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Tata Nano Detailed Expert Review - June 06, 2015

2.36 - 3.35 lakhs
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Introduction

Jun 06, 2015 : Expert Review By

2015 Tata GenX Nano AMT Drive Review Video

What good is a micro city car if you can’t slip it in tight spaces and reverse it in an alley or make a quick U-turn to change directions? The Made-in-India Tata Nano was conceived to do all of that and more. It was practically meant for a family of four, who otherwise burdened a two-wheeler compromising on comfort, safety and others aspects.

When launched in 2009, it came with basic features and options that one would expect in a budget hatch. Now that the Nano has already established itself, Tata Motors wants to push the brand further into a more aspirational space. They want to spread the new design language, as seen on the Zest and Bolt, on this petite offering too. 

However, the GenX Nano is not limited to superficial updates only. It gets a new boot lid which makes the rear luggage space easily accessible and importantly, it features an automatic gearbox. This perhaps makes it a strong micro buy on four wheels. True? We reveal in our detailed first drive report.

Exterior

Presently, there is nothing plying on the Indian street which looks any similar to a Nano. A tall body, small wheels, large windscreens and a distinct exhaust noise everything of which is generic to this small car. The Designext, which is the new generation design language for all Tata cars, has laid its touch on the Nano too to make it look more upmarket.

Nano Mailer

It comes with clear lens smoked headlights with ‘Nano’ engraved on them. The Tata logo, now sits on a more profound piano black band joining the headlights with a strong focus on the brand name. There is no more frowning as the new Nano gets a smiling infinity motif grille with large circular fog lamps. The underside of the front bumper gets more contours with a wedge shaped profile. Other features such as the slim hood line and a single front wiper remain unchanged.

There are no distinct changes done on the side as it carries the same features and lines as seen on the earlier Nano. They haven’t altered its dimensions as the length and width remain constant at 3164 mm and 1750 mm respectively. It gets a sufficient ground clearance of 180mm, very necessary to tackle those potholes and hard surfaces. There are subtle flares on wheel arches. It still runs on tubeless 135/70 R12(F) and 155/65 R12(R) tyres.

2015 Tata Nano Images 2

Finally, they heard the long and highly awaited request of all Nano owners including mine. The new rear tail gate, can now be opened to get access to the rear luggage area, something which otherwise needed the rear seats to be folded down. To make it convenient, there is a handle to lift the gate but to unlock it, one has to use the ignition key as there is no internal arrangement to operate it.

There is a chrome accent above the rear bumper on the lid and a similar grille like front without brake lights. Since the rear bumper has been completely redesigned, the central exhaust opening has been replaced by a more car like exhaust outlet placed on the left and neatly tucked inside the bumper.

2015 Tata Nano Images 14

 

Interior

The basic architecture inside the new Nano remains similar except for modern bits like the new generation steering wheel which had made way into the Zest, Bolt, Safari Storme and now also in the Nano. It feels way better to turn this one as the earlier lacked everything and was just an excuse of a means to turn.

2015 Tata Nano Photos 10

Do not get your hopes high expecting steering mounted controls on this one. The interiors have been revisited with new latte inspired bright trims. The AC vents get a chrome highlight. The seat fabrics have been changed for a plusher feel with an infinity theme embossed all over and Nano branding in the rear. The AC unit has been updated too as it is 15% more powerful and takes lesser time to cool the cabin

The modern instrumental cluster which was launched in the Twist has been further updated with an ideal gear position indicator also showing different drive modes such as sport, manual and auto. In addition, it also shows distance to empty, average fuel economy, electronic trip meter, digital clock and a low fuel warning lamp.

2015 Tata Nano Photos 12

With all these modern elements considered, one would realise that the Nano has truly evolved from the time of its launch. The top of the line variant also gets an integrated AmphiStream Music System with 4 speakers and Bluetooth, USB and Aux-in options. The same can also be used to pair Smartphones as well as to stream music. To make it more convenient, it offers a 12V Power socket, which can be used to charge a mobile or a laptop.

There is something in abundance inside the Nano and is also a class rivalling attribute, it is its generous passenger space. The front row passengers can never complain about anything when it comes to legroom and knee room. Unlike in other cars, where the knee is constantly brushing with the central console, there is generous area in this cabin. Its tall boy design also assures enough headroom for even taller occupants. The same goes for rear occupants as the comfort feel is very impressive. The front seats have sufficient space underneath for the rear occupants to spread their legs.

2015 Tata Nano Photos 13

The highlight of the GenX Nano in terms of interiors has to be the access to the rear boot area. The boot space varies for manual and automatic variants. The manual transmission gets 110L, while the AMT gets 94L. It’s still not sufficient to carry the weekend luggage but decent enough to hold mundane groceries. There are small pockets on door trims and also some space for tickets and tolls inside the utility trays on the dashboard.

 

Performance

A micro car need not be a tarmac scorcher because it is meant to map the length and breadth of a city. It should be particularly small as there is not much road left with ever encroaching buildings, malls and parking spaces. It should be nimble and agile with a turning radius of a top. Should be light and easy to manoeuvre and yes, should not make you visit fuel pumps often.

2015 Tata Nano Images 15

As far as addressing my ideal wish list of a perfect city car goes, the Nano does its bit. Its dimensions surely make it a practical traffic intruder and with its smallest turning radius, you can change directions according to your own whim. Powering the new gen Nano is the same two-cylinder multi point fuel injected 624cc petrol engine. This unit makes 38PS of power and 51Nm of torque; figures which were updated with the Twist. It comes with a 4-speed manual transmission and to make it inch closer to the most convenient tag, there is the AMT variant which has a 5-Speed automatic unit

It is my fourth AMT car after the Zest, Celerio and Alto K10, and thus my expectations were not sky high with this unit. AMT or Automated Manual Transmission offers the convenience of driving an automatic car without costing as much as a traditional automatic. Simply put, there are hydraulic actuators which work in tandem with the electronically controlled gear shifters thus removing the need of a clutch.

2015 Tata Nano Photos 8

There is an innovative creep function, which makes the car move in D mode without pressing the throttle. This comes in handy in bumper to bumper traffic conditions by controlling the movement with just a press and release of brakes. The engine still doesn’t feel refined as its coarse vibrations do tend to sneak inside the cabin.

Shift it to Drive mode in auto, and the engine feels lazy to deliver. It has to be revved harder than that in manual to make it gain higher speeds. The shift quality is not the best and can also falter and act confused if the revs are on the higher side. This reduces the confidence level while overtaking as the revs do not hold up strongly and to address this very need, there is a Sports mode.

2015 Tata Nano Images 3

It might sound very enthusiastic of a mode but the Sports mode just improves the acceleration characteristics marginally to give it a slight boost. If you are still not happy with the Sports mode, shift the Zest-sourced AMT lever to the left and take charge with manual transmission; the right mode for some peppy style of driving especially entering corners and leaving them at higher speeds.

The above doesn’t sound much in favour of the AMT but to contradict the same, someone who wants to drive around at a steady pace, is new to cars or even someone elderly won’t mind anything of the above. Drive it patiently in automatic and the gearbox does it job of shifting in a nicely relaxed manner.

2015 Tata Nano Images 4

The ride quality also feels nice with independent suspensions at the front and rear with an anti-roll bar for increased stability at higher speeds. The taller ground clearance of 180mm ensured the severity of potholes don’t transfer completely to the cabin. Also, the exhaust routing has been changed and even the radiator has been repositioned to the rear for improved cooling and safety.

About not visiting fuel pumps often, there was a constant voice against the need to keep refuelling regularly and Tata Motors has addressed the issue in a unique way. They have increased the fuel tank capacity to 24 litres from 15 litres, thus improving the driving range. The ARAI claimed mileage of MT version is 23.6 kmpl while that of AMT is 21.9kmpl.

2015 Tata Nano Photos 1

 

Specifications
Technical Specifications
 Make Tata
 Model Nano
Variant XTA AMT
Fuel Petrol
Engine Capacity 624
Power in PS/RPM 38 PS / 5500
Torque in Nm/RPM 51 Nm / 4000
Gears 5 - Speed AMT
Length mm 3164
Width mm 1750
Height mm 1652
Wheel base mm 2230
Kerb Weight in Kg NA
Ground clearance mm 180
Fuel tank capacity L 24
Front Tyre size 135/70 R 12
Rear Tyre size 155/65 R 12
Tata Nano Competitors
Competition Specifications
Specifications
 Tata GenX Nano
Maruti Suzuki
Alto K10
Variant XTA AMT VXI - AT
Fuel Petrol Petrol
Engine Capacity 624 998
Power in PS/RPM 38 PS / 5500 68 PS / 6000
Torque in Nm/RPM 51 Nm / 4000 90 Nm / 3500
Gears 5 - Speed AMT AGS - Automated Gear Shift
Length mm 3164 3545
Width mm 1750 1490
Height mm 1652 1475
Wheel base mm 2230 2360
Kerb Weight in Kg NA 755
Ground clearance mm 180 160
Fuel tank capacity L 24 35
Front Tyre size 135/70 R 12 155/65 R13
Rear Tyre size 155/65 R 12 155/65 R13
Conclusion

With the change in body structure, as the new boot is not an integrated part, the safety requirements have been met by reinforcing the front body structure, adding intrusion beams for side crash protection and also strengthening the crumple zones. It still doesn’t get a single airbag but officials have dropped a hint about the same being featured in future variants.

2015 Tata Nano Photos 2

The GenX Nano has come way ahead from its inception phase and is now equipped with more acceptable and modern features. The addition of an AMT will attract different class of buyers which include the first timers, who want an easy to drive in traffic solution, the elderly, who would want a lighter and more convenient way of travelling and also the younger gen.

It is essentially a micro city hatch and is not the best for intercity commutes wherein the piddly of an engine takes a toll. Kart it around narrow lanes, traffic cues and parking lots and you realise the power steering and AMT are such a blessing.

2015 Tata Nano Photos 17

The GenX Nano was launched at a starting ex-showroom price of Rs 1.99 lakhs for the XE variant while the top end XTA variant is priced at 2.89 lakhs making it the world’s most economically priced automatic hatch.

 

Tata Nano

Starts at 2.36 - 3.35 lakhs

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