Daimler’s stake in Tata motors is up for grabs

It all seems to be a year of buying and selling of stakes, redefining the business strategies, venturing and pulling out diversifying the business for virtually all major automobile manufacturers around the world. The latest to join this list is Daimler AG, German car major, which has announced that it plans to sell its 5.34 percent stake in Indian auto major Tata Motors. It is expecting to raise an estimated Rs 1,950 crores from the proposed sale.

Tata Motors is owned by a host of companies, with only 38.08 per cent stake held by Tata group out of which a significant 27.89 percent is held by Tata Sons and other group companies hold the remaining shares. Tata Sons are not expected to buy-out the shares of Daimler AG according to some sources familiar with the latest developments.

Daimler will be offering 25.6 million shares in a block deal for Rs 737 to Rs 761, which is expected to be completed in the next few days.

At this price level, the price offered by Daimler is at a discount of 4-7 percent to the actual price of the stock, which closed at Rs 796.75 on the BSE. The deal will be routed through Citibank Inc.

Daimler is the world’s largest truck maker and Tata’s Jaguar competed with the Mercedes-Benz. The German truck maker is in its construction phase of a facility at Chennai, which is expected to roll out vehicles from 2012.

Daimler currently own ordinary shares of Tata Motors to the tune of 5.34 percent and 4.71 % on a fully diluted basis.

Since 19 February 2010, share prices of Tata Motors has rose to about 19 per cent, courtesy to the recovering of sales by its latest acquisition, the Land Rover and Jaguar.

It has been observed for quite some time now that Tata Sons is consolidating stake in Tata Motors. Last Saturday, Tata Sons increased its stake by an additional 0.76 percent when it bought 3.69 million shares of Tata Steel.

By the end of the December quarter, Tata Sons which had a 27.13 per cent stake in Tata Motors has increased it to 27.89 per cent.

Used Tata Safari, few tips and tricks to buy one

Want huge road presence but don’t have enough moolah to spare for it. The best option is to go for a used car and which is a SUV. The first thought that comes into mind when I mention road presence and SUV is, the Tata Safari. Well, a used Tata Safari makes great sense since it is backed up by Tata Motors service. In the following article, I have actually done some research on some tips on buying a second hand Tata Safari. These may not be the only deciding factors while buying one however they definitely are an eye opener as far as going in for a used car.

This SUV was launched in the later half of 1990s. When it was launched, the only other “real” SUV that it had competition was the Maruti Gypsy. But then the Gypsy wasn’t spacious and lacked road presence. The lack of a diesel option meant that many stayed away from this SUV. The looks of the Tata Safari were quite modern back then but now we would call it dated. Still there are many Tata Safari loyalists who are ready to go bonkers on this SUV’s looks. The first thing when you are out in the market scouting for a second hand Tata Safari is to avoid the petrol burning units. There were few of them sold and the petrol engine had quite a notoriety for been unreliable. Also avoid the pre 2003 models as they had many gremlins in them and the last thing that you would want is to be with a car which would be more in the garage than the roads.


The earlier diesel powerplant of the Tata Safari was a 2 liter 90 Bhp unit. It was seriously underpowered for a car which weighted about 2 tonnes. The 186 Nm of torque also wasn’t able to eliminate the massive turbo lag that this car came with. First and foremost to check would be the turbo hose pipe of this SUV. There have been reports of it developing leaks and performance would be greatly affected by this. If it hasn’t been done, then be ready to pay Rs 1763 for it. Regular servicing in about 6 months or even the 10,000 kms mark should do the trick for this capable SUV. If the specimen you are looking at has clocked close to lakh kms, then an engine overhaul would be required and it would cost you about Rs 20,000. For a regular service, it would cost you approximately Rs 3,000.

A Tata trademark, the gearbox, is actually an Achilles heel for any Tata car. The earlier Tata Safaris had an ill shifting gear box which made for imprecise throws. There was also a whining sound to be heard when the gear was shifted from 2nd to 3rd. Don’t pay heed to this since as discussed this is to be expected from the earlier batch of Tata Safaris. One thing that would take time getting used to is the rubbery gearshift. Check for wornout clutch bearings since a second hand Tata Safari, which has clocked more than 50,000 kms is known to have some problems related with the clutch. The clutch plate would cost you Rs 4053 whereas the pressure plate would add another Rs 2215 to the bill.

Now comes the suspension. This is one part wherein each and every Tata product is fantastic. A used Tata Safari shouldn’t be an exception. The suspensions are more tuned for a relaxed ride quality rather than out and out handling. The rear Suspension features 5 links with coil springs and hydraulic shocks whereas the front ones were the Double wishbone with hydraulic shock absorbers. This made for a fantastic ride quality especially at the back. Check for suspension oil leaks and if suspension bushes have been changed around the 60,000 kms mark. The front suspension stud would cost you around Rs 900 whereas the entire front suspension rebuilding would cost Rs 3750. With everything in place, the Tata Safari is sure to take you around in business class. Don’t expect handling like a Honda CR-V or even for that matter a Toyota Fortuner since this SUV is known to be top heavy and definitely a used Tata Safari wouldn’t be game for all those corner hunting antics.

Electricals are also known to have caused many issues in the ownership of some earlier Tata Safaris. Do check if the specimen that you are intending to buy has each and every switch and bulb working with precision. Interiors of the car gell well and even age doesn’t catch up with them. A single shampoo job is enough to get the interiors shining. Check if work on the AC has been carried out, if not, then you are looking at footing a bill of Rs 5000 just for the AC work. Check for odo mileage and then have a look at the tyres. If the tyres don’t seem to be the same as one would expect from such a high mileage car, then it is better to ask the owner about the changes. Used Tata Safaris are available both with 2 wheel drive and 4 wheel drive system. For those who want to go mud banging, the 4 wheel drive with high and low range makes for a good buy. The pretty high ground clearance also makes it easy to go for off roading jaunts. The paint job is immaculate for the Tata Safari whereas there is no rusting of the parts. Even the silencers of the SUV withstand the perils of time well and usually don’t require a replacement until the 1 lakh kilometer mark. The 0-100 kmph dash for the old 2 liter motor is about 20 seconds whereas for the new 2.2 liter DICOR motor, it reduces to 16 seconds. NVH is on the higher side since Tata cars aren’t known for been refined and the Tata Safari is a prime example of it. Easy availability of spares and widespread Tata network coupled with the impeding launch of a new Tata Safari in 2011 means that resale values for the old cars should go down. Usually Tata Safaris hold their value well and shouldn’t depreciate fast.

The Tata Safari in all is suitable even for daily trips to the office or the occassional one on the highway. Both are dispatched very well and I see no reason as to why a used one cannot do the same. Expect fuel efficiency in the range of 11 kmpl in the city whereas the highway figures would hover around the 14 kmpl mark. Been a diesel, running costs would be low and also there is less of maintenance required if you find a well maintained SUV for sale. The prices that I have seen for a used Tata Safari from the 2003 production series is Rs 3.72 lakhs whereas the second hand Tata Safari price in India from the 2006 batch goes to Rs 5.20 lakhs. If possible, then go for the DICOR versions which have a higher power output and have better fuel economy.

Used Tata Indigo- Things to look for when buying one

The successor to the “Indian car”, Tata Indica. The first ever sedan offering of the auto giant Tata is the much in demand, the Tata Indigo. Although it is not readily available, it makes for an excellent used car buy. Achieving what was unachievable in a limited time frame is what Tata has done. It diversified its portfolio from being an all-commercial to passenger cars manufacturer. But here is where the entire problem lies. The roots of Estate and Sierra are still evident in the Indigos and Indicas of today. This is despite the leap Tata has achieved in terms of reliability, quality and refinement. The fact of the matter is this; Tata indigo is a sedan which many people can afford to lay their hands on, courtesy to the killer and dynamic pricing strategy. Due to this factor a large share of cars that have been sold are running as taxis and as a cardinal or a thumb rule one should keep away from those vehicles. This is simply because those cars are not well-maintained neither are they serviced in an authorized service station. One must only look forward to a privately owned and well- maintained vehicle so as to avoid problems in future.

Tata, which is know for its reliability and affordability factor, has done tremendously well as it shows. Even a second hand Tata Indigo has fewer problems, especially if serviced at recommended intervals from the authorized centers. So if you are game for a used Tata Indigo insist on the service records before parting with your hard earned money.

Tata indigo come in both petrol and diesel- engine variants which inherently doesn’t seem to have problem except for the fact that it is slightly unrefined. While evaluating a used Tata Indigo one must have a keen eye to figure out the accident damage. One must start from under the car. Power steering assembly is very vulnerable and prone to scratch on taller than normal speed breakers. The elbow is easily knocked off, which then leads to leaking of the fluid used for the power steering. However, it is not much of a science to replace an elbow unless the box has been hit real hard. Things can take an ugly turn and so can you at this moment, if the box has taken a serious beating. One more part that is particularly known to be prone is the tie bar. It has the potential to destroy the alignment of the wheel, so one must not miss it. One must also check the engine end and the wheel end of the boot, so as to confirm that it had not undergone serious wear and tear and is intact. If it is otherwise, such that it lets dust penetrate and accelerate the wear on the shaft. Also, if you are looking at a used Tata Indigo which has already clocked 20,000 km, it is about time to replace the arm ball joints.

Further one needs to delve under the hood and check for battery shelf. If at all it seems unbalanced, it is an assurance of a frontal shunt. One needs to inspect the cross member in the front which later doubles up for the bumper. If this is uneven or bent, the car is sure to have had an accident. Authorized Tata workshops can repair and repaint those to regain its originality. They sometime go to such extreme extent as to apply lacquer on the repaired surface area. It will be easier on your eyes if the repair had been undertaken by a local road side mechanic.

It is time to replace the brake pads once the car has reached a mark of 20,000 km. whereas the durability of the clutch is twice than that of the brake pads. When you take the deciding test drive on a car which has registered less mileage, if the car makes juddering noise in the first gear, the clutch plates for sure have worn. Implying that, the vehicle has been used very badly by the owner. The radiator fan and condenser fan come to their expiry as soon as the car has clocked 60,000 km. The condenser fan costs Rs 2,200 whereas radiator fan costs Rs 6,000 which by all standards can’t be considered cheap. At such mileage, the alternator will also require a servicing which will cost about Rs 2,500.

The electrical wiring of even a used Tata Indigo should ideally be reliable and trouble free. But one must not be complacent about it. Check the re-circulation switch of the cooling system and check for its functionality. Many, if not all owners don’t use the switch too often, hence the probability of it being in a jammed condition is high.

A second hand Tata Indigo is not prone to rusting, however that may be the case if the vehicle is not being used around for quite some time. One area that you can’t afford to oversee is the silencer and the exhaust pipe. Also the battery stand deserves a check. It is generally a tendency among the owners to overfill the battery’s silo, which culminates into leakage of acidic water and thus to corrosion.

Being a much in demand product, the Indigo holds its monetary value quite well. The point is a second hand Tata Indigo can be more costly than otherwise you think it would be. Rest assured once you lay your hands on this car, it will beyond doubt be cheap to maintain, run and a be good companion both on the highways and in the city. A used petrol Tata Indigo from the 2005 lot would be yours for only Rs 3,48,500. The diesel Tata Indigo price would go for far higher and would be available at around Rs 4 lakhs. The DICOR engined ones would commans somewhere around Rs 5 lakhs roughly.

Tata Venture in India to be launched soon

It is surprising to know that the Maruti Eeco has no challengers in its segment and price bracket. The only other challenger is its own stable mate, the Maruti Suzuki Omni. However the crude image of this car means that most of the buyers would stick with the Maruti Eeco and not go for the Omni. The whole setup may change in a short while. There is another worthy competitor coming its way. No, we aren’t referring to the GM’s offensive by the way of bringing its low cost Chinese offering into India. We are talking about the new Tata Venture in India.

Now, the Tata Venture in India by Tata Motors was displayed early on last year in the Delhi Auto Expo show. It will be a seven seater van and would look like one also. The niche passenger cargo segment hasn’t witnessed too much action in all these years and looks like every feather would be ruffled in the coming months in 2011. The Tata Ace in India would come with a 7 seater configuration and a diesel engine. It is based on the Tata’s very own ACE platform. The engine powering this van would be a diesel engine preferably the 1.4 liter diesel from the Tata Indica range. It would churn out close to 78 Bhp and would be tuned more for lower down poke.

The advantage for the Tata Venture in India is that this segment isn’t that crowded as of now and moreover it has a diesel engine under its hood which would mean that running costs would be an all time low. The 1.4 diesel is known for its frugal nature and this would be amplified with the lighter ACE platform. Sightings of test mules running around near Tata’s plant in Pune shows that this van is compact like the Nano but would have good interior space. Also mules mean that Tata Motors have finished testing this van and would now launch it any time soon. It would be available at a premium than the Maruti offering however we firmly believe that it does have a market in India. One of the Tata Motors official confirmed that this car would be launched by end of February 2011. Fleet and taxi owners rejoice as the pricing is said to hover around the Rs 4.5 lakhs mark.

Tata Nano in India, finally a review


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Amidst much fanfare, the world’s cheapest car was launched and by this we mean the Tata Nano in India. It was marred with controversies and delays however the project finally took off and the car was launched on 23rd March 2009 in Mumbai. The world as well as the media persons were raring to have a go at this car. We at Indiandrives obviously had a long waiting time and finally got our hands on one. Now, I used to always ogle at the Tata Nano especially after the cute ad now been shown across television. Agreed that even after its launch, it still had its fair share of controversies but then been the cheapest car tag doesn’t come easy and especially when you have a lot of expectations poking up on you. I wouldn’t bore you with any of the ranting now and get straight to the point. I got my hands on a test car Tata Nano in India and am loving recounting the experience.

Tata Nano Looks

A car designed out of an egg shell. This is what can best describe the Tata Nano in India. This car has a cab forward design to maximize the space inside. It features body colored bumpers and looks every inch a prototype, one which shouldn’t have made it to the production line. That’s the beauty of this car. Everyone would wonder if it is a prototype given to you for testing. You would definitely miss the radiator grille. The air dam is also barely visible. Two distinct tear drop fog lamps are also present in the top end version. A single wiper is present to do the wiping duties and this shows the cost cutting measure. The side profile shows more character similar to the new Maruti Estilo. Its overall length of 3099 mm is amply displayed in this angle. The ground clearance of 180 mm can also be viewed as ample for our kind of roads. The rear features the radiator grille and this is where the engine of the car is. It has an autorickshaw like exhaust pipe.

Tata Nano Interiors

This is one of the most spacious hatch backs in the economy segment including the now erstwhile Maruti 800. For a 6 footer like me, entering the Maruti 800 meant a lot of callisthenics and aerobics however I just had to be on level with the Tata Nano and in I go. No twisting and contorting. Once inside, I had to fold my legs somewhat to clear the non adjustable steering wheel. But within a few minutes, I was comfortable. Equipment inside the cabin was bare minimum and since I had the top end Tata Nano LX version, I had the air conditioner and a few other goodies like adjustable front seats, front power windows, front and rear fog lamps. Not many cubby holes abound but then it would be sufficient to keep away the loose change and some of the papers. The rear seats are also comfortable but then my knees did ocassionally rub against the front seats when the going was rough. But then, it is a comfortable 4 seater. I wouldn’t say 5 seater since 5 people would be quite tough on this little hatch.The bonnet can carry some shopping material since the boot has the engine in it.

Tata Nano Handling and ride quality

Ride quality in any of the Tata Motors product is for given pliant. The Tata Nano in India is no different. This car features an Independent, Lower Wishbone, McPherson Strut with gas filled dampers in the front and the rear has an Independent gas filled shock absorbers with Semi Trailing arm and coil spring. This means that even though the car may be basic, its suspension is high tech. There are no sharp bumps which are transmitted onto the cabin at low speeds. It is only at the high speeds that the more sharper edges catch this car out. Been without a power steering means that this car does take some effort to be thrown around however its steering is far better than that of the Maruti 800.

Speaking of the handling, the car is a safe handler. Not that any one in a new Tata Nano would attempt taking turns as if they are on a race track. The car does understeer safely while at the limits. Due to its small size, the new Tata Nano offers a turning circle of just 4.0 meters. The visibility at the rear is also good however it is somewhat hampered due to the missing right rear view mirror.

Tata Nano Engine, Performance and fuel efficiency

The new Tata Nano has a 624cc, 2-cylinder engine having MPFI. This engine is aided by a four speed manual gearbox. This car develops 35 Bhp of power and 48 Nm of torque. This engine is capable of propelling the Tata Nano from 0-100 in 22 seconds and maxxes out at a top speed of 105 kmph. I found an empty road where I could stretch the small car to its limit. This little car was up to the task without any fuss however with two on board, it becomes a little difficult for the car. The transmission is also unlike any other Tata transmission. It slots into its gate perfectly. Engine noise is also well suppressed with only a faint drone towards its red line. It might be due to the engine at the back thing.

This car only has front discs and rear drums to help it retard its motion. As of now, ABS isn’t an option and would be offered at a later period of time. Safety is well adhered to on this built to a price car with seat belts for all occupants, tubeless tyres, and collapsible steering column. There are no air bags on offer as of yet. Fuel efficiency claimed by the company is 23 kmpl however the realistic figure that I achieved was 18 kmpl in the city and about 24 kmpl on the highway. This is the most fuel efficient car in the country today.

Verdict

The Tata Nano in India is a made for the world product. It has made the world sit up and take notice of India. It is a low cost car however from the space, fuel efficiency and other creature comforts that it provides, it doesn’t feel like it. Agreed there are huge cost cutting measures which are visible however none missing as far as safety and efficiency are concerned. Tata Nano price, Tata Nano Standard version is Rs.1,15,361 ex-showroom. The price of the next in line version is the Tata Nano Cx with a price of Rs.1,54,336 and the price of top of the line Tata Nano Lx stands at Rs.1,79,234.

Tata Xenon XT in India Review

')">Tata Motors Ltd recently launched the Tata Aria, a never before seen crossover concept from the homegrown company. Before this however, the company also launched another new for the company, the Tata Xenon XT car. This was a pickup SUV or er truck.Their first attempt at the pickup region was done way back with the 207Di and then some more with the TL 4×4. The former was a hit until other feature rich and modern cars came its way. The latter was too rugged and something which the urbans stayed away from. The Tata Xenon XT was first displayed at a Motor Show namely the Bangkok Motor Show and surprisingly it was launched in Thailand first and then in Italy before coming to India. It would be an understatement to say that people are crazy about the Tata Xenon in Thailand whereas in Italy it lags just behind Toyota in the pickup region. To make this pickup look a bit urban and rugged, Tata Motors took help from Concept Group which were a dowry package for the marriage with Jaguar Land Rover group. Concept Group is based in England and is also credited with the looks of the Tata Sumo Grande. Once I got my hands on the Tata Xenon XT, I was raring to go and have a spin in it. Recounting my adventures with Tata Xenon XT review below.

Tata Xenon XT Looks

This vehicle is actually a tribute to the old Tatamobile however in flesh no one could take a guess if it is actually a hand me down from the old vehicle. This vehicle has a front end resembling the Tata Sumo Grande a bit. It has a big grille with the Tata logo sitting in the middle. It has rectangular head lamps which sit quite snugly with the grille. The bumper is also neatly integrated and has a small air dam to go with it. The fog lamps are housed in their own separate units and look classy. The windscreen is not as highly raked as the other cars from its stable. It has a front skid plate which gels well with the lifestyle SUV image that Tata Motors want to project for this car.

This car is wider than even the BMW X5 and longer than the current generation Audi Q7 in India. It is based on the old TL’s chassis which has been reinforced for the more modern vehicle. The 205/80 R- 16 tyre size does justice to this vehicle however they don’t quite fill up the butch wheel arches nicely. The outside rear view mirrors are in body color and are the same units from the Tata Sumo Grande. There are standard roof rails to go with the package.

The rear end features a huge Tata embossed logo and triangular tail lamps with a tug type of rear door handle. The reflectors are also spill partly to the sides. There is a big step up at the rear to get into the rear cabin. Surprising is the fact that on the options list, for the bonnet, it features a very Aussie outback style deflector, front bull bars, aluminium side steps, chromed rear bumpers and a carrier roof rack.

Tata Xenon XT Interiors

The disappointing fact in any Tata Motors car, the interiors. For the Tata Xenon XT in India, Tata Motors haven’t tinkered with the interior trim. They have kept it the same as the one for the European market. This means that we Indians also get higher quality materials. Alas! We couldn’t be more wrong. The interiors of the Tata Xenon XT in India are like the same as on the Tata Indigo Manza. It isn’t in the same ball park as the Tata Aria. It may be due to the fact that the Aria was launched later and all the technological developments went into this car. Inspite of the 200 mm ground clearance, clambering into the cabin isn’t hard. A tiny button near the driver’s knees denotes the control for the Borg-Warner 4WD system. The dashboard is typical Tata unit and doesn’t seem distracting enough for a second look. All the controls feel logical to use along with the 4 spoke steering wheel borrowed from the Tata Sumo Grande. Three rotary knobs control the AC. Conspicuous by its absence is the stereo system. The dials are different than any other Tata. The steering wheel is circular and chunky to hold but not adjustable for reach even though rake functionality has been given. There are many cubby holes though and the finish though seems fair than the other Tata cars apart from the Tata Aria which has exceptionally good finish for a Tata car.

Space though isn’t premium and there is abundance of it at the front. There is no seat height adjust but still there is a good all round view from the cabin. Comfortable is the word that would come to your mind once you plonk yourself into the seats. The rear seats are not much off from the bench mark set by the front seats. The only hindering feature is the upright back rests which may be a problem while going all the way in the wild. The load bay can carry around 500 kgs of luggage and boasts of a 1320 cc of space. A canopy can also be added above the load bay to protect the cargo from rain, sun and of course been stolen from a country like India.

Tata Xenon XT Handling and ride quality

Ride quality is the plus point of any Tata Motors offering however not so for the Tata Xenon XT in India. This is because it features a rear live axle, leaf springs, and an independent front suspension. The body construction is ladder on frame chassis and this car makes no bones that it is a true off-roader. True to its off –roader name, the car rides well after it is fully loaded. The ride when the car is not loaded to its gills is somewhat bouncy especially at low speeds. This car doesn’t like even sharp bumps as well. However the ride quality is far better than its only competition in the Indian market and that is the Mahindra Scorpio Getaway. The suspension tuning is far superior to the one done in the Mahindra. Its suspension setting seems more crude in the off-road scenario as can be expected from pickup vehicles.

Talking about handling, this 5.2 meters leviathan is a bit of chore in the crowded lanes as also in the forest. Its steering is direct but still has some vagueness about it. It is however one of the better tuned units from the Tata Motors stable. This car features a 4 wheel drive system and a limited slip differential.It even gets traction control. The handling is very predictable and though it wouldn’t corner like a BMW, it still doesn’t roll as much as the Mahindra Scorpio Getaway. Speaking of NVH, it is nicely controlled however once past it torque band, this motor becomes quite raucous. Pottering around in town doesn’t make one realize that the motor is laboring hard away to keep the vehicle moving. The 4 wheel drive system is easy to engage at speeds of 65 kmph whereas the low ratio can be only engaged while the vehicle is in stand still. I though wished that Tata Motors should have provided the car with much beefier tyres.

Tata Xenon XT Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The Tata Xenon XT in India features the same engine as found in the Tata Safari Dicor. This 2.2 liter diesel engine or DICOR in Tata speak makes 140 Ps of peak power and 320 Nm of maximum torque. It is enough to propel this vehicle from 0-100 kmph in 16 seconds flat and achieve a top speed of 157 kmph. The car even on part throttle moves forward with a sense of urgency. The 5 speed gear box, a Tata trademark, is still rubbery in its feel and execution. Turbo lag is minimal and the variable geometry turbo aids the engine in this. Access to the huge torque is available from as low as 1700 rpm. The power band though is narrow and extends only till 3200 rpm. It is also 310 kgs less than the similarly motored Tata Safari and hence feels more lively to drive.

Tapping this performance is the 4 wheel disc brakes aided with ESP, ABS and traction control. The brake pedal modulation however left much to be desired though and I would suggest Tata Motors to fix this gremlin at the earliest. It requires more than a shove to achieve respectable stopping distance. Safety is taken care by three point seat belts for all the passengers, collapsible steering column and also 2 air bags for the front passengers.

Coming to the all important fuel efficiency, I expected it to be more than the Tata Safari however somehow this car returns only 9.6 kmpl in the city and 14.2 kmpl on the highway, less by 1 kmpl than the Tata Safari. It is however more than the Mahindra Scorpio Getaway.

Verdict

Tata Motors are planning to launch niches and ones which other manufacturers would definitely follow through. They first launched the world’s cheapest car, the Tata Nano. Then came the quality revolution with the Tata Indica Vista and Manza. Later on the Tata Xenon XT was launched. Finally the Tata Aria also came into being. The Tata Aria heralded the start of the new quality materials from Tata Motors. The Tata Xenon XT in question now is one of few vehicles which wouldn’t sell well in the Indian market. The primary reason is no many think that a pickup truck is a good idea in India. It may sell well in the rural areas though. The farmers would have an alternative to their tractors for bringing in the farm produce. Urban people would appreciate the utility and flexibility offered by this vehicle. This is been promoted as an urban, upmarket lifestyle vehicle and this would mean much to those adventure seeking, moving away from the run of the mill work individuals. It has got the Tata Motors service backup and a fairly reliable DICOR engine under its hood. There are some gremlins though and those would be the still yet to be desired cabin quality, slightly more refined engine and the final thing, the sticker price. There are two trim levels been offered. The Tata Xenon LT retails at Rs. 8.57 lakh rupees for the base variant and Rs.9.14 lakhs for the 4 wheel drive variant Tata Xenon XT. A costly indulgence indeed but it may not matter for those high heeled people out there in India.

Technical Specifications of the Tata Xenon XT in India

Engine Displacement: 2179cc, DiCOR, DOHC with variable geometry turbo
Engine Type: Diesel
Maximum Power: 140 Bhp @ 4100 rpm
Maximum Torque: 320 Nm @ 1700 rpm
Length: 5135 mm
Width: 1862 mm
Height: 1765 mm
Suspension: Parabolic leaf Springs, Independent Double wishbone
Gears: 5 Manual
Brakes: Front ventilated Disc, Rear solid disc
Kerb Weight: 1900.00 kgs.
Steering: Hydraulically Power assisted with variable ratios
Tyre Size: 205/80 R- 16
Ground Clearance: 200.00 mm
Turning Circle: 6.00 meters
Cargo capacity: 1320 cc
Fuel Tank: 65.00 liters
Seating Capacity: 5

Tata Aria review


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Tata Motors have been on a roll since the acquisition of Jaguar Land Rover and also the launch of the Tata Nano. Though a small car, it has captured the world’s attention and also has projected Tata Motors and India into the world’s view. People who believed that India can only work in conjuction with MNCs need to bite the dust as the Tata Nano proved to the world that all it takes is some dedication and vision to make the things the way they are intended to. Not quite content with the success of the Tata Nano, Tata Motors have moved on to the other spectrum of the automobile industry. This one is an all unabashed pricey, spacious and premium crossover called the Tata Aria. First showcased as a concept car in the Geneva Motor Show in 2005, few thought that it would be a production car 5 years down the line and more since it was a premium car. Tata Motors in India are not known for cars having classy interiors, low NVH as well as good design cues. They are best known for delivering bang a buck in their cars and the tag line for the Indica “more car per car” is apt for all the cars from Tata Motors stable.

Looks

Now, Tata Motors cars look okay but not segment defying. They have been at best inoffensive. The new Tata Aria changes that all. It is a radical looking car or should I say SUV. It is one of the most eye catching designs from Tata Motors. It is what you would call a proper crossover. Penned from IDEA design house from Italy, the same one which penned the earlier version of the Indica as well as the new Indica Vista, it is a sure shot design. This car is huge meaning the Toyota Innova looks pint sized in front of it.

The head lamps are double barelled and it has a roofline swoop similar to the newly launched Mercedes R-class. Nowhere does it look boxy like the other MUVs in its class.The front grill is all highlighted in chrome and the paint job is also quite glossy. The Tata logo is fitted into the horizontal slats. The wind screen area is also big and has a Civic like kamikaze wipers. The air dams are wide and gaping. They are a single piece unit and house the fog lamps in them.

Viewed from the side, the first striking feature in the Tata Aria’s 2850 mm wheel base is its 17 inch tubeless alloy wheels. They fill the wheel arches well and give the MUV a good ground clearance of 205 mm. This vehicle is after all intended to be used for some off-roading as well and hence the ground clearance is on the higher side. Wonder of Wonders, there are no quarter glasses for this huge cabin and the swooping cabin meets the tail of the car. The door handles are body colored. Special mention must be made of the big outside rear view mirror. They have the turn indicator lights embedded onto them. The mirrors though seem a bit big for their own liking and its very likely that they would brush against the other cars or bikes in the city.

The rear throws a coupe like roof line and has those same vertically stacked tail lamps. Tata Motors could have done well to give it some other kind of look however the current arrangement looks classy as well. The rear windscreen is also huge like the rest of the car and has a lone washer and wiper doing duties. A step forward for Tata Motors is the twin tail pipe unit which are also chunky and first for a MUV in India. There is a chrome strip running along the length of the tailgate handle.

Interiors

A big change and a leap ahead for Tata Motors for what they done with the Tata Aria’s interiors. There are those perfect seats and even leather as an option. Not one thing looks out of place and the cabin has that ambient quality elements in it. It’s loaded to the gill with features like GPS navigation system, cooled glove box, rain sensing wipers, auto head lamps, climate control, Bluetooth pairing, 6 CD changer system with 8 speakers, reverse camera, parking aids and electrically controlled rear view mirrors. There is also no dearth of cubby holed around the dash. There are seven of them on the roof and there are also many bottle holders. There are twin glove boxes on the well sculpted dash. Everything has a soft and premium feel to it. Gosh! We never thought we would be saying this about a Tata vehicle and that too an Indian spec one.

The steering wheel is a new unit and has cruise control, Bluetooth pairing and the audio controls added to it. It feels chunky to hold however could do with some more weight. The steering is rake and reach adjustable. The seats are comfy and have pretty of travel. Even the second row of seats is quite comfortable for seating three upright. The third row of seats can be accessed by pulling a lever next to the second row. Seating at the third row though is not upto the mark and would only be fit for kids. There is plenty of boot space even with the 3rd row of seats in place and flopping over the second row shows a big storage space. All row passengers are pampered with pillar mounted aircon.

Handling and ride quality

Tata Motors passengers cars have been always appreciated for their ride quality and this stands good even for the Tata Aria. It has a pliant ride quality and those independent double wish bone suspensions in the front and 5-link suspension at the back do a great job of isolating one from the road irregularities. It is only jolted by some sharp irregularities at low speeds and rest everything is smothered by the huge tyres.

The handling is also well sorted out with Electronic Stability Program{ESP} which cannot be turned off. Aiding it is also the traction control and the 4 wheel drive system. The new Tata Aria doesn’t do anything funny and is quite sorted out. The lifeless steering is something which Tata has to improve in this MUV. It detracts from enthusiastic cornering. It is too light and this aids in parking speeds. Also Tata Aria feels quite composed even on high speeds and there is no road or wind noise inside the cabin. There is also Automatic Level ride control that keeps the suspension stable, irrespective of the vehicle load. To ensure that things don’t go out of control, Hill Descent control system and Limited Slip Differential are also present. Though it isn’t built for off-road travel, the Tata Aria can fairly well handle the rough with its wide array of off-roading equipment. It actually mates the convenience of an MUV with that of a SUV.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The Tata Aria uses the same 2.2 liter DICOR engine from the Tata Safari. This means that the Tata Aria gets the same power output of 140 Ps and 320 Nm of torque as the Safari. However due to use of dual flywheel, a cast aluminum stump and fitting of rubber mounts has enabled the Tata Aria to be a better performer. Those mounts ensure that the engine noise is down to minimum. The Aria is quite a performer with 0-100 kmph coming in at 14.3 seconds. This is commendable for a MUV weighing more than 2200 kg. The Tata Aria is also quite sprightly to drive and much in likeness to the Suzuki Swift. The gearbox is also a nice shifting unit with no extra nudge required to slot the gear into its gate. The floor pedals are also aluminium drilled however since the foot well is small, there is no place for a dead pedal.

Brake pedal modulation is also good and features a segment first, disc brakes on all 4 wheels. These are assisted by ESP, ABS and traction control. All these electronic nannies haul the MUV safely without any drama or fuss. Safety is taken care by another segment first, 6 airbags, Hydroformed body chassis, collapsible steering column, seat belt pre-tensioners and active head restraints.

Fuel economy so paramount to Indians is also well taken care of with the Tata Aria returning 9.8 kmpl in the city whereas these figures rise to 14.6 kmpl on the highway run. This makes it one of the better performing MUVs with decent fuel efficiency to boot for.

Verdict

The Tata Aria in India is a giant step for Tata Motors image.  They have been usually associated with low rent interiors, cheap cars. However with the Aria, Tata Motors have changed it all. It has the usual Tata strengths like a good packaging, extensive features list, fuel efficient engine, loads of space in the cabin and good road presence. However the one thing missing is the price quotient. The Tata Aria is offered in 4 variants namely Tata Aria Pride, Tata Aria Pleasure, Tata Aria Pleasure Leather  and Tata Aria Prestige. The price start from 12.4 lakhs {Ex-showroom, Delhi} for the base variant to 16.1 lakhs {Ex-showroom, Delhi} for the topmost one. The price is the fouling factor here as none of the MUVs are so costly in this segment. Moreover, Tata Motors are gunning squarely for segment leader, the Toyota Innova and pricing is in the Ford Endeavour’s territory. We would recommend that you settle for the base variant of the Tata Aria and you still have more equipment on hand than the Toyota Innova.

Tata Aria specifications

Displacement: 2179cc, DiCOR, 16 Valve, 4X4
Engine Type: Diesel
Maximum Power: 140 Bhp @ 4200 rpm
Maximum Torque: 320 Nm @ 1800 rpm
Length: 4790 mm
Width: 1885 mm
Height: 1770 mm
Tyre Size: 235/65 R17 tubeless alloys
Suspension: Independent Double Wishbone at front and 5 Link Suspension at the rear
Turning Circle: 5.80 mtrs.
Steering: Hydraulically assisted and tilt adjustable
Brakes: Front Ventilated disc, Rear solid Disc
Gears: 5 speed Manual
Ground Clearance: 205.00 mm
Fuel Tank capacity: 60.00 liters
Seating Capacity: 7

Tata Indica Vista Electric Car

Tata is one of the indigenous car manufacturers across the world. From the first home-grown car in the form of the Indica to the ultra-low cost car in the world- the Nano, they have come a long way. A few days back, Tata launched its much awaited cross-over the Tata Aria. Now Tata is looking out to be environmentally conscious. That the manufacturer already has an electric car in the form of the first generation Indica in faraway Norway is testimony of the fact how Tata wants to percolate its know how all across the world. Tata winning and subsequently annexing the Jaguar-Land Rover deal was an icing on the cake which helped them get access to world-class technology.

The Maini and now Mahindra Reva was always an electric only car with a limited range of about 50 Km. Any chances of increasing the range were met by stiff resistance in the form of no government concessions for reducing the price of the car and battery ineffectiveness. Tata thought of a novel way for this. The new Tata Indica Vista Electric car is an all electric car like the Nissan leaf. It uses a special Prem Magnet Motor which was made in Norway by TM4 and gives 55kw of power and the peak torque of 160 Nm. It is made up of super polymer lithium ion batteries and not of the lead acid types that the Reva uses. In addition to their been light in weight, the batteries have a greater storage capacity and life. They are maintenance free and highly capable.


Been an all electric car means zero emissions and also less of expenditure on petrol or diesel. Regenerative braking takes care of maintaining the battery level. Been an all electric car means zero emissions and also less of expenditure on petrol or diesel. Regenerative braking takes care of the battery charging however before embarking on a journey, you have to ensure that you charge the car for about 8 hours by a plug-in. When you start the car, you would be shocked by the absence of NVH and even when the car is in motion, you would barely notice it.

The car’s instrument panel is a vast change from the normal Indica Vista. The dials have been moved from the center position to the line of the driver now. Instead of a fuel gauge, you get a battery reserve pod. The interiors of the car are now two tone and externally there is not much except the electric badge and body colored alloys to distinguish it from the normal Indica Vista. The range mentioned for this car is an unrealistic 200 Kms on a single charge.

Tata Indica Vista Electric price might range from Rs 5-7 lakhs and launch it around May 2011. This would be a viable transportation option without having to worry about polluting the environment.

Tata Prima Preview

Tata motors have established a name for themselves in the automotive industry world-wide. They started out with been truck manufacturers{they still do} and been a desi company, thought of launching their first car. Their efforts bore fruit and the Indica was launched amidst much fanfare on 30 December 1998. There were many gripes with the earlier car which was subsequently ironed out in the V2 version launched in 2003. Tata motors have come a long way from that time and now have launched much modern cars like the Indica Vista, Indigo Manza and the new Tata Aria crossover. They also gave the world its own wonder car which sells for as less as Rs.1.30 lakhs and that is the Tata Nano.

Not content with all this laurels, the Indian car maker has been eyeing the luxury car segment. They displayed the Prima sedan first at the 2007 Geneva show. Since then Tata have been hounded with requests from the car buying public to put the Prima into production. Tata has now heeded to this requests by announcing that the Prima would be produced and marketed by mid of next year. Having acquired Jaguar and Land rover, Tata have used their know how and engine technologies in the Prima. The Prima would compete against the likes of Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and the Chevrolet Cruze.

It has been designed this time not by IDEA house{which designed the Indica} but by Pinnafarina. He, who of Ferrari fame, has given a coupe like silhouette to the sedan. It looks a bit like the Grande Punto from Fiat stables{when viewed front on}. The biggest attraction in the front is the LED lights and they have a blue hue about them. This would make it one of the most sought after car for all those night jaunts. It has a big honey comb grille and has a smiley of an air dam set up lower. The wheels are of those 15 inch types and the C-pillar{a Pinnafarina trademark} has been given a low roofline akin to a coupe. It integrates smoothly to the big but stylish boot. The boot is a masterpiece with LEDs staring out of it.

The interiors would also be high-tech with lots of gizmos to please the geek headed young executive who has been just promoted to the status of Jr.Manager. As with all Tata cars, interior packaging would be top notch and it can seat 5 in reasonable comfort. The choice of engines has been boiled down to a new 1.6 or 1.8 liter petrol or a 1.8 liter diesel. Both the engine types would incorporate Jaguar’s technical know how and would be very efficient in their class. The Tata Prima India has a wheel base of 2.72 metres. The Tata Prima launch in India would have Mcpherson strut with stabilizer at the front and Four link Coil spring as the rear suspension. Remove the Tata badge from the rear and stick on a BMW one and the car would very much be mistaken for a BMW. At this point, we can dare say that this is the best looking car from the Tata Motors stable so far.

Safety has also been taken care of with the base versions offering 4 airbags alongwith Rain-sensitive wipers, night sensing lights, Adaptive cruise control, reverse camera and energy crumple zones.

Braking is handled by advanced disc brakes all round with 4 channel ABS, Electronic Brake Distribution {EBD} and traction control {TCS}  as standard. Higher versions would get cornering lights, bejeweled effect fog lamps and reverse parking sensors.

The Prima gets a twin silencer effect and the silencers are similar to the one found on Jaguars. It has been embedded neatly into the rear bumper.  This lends it an overall sporty stance. The driving pleasure for this car would also be highly enhanced if Tata sources are to be believed.

Tata Prima price would be in Rs11- Rs.13 lakh. This would be one of the most expensive Tata cars to be on sale alongside the Tata Aria and expect a launch around October 2011.

Tata Prima price