Tata Nano Hatchback First Drive


Launched first in India in 2008, Tata Nano gained popularity in no time for its low price and small stature. The hatchback has witnessed sea change during its product cycle and has bettered both in terms of looks and performance compared to the original model. Addition of an automated manual transmission and an openable hatch are the two most significant changes made to the small car.In retrospect, the car is much better with improved looks, openable hatch, revised interior and a modified petrol engine with a choice between a four-speed manual transmission along with an AMT unit. Exchange your old car for Tata Nano


Its petite size has been the talk of the town since its inception; no changes have been made on that front. Dimensions remain intact, the hatchback measures 3164 mm long, 1750 mm wide (with ORVM), 1652 mm high and has a short wheelbase of 2230 mm. As mentioned above, there is no change in the fundamental design of the hatchback but some styling changes have been made to enhance the outer appearance. Most of the changes have been made to the front fascia which now features a black band in between the head lights highlighted by a chrome strip. Tata Motors logo has been repositioned to the centre of the black band. Head lights now feature black surrounds, making it look prominently endearing. Bumpers have also been tweaked in front as well as rear, a newly designed grille is placed on the bumpers in front and rear. The grille in the front end gets fog lights aiding for enhanced visibility at night and during bad weather conditions. Among the various changes bestowed on the exteriors, the most appreciative change is an openable hatch providing access to the before unlike before. Except for the base XE trim, the rest of the variants get body coloured bumpers. Body painted outside door handles are available only on the range topping trims. Hood features piano black garnish, outside rear view mirrors are painted in black in the XE trim, while the mid level XM and XMA trims feature colour coordinated tip tap ORVMs. Only the top end XT and XTA trims get body colour matching outside rear view mirrors. Half wheel colours are absent in XE variant but it is offered on the XM and XMA trims, top end variants on the other hand feature full wheel covers. Tinted door glass hatch and integrated spoiler are among the standard fitments equipped on the hatchback. While roof mounted antenna and front fog lamps are again confined to the high end variants.


Tata Nano dashboard layout remains unchanged, but there are some revisions. This includes centre console in black, new instrument cluster, circular chrome rings on AC vents, gear lever position is now nearer to the driver, while front power-window buttons have been placed ahead of the gear lever.As seen in older Nano, this one too gets USB port and Bluetooth for music. To charge your phone, there is a 12V socket. Cubby holes on dashboard, continue to be same. Tata should have given a better locking feature to these cubby holes, as over time, the current lock tends to malfunction.Gear lever is easily the most premium looking thing inside Tata Nano AMT. It comes with a steel rod and has a nice feel to it. For AMT variant, instrument cluster also displays which drive mode you are in.Interior space remains unchanged. There is plenty of leg room and head room, and accommodating five adults is not a problem at all. Having said that, the problem is safety, the rear passengers only provides two point safety belt, and that too only for two passengers. Other problem is, that seats do not have enough cushioning, it gets uncomfortable over long distances. With so much interior space, Tata could have re-designed seats to offer better comfort and safety.Talking about boot space, AMT variant offers 94 litres of space, while MT variant gives 110 litres of space. This space is enough to store a small trolley bag and a regular sized knapsack or your shopping bags. Do keep in mind that the engine unit is just under the boot, so it does get hot in here, in spite of Tata Motors placing a insulator.You also have company fitted rear speakers, which has completely changed the music listening experience. This move will definitely get the attention of young buyers. Apart from this, there are some funky colour combinations on offer, interiors and exteriors.Rear speaker tray is easily removable. Once removed, and rear seats folded, you have enough space to place store luggage for a month long holiday.Door pockets are hardly usable, they are good enough to store paper work. Rear seat also pockets the tool kit. Front driver seat continues to be a problem for tall drivers. Thanks to the battery placed under the seat, Tata cannot lower seat height.


The engine is the same – two cylinder, 624cc with 38PS on tap. So expectedly, the Nano isn’t fast. This engine now comes mated to a 5-speed AMT as an option while the manual version continues to get a 4-speed gearbox. Given the Nano has limited top end performance, we expected Tata Motors to have closed the ratios between each gear for the 5-speeder in order to better use the already small amount of torque.Sadly, that’s not the case and the AMT when left in full auto mode feels lethargic and unwilling to get a move on. The progress is slow and almost bothersome, especially when it comes to overtakes. Moreover, the AMT has significant lag between shifts and even in Sport mode (yes, the Nano now gets a multi drive mode) the progress isn’t exactly exciting. We eventually ended up driving the GenX Nano in manual mode since it gave us better control over shifts and didn’t leave us in too high a gear to battle slow kickdowns.What the Nano needs now is a significant engine upgrade. The engine needn’t be much larger, but it must have a high and flat torque curve and it must be high on refinement.


Neither the ride quality nor the handling of the Nano has changed too much, at least not noticeably. The Nano continues to use the ZF power assisted steering system that boasts a brushless motor for silent operation and an Active Return function that reduces effort to turn at lower speeds. I think Tata can afford to lower their claimed ‘SUV-like’ ground clearance of 180mm by a small margin thanks to the short wheelbase. This might help reduce the centre of gravity and thereby reduce body roll – which does exist despite the anti-roll bars. The tall stance, short wheelbase and puny tyres don’t help either. But the Nano isn’t a car that you’ll buy for its dynamic abilities. It’s driving it in the city traffic that will serve its purpose the best.


Safety provisions on the Nano GenX include central locking, central high mount stop lamp, booster assisted brakes, front & rear seat belts, additional body reinforcements and hazard warning switch.Exterior of the hatchback sports features including an openable hatch, body coloured bumpers, piano black door handles, colour coordinated tip tap ORVMs, front wiper and washer, front fog lamps among several others. Inside, the


From an ultra-low-budget car to a practical everyday city car, the Nano has come a long way in terms of built quality, refinement and features. It is like the graduation day for the Nano project, the GenX is now a complete package addressing every aspect of urban use.The Nano still lacks basic safety features like ABS (even as option) and that means I am not going to recommend one for any sort of highway use. But if the need if of an everyday urban commuter, the Nano will certainly top my recommendations list



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