India’s largest and most popular car manufacturing company is paving the way for other small car companies to take on the larger more established brands by challenging them in multiple segments. The niche crossover segment is one of the newest segments in the automotive industry and there are not many car manufacturers, international and national, that offer cars in this segment. Tata Motors has decided to fill the gap in this segment and has introduced their newest car in the Indian market called the Tata Aria. At the Geneva Motor Show in 2006, Tata Motors unveiled one of their concept vehicles the Indica prototype and the Indica that was showcased has come a long way to become the final production car the Tata Aria.
The niche crossover segment is a small one at present but saying that there are a number of car manufacturers that are flooding their research and development departments with requests to deliver vehicles that would fit into it. This is because an early entry into the segment may very well mean gaining a foothold in this unique segment. I say unique segment because the feature of a crossover vehicle is that it has characteristics of both a sedan and an SUV making it a very desirable vehicle for many different consumer types including small families, joint families as well as transport and people carriers. Tata Motors has decided to do its part to fill the void in the Indian market and the Tata Aria does a stellar job of accomplishing this as it is not only competitively priced but also features a whole host of features that would give Inspector Gadget an inferiority complex.
The Tata Aria in India comes fitted with the 2.2 liter, DICOR engine that puts out a maximum 140 PS with a maximum torque of 320 Nm. The DICOR engine has been used by Tata in the vehicle as it is the signature of the Indian car manufacturer. Tata Motors has launched the Aria in three different trim levels to suit all the requirements of the Indian market and these are the Tata Aria Pride, Tata Aria Prestige and Tata Aria Pleasure. The Tata Aria should put Tata Motors on the global map and make them a world player as the car features some of the latest and most innovative technology that is sure to entice potential buyers to the Tata dealerships even if it is just for a test drive.
Speaking of test drives, we ourselves could not resist the temptation to get our mitts on this newest offering from the big Indian brand and are bringing you the road test of the Tata Aria. To fine out if the car lives up to the hype and expectation you will have to read further.
Exteriors and Interiors
Let us start with the look of the vehicle and slowly move into gear talking about the engine and then finally the drive. There have been rumors floating around that since Jaguar is now owned by Tata Motors some of the final engineering was done at Jaguar. This has been strongly refuted by the people at Tata. Looking at the car it is quite obvious why these rumors may have sprung up as the car is a definite change from the more traditional styling cues of Tata vehicles. The Tata Aria looks really big at first glance and the MUV/SUV has a very aggressive look. Looking to compete with the Innova and Captiva it starts of well and has a wide stance and high roofline.
The front of the Tata has a smooth flowing hood which meets the sleek chrome plated grille which is wide and centrally located. There are some well positioned creases and lines on the hood to give it some well deserved character and definitely help to make the car stand out. The headlamps are long and vertically positioned at the extreme ends of the front and incorporate the turn indicators which are also long and vertical. The unique shape of the headlamps fits in well with the smooth flowing front end and amalgamates freely into the front bumper, which is really wide and low slung. The bumper houses the air dam that is also really big with the recesses for the fog lamps positioned on either side of the air dam.
The outside rear view mirrors are placed a little away from the vehicle and allow better rear visibility and these also incorporate turn indicators in a very modern, trendy way and have a certain European look to them. The high roofline flows well towards the rear and the rear view of the car is what makes it stand out as a large vehicle. The rear window is wide and allows ample viewing space with the taillights positioned on either side of the tailgate. The taillights are also long and vertically positioned and give the car a taller feel. There is well placed chrome accents all over the car with the rear getting its share on the tail gate handle and Aria and Tata badging. The rear bumper is again really wide and low adding to the low silhouette of the vehicle. The bumper features two rear reflectors and the twin tail pipe with large twin exhaust vents, which further add to the aggressive look of the Tata Aria.
Step into the Tata Aria and you could mistake it for some European car. Actually when I say step in it would be easier if there was a step board to step on but that is probably me just being a bit picky. Once inside you will notice the interiors are very modern and the two-tone cabin is a real pleasure on the eye. The brown and maroon finish is neatly mixed with some well placed aluminum accents that make the inside look very appealing.
The instrumentation panel is also well lit with a combination of white, silver and red needle on the dials that make sit easy for the driver to see at anytime. The steering wheel is four-spoke and seems quite large but then again so is this vehicle and it fits in proportionally. The steering wheel incorporates the audio, Bluetooth and cruise control buttons and is adjustable for rake but not for reach. This seems a let down as it tends to inhibit driver positioning for a more comfortable drive.
The centre console comprises the LCD screen which is used for satellite navigation as well as Bluetooth telephone conversations and also houses the audio system and climate control buttons and knobs. The vertical aluminum strips on either side of the centre console appear to give the dash board a compartmentalized look. The middle a/c vents are placed in these aluminum strips and are quite long themselves. The rest of the dash is made up of the glove box, which is very large and accommodating and a smaller storage space at the top of the dashboard.
The front cabin is very spacious and the front seats are also very comfortable providing sufficient support and cushioning for both front occupants. The gear shift is also well positioned and has some aluminum accents on it making it look quite modern.
The rear cabin of the Tata Aria is made up of a row of middle seats and another row of seats further back. The middle rows of seats have adjustable backrests and head rests and offer a comfortable seating position for passengers. The seats have a folding armrest and are also 60:40 foldable to allow for increased storage space. The middle row has another feature, being able to slide forwards and backwards and allows for increased legroom for taller passengers and very comfortable seats three people. The third row of seats only occupies two people and is a slightly more cramped affair than the middle row. These are 50:50 foldable allowing more room for storage and would generally be best suited for seating children.
Engine and Ride
The Tata Aria in India is fitted with the acclaimed DICOR engine manufactured in-house and is common rail direct ignition. The engine is 2.2 liter, 4 cylinder, inline, DOHC that deliver a very impressive 140 horsepower and 320 Nm of torque. The engine works on VTT or variable Turbine Technology and is mated to a 5-speed gearbox that is very smooth to shift. There is also a Dual Mass Flywheel that is incorporated in the CRDI engine that minimizes vibrations helping to keep the noise levels in the cabin to a minimum. The Tata Aria comes with All-wheel-drive and Tata calls it Adapterra 4×4.
Suspension on the Tata Aria is also very good and the front is fitted with a independent double wishbone setup and the rear has a 5-link suspension setup. Ride in the Tata Aria is very smooth and this is down to the silent nature of the engine. Starting it up you will be surprised at the lack of noise emanating for the vehicle while idling. Shifting it into gear lets the car move forward effortlessly and the power is delivered quickly with the minimum of fuss and also without the whine that you are used to in other Tata SUV’s. Acceleration is really good in the Tata Aria and this is down to the perfectly tuned gearbox ratios and smooth shifting gearbox.
Verdict and Recommendations
The Tata Aria is a very impressive vehicle and offers the Indian market a great option instead of the Toyota Innova and the Chevrolet Captiva. It definitely makes one think of the new Mercedes R-class in terms of space and styling. The powerful, efficient DICOR engine is very capable and lets the driver drive the vehicle with the least amount of stress while the suspension and braking setup provide a safe and comfortable ride for all passengers.
The Tata Aria comes with a plethora of safety features that includes ABS, EBD and ESP as well as the required set of airbags. It is slightly more expensive than the Toyota Innova coming in at around 15 lakhs but has more features than any other car in its segment. The styling of the vehicle is also very modern and should attract a number of buyers especially those Tata fans who would be most impressed with this crossover offering from the Indian car giant. The Tata Aria is definitely one for the future but that future is now and only serves to excite me even more.
Tata Aria Pride India Specifications
Tata Aria Pride Engine
Installation: Front, all wheel drive, longitudinal,
Type: 4cycle in-line, intercooler, 2179cc, CRDi,
Compression ratio: 17.2:1
Valve gear: DOHC, 4-valves per cyl,
Power: 138 hp@4000rpm
Tata Aria Pride Chassis and Body
Wheel Base: 2851mm
Ground Clearance: 186mm
Construction: Five-door MUV, body on ladder frame chassis
Weight: 2126kg (4×2), 2220kg (4×4)
Wheels: 7.5J x 17 inch
Tyres: 235/65 R17
Spare: Full size, alloy wheel
Tank size: 60 Litres
Tata Aria Pride Suspension
Front: double wishbone, Independent, coil springs
Rear: coil springs, Non independent, 5-link
Steering: Power Assist, Hydraulic
Tata Aria Pride Brakes
Front: 302mm ventilated discs
Anti-lock: ABS with ESP