Tata Nano Twist Review
Car Tested: 2014 Tata Nano Twist
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 2,81,400/-
The 2014 Tata Nano Twist is by-far the most effortless car to drive in the city.
The Tata Nano needs no introduction, not even globally as this is the car which has put Indian automobiles on the world map. Although Tata Motors doesn’t sell the Nano in developed countries, people there have much appreciated Ratan Tata’s vision of the Nano. However even though the company has a brilliant product on hand with the world’s most affordable car, the Tata Nano fails to sell well in the Indian market. A dampner indeed for Indian automobile innovation. As the herd mentality approach is strong in our country, Tata Motors finds it a challenge to sell its Nano. Here at MotorBeam, the Tata Nano is among our favourite cars, not because it’s cheap to buy and easy on the pocket, but because it’s a true revolution. We have been gaga over each and every version of the car and even put it head-on against India’s most selling vehicle, the Alto 800, the Nano emerged on top. Now to boost the convenience factor and increase volumes, the company has launched the Tata Nano Twist, a new variant of the car which replaces the LX variant.
Motor Quest: Launched in 2009, the Tata Nano has been getting new updates every year which has improved the car leaps and bounds over the years. The next iteration of the Nano is expected to be a world apart and is due for launch by 2016.
The exteriors of the Twist remain the same as the 2013 Tata Nano and other than the badge, there isn’t anything to differentiate the car from the non-power steering models. The company has given the Tata Nano Twist a new Damson purple colour which is the signature launch colour of the car. This same colour was used on the Nano Concept showcased at the 2012 Auto Expo. The styling of the car continues to be cute and we love the optional alloy wheels which you can see in the pictures here.
The Tata Nano Twist gets a few changes, which although minor, go a long way in boosting the appeal of the world’s cheapest car. Offered in only one variant, the Nano Twist XT not only gets a electric power assisted steering (first Tata car to use EPAS) but also benefits from changes to the instrument cluster. Tata Motors has revised the console which looks so much more appealing now. The gauge for the temperature and fuel meters now use LEDs while driver information system has been added to the car which displays average fuel efficiency as well as distance to empty. Turn on the car and the speedometer swings all the way to 120 km/hr and comes back, a sporty touch. Talking of sporty, when the ignition is turned on, the console shows Sport and Eco mode which is likely to debut on a future Nano model.
The interiors of the Nano remain the same as its non Twist models but subtle changes help in boosting the appeal of the car. Space has never been an issue with the Nano and the updated model continues to offer a cabin with loads of room, although boot space is limited and hampered due to accessibility. Other than the heavily revised cluster, Tata Motors have also re-aligned the pedals for better ergonomics. The steering wheel is marginally bigger than before and tall drivers will find it scraping their thighs when turning. The features on the Nano Twist XT are carried over from the previous top-end Nano LX and thus you get twin gloveboxes in the dashboard, audio system with Bluetooth connectivity (difficult to connect your phone seamlessly via Bluetooth), etc. A new add-on is keyless entry while the front power windows are easier to access due to a revised gearshift console.
No changes have been made to the engine of the Nano and thus the performance is the same as before. The 624cc, twin-cylinder engine belts out 38 PS of power at 5500 RPM and 51 Nm of torque at 4000 RPM. This engine is mated to a 4-speed gearbox and top speed is limited to 105 km/hr. 0-100 km/hr takes 27.50 seconds but in spite of this long time to sprint to the ton, the Nano doesn’t feel sluggist at all and is quite peppy to drive in the city. There are some vibrations on the doors but NVH levels are very good and that’s thanks to the addition of more padding on the engine cover. First gear is good for 40 km/hr, second will see you hit 70 km/hr while in third you will get past 95 km/hr. Top speed is reached in top gear and the tall gearing helps amble around town without any hinderance from the mill. Clutch feel seems improved and the gearbox is relative smooth to operate. The Nano is very efficient and returns a real world mileage of 20 km/l in city conditions.
The biggest change and the one that can make the most impact on the sales of the Nano is of course the power steering. This ain’t any ordinary power steering, it has been developed by ZF Lenksysteme (ZFLS) in conjunction with Bosch. Driving the Nano was always effortless and the addition of a power steering makes life so much more convenient. Now you can zip through the tightest of spots without having to exercise your biceps in the process. The steering is extremely light at low speeds and that makes parking such a breeze. You can actually manuvere the car with one finger and that’s because the Nano is itself quite a light machine, weighing under 650 kgs. Even though the lightness of the steering is apparent at city speeds, as soon as you reach upwards of 60 km/hr, the steering starts to get weight with speed sensitivity cutting off post 80 km/hr. The brushless motor reduces assist as you gain speed.
What’s even better on the Nano Twist is the active return feature and as you guessed it, it pulls the steering back to centre ahead position on its own every time you turn. This reduces the effort to get the car pointing straight when you are making sharp turns, specially u-turns. Although it has torque sensors, the fall back to centre position isn’t artificial and everything feels like it has taken its natural course. There is an ECU which notes down your driving habits and reacts accordingly. The car turns lock to lock in just three turns and that’s majorly due to the compact dimensions. We put the Nano through a tight city manoeuvring exercise as well as a parking exercise and were thoroughly impressed with the effortlessness brought by the power steering to the equation. With the power steering, you can truly enjoy the 4-metre turning radius of the car.
The Tata Nano is a rear-engine, rear-wheel drive car and handling is quite good enabling you to have fun behind the wheel. Yes there is body movement, quite a bit of it but that’s expected considering the tall stance and small wheels. When we drove the 2013 Nano, we weren’t impressed with the inconsistency of the steering, which felt too heavy once you turn in excess of 45-degrees. With the power steering, this issues has been resolved to a large extent. You can turn in quickly and also get decent feedback from the car. The stiff suspension isn’t able to tackle big bumps but on good roads, the ride quality is compliant. Stability at speed is impressive while braking performance continues to be below average. It’s high time the Nano gets disc brakes at the front or at least the company should offer bigger brake boosters.
Tata Motors seem to be big fans of Neil Armstrong, they keep taking one step at a time hoping for a giant leap. With the Nano now getting a power steering, it indeed is a giant leap for the car which should definitely boost sales in the short term. However if Tata Motors wants to keep the Nano selling in good numbers, it needs to do more. Small things like openable rear hatch door, disc brakes, tachometer, etc are taking awfully long to come. While there is no doubt that the Nano Twist at a premium of just Rs. 14,000/- over the non-power steering model is a splendid proposition, making the world’s most affordable automobile, definitely more car per car.
The power steering equipped Tata Nano Twist is vastly easier to drive which is sure to work well with first time car buyers who will benefit largely with the added convenience.
* Well calibrated power steering
* Cool new instrument cluster
* Nano Twist costs only marginally more
What’s Not So Cool
* Bluetooth system difficult to pair
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