11 January 2008

Cheap trick

Jaguar suitor Tata builds world's cheapest car. Just £1,250, and we can see why

Tata Nano

So Jaguar's in safe hands, then. This is the Tata Nano, the new super-affordable car from the company widely expected to buy Jaguar and Land Rover in the next few weeks. 

Dubbed the 'lakh' car - from the colloquial Indian word for 1,000,000 rupees, which equates to about £1,250 - the Nano delivers on Ratan Tata's pledge to build an ultra-cheap car for the Indian market.

The world's cheapest, in fact - the Nano is being marketed as an alternative to the scooters and tuk-tuks that most Indians use to get around. Shorter than a Mitsubishi i but using a similar monoboxed, rear-engined layout, it's no exaggeration to say that the Nano could transform subcontinental motoring. Be afraid. 

So what do you get for the price of a sofa? Not a lot, in honesty. The Nano is powered by a two-cylinder engine, which develops a mighty 32bhp. Driving the rear wheels, it'll see the Nano to 44mph in 14 seconds (why 44mph, we're not sure) and on to a top speed of around 66mph. It'll manage around 57mph,  too. 

Luxuries? Not many, as you might have guessed. Twelve-inch wheels come as standard along with, erm, a steering wheel, four seats and perhaps even some suspension. A radio is an optional extra. 

Concerns have been voiced about the Nano's environmental impact and safety standards, but Tata claims that it has been 'built to meet safety requirements and emissions norms, to be fuel efficient and low on emissions'. 

 Mild obfuscation, perhaps, but Tata also says that the Nano's safety performance 'exceeds regulatory requirements'. Exactly what those requirements are remain unclear, but at least the Nano should be safer than a scooter. Or, say, hopping.

Tata is yet to announce whether the Nano will go on sale outside of India, but we reckon it could be just the entry-level Jaguar to attract young penniless reprobates to the brand. Perhaps not.

 

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