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Review: Tata Nano

Driven August 2013

Review: Tata Nano

Usually, there’s chaos in the TG office when there’s a rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive car to be tested. The rule with unattended keys is finders keepers. But this time, none of that happened. The keys have been lying there for a week with no takers.

Before its launch, this rear-engine, RWD car was anticipated to be a game-changer. But its early success was short-lived. For two years now, the Nano has failed to find enough buyers. To address that, Tata has this update, which it’s calling the new Nano.

Barely anything has changed on the outside. Chrome strips now run on the hood and the boot. The rear sports a new mesh grille. The top-end variant gets new wheel caps. Inside, there are substantial changes, especially to the dash, which gets a completely new design with two gloveboxes and the instrument cluster in the middle. There are two speakers at either end. Plastic quality has improved. Nothing feels as flimsy as it did on the earlier Nano. No panel gaps inside either.

Tata has added a few features to the top-end to appeal to buyers looking for something a little more premium. It now gets remote locking, plus a new audio system that can pair with your Bluetooth device, and gets CD, AUX, USB inputs.

But with our limited expertise with electronics, we couldn’t manage to pair our phones to the audio system despite several attempts.

Cabin space is quite good for this car’s dimensions, but what should’ve been boot space is used up by the engine. No mechanical changes here. This update still doesn’t get power steering, which is essential in city traffic. Sigh.

The ride is comfortable as long as you don’t take it over sharp potholes or bumps, and it tends to get choppy at high speeds. The weedy tyres don’t offer much traction if you get into a corner a little too quick. But not a big concern, because the engine rarely gets quick enough to give you a heart-in-mouth moment.

This is the same twin-cylinder, 624cc petrol block that’s good for 37bhp and 51Nm. It’s mated to a four-speed ’box that channels power to the rear wheels. The output feels just about sufficient, but the motor needs to stay on the boil to keep up with traffic on open road. It’ll climb a ghat without the AC needing to be switched off, but only if you choose your gears right.

Tata has not worked on the NVH levels – the new Nano is still atrociously noisy inside the cabin. Being the budget car that it is, the running costs are tempting. The Nano will go 18.1kpl in the city and 20.4kpl on the highway. The update’s top-end goes for Rs 2.68 lakh (on-road, Mumbai) and despite that  Rs 20,000 increase over the earlier model, it’s still the cheapest car in India. And if you want even better running costs, the CNG version will be out in two months.

The numbers
2cyl, 624cc, 37bhp, 51Nm, 4M, RWD, 0-100kph: 29.57secs (damp), 30-50kph (3rd): 6.86, 30-50kph (4th): 12.30sec, 50-70kph (4th): 13.54, 80-0kph: 40m, 3.8sec, city kpl: 18.1, highway kpl: 20.4, 105kph, Rs 2.68 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)

The verdict
For cut-price motoring, there’s nothing to beat the Nano. Now, you’ll get a feature list worth talking about.

Agasti KaulgiBook Now

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