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The mods must be crazy!

A hatch that's hotter than the devil's three-piece suit and sharper than his trident - the one-off Indica Silhouette is just what the doctor ordered, says PARAMESWARAN


Don't be misled into complacence by the Silhouette's smiling grille - this is the kind of dog that barks loudly and mauls harder



BAD TO THE BONE Don't miss the flared wheel arches, the aero bits, massive rubber and dual-twin tailpipes... yes, it gets meaner inside!

If one were to associate cars with David and Goliath, the latter would probably translate into something like the `move over mousy, I'm coming through' Pagani Zonda or the unpronounceable Koenigsegg - rear-wheel driven and with the unsubtle, ham-handed wallop of a massive, aft-positioned engine. David, on the other hand, would probably come loaded with the humble virtues of a family econobox - munching on meagre leaves for lunch and generally pottering about town with a `that nice shepherd boy from next door' disposition throughout his lifetime.

David won the first battle easily enough - with a crude sling, a stone and a bit of foolhardy luck, but he's itching for Round II and is definitely prepared today. And he's been working on it quietly, ignoring the old-fashioned Bullworker, which provides beefy arms and a big chest, but leaves the package standing on a pair of spindly, knock-kneed legs. A stint with the automotive equivalent of VLCC - J Anand's Jayem Auto in Coimbatore has instead added meaningful muscle where it never was - and that means practically everywhere.

Enter the dragon


This here, ladies and gentlemen, is the Indica Silhouette, our David in the fight for brawny supremacy. Some of you who visited the Auto Expo in Delhi earlier this year would have probably seen it at the Tata stall, but for the rest of you, let me tell you, this is the kind of package that could easily upstage my personal favourite dream machine - that little big supercar, the fearsome Renault Clio V6 hatch.

Though it looks in many ways like the ubiquitous Indica, this is not the kind of object you would want claiming temporary tenancy of your rear view mirrors, no matter how temporary - it is a car whose keys you'd itch to be thrown to you. Don't be misled into complacence by the Silhouette's smiley grille - this is the kind of dog that barks loudly and mauls harder. Massive, flared wheel arches accommodate extra-wide rubber and add beefy girth to the visual package. A chin spoiler, replete with winglets, an underbody, matte-black diffuser and a tray roof-spoiler behind regulate airflow over and below the car. Needless to say, the floorpan and flanks of the car have been extensively reworked too, though visually at least; the four-door configuration of the original family hatch has been retained.

Fast action hero


There's more... The rear seats don't open to that familiar sofa-like seat - what you jaw drops to is a massive, all-alloy racing engine, and all 3500cc of it, with over 320 bhp on tap. This lump, along with its mountings, acts as a stressed member to the chassis and provides added torsional stiffness to cope with gut-wrenching extra power and the hardcore driving style that is duly expected of one behind the wheel. The engine is no slouch either - its antecedents are impressive indeed - it was originally developed by Renault in collaboration with Nismo (remember the Nissan Skyline GT-R?), adapted for competition and features a semi-dry sump. Translating its magic into rear wheel motive force is a six-speed sequential gearbox with steering mounted paddle-shifters - the electronics that make this work comes from Coimbatore and not from abroad, as does the beautifully crafted, chrome moly spaceframe that spider-webs the car's interiors.

What's left of the space behind won't accommodate a couple of suitcases either - in the boot are horizontally-laid dampers and pushrod-activated double wishbones made of lightweight aluminium - a sight that will look pretty much at home in an F1 car. Additionally, a limited slip diff and six-piston calliper Brembo discs complete the package, along with a funky, `Back to the Future' digital instrument cluster on the dash, Sparco seats and racing pedals.

The Silhouette actually has an interesting background. J Anand, in collaboration with French race car manufacturer, Solution F, actually builds a similar car with a strap-on fibreglass body of the Renault Megane for the French Supertourismé series. Among other cars that take part in this series, are the new Opel Astra and the Fiat Punto - all these cars are mechanical and structural photocopies under the skin. And since Tata might compete in the series to bolster the image of the Indica in Europe, senior vice president, Rajiv Dube was interested in what Jayem had to offer - the 850 kg Indica Silhouette. And yes, in case I forgot to mention it, this machine reportedly can turn out better laps than the Porsche GT3 on some of the race tracks in Europe - move over, Goliath! Needless to say, we're interested too - how about we take the Silhouette on a track-day outing, Tata, pretty please?

TECHNICAL DATA INDICA SILHOUETTE How much?
Not on sale
How big?
Kerb weight: 850 kg

Engine

Layout: 3498cc V6, petrol
Max power: 320+ bhp
Installation: Rear mounted, rear wheel drive

Performance

Top speed: 220 kph+ (estimated)
Fuel economy: Does it really matter?

Brakes

Front: 6 calliper vented disc
Rear: 4 calliper vented disc

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