Tata Motors adds the much needed power steering to its Nano. We take it for a spin to find out how much of a difference it has made
2008. A year that will perhaps be considered as a landmark in the time to come, not just in the Indian automotive scene but as an inspiration to manufacturers’ world over. By rolling out the Nano, which is probably one of the least expensive production cars in the world, Tata Motors set a benchmark in producing a no-frills cost effective car for the masses. To keep the costs low, the boffins at Tata questioned everything about the way a small car is made. They went the rear-engine rear-wheel drive way instead of the traditional front engine front-wheel drive format, replaced steel with fibre and dispensed with most nonessential features to bring to life Ratan Tata’s dream of producing a Rs 1 lakh car. As expected, the car tasted success, the effect of which was visible on the sales charts, but sadly it hasn’t been successful in maintaining the initial momentum then it hasn’t quit been an entirely smooth journey for the Nano so far.
The Nano faced quite a few hurdles soon after it launch like the Singur factory pullout before Tata could commence production from the new facility, which caused delays in deliveries. Further to add to their woes, a few incidents of the car catching fire, more and more potential customers started losing faith in the product. Thankfully, Tata Motors was quick to look into the issue and rectify it to save the reputation of the Nano and since then it has once again been able to rebuild the trust.
The Singur-based manufacturer gave the Nano an update last year and although there weren’t any substantial cosmetic changes it had a few in the right places to make it a little more ergonomically sound. This time round with the new Nano Twist, Tata has addressed some much needed problems in the car, and boy has it made a difference!
Ride and Handling
Despite the size, one grouse that most users had with the first iteration of the Tata Nano was that it was considerably difficult to maneuver in the trafficky conditions of the city and was even more difficult to park in tight spaces. After the increase in the diameter of the steering wheel, the 2013 Tata Nano undoubtedly felt a lot easier to drive but having said that the absence of a power steering was felt.
While all the cars coming out of the Tata stable have been equipped with a Hydraulic Power steering, the Tata Nano Twist, for the first time, will be equipped with an Electric Power Assisted Steering. The car is now absolutely effortless to steer. To put the difference into perspective, we even tried to make a one-finger u-turn which it did with considerable ease. Thanks to the EPS parking in tight spot also becomes a lot easier. The steering is neither too light nor too heavy, in fact it is perfectly weighted to find a good balance of slow speed maneuverability as well as inspire confidence at higher speeds.
Let’s just be clear about the fact that this car hasn’t been bred to be a great handler and cornering isn’t its forte. While Tata Motors has done well to finally introduce power steering in the Nano, we wish they would have taken care of excessive the body roll due to which the car doesn’t quite inspire the kind of confidence one would like.
What makes the look?
From the outside there is not much different on this new Nano Twist as opposed to the cars 2013 iteration except for the ‘Twist’ and the ‘XT’ badging at the back. The chrome strip up front as well as at the back remains. The top-of-the-line variant that we drove sports funky nine-spoke alloy wheels. Much of the insides too remain the same except for the new instrument console that displays distance to empty, fuel economy as well as the time. In terms of features, the Nano gives more than one can expect from a car of that cost including a four-speaker music system with Bluetooth connectivity, remote keyless entry aside from two glove boxes on either side of the instrument cluster.
At the heart of things
The heart of the new Tata Nano continues to remain the same the 2 valve 624cc inline twin cylinder that produces 38PS of power at 5,500rpm and 51Nm of peak torque at 4,000rpm. Now, these figures might not seem apt taking into account the likes of the Maruti Suzuki Alto800 or the Hyundai Eon but let’s not forget the fact that that the Nano is considerably lighter than its closest rivals. The four-speed synchromesh gearbox is slick and slots with exceptional ease. The tall fourth gear ensures that you can even make a few short highway hauls.
Tata Motors has definitely made the right move by adding the much needed power steering to the Nano. This takes care of the one major drawback that the car has had since the launch in 2008. With the kind of space, features and comfort it has on offer, the Nano sure has a great value for money proposition. But the Twist being at Rs 2.36 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) seems a tad bit on the expensive side mainly considering the fact that the Maruti Suzuki Alto800 is priced at Rs 2.47 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). Yes, the Nano does have the features like remote locking, alloy wheels and a bluetooth stereo system that the base variant of the Alto800 doesn’t have, but take into account that the latter has a much more reliable engine and most importantly the Maruti service backup to go with it and the equation changes altogether.