Car hire is always a bit of a lottery. You never know exactly what make or model of vehicle awaits you, only that it will be “mid-size” or “economy”. Usually the car is from a major manufacturer but recently I had the dubious pleasure of renting a car that I had never seen before and frankly, never wish to see again.
The car in question was a Tata Indigo. Tata is an Indian conglomerate and the Indigo seems to have been developed primarily for sale in India, but is also being sold in Europe. I’m sure it meets all the relevant legislation but it’s an awful car that pales in comparison to any other US, British, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese or Korean car I have ever driven.
How do I describe how bad it was? It was just everything….the interior trim was a sea of poorly finished grey plastic with matching grey cloth seats. The sunglasses holder didn’t stay closed. The driver’s electric window didn’t close properly. The central locking was unreliable.
The boot catch was so insubstantial that I feel it would have opened with a good pull. The boot lid itself was such thin steel that I could easily pull the corner of the lid away from the body of the car. To be fair, the boot was a good size, getting three 20 kg suitcases in there without too much trouble.
The engine was uninspiring, an underpowered 1.2 litre engine, and overtaking on anything other than half a mile of clear road would be a mistake. The tyres (on steel wheels) were narrow in comparison to most modern cars and I’m sure would have made road-holding on a wet and twisty road somewhat challenging. Fortunately, it never rained and the roads weren’t that twisty.
The steering was adequate: the car would go round corners as directed but the power steering didn’t give much feedback to the driver. On the plus side, the brakes seemed to work fine, though I never had to really stamp on them. I was always too scared about having an accident to go very fast.
Apparently a top of the range model costs around 600,000 Indian rupees, which converts to US $10,000. Still too expensive.
Overall, it was simply a terrible car and the luggage space was the only redeeming feature. Top tip to car rental companies – don’t expect your customers to be repeat customers if you have the Tata Indigo in your fleet.
Photos courtesy of Michge.