Tata‘s exceptionally popular LPT, LPS, and LPK series of trucks (also known as the ‘Legacy‘ range) in the 25-49 tonne category has been given a huge make-over and is now called as the new ‘SIGNA‘ range. Touted as the penultimate range of modern trucks from the Tata’s stable, next to the Prima series, the new Signa range consists of three prime variants – 4923.S Tractor (49-tonne GVW), 3118.T rigid-haulage (31-tonne GVW), and 2518.K construction tipper (25-tonne GVW).
Tata Motors presented the Signa range at the 2016 Delhi Auto Expo for the first time, and the trucks are already on sale. With a nominal cost hike, the Signa offers modern cabin design, improved ergonomics and NVH levels, and reliable engines delivering improved productivity and efficiency.
To start with, the new Signa range features an impressive visual and functional changes, both inside and out. In terms of the exterior design, the Signa looks more modern and eye-catching than LPT would, thanks to the new mesh grille and bumper design that includes fresh clear-lens headlamp and turn indicator units and rounded fog lamps. On the sides, the plastic wheel arch claddings are interesting as well. The use of composite materials in the exterior decorations (including a lot of plastics), along with improved fit and finish is welcoming. However, the fact that the cabin is derived from the LPT is quite apparent. Take for instance the pillar racks and large wind shield block, along with the chunky and heavy metal bumper.
Moving inside, the Signa offers a fresh ambience and feel of a modern truck inside the two-point suspended (non-tiltable) cabin. The dashboard layout is new, while modern-looking instrument cluster is attractive and easy to read, and the HVAC controls are simple to operate. The large 2-spoke steering wheel isn’t any novel and Tata could have replaced it with the new 4-spoke wheel from the Ultra range. The spacious cabin features moulded roof panel, composite door panels, and suspended, comfy seats with integrated headrests borrowed from Ultra. It is also well insulated, which results in lower NVH (Noise-Vibration-Harshness) levels inside. Along with the air-conditioning and windows rolled-up, the Signa is relatively a peaceful place to be in.
Technically, the driveline or other mechanicals of the range remains largely unchanged. The Signa retains the same Cummins ISBe 5.9-litre, 6-cylinder turbo-charged diesel unit producing up to 230 PS and 850Nm of peak power and torque in the 4923.S tractor. While the 2518.K tipper and 3118.T multi-axle has a power output of 180 PS and 675 Nm. The engine is mated to an in-house 9-speed manual transmission featuring a single plate dry friction (push type) clutch of 380 mm diameter. While the BS 4-tuned engine is electronically governed (as in case of 4923.S Tractor variant), the BS 3 engine in the lower trims are mechanically governed. Tata Motors claims that this engine offers best-in-class fuel efficiency and engine life.
The 4923.S tractor uses heavy-duty axles and inverted bogie suspension at rear, making it capable for higher tonnage hauling. The 3118.T multi-axle truck comes with steerable and Lift Axle options, thereby proving more versatility. Both these variants are equipped with a sleeper cabin. The cabin of the tractor trim, considering its nature of use, features two sleeper bunks to support long-haulage operations.
In terms of safety, the Signa range comes equipped with ABS-assisted air brakes, manual parking brakes, and individual seat belts. An in-built telematics system ‘Tata Fleetman‘ is also on offer for fleet operator for a more connected experience through driver, vehicle and fuel management.
The biggest merits of the out-going Legacy range (LPT, LPS, and LPK series) was its fully built durable cabin and reliable engine that elevated it to be the preferred choice of those majority cost-conscious operators, for whom the flagship Prima range is way too much to spend. The Signa range retains all its USP while the rise in refinement and comfort levels are obvious. With reliable brand image and service network across the country, the Tata Signa competes with great heat among the likes of newly launched Mahindra Blazo series, Ashok Leyland’s Captain Series, Eicher Pro MHCV range, and BharatBenz trucks.