2010 Tata Aria – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Car tested: 2010 Tata Aria

Price OTR Mumbai: 17,84,461/-

Tata Motors have launched the much awaited Tata Aria. First showcased at the 2010 Auto Expo, Delhi, the Aria promises to to strike the right balance between the comforts of a sedan and the muscle of a SUV. As we hear, JLR seemed to have a role in the development of this Crossover (as Tata likes to call it) and this time Tata Motors is pretty much creating its own segment and is confident about it too. The Tata Aria looks promising and we check out the if the Aria cuts the cheese.

Exteriors – The Aria looks pretty much like a MPV (similar to the Innova in many respects) and special attention has been paid by Tata to ensure it looks good. The Aria is the most expensive vehicle from that Tata stable and it looks seem to justify this. The Tata Aria looks muscular with well defined body lines and contours and the 17 inch wheels look good and add muscle to the car. The front grille is signature of the latest Tata vehicles with the Indica Vista and the Manza sporting similar grilles. Civic style wipers (its easy to understand it this way) leave hardly any glass area dirty.

The Aria looks like a MPV when viewed from the side and one somehow feels the hint of an Innova in the Aria’s side profile. Large glass area which slopes into a curve towards the C pillar makes the car appear roomy and a chrome strip underlining the windows looks sleek.

The Aria’s butt is rather flat and does not look as if it could give Jennifer Lopez some competition. The twin chrome exhausts enhance the appeal of the car. Large rear glass area gives a commanding view while driving.

Tucked away neatly just above the number plate is the rear parking camera. Once the car is slotted into reverse gear, the display screen on the dash doubles up as the display for the camera. Smart for sure.

Interiors – The Tata Aria is very comfortable to get in and out. One does not really climb into it, but just walks into their seat. Be seated and it does not take too long to notice that the Aria is very well put together and is more than generations ahead of the Safari. Fit and finish the best we have seen from Tata. Interior quality has been boosted too with improved plastics and fabrics.

The drivers seat can be adjusted in six directions and the both front seats are equipped with lumbar support. The instrument cluster has loads of tiny indications for various things like seatbelt warning, low fuel warning etc with a MID indicating real time fuel consumption, range etc.

The top variant offers 6 airbags, reverse camera, cruise control, audio controls on the steering wheel, ABS, EBD, TCS, Full time 4 x 4 with an option of using 4 x 2 if required. Safety features given a priority.

Audio is system supports Aux and USB with audio control on the steering wheel but the buttons are placed in such a way that they unintentionally get pressed with turning the steering. Feedback given to Tata on this. Audio quality average. Cruise control button also on steering and engages only when the car is in third gear above 40 km/hr. Speed can be increased or decreased by the flick of a button.

Seating arrangement is a standard 2-3-2 with the front two captain seats and 60:40 split middle row which can seat 3 and 2 seats for the last row. Captain seats for the middle row would be appreciated and the only way to get to the back is to roll over the seat as shown below.

Last row of seats very cramped, suitable for kids only.

Tons of overhead storage areas.

Effective air conditioning with vents along both B and C pillars and a vent in the centre for the middle rows. The Ac cools in no time even in the afternoon heat. Boot light and charging point provided at the rear.

Boot space can be modified as per the requirement by folding the last and middle row seats.

Built Quality – Tata vehicles are not really known for top notch built quality but the Aria is different. Better quality plastics, good fit and finish are just a few things which are 3 steps ahead of the Safari. Panel gaps wiped down to the bare minimum, but a keen eye will still spot a few. Equipment level on the Tata Aria is much above what is seen in the segment. Our test car had done about 2200 km and there was no hint of any rattling. Heavy gauge metal doors shut with a loud thud and overall quality feels upmarket.

Glove compartment has got rubber stoppers to minimize the rattling. Glove box is aircooled to keep your drinks chilled (No Drinking and Driving please) and a small light keeps the glovebox lit at night.

On the Move – The Aria is powered by the 2.2 ltr DICOR engine, the same which powers the Safari but this engine is more refined and has been tuned specially to the likes of the Aria. Improved gear ratios make sure the Aria does well both in city and highway conditions. Low end torque is slightly disappointing and once above 2000 Rpm, the Aria does well. Clutch feels heavy and the gear lever tends to vibrate, thanks to the new gearshift mechanism.

The Aria has been designed as a crossover, a vehicle which can conquer most terrains and the Aria proves to do well in most. We drove it through slush and through grass and were impressed. Traction control and electronic stability program made sure we did not get stuck. (ESP cannot be turned off). High speeds dont unsettle the Aria in a straight line and it does not feel as if it will just topple over (a feeling often witnessed in the Safari). It is much more settled and drivability is above expectations.

Ride, Handling and Braking – The Aria rides on 17 inch 235/65 tyres which can do most terrains. Ride quality is comfortable. How do you expect a 2000 + kg car to handle? Well, miles better than the Safari and for a car as heavy as this, bodyroll is inevitable but is well within limits. High speed cornering can get scary at times but the car keeps itself grounded. All 4 disc brakes make sure the car stops without much fuss. The brakes do well to stop the car and ESP makes sure you dont step offline on less grippy surfaces. 200 mm of ground clearance ensures you dont coat the underside with tar.

Performance – Powered by the renowned 2.2 ltr DICOR engine the Aria produces 138 Bhp at 4000 rpm and 320 Nm of torque. The engine has been tweaked along with the gear ratios to suit the Aria and has better driving dynamics than the Safari. Surprisingly the the engine is extremely silent at idle and does not make too much noise at higher rpm’s due to the dual mass flywheel which does more than just cutting the sound. Floor it and the Aria comfortably touches 170 kmph without much strain. Low end drivability could have been better but once the engine is above 2000 Rpm it does not feel sluggish at all. The Aria delivers a mileage of about 11 – 13 km in a mix of both city and highway conditions, blame the weight for that and Tata seems to have done a great job in finding the right balance between mileage and performance. Rumors were around that JLR has built the Aria from scratch but Tata engineers confirmed that there was only a small “interaction” with JLR on the performance. (Tata had not bought out JLR when the Aria was conceived)

Conclusion – Tata has placed the Aria in unchartered territory and it is the most expensive car from Tata’s stable. Fully loaded with features and high on safety, the Aria is bound to please most especially the gadget gurus. Generations ahead of the Safari, the Aria is more of a MPV with the finesse of a SUV. Pricing will be the only factor which might not go too well with consumers but undoubtedly Tata has a winner on its hands.

Whats Kool

  • Equipment level
  • Fit and finish
  • SUV character
  • Value for money package

Whats UnKool

  • Tata service
  • Pricey for a Tata car
  • Unknown maintenance costs

Tata Aria Specifications –

  • Engine: 2179cc, DICOR with dual mass flywheel
  • Power: 140PS @ 4000rpm
  • Torque: 320Nm @ 1700-2700 rpm
  • Transmission: 5 speed manual
  • Top Speed: 170kmph
  • 0-100kmph: 16.50 seconds
  • Fuel Consumption: 11-12 kmpl (City), 13-14 kmpl (highway)
  • Fuel Type: Diesel
  • Suspension: Independent Double Wishbone With Coil Spring(F), 5-link suspension with Coil Spring (R)
  • Tires: 235/65/R17 Tubeless Radials
  • Brakes: Ventilated Disc with twin pot caliper (Front), Disc ( Rear), ABS, EBD
  • Safety: ABS, EBD, All wheel disc brakes Dual SRS Front Airbags, Curtain Airbags, ESP, TCS, Immobilizer with Perimetric Alarm System

Tata Aria Dimensions –

  • Overall length x width x height: 4780 mm X 1895 mm X 1780 mm
  • Wheelbase: 2850 mm
  • Ground clearance: 200 mm
  • Turning Radius – 5.6m
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 60 litres
  • Kerb Weight: 2720 kgs

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=re0C517AbKU 540 375]