Sunday, January 01, 2012

Tata Venture GX-test drive and review

Tata Venture is a diesel powered minivan good enough to carry 8 people comfortably inside city. Venture is far more comfortable, drivable and stylish compared to its rival Maruti’s Omni and Eeco. I got it for review from Tata Motors and got to drive it around for couple of days in Chennai city. It came with a temporary registration and I was told not to go outside 70km radius of Chennai city, hence had to confine my drive to city limits.
Tata Motors has positioned Venture as a commercial vehicle, a class above the immensely popular Tata Magic and below the Winger. Venture is priced half way between Magic and Winger and its features and performance is at the same ratio.

On paper, the 1.4litre, 71PS engine looks at par with everyday cars (Ford Figo TDCi has 1.4 litre 69PS engine) but while reviewing Tata Venture, need to keep sedan and hatchback experience aside. Venture is not built for a drag race with everyday cars. You need lot of straight road to reach the designated top speed (125kmph when loaded, 135kmph if empty). Because the venture GX I got was very new and hadn’t completed its 1000kms running-in period, I had to act gentle on it, without pushing it to its limits. In Tata Venture 90-100kmph is easily doable and is fairly adequate for normal city driving conditions.

Venture tries to compete with Maruti Omni and Maruti Eeco. It wins hands down in terms of style, features, performance. Venture is available in diesel while Omni and Eeco are not. (Omni is available in LPG and CNG, Eeco is available in CNG, but CNG vehicles can be used in only few select cities). While diesel is its plus point, the same is also a drawback. Buyers of family minivans, who are influenced by the statement “You Don’t need a diesel if you don’t travel more than 50kms a day” might get put off by a slightly higher price tag of Diesel powered Venture. Venture has no petrol variant and is a lakh or two expensive than Eeco and Omni. Having a petrol vehicle might have helped Tata beat Maruti in its own game. But positioned in Commercial vehicles category, venture team probably didn’t think of petrol engine since commercial operators would never wish to buy a petrol taxi.

Tata Venture GX’s key features (most of these are not available in Eeco and Omni)
  • Collapsible steering (in case of collision, steering rod disconnects at 3 points, thereby impact of collision isn’t transferred to the driver)
  • Child lock. Prevent kids from accidentally opening the door. Makes Venture an ideal choice for school minivan
  • Power steering-Easier maneuver
  • Rear Parking sensor- Ultrasonic sensor has its limitations, but still it makes life easier for the driver
  • Rear AC vents
  • Power windows for front 2 seats
  • Driver information system- shows more digital info than its peers
  • Rear seats have head rest.
  • Diesel: Venture is available in diesel and its rivals don’t
  • Venture appears more stylish than its rivals (style is subjective, also because venture is new it gets good eyeballs)
  • Body coloured mirrors that are internally adjustable
  • Engine immobilizer- beeps if you lock without closing the doors properly, beeps if anyone attempts to break in. Engine won’t start unless you’ve the digital lock with you.
  • 2 glove boxes (a bit small though) for front passenger and vanity mirror in sun visor.
  • Ground clearance looks too good from side, but effective ground clearance is about 160mm
What Venture doesn’t have:
  • Venture has only 4 doors-For the middle row, no right side entry/exit as in Omni or Eeco. Having one door less is manageable, but some may find it inconvenient.
  • While Eeco’s Engine is housed in front portion of the vehicle, Venture’s engine is located right under the driver’s seat. Given that it is a diesel, expect a bit more noise than a normal car
  • Venture is hard to find in a normal Tata Showroom which sells passenger cars. You need to visit showrooms that sell commercial vehicles. Because of this, a passenger car buyer is unlikely to get to see Venture and think of an upgrade. In case of Maruti, one who came to buy an alto might just decide to go for an Eeco, considering the larger space and seating capacity and minimal price difference.
  • Venture GX’s price tag comes close to Bolero DI BS2 and Sumo Gold BS3. Emission norms apart, Rural buyers might be tempted towards more rugged jeep than a minivan.
Venture could have impressed City taxi operators who run Omni LPG. But I guess taxi operators are either comfortable with tried and tested Indica or are going for Sumo.

When I was driving the venture around, many people showed interest in the vehicle. Few checked it out inside and outside, asked about its price.
How does Venture feel to drive?
I have not driven an Eeco, but have driven Omni couple of times. Venture feels much better to drive than an Omni. Can’t compare venture with other city cars though. As I said before, venture is not meant for drag race.

Variants: Available in 3 variants. Cheapest one- CX has a lesser powerful engine and sans many of the features listed above. EX is an intermediate version with many more features and GX is the top variant

Cost:  Venture’s price ranges from 4.5 lakhs to 5.5 lakhs, ex showroom. Add another 10-12% approx to get on road price. Because of diesel and has many more features, it is priced a lakh or two above Eeco.

Tata Venture Chennai onroad price: EX 4+1: Ex showroom: 490254, On road: 5,70,343
Venture GX: 7+1: Ex showroom: 541141, On road: 6,28,061 (Sumo Victa CX costs about 6.6 lakhs on road)

Some photos were clicked by Vinay. Standby for a comparison with Maruti Omni and Eeco

View more photos here


Mridula said...

Wish you a very happy 2012 Shrinidhi and may you do more self drives :D

Deguide said...

In current scenario any diesel driven vehicle seems to be hit. I am sure this too will pick up volume eventually. ABS brakes and rear door power windows absent seems to be a plus point given Indian conditions of flooding.

Shrinidhi Hande said...



Umesh sir..

ritika deshpande said...

Hi there..I bought the Tata Venture and before that researched it a lot. I would like to contribute some of it for people looking to book a test drive of the diesel vehicle, all the details are on the website of the MPV. Just go to