Tata Aria : Roadtest
Tata Motors is ready with its large bold and burly flagship model for India, and possibly the developing world! The Aria has multiple segments in its cross-hair, but does the Indian carmaker's most ambitious vehicle yet have the goods to make a name for itself on the global stage? Adil Jal Darukhanawala finds out
Tata Aria: Design & Style
Get alerts on new cars reviewed by ZigWheels
The front end with the new corporate grille and those stacked double barrel headlamps endow it with terrific presence. The large wrap around bumper with the huge air dam and the fog lamps recessed in it add to the occasion and the Aria begins to sing its own solid tune from here on.
The Aria breaks fresh ground for an all Indian effort but if you care to see closely you can make out that there is quite a bit of the European influence here. The proportions and bits of the silhouette present themselves akin to the Mercedes-Benz R-class but I must say right here that the Indiva came before the R-class so no need to jump to accusatory comparisons! There is strong visual evidence of a cab-forward stance thanks to the rake of the A-pillar which seems to start right above the front wheel arch and sweep up and back. Visually the car seems to be low but you can't miss the large proportions (4780mm long, 1780mm tall and 1895mm wide), indicating that the exterior body designers have done a fine job of disguising the bulk.
With a pronounced crease just below the chrome beltline (a nice design element) as well as the overtly visible sill plus those pumped up wheel arches filled to the full with 235/65 R17 radials, the Aria stands out bold and proud, not ashamed to let its presence do the talking. The rear houses Tata's trademark Christmas tree tail lamps, albeit with a different take which make them gel very well with the crossover’s rear. Smart contours and accents in just the right places, along with the two elliptical exhausts take most of the boxiness away from the rear, which has often been the bane of cars of its class. The MPV way of designing cars which lies midway between large and chunky SUVs and sleek sedans is not the most conducive for churning out a stunner, but the Aria does exactly that which should be taken as an even larger pat on the back for the design team which penned the lines.
I must make mention to two details here before we move on to the interior and the first and not so very obvious detail is that the Arai features body on frame construction in place of an all monocoque layout. There are pros and cons to both approaches but when you understand that even the Innova comes with a body welded to its chassis to present a sort of a semi-monocoque body structure, the Tata boffins obviously didn't want to push way beyond their capability for a monocoque this large. In time, with expertise culled from Land Rover they will have a proper monocoque-d vehicle of such large proportions but herein the approach still works well.
The second detail worth mentioning is the exceedingly high level of fit and finish plus the terrific turnout of the vehicle. The surface finish is of an extraordinary high order and the panel gaps in the shut lines are patently uniform and very aesthetic. Getting to this level takes some doing and definitely it shows the strides the firm has made in this regard. Getting to making a taut stiff structure with god fit and finish also aids NVH which is another positive fallout for the Arai.
From the inside, the Aria once again surprises with a level of plushness and well being not seen on made-in-India cars before this. The floor of this crossover remains low to ease ingress and egress, which is a welcome change from the otherwise tall and snarling SUVs, which occupants must clamber into before they feel big and indestructible! Leather cladding on the seats follows the black and burgundy colour scheme that is also seen on the dashboard. The scheme makes for a welcome change from the run of the mill beige treatment on the insides. After testing and using all the cars present in the market on a regular basis, the ZigWheels team has come to realize how difficult it might be to keep beige interiors clean, especially in the Indian context in cars capable of mud-bashing. From the driver's seat, the silver centre console with the LCD screen for the in-dash navigation system all hark to the more high-end imported vehicles that we have come across. Steering mounted controls make their appearance on the Aria too.
When it comes to features, the car seems loaded up to the gills with them. Be it the cruise control which can be activated from the steering, rain sensing windshield wipers and the darkness sensing headlights, even the electrically adjustable rear view mirrors – all work towards bringing technology to the aid of the driver to ease the small things. The parking camera at the rear is available only on the fully-loaded version of the car, but is a proper boon and adds massively to the practicality of this Tata biggie.
The equipment is not just for the driver though. Passengers get their own vents for air con in not just the second but also the third row, which work like a charm under the strong cooling offered by the auto climate control system. Overhead cubby holes for storage are in extreme numbers too - eight to be precise, but have been smartly integrated along the length of the roof without intruding or interfering in any way with the cabin layout and feel. An additional cooling vent offered in the glove box fails in its intention to chilling drinks, but manages to keep them at a little under room temperature which is welcome anyway.
Coming to the seats and their arrangement, more innovations present themselves. Bucket seats for the driver and the co-driver are adequately contoured and firm. The driver's seat is adjustable for height, and also comes with adjustable armrests which we found interfered quite a bit and got in the way for the driver. The second row is wide and cushioned enough to seat three adults abreast in relative luxury, with sufficient knee room. The third bench may seem a little cramped for serious occupation at first glance, but settle into it and the fit is comfortable, if snug. The entire second row of seats can also move fore and aft on rails, to ease entry into the third row space and also to enhance knee room for the backbenchers. With a 60-40 split for the second row and a 50-50 split for the third, the seating offers a variety of options to liberate storage space. All flattened out, the Aria has enough space at the rear for two adults to grab a decent night’s sleep, along with their bed!
SLIDESHOW: Tata Aria: A closer look!
Readers' opinions ( 1 )
by ET Bureau Photography: Kunal Khadse
Cars such as the Ford Fiesta, Nissan Evalia and...
by Rahul Basu
A no nonsense personal people mover, the Tourneo...
The Tata Pixel concept that Tata Motors showcased at the 81st Geneva Motor Show is a revolutionary...
Luxury car maker BMW is thinking to re-enter in Indian bike market with high end bikes.