Car tested: 2010 Tata Nano LX
Price OTR Mumbai: 2,08,896/-
The Nano is the brainchild of a dream, a dream seen by Ratan Tata to provide a cheap and affordable means of transportation for the common man. In a country where in less than 5% of the population own a car, the Nano was conceived as a small affordable car, which would be able to transport a small family in a comfortable and safe environment. Considered to be a replacement for a two wheeler, the Tata Nano, is greener than the two wheeler (in terms of emissions) and is a practical solution for mass transportation. We drive the ‘World’s Cheapest Car’ and check out whether it deserves the fame around it.
Exteriors – The Nano excels in its design and that’s one thing almost everyone will agree on. For a car which carries the “Cheapest Car in the World” tag, its looks modern, stylish and anything like a modified version of the auto rickshaw. The front sports large headlamps and the headlamp cluster extends almost all the way up to the windshield.
A single large wiper with integrated spray nozzles is more than enough for the job.
Our test car was equipped with fog lamps which too do a decent job at night. The Nano looks compact from the side profile. Alloys wheels added to the looks of our test car. The Nano’s engine is seated at the rear and like most rear engine cars, there are vents at the corner of the rear door which aid in cooling the engine to some extent.
The rear seems to be inspired from the Indica and the rear engine can be seen sticking out below the rear bumper. Vents are provided in the rear bumper (possibly for cooling again). The boot cannot be opened as it houses the engine but the rear seat can be folded from the inside contributing to some amount of storage. Access to the engine can be gained only after removing the rear bench.
Interiors – Contrary to what the small car looks may suggest, the Nano is extremely spacious on the inside. A six footer will be comfortable in the front as well as rear seats with ample head room and leg room. Even in the posterior most position of the front seats there is ample leg room behind.
Front seats are comfortable but lack lateral support. Surprisingly, the front seats cannot be reclined more than what is seen in the above picture. Headrest is integrated with both the front seats. Interior plastics are average. Front two power windows are provided but the switches are awkwardly placed right behind the cup holders in the centre console.
As mentioned earlier, the rear seats can be folded to make room for some storage area.
A/c is powerful and the car cools quickly and efficiently. Audio system with average sound quality was also part of our car. CD playback and Aux connectivity provided.
Instrument cluster is place in the center. (cost cutting?). Basic instrumentation but includes speedometer, digital fuel gauge and a single trip meter.
The battery finds its place under the front drivers seat.
The bonnet (so as to speak) houses the spare wheel (135/70/12) along with the fuel inlet lid.
Built Quality – Tata motors maybe facing the heat (quite literally) with numerous incidences of flash fires but most cars with rear engines are prone to such incidents. Besides these freak incidents, the Nano is well put together and does justice to its price tag. Tata had even organized the “Nano Superdrive” in which 9 Nano’s did 15,000 km around the country to showcase that the Nano is a safe vehicle. (Our test car was one of these vehicles). Plastic quality is average and feels cheap, but what do you expect for the price you pay? Few panel gaps here and there are pardonable. Ground clearance (180mm) is adequate and the Nano did not scrape most speed breakers. We did not notice any rattles but cabin insulation could have been better as the engine transmits a lot of sound and vibration at high revs.
On the Move – The Nano starts with a typical scooter like humm. Gearbox is not the slickest we have seen but the gear ratios are divided in such a way that even this mere 35 Bhp engine does not feel sluggish. Power steering may not be there but its certainly not missed. Once you are up to speed, the steering is light and nippy and a boon in heavy traffic situations. Even with four people on board, the Nano did not seem to run out of breath. Maneuverability through traffic is fantastic. At speeds around 90 – 100, the car feels a tad bit unstable owning to the thin rubber it rides on and is affected by high wind speeds on the highway. No such problem in regular city running.
Ride, Handling and Braking – The Nano shares its 12 inch wheels with the Tata Ace (light commercial vehicle). A means of cost cutting but these 12 inch tubeless radials deliver a comfortable ride and ease out most of the bumps. Rear engine – Rear wheel drive combination makes the Nano a fun to drive car. The car responds to sharp steering inputs and changes direction easily. A hint of oversteer exists and is fun all the same. To compensate for this oversteer, Tata engineers have used thinner rubber at the front (135/70/12) and thicker tires behind (155/65/12) to give it a slight understeery character. No ABS but the car stops without much fuss owning to its light weight. Hard braking can be tricky sometimes.
Performance – The Nano is powered by the first of its kind 2 cylinder engine which uses a single balancer shaft (Balancer shaft is an eccentric weighted shaft which offsets the vibrations in engine designs which are not inherently balanced). This 624 cc MPFI engine delivers 35 PS @ 5250 RPM and 48 NM of torque at 3000 RPM. Floor it and the Nano hits 80 comfortably and then struggles a bit. Ride becomes a little edgy at high speeds (70 +) and the engine whine becomes loud and irritating. Top speed is rated at 105 km but we hit a top of 102 km in just less than 30 seconds. ARAI figures indicate a fuel efficiency of 20+ kmpl and one can practically expect 18 + in regular city traffic.
Conclusion – The Tata Nano is a practical affordable entry level car which is big on space and mileage. It opens up a new segment altogether with many manufacturers gunning to compete neck to neck with it. Its stylish looks also qualify it to be kept as an additional car in the house. As far as the fires are concerned, even a Lamborgini has caught fire and hence one should not be biased with the Nano. One must also keep in mind that the Tata Nano was introduced as a option to two wheelers and is no supercar. Comparing a Nano to full blown hatchbacks is folly. A new CNG and Diesel option is just around the corner and Tata is also planning to roll out a luxury version of the Nano which will be high on features. Hats off to you Mr. Tata, the “People’s Car” is truly worth every penny.
- Value for money
- Space and legroom
- Stylish modern looks
- Fuel efficiency
- Central locking
- Tata service
- Engine sound
- Front power window switches inaccessible
- Freak incidences of fire not doing the Nano any good.
- Engine: 624cc, 2 cylinder, MPFI (BS IV Complaint)
- Power: 35PS @ 5250rpm
- Torque: 48Nm @ 3000rpm
- Transmission: 4 speed manual
- Top Speed: 105 kmph
- 0-100kmph: 29.71 seconds
- Fuel Consumption: 18 kmpl (City), 22 kmpl (highway)
- Fuel Type: Petrol
- Suspension: Independent, Lower Wishbone, McPherson Strut with gas filled dampers (Front), Independent, Semi Trailing arm with coil spring & gas filled shock absorbers (Rear)
- Tires: 135/70/12 (front) and 155/65/12 (rear) Tubeless Radials
- Brakes: Dual circuit, vertical split operated by tandem master cylinder with vacuum booster with 180 mm dia. drum brake
- Safety: Crumple zones with intrusion resistant doors
Tata Nano Dimensions
- Overall length x width x height: 3099mm X 1495mm X 1652 mm
- Wheelbase: 2,230mm
- Ground clearance: 180 mm
- Turning Radius – 4 m
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 15-litres
- Kerb Weight: 635 kgs