So, another calendar year and another new Nano is about to roll out soon. But, unlike previous 'refreshes', changes to the Tata Nano MY2015 are laudable. Yes, the Nano Twist launched some time back did make steering the hatchback a bit easier in the city, but the new package thats come along this time around makes the Nano more conventional than ever.But before we get to the features that now make it a complete car than it was back in 2009, heres a thing about the visual changes. Thankfully, its more than just a funky new paint job outside and a new stereo inside. The 2015 Nano comes with noticeable cosmetic alterations, and we already like the way it looks. Not that the previous model wasnt good to look at – it was cute, but it was a face that remained unchanged for almost six years and it was about time it went under the knife. So then, the MY15 Nano carries an even wider grin, new headlamp clusters, new fog lamps, an altered rear bumper thats in sync with the one upfront, and finally a tailgate that opens up to 94 litres of luggage space in the AMT version, and 110 litres for the manual variant. For some reason, if you need to carry more cargo in a Nano, folding the rear seat will open up 500 litres of max space.The cabin, too, gets minor tweaks in the form of new fabrics for the seats and door panels, a better-designed and more informative instrument cluster, a smaller and good to hold steering wheel (borrowed from the Zest/Bolt) and a music system with USB, AUX-in and Bluetooth connectivity. The talking point, however, is the new, premium-looking (at least for a Nano) gear stick for the AMT box. Yes, the Nano now comes with the convenience of an automated manual transmission, making it the cheapest car to sport that feature.
See more pictures of the GenX Nano
So how cool is the new Nano to drive? Well, its quite cool. The top-end XTA variant featured here gets power steering and AMT, making it a breeze to use in city traffic – something the Nano should've been since its inception. The 5-speed AMT, like all other specimens we have tested before, does feel a bit lethargic to begin with, and takes some time getting used to. When slotted into A (Auto), the box has a mind of its own, upshifting too early (in the obvious interests of efficiency), while taking its own sweet time to downshift a cog or two. But, theres no denying the fact that the Nano Twist AMT makes driving in maddening city traffic a whole lot easier than ever before. And, this factor alone should get a lot of you interested in this Tata.When in the mood for some spirited driving, the Nano AMT isnt really the car you should get into. But if thats your only option, then theres a tiny S (Sport) button at your disposal. No, it wont transform your Nano into a tyre-screeching, rear-wheel drive monster, but will hold on to the revs a little longer, in each gear, to give you that extra baby of a punch from its two-cylinder, 624cc petrol motor. And, if that doesnt solve your need for speed, shift to manual mode to have better control over what the engine and gearbox do.The Nano was conceived and developed as an urban car, and its performance on highways was never a major talking point. Neither is the new Nanos. But, in todays world, where supercars can be seen jostling for space in crowded city lanes, every small car on the road finds itself heading for those occasional highway jaunts. And, its on occasions like these that the Nanos shortcomings as a complete hatchback come to the fore. Yes, it does hold on to 80kph well and even crosses the 100kph barrier when pushed real hard, but understandably so, it starts losing composure, and gets a bit nervous at those speeds.But, as mentioned earlier, for a Nano, highway trips arent going to be a regular affair as its the city limits where this Tata will see most of its kilometres being clocked. And for those conditions, the Nano Twist AMT seems near perfect. With improved driveability, better ride comfort, ample cabin space, a bigger 24-litre fuel tank resulting into lesser stops for fuel, and the added convenience of an AMT, the Nano is headed in the right direction. Yes, theres still scope for improvement - the drum brakes need a bit more bite, and an option to open the hatch with a remote (you have to use the key to access luggage space every time on this) would come in handy. We're told the engineers are working on it, and we shall take their word on this. But, everything else makes sense in this new package.The GenX Nano Twist AMT is easy and fun to drive in the city, can comfortably seat four adults, is efficient and wont burn a hole in your pocket. The Twist AMT (XTA) has been priced at Rs 3 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai), and for that sort of money, its a pretty decent proposition. Plus, Tata claims the AMT should run close to 22 kilometres to a litre of petrol. We wont say it that it will displace the Maruti Alto 800 as the ultimate urban hatch just yet, but the Nano has inched a lot closer to quintessential Maruti, and that in itself is a giant step forward.So whats next for the Nano? A diesel engine, of course. But not anytime soon.The specs2cyl, 624cc, RWD, 37bhp @ 5500rpm, 51Nm @ 4000rpm, 5AMT/4M, top speed\: 105kph (indicated), 21.9kpl AMT, 23.6kpl Manual (claimed), Fuel tank\: 24 litres, 12-inch steel wheels, 765kg, Rs 3 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai)The verdictThe most affordable car in the world is now more convenient to drive, and scores high on practicality as well.