The first thing that strikes you about the Zica is that Tata has finally moved away from the ‘Indica’ design theme for its latest hatchback, and that in itself is a big achievement. Zica is an extremely crucial product for Tata Motors and, if priced on par — better yet, undercut — the Maruti SuzukiCelerio, it might just be the game changer that Tata has wanted for a long time because on product value factor, Zica has a lot going in its favour.
Tata’s design team has done a reasonably decent job with the Zica. It is a balanced and well thought out design which sits confidently in profile. The front is characterised by a simple and straightforward honeycomb grille painted glossy black and there’s appreciably no overdose of chrome, only subtle garnishing on the grille and fog-lamp casings. It may seem that the tail gate has strikingly similar design to the Hyundai Grand i10, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The tail lamps, however, might be Zica’s weakest point in exterior design. There’s a sense of oddity and incoherence about them when viewed against the otherwise well-executed rear section. The Tata Zica isn’t an instantly recognisable or attention-grabbing car — especially in relatively prosaic colours.
Tata Motors has taken a great leap ahead in interior quality with the Zica. The materials used are of appreciable quality (for the segment the car is intended to be positioned in) and four average sized adults will find sufficient space inside. If you’re relatively tall, however, your head may foul with the roof and thigh support might seem lacking. The front seats are very accommodating for most body shapes.
Zica has an impressive features list and flaunts some first-in-segment items, too. There’s a Harman infotainment system with 8 speakers that supports Aux-In, USB, and Bluetooth streaming and can be operated through steering mounted controls. The Zica also gets a navigation system that gives turn-by-turn guidance on the screen when synced through a phone-based App (available for only Android OS currently). There’s also a special feature called Juke Car app which can pair up to ten phones to allow for one master phone to play host for playing music from any of the synced phones.
The Zica comes with reasonable levels of safety features in its top trim that include dual airbags, anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and corner stability control. It also gets rear parking sensors with a rather medieval looking display on the infotainment screen.
Tata has developed two engines for the Zica — a 1.2-litre petrol engine or a 1.05-litre diesel. The 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine develops peak power of 84bhp@6,000rpm and a maximum torque of 114Nm@3,500rpm while the diesel engine is good for 69bhp@4,000rpm and 140Nm@1,800-3,000rpm. Both engines feature a dual overhead cam design and breathe via 4 valves per cylinder.
While both the engines do an admirable job of moving the bulk of the car (1,012kg for petrol and 1,080kg for diesel), they aren’t particularly enjoyable. The Zica is a regular city car and it makes no claim of pleasing the enthusiasts. There’s a drive-mode selector which switches between normal and Eco modes. The Eco mode limits the performance of the car to aid fuel efficiency and it can get frustrating even when going about at slow city speeds, so its best advised to stick to ‘normal’ which is the default driving mode. The diesel has a strong mid-range but it’s the petrol motor that shines brighter. Zica’s petrol engine is as flexible as the diesel while being smoother and more linear in its power delivery and the range of speeds it manages in different ratios was just as high.