Ratan Tata Very Positive About New Sierra Concept: Martin Uhlarik

  • Jan 23, 2023
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  • 3 min read

  • By Team Zigwheels
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The ex-chairman of Tata Motors insisted on keeping the wrap-around rear windows and thick B-pillar of the OG Sierra in the upcoming model

If you’ve been following our Auto Expo 2023 reports, you might already know that Tata is serious about bringing the Sierra concept to production. The Sierra holds a significant place in Ratan Tata’s heart. After all, it didn’t just start the carmaker’s passenger vehicle business back in 1991, but also Ratan Tata’s career as the Chairman of Tata Sons. 

We interacted with Martin Uhlarik, VP Head of Global Design at Tata Motors, at the sidelines at the expo, where he told us what Ratan Tata thinks about the new Sierra.

“Very Positive” 

According to Martin, Ratan Tata had visited the design studio last summer and was very positive about the new Sierra. Speaking on the design challenges of the nostalgia-inducing nameplate, Martin told us: 

“It was very challenging because it’s a huge responsibility. The original Sierra holds a special place, how people remembered it. We wanted to do justice, capture the spirit of what the Sierra is, but make something that’s modern, not retro. It’s nostalgic, for some people, but we have to appeal also to the next generation.”  

The resulting SUV strikes an impressive balance between retro-inspired styling and a futuristic, forward-looking aesthetic. It’s bold and boxy at the front, with split LED headlights and a full-width LED DRL. 

But the rear three-quarters feature the older Sierra’s graphic identity – a modern take on the OG SUV’s styling with present day practicality and features. 

Design elements Ratan Tata wanted to retain 

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“Don’t lose the wrap-around glass, don’t make the B-pillar too small.” – Ratan Tata 

These were the clear instructions from Ratan Tata. In the current, production-ready concept, the B-pillar is massive and the wrap-around Alpine window design is retained in spirit.  

“The signature is the wrap-around glass and the B-pillar. That’s what makes the Sierra iconic, graphically. We wanted to maintain that,” Martin said. 

He also tells us how the design works with normal roll-down rear windows: “The window on the side for the rear passenger is a drop (down, or roll-down) glass, like normal. But then there’s a black plastic finisher, and the roof is glass – a panoramic roof. So it looks graphically like it’s a wraparound window, but it’s not.” 

The older Sierra had wrap-around, fixed rear windows and only two doors. But the new Sierra is a regular five-door SUV with proper rear doors, roll-down second-row windows and a panoramic glass roof. 

The Sierra’s significance

“It is likely an understatement to say that Ratan Tata, who took over as chairman in March 1991, was stepping into big shoes. And he was stepping into a minefield,” says the Tata Motors’ website. At the time, Tata’s vehicle manufacturing division only made commercial vehicles. But with the Sierra, Mr Tata took a leap towards passenger vehicles for the first time. 

The Sierra was launched during the same year, as Tata’s first passenger car and a proper ‘SUV’. It was based on a platform derived from a pickup truck and only offered three doors. Nevertheless, the OG Sierra didn’t just become a hit in our country but was exported to overseas markets as well. 

The new Sierra seems to be up with the times with its five-door practicality and modern amenities. Its powertrains will be cutting-edge too. While the older Sierra was a diesel-only SUV, the new Sierra will get a petrol engine and even a fully electric powertrain upon its launch in 2025.

Tata Sierra Video Review

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