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.
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.