the Indigo the only sub-compact sedan in the market powered by a commercial vehicle grade turbodiesel.

The 14” rimmed wheels—large for a utilitarian microsedan—handle potholes and rough roads particularly well as these are sprung on a fully independent suspension system front and back, and which features McPherson struts all-around, on all four wheel assemblies. With firm shock dampeners to mitigate roll, the independent suspension goes a long way towards keeping all wheels firmly planted even on uneven surfaces or through G-pulling turns.

SRP for the Indigo LX is now PhP535,000, up by PhP10,000 or just 2% from last year’s PhP525,000 price tag for the older DLE variant without the new safety features. Evaluated against the new ABS and airbag features, that PhP10,000 price up-tick looks like a bargain.02-2T5C9712-final

The Indigo’s design dates back to when its hatchback basis, the Indica, was introduced in 1998. Looked at another way, with a history going that far back, its elegant mix of robust engine, dynamic suspension and extremely rigid body construction does explain its longevity. And this, along with the addition of modern safety features, certainly gives it the substance to overshadow the aging look of its design aesthetics.

RWD Note: Check in next week when we update this story with a video of our Indigo test drive, and again next month for our full review story where we report how to make this fuel-efficient sub-compact sedan zoom through overtakes.

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