2013 Tata Nano Test Drive Review
2013 Tata Nano – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Tata Nano Review

Car Tested: 2013 Tata Nano LX

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 2,64,900/-

The Nano is a chirpy car for city driving and the 2013 model has slight improvements.

Cheap is not always good or that is what people usually believe. This is what is going against the Tata Nano, a vehicle which is popularly known as the world’s cheapest car. The Nano deserves to sell much more than what Tata Motors is currently managing. While sales were decent last year, this entry level machine has seen a massive decline in volumes this year. To give a shot in the arm of Nano sales, Tata Motors has launched the 2013 Nano facelift, which really doesn’t get a world of changes. The company has made minor tweaks to the Tata Nano, which boosts the appeal of this value for money automobile even further. We spin the wheels of this rear-engined car to find out what’s changed in the latest iteration.

Motor Quest: The Tata Nano might be an Indian car made by an Indian company for Indian people but it has taken massive amounts of international inputs from companies like Bosch, Toyo, Johnson Controls, I.D.E.A. and Behr.

2013 Tata Nano ReviewTata Nano 2013 Review

Exteriors – The Tata Nano is a cute looking car and although it is quite small in dimension, it definitely looks like a car and not just a mere 4-wheeler. Remove your magnifying glasses to spot the difference as there are very few on the exteriors. Tata Motors has given the Nano chrome strips at the front and rear which are sure to go down well with Indians who love the premium-ness it adds to their vehicle. The rear bumper of the Tata Nano gets air intakes (right below the chrome strip) for better cooling of the engine.

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That is about it, the rest of the vehicle remains the same and the company has added two new colours to the Tata Nano – Dazzle Blue and Royal Gold. Thus for the uninitiated, recognising the 2013 model from the previous years’ won’t be an easy task. From the side, it is impossible to tell if the vehicle is the facelifted model or not. The Nano is a very compact car and the above image clearly shows how small it really is.

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Interiors – Small on the outside it maybe but on the inside, the Tata Nano has acres of space which can shame cars which cost twice as much. Tata Motors has done clever engineering to yield maximum cabin space. There is a lot of room inside the Nano and four people can sit in very comfortably thanks to the well cushioned seats. The tall boy design means headroom is never an issue even for the tallest of passengers. Quality seems to have improved a bit and the interiors do feel well put together. The dashboard layout is the same and the instrument cluster is placed in the centre which isn’t as distracting as one would expect (due to the narrowness of the cabin). Coin holders are placed on either side of the front seats.

2013 Tata Nano Performance Review2013 Tata Nano Interior Review

Tata Motors has given the facelifted Nano more features. While the standard variant remains more or less the same in terms of equipment, the CX and LX variants now get dual glove boxes on the dashboard, which although not very deep, do offer some space for little knick-knacks. The top-end LX variant gets an audio system with USB, Aux and Bluetooth connectivity. The head unit isn’t that easy to understand and we tried a lot but couldn’t pair our phones. However sound output is decent and four speakers are offered (two on the dashboard and two on the rear parcel shelf). The Nano’s AC is a chiller in spite of having only three fan speeds. The Nano LX gets front power windows, switches for which are placed behind the gear lever. There is a small cubbyhole and 12V power socket ahead of the gear knob.

2013 Tata Nano User Experience2013 Tata Nano Road Test Review

The steering wheel is now a three-spoke unit (the hazard light button goes from above the steering to the centre console) but is positioned a bit low for tall drivers and scrapes the left leg on turning (obviously there is no steering or seat height adjust which is acceptable at this price). The all beige interiors feel very airy and visibility all around is excellent too. For those who are not a big fan of beige, you can opt to buy your Nano in Dazzle Blue colour as this coloured Nano gets all black interiors with blue surrounds on the speakers and doors. You need to flip the rear seats forward to access the boot (the hood carries the spare wheel which is the same size as the front wheels). Tata Motors should have given the Nano an openable hatch as it makes keeping things in the boot very easy. The battery is placed below the driver’s seat while the jack is placed below the front passenger’s seat.

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Performance – That’s it, our review is over. Because Tata Motors has made absolutely no mechanical changes to the Nano. The vehicle continues to be powered by the same 0.6-litre, twin-pot motor which produces a modest 38 PS of power and 51 Nm of torque. While this might not seem adequate for a car, one must not forget the Nano weighs under 650 kgs, resulting in a good power to weight ratio. Performance is quite spritely and in spite of the few horses on tap, you never feel the lack of grunt in the city. Bury the throttle and the Nano picks up speed quickly and can easily keep up with traffic without any issues whatsoever.

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Where the Tata Nano does show a lack of performance is the highways. Top speed is just 105 km/hr (we managed to hit 110!) and the electronic speed limiter kicks in. Clearly the motor has something left in it but for the sake of safety, the company has rightly limited the top whack. NVH levels are pretty good and vibes are very few. It’s only at the doors where you can instantly feel the twin-cylinder unit’s vibrations. The engine sounds a bit rough on the outside but is not much audible inside. The gearbox is a 4-speed unit and is quite tall geared to give you good mileage (expect at least 18 km/l in city conditions with 100% AC usage) and the fuel filler is in the hood. The clutch is light and the gear lever offers effortless shifts.

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Driving Dynamics – For the 2012 Nano, Tata Motors made changes to the suspension which has given the Nano an excellent balance of ride and handling. There are no suspension changes to the 2013 Nano which has a good ride quality but big bumps really unsettle the car as it’s puny wheels are not able to handle large craters of our roads. Disappointingly enough, there is still no power steering on offer. The company has increased the size of the steering wheel which does take off the hard work while turning at parking speeds but doesn’t do enough as manoeuvring at low speeds still takes quite some effort. The rear view mirrors offer good visibility although they are a bit small and are not internally adjustable.

2013 Tata Nano Road Test

Handling is very good and even with bare basic suspension, the vehicle turn-ins very quickly and body control is tight with roll being well contained. It’s really the poorly calibrated steering which takes the joy of piloting this rear wheel drive machine. The steering is inconsistent at the centre and feels overly light at speed, yet when you turn more than 45-degrees, it starts to feel heavy. Turning radius is extremely small, which coupled with the small dimensions make squeezing into traffic very easy. Stability is good and even at its top speed, the Nano doesn’t feel unsafe or nervous. What really is unsafe though are the brakes, which lack bite and offer poor stopping power. The pedal feels spongy and inspire no confidence at all. Disc brakes at the front or a bigger brake booster should really be offered.

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Verdict – When we heard about the 2013 Tata Nano coming, we had a lot of expectations. The vehicle does disappoint in several areas, which remain untouched. The facelift on the Tata Nano should have been more substantial and the company should have offered better brakes and a power steering, even if these were offered as an option. There is a lot of scope of improvement on the Nano but even in its current avatar, the vehicle makes a strong case for itself. The price hike on the 2013 edition is marginal and you do get a lot more of your money’s worth, making the Tata Nano a very capable entry level vehicle for the first time car buyer. The company now offers attractively priced Nano personalisation kits, which is sure to work well with youngsters.

The 2013 Tata Nano sees marginal changes to boost overall aesthetic appeal but the lack of mechanical changes restricts driving improvements.

[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/9404376574/[/flickr]

What’s Cool

* Performance In The City
* Space
* Price

What’s Not So Cool

* Lack Of Power Steering
* Brakes

[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/9401617037/[/flickr]

2013 Tata Nano Specifications

* Engine: 624cc, 2-cylinder, MPFI
* Power: 38 PS @ 5500 RPM
* Torque: 51 Nm @ 4000 RPM
* Transmission: 4-speed manual
* Top Speed: 105 km/hr
* 0-100 km/hr: 27.50 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 20 km/l (City), 24 km/l (Highway)
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Suspension: McPherson Strut with gas filled dampers and anti-roll bar (Front), Semi Trailing arm with coil spring and gas filled shock absorbers (Rear)
* Tyres: 135/70/12 (Front), 155/65/12 (Rear); Tubeless Radials
* Brakes: 180 mm Drums
* Safety: Crumple zones with intrusion resistant doors

2013 Tata Nano Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 3099 mm X 1495 mm X 1652 mm
* Wheelbase: 2230 mm
* Ground Clearance: 180 mm
* Boot Volume: 80-liters, 500-litres (with rear seats folded)
* Turning Radius: 4-metres
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 15-litres
* Kerb Weight: 635 kgs (LX)

Further Reading –

Tata Nano Twist Review
Tata Nano Video Review
Tata Nano vs Alto 800