The Tata Intra V30 looks set to make a mark for itself.

 

Story by Bhushan Mhapralkar

 

Attractive it looks in a shade of metallic blue. With those 14-inch diameter wheels painted in black, it stands tall. Neither small nor big enough to find itself in the thick of the 3.5-tonnes pick-up truck segment, this one is all set to contribute to a part of the commercial vehicle sphere in India that recorded the sale of an estimated 6.5 lakh units in FY2018-19. No mean feat indeed. Creating a pull with its looks, the vehicle being referred to fits snugly into a segment that is fast emerging. It is a segment that is looking at bridging the gaps and addressing the dynamic market requirements without losing attention to the many regulations that have come home to roost, and many that are on their way. Positioned in a category that is brushing uncomfortably close to the 3.5-tonnes pick-up truck segment, this vehicle has a premium air about feel. The chrome sprinkling on the front fascia marks the lead. Also do the ‘raised eyebrow’ clear lens headlamps and the well-sculpted grille. The bumper below is not a sorry alternative, but a real one, replete with lines, curves, taut surfaces and an air dam. On either side are fog lamp enclosures that contribute to its handsome looks.

Building on an all-new platform, the vehicle flaunts a GVW of 2.5-tonnes and a payload of 1300 kg. Leveraging the experience and knowledge from offering the Tata Intra V10 and Intra V20 (they were launched in 2019), this vehicle that we are referring to all this while is the new Intra V30 indeed.  Standing still it somehow looks bigger than the V10 or the V20. The reason perhaps could be 20 somehow. The reason perhaps would be its bigger cargo tray dimensions, its longer wheelbase over the V10, and the overall dimensions. With a GVW of 2.5-tonnes, the Intra V30 is the latest handsome looking kid on the block. If it is not the smartest, it is quite handsome for certain. Reflecting a generation gap between the trucks available until now, the Intra V30 has a distinct forward control cab stance. The modern look of the truck is clearly supported by its robotic build. Robots make the cab with little human intervention. This has an effect on the fit and finish. Highlighting a design element that translates into elegance, the cabin of the Intra V30 is a key element in the chain of components and aggregates that presents it with this property. The pictures seem to fail to do justice to its visual mass or the presence that it commands on the road. It is definitely bigger and beefier than the pictures can convey. Ironic isn’t it?

Measuring 4460 mm in length, the cargo tray of the vehicle measures 8.8 ftx5.3 ft. The ladder frame below is made up of hydroformed long and short members, and sub-structural parts. Minimal welding, according to Tata Motors, ensures that it is structurally quite strong. Powering the truck is a 70 hp 1.5-litre BSVI diesel engine mated to a five-speed gearbox. The engine is located longitudinally under the seats with the drive going to the rear wheels through a live axle. The front suspension is made up of five-leaf springs and the rear suspension is made up of eight-leaf springs. Engineered to serve various applications, including e-commerce, dairy, and agricultural produce, the Intra V30 has an upmarket feel about it. Get behind the wheel and the first impression is that of space. The cabin feels spacious. According to Tata Motors, it is of the walk-through variety. Hinting at an effort to achieve a fine balance between form of function, the cabin makes a positive first impression. The simple yet elegant dashboard draws attention first and foremost. It conveys an upmarket feel, and has as its part, a fully-digital instrument console. The stereo unit at the centre of the dash with round-shaped AC vents on either side, set in a plate that is the colour of the vehicle.

Highlighting a rare style statement, the other two air vents at the respective dashboard corners also have their ‘surrounds’ the colour of the vehicle. The quality of the louvres in the vent however is a letdown. Their fit and finish standards are clearly not on the page as that of the other trim bits or visible parts. They don’t look very hard-wearing either. Something that is expected of a truck, first and foremost. The controls for the blower and AC are situated at the centre. Air-conditioning is optional. The location of the gear shifter in the centre console frees up floor space in the cab. It adds an acute sense of airiness, contributed further by the large glass area. If the open storage space at the top and a lockable glove box underneath make the dashboard complete, the seats look well-shaped and are made of good fabric quality. They have integrated headrests, which is very welcome. Ergonomically well-engineered, the cabin of the Intra V30 comes across as a place where the driver or the owner-operator will not hesitate spending hours driving. He or she would not regret taking out their spouse post the business hours in the Intra. Why are we saying this? Trucks in this category are known to find such a use too as the primary vehicle and bread earner of the family.

The comfortable and spacious cabin has its parking brake placed such that the driver could lie down and rest between loads. There are two seats and a cushioned pad in between. The three-spoke steering is good to grip and the various controls are within easy reach. They require no straining or discomforting manoeuvre. The steering is electronically assisted. Almost as modern inside as the outside, there are two switches on the lower right corner of the dashboard. Two of these switches govern the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) regeneration and ‘eco’-drive function. The ‘eco’ switch could be engaged to extract higher fuel efficiency by altering the engine map when running on partial load or returning empty. The DPF switch, at the other end, is linked to BSVI technology that this truck possesses. It is about periodic cleaning of the DPF when the light on the dashboard calls for it. All that the driver has to do is to take the vehicle off the road and idle it for a few minutes until the soot has burned. Riding on 185 R14 wheels, the Intra V30 also comes with a real-time fuel efficiency coaching feature, which indicates the gear the vehicle is in. An arrow appears besides it to indicate that it is time to up-shift in the interest of fuel efficiency. Every time the arrow appears on the LCD screen, a chime also sounds. The chime is both helpful and annoying at times.

Featuring LED tail lamps, the Intra V30 has some very thoughtful touches that the driver and owner-operator will appreciate. The placement of the air cleaner for example, which makes it easy to service it and the placement of the battery. The spare wheel is placed at the rear, under the cargo tray. Boasting of a high ground clearance of 175 mm, the truck provides very good visibility. The central rear-view mirror helps keep an eye on the cargo stacked at the rear as well as what other vehicle is following. The ORVMs are just the right size. Turn the key and the truck wakes up to settle down to a steady idle. An early impression is that of good refinement. Get going and it feels sprightly. The controls are easy to operate and the quality of gear shift is comparable to that of a car. What works in favour is the effortless steering. It may feel a shade light at times (and very rarely), it has an element about it that drastically alters the driving experience. The well-configured gear ratios also contribute.

Even with the AC on (the October heat can get unsettling in Mumbai), the truck did not seem to lose its sheen. With the AC off, the truck felt quite energetic. With roughly 1300 kg worth of water bottles occupying the cargo tray, the Intra V30 did not seem to lose out on drive-ability. On the Palm Beach Road of Navi Mumbai, the Intra V30 kept up with traffic without difficulty. With its top speed limited to 80 kmph, it impressed with its ability to feel agile and energetic. Pointing at a widening generation gap between it and the vehicles in its category that were launched earlier, the Tata Intra V30 is priced Rs.6.91 lakh ex-showroom onwards. Scoring well in performance, the truck points at a good form factor. It highlights Tata Motors’ chief designer Pratap Bose’s hand at penning a new design language for CVs, and in the process, dares to call itself a smart truck. Without losing sight of its prime function as a cargo carrier, the Intra V30 hints at an ability to support its buyer in an increasingly challenging business environment. The rise in fuel costs, toll taxes, various other taxes, compliance costs and various other overheads are not easy challenges to deal with. They are perhaps compounded by efforts to lower the freight rates. Moving in a world that is tougher and more vulnerable to unprecedented challenges than it was when the Tata Ace was introduced in 2005, the Intra V30 looks set to make a mark for itself.

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