Tough to write about a car in times when ‘odds’ are so stacked against them from Paris to Delhi. Well, I will still try to hold an ‘even’ course during this post. With so much hullabaloo on pollution around, on return from Goa, I was just wondering that what would be the new buying decisions for the cars. But then couple of days before, one of my close journalist friend called on. She said, that she had two even numbered cars and now she wanted to sell one and buy another odd numbered one. She wanted me to accompany for the new purchase.
Her call cleared few of my doubts. A fear that many had already expressed in the raging debate. I was sure that its certainly not the car sales that are going to be affected. I could have now written my review without any prejudices!
Reviewing Cars has not been my cup of tea, actually being a travel writer, biker and adventure lover reviewing hotels, destinations and even bikes was certainly enjoyable and easier. But for me adventure means taking up new challenges and test-driving ZICA was absolutely one that I loved to take up. And doing so in serene settings of Majorda in Goa was always an added motivation.
Post-drive I had two thoughts in my mind— What makes people decide about a car they like to buy? Colours vibrant enough to match their nail polishes? Car is just a utility or it is style statement? It is by no means a normal decision. A person buys a car as a partner to it or the family for atleast next four to five years. That’s the reason companies leave no stone unturned in making an appealing statement with their cars.
Second big question I had is— which is the biggest segment in the passenger cars? There were times when Maruti 800 used to have the biggest share in volume of passenger cars. But that segment has by itself transformed a lot. Tata Nano and Maruti Alto still remain the basic level choices but that is now no more the talked about segment. Most talked about segment is the one where the volume is, and we can say it very safely that in the changed economic scenario we have seen the upward mobility of the entry level segment, which till a couple of years ago was located somewhere in the Wagon-R range. New entry level choices in the four-wheelers are placed somewhere in 5-6 Lacs Rs range. That’s where Tata’s new entrant is likely to be placed. (I say likely as it is yet to be officially launched and we still don’t know about the prices. Got to wait for few more months.)
Placing our new star in both the above scenarios and we can easily say that ZICA is a winner. ZICA is a hatchback as every new car is, especially in the entry and middle level segments. Now normally its the luxury segment where sedans comes to the play.
A car has to be reviewed in two ways- first, the driving comfort and second is performance. Driving comfort is something that entices us most and that includes almost all the look & feel affecting everybody entering the car—whether a driver or a passenger. ZICA clearly has many edges in this field and has to its credit many firsts in the category. ZICA justifies TATA MOTORS efforts to bring a cream of automotive designers from all its design centres under one roof at its design centre in Turin in Italy. And it was indeed amazing to do so starting from a scratch in just under 36 months.
We have to agree with the TATA MOTORS team when they say that special thought has been placed for different emerging needs while designing this car. Whether it is air-conditioning or music experience or leg-space or storage spaces—there is an improvisation on every front. And actually when you put an idea about few little things than you easily become a trendsetter and ZICA can surely claim to bring many things to the segment.
Roof lamp has been shifted from front to middle and it uses a white LED bulb to maintain the colour harmony of the interiors. One of the most talked about feature about ZICA is increased storage. The parking brake has been shifted from centre towards driver side to add many storage places in the console. To be precise ZICA has 7 bottle holders and two cup holders to store more than 5 litres of liquids for your drive. Overall it has 22 storage spaces for different utilities whether it is your parking ticket or tablet.
Not just the colours are trendy and the colour of car reflects even in its interiors, ZICA also bears a sporty look with a big spacious boot of more than 240 litres capacity. Headlamps are 3D with smoked lens, sporty black bezel and sharp tail lamps. Another excellent experience of ZICA is its music and I can say that it was among the best in-driving music experiences I ever had—a surround sound helped by eight speakers which does not offend even at high volumes. TATA’s have collaborated with Harman for the exclusive infotainment system and its worth every penny. Interestingly, for a hassle-free driving there is steering mounted control panel as well. Blue tooth connectivity for a smartphone integration is a norm but ZICA also has two another first-in-segment features: a step-by-step (turn-by-turn) smartphone enabled navigation app. It worked fantastically all through our drive and despite there being no pilots or navigators, we were able to negotiate streets of south Goa for almost three hours very easily and without feeling lost at any point. This navigation also displays on the infotainment screen. Car also has rear parking sensors with display on its infotainment screen.
Another thing about car’s music system is its first-in-segment Juke-Car App which actually lets every passenger in the car feed its choice of the song to the queue of the system so as everybody has control of the playlist and not just the driver. TATA Motors also claim that each door’s speaker grill has about 3500 surfaces done by a designer to give the best acoustic experience.
I will add couple of other things to this part of the review of the interior of ZICA. First is the seating comfort. A more than three hour non-stop drive nowhere felt as tiring or exhaustive, it was actually enjoyable. Driver’s seat is adjustable for height as well to get the best position. In an another smart innovation the front seat have been scooped from the back to give the passengers on the back a bit of more extra legroom. Having landed in hot & humid GOA from cools of Delhi made us enjoy the car-cooling as well. For quick cooling ZICA has driver and passenger centric AC-vents and I could feel the difference in the air-flow.
Well, that’s all as of now. More about driving experience and the comfort of car in the next post.