Tata Motors recently unveiled the Intra compact truck in the small commercial vehicle segment. After the phenomenal success of its ACE series of models for which the company has sold over 20 lakh units over the last 14 years, Tata Motors is now aiming at stepping up the game by serving visual richness along with a reliable product in the new Intra. The company claims to have analysed product aspirations, utilities and functionalities of over 3,500 customers across the country and also tested the product with around 300 customers spread across cities of Pune, Lucknow and Chennai. Tata Motors ERC team worked on the development of the new Intra for four years and the company claims to have designed the product for customers looking at acceleration and power even during the full loads for faster turnaround time and thus optimised the total cost of operations. Designed to serve the growing aspirations and stringent timelines in the intra-city segment, Tata Motors is targeting to cater applications like mineral water distribution, fruits & vegetables, industrial goods, food grains, construction materials, hardware items, LPG distribution, and more with the new Intra.
The Intra looks appealing from the front as it has aggressive looks with big clear headlamps, chrome bar over the grill and body coloured bumpers with chrome insets, similar to what is generally seen in the passenger vehicle space. The 2.3 tonne GVW Intra is based on the hydroformed chassis frame, which Tata Motors claims is first in the SCV category. The hydroformed long members chassis is developed using lesser welding joints across the frame, which leads to higher structural strength and lower NVH levels in the cabin. The vehicle spans 4,316 mm in length, 1,639 mm wide and is 1,918 mm high and the full forward cabin is bolt-able in chassis for vehicle stability. The Intra gets a load body of 2,512 x 1,602 x 463 mm and is designed to carry payload of 1.1 tonnes. Where the front axle is rigid, the rear axle on Intra is salisbury type with hypoid gears and semi floating axle shafts. The Intra has semi-elliptical leaf spring suspension on both front and rear with a wheelbase of 2,250 mm as of now and rides 165 R14 LT 8PR tubeless radials for better ground clearance even during the full loads across varied terrains.
Getting inside the cabin for an average height person like me is relatively easy. For anyone who is familiar with a standard CV cabin, stepping into the Intra will be a new experience. The gear lever has been placed on the dashboard to provide easy walk-through cabin and reduce driver fatigue during prolong working hours. The cabin is plush and gets a decent mix of body colour framing around the music system and air vents. The ergonomically designed cabin provides the driver a command over the vehicle and three-spoke steering wheel adds on to the visual appeal of the cabin. There are also a lot of pockets across the cabin - dashboard, door vents, etc, for storage of bottles and other requisite stuff along with a lockable glove box for keeping the necessary documents safely during goods transportation. The OVRM offer a wide view of the sides that will prove helpful during the city manoeuvrability and easy chip in and out from tight parking spots. The Intra that we got our hands on was deployed with an air-conditioner; however, will the AC be standard on the new SCV, we will get to know about this more closer to the launch scheduled later this month.
The new Intra gets a 1,396 cc DI engine that delivers 70 Ps power at 4,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 140 Nm at 1,800-3,000 rpm. The engine is mated to a GBS 65 synchronous gearbox with cable shift mechanism having five forward & one reverse that allows the vehicle to offer faster acceleration and low turnaround time. The vehicle gets a power steering as standard fitment and a low turning circle radius of 4.75m for easy manoeuvrability even on narrow and congested roads. Intra has been engineered with 45 % gradeability for easily negotiating steep hilly roads & flyovers. As per the CMVR, the Intra can achieve a maximum speed of 80 kmph.
Crank the engine and turn on the air-conditioner, not much of noise filters into the cabin. The filtered noise can even be suppressed more with the decent music system in the new Intra. People familiar with cabins of both PVs and CVs will not find much of a difference till the time workhorse starts to move ahead. Loaded with one tonne load across the deck, there is a lug in the first gear but the sprint smoothens up with gears shifting up. The gearbox allows for smoother shifting of gears (both up-shift and downshift) and does not require much effort, seen in the case of CVs. The Intra also gets a gear shift advisor (GSA) that guides driver to select the correct gear & accordingly assists to shift up or down so that fuel efficiency can be optimised. Big crown and pinion wheel ratio of 4.88 that gives more thrust on the wheels to enhance torque delivery and there is also not much of change in the ride even during rough terrains as the vehicle suspension plays a decent role in keeping the vehicle stable and rides well though patches. The Intra is deployed with disc brakes in front and drum in the rear for confident braking and safe journey.
Powered by the premium feel of the vehicle, the Intra will be priced a bit on the higher side against the ACE to ensure no segment overlap. The Intra is currently being manufactured at Tata Motors' Pantnagar facility and the company claims to almost double the earnings for its customers against the ACE. Company executives stress that they also have the AMT in the pipeline and are awaiting the relevant demand. What is interesting to see is the Intra is set for a launch at a time when the CV industry is gasping for fresh air as the sales continue to plunge. Secondly, although Intra's engine is scalable to BS VI norms, the Intra is BS IV compliant as of now and placed against the ACE which grew 60 % yoy. BS VI compliant fuel availability still is a matter of concern for automakers and Tata motors claims that pre-buying effect might not play a major role in the SCV segment, which is a consumption-driven segment and the Intra is more of a segment creating a strategic launch for them.