The Tata Nano is simply known as the cheapest car in the world, but in reality there is lot more to this entry-level hatchback. It is actually a decent car worthy of competing with the Maruti Alto and the Hyundai Eon.
The Nano has been updated twice since the launch in 2009; Tata has worked on refinement and there is a marked difference in the recently launched 2013 product. The small car now gets better styling, improved interiors, extra storage space and few additional features.
The basic looks of the Nano have not changed since the launch. The design is simplistic and cost effective with the standard Tata front fascia that sports a big smile. The car has a tall-boy design, but it is disproportionate to the length of the car and the side view of the Nano is slightly odd. The rear is simple without a tailgate, as the engine sits there powering the rear wheels. The vertical tail lamp cluster is similar to that of the other Tata cars.
The Nano is surprisingly spacious for an entry-level car; there is enough room in the front and also lot more in the rear when compared to its competitors. The tall-boy design makes ingress / egress easier and also provides ample headroom. There are two glove boxes in this car – one at the customary position on the dashboard in front of the co-driver seat; the other one is in front of the driver (on the dash) behind the steering wheel.
The features list on the top-end LX version is quite wholesome for the segment – the car gets a 1-DIN music system that has USB-AUX compatibility apart from the usual CD player and radio. What’s more? It also has Bluetooth connectivity that not only lets us make calls but also streams music. The front speakers get body coloured surrounds that liven up the cabin. Like the pre-facelift model the front doors have power-windows, but they are still weirdly positioned in the center close to the gearlever. The Nano LX also gets front fog lamps.
The small car is powered by a 624cc twin-cylinder petrol engine that produces 38bhp (@5500rpm) and 51Nm of torque (@4000). The engine sits at the back of the car and powers the rear wheels via four-speed manual gearbox. The car produces just about enough power for a comfortable drive in city traffic, but out on the highway it starts to feel breathless past 80kph. The bonnet of the car houses the spare tyre and offers some storage space.
There were few complaints – the paddles are oddly positioned, the car does not have power steering and both front and rear wheels get drum brakes. The most important bit missing from the Nano is the ABS, but none of the entry-level models in India offer the same.
The marketing strategy of tagging it the world’s cheapest car has gone against Tata – the Nano is actually a decent entry-level car that undercuts the Alto, Eon and the Spark on pricing but offers similar value.