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Old 3rd August 2011, 09:06   #1
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Default Tata Aria 4x2 : Test Drive & Review

The Tata Aria 4x2 has been launched in India at a price of Rs. 11.61 - 14.26 Lakhs (ex-Delhi)

What you’ll like:

• Futuristic styling, stance & body-on-frame robustness
• 200 kgs lighter. Better performance and more nimble to drive too
• Spacious 1st & 2nd seat rows. Interior quality a big leap ahead for Tata
• Balanced road manners. Urban ride quality even better on 16" wheels
• Base variant gets decent kit (ABS, all disc brakes, audio system, electric mirrors etc.)

What you won't:

• Unsettled ride quality at highway speeds, just like the AWD variant
• Fully loaded Pride variant unavailable with the 4x2
• Third row of seats best suited to kids only
• Euro NCAP safety rating not applicable to the 4x2 (structural changes made)
• Tata's un-premium after-sales service experience

NOTE: Click any picture to open a larger higher-resolution version in a new window.
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Old 3rd August 2011, 09:06   #2
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Default Re: Tata Aria 4x2 : Test Drive & Review

Since the Tata Aria has already been reviewed by Team-BHP, this report will only focus on the 4x2 & changes vis-ΰ-vis the 4x4. For easy reference, here are direct section-wise links to the full Tata Aria 4x4 test:

Exterior Design & Build Quality (Tata Aria : Test Drive & Review)

Interior design, space, practicality & features (Tata Aria : Test Drive & Review)

Engine & Transmission (Tata Aria : Test Drive & Review)

Other Pertinent Points (Tata Aria : Test Drive & Review)

The Smaller & Significant Things (Tata Aria : Test Drive & Review)
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Old 3rd August 2011, 09:06   #3
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Default Re: Tata Aria 4x2 : Test Drive & Review

Other than the absence of the Adapterra badge on the front fenders, the Aria 4x4 and 4x2 are nearly identical on the outside.

The primary changes are:

No fog-lamps in the base ‘Pure’ variant:


16" steel wheels on the ‘Pure’ and ‘Pleasure’ variants:


Beige dashboard of the ‘Pure’...


…while the ‘Pleasure’ gets black:


Faux wood garnish on the center console common to all Aria 4x2s:


Center armrests at the front and rear are not available in the ‘Pure’ variant. Front:


Rear:


Glovebox cooling feature absent in the ‘Pure’:


Even the engine cover has been taken off from the ‘Pure’:
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Old 3rd August 2011, 09:07   #4
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Default Re: Tata Aria 4x2 : Test Drive & Review

Tata Aria 4x2 : Test Drive & Review-ariacomparo2.jpg

Launched in October 2010, the Aria AWD marked the entry of Tata Motors into the premium car segment. One drive is enough to know just how far ahead Tata's engineering capability has progressed. The Aria felt & drove like no other Tata vehicle; a pity that it lost the brand's usually value-for-money positioning as well. Positioned above the Toyota Innova, but below the 18 lakh SUVs, the Aria 4x4 found itself in no man's land...a segment of its own with no real direct competitor. There is no denying the fact that the Aria 4x4 was over-priced and the market responded by giving it a thumbs down. Unsatisfactory sales figures and upcoming competition (in particular, the W201 from Mahindra) have finally made Tata Motors launch the 4x2 variant.

The primary difference is that Tata has removed the AWD system, making the cheaper Aria a RWD only. It's noteworthy to mention that the Aria AWD also had a RWD bias, and supplied torque (as much as 45%) to the front wheels *only* when required. To save on cost and to make the vehicle lighter (thus, more fuel efficient too), some chassis members have been removed. The Aria 4x2 is unfortunately not Euro NCAP crash rating worthy, as its AWD sibling is. Also, there isn't any fully-loaded Pride variant available with the 4x2 drivetrain, while a new base variant (Pure) has just been added. The Pure retains ABS + EBD brakes though (we are glad), all disc brakes, 2 DIN MP3 / CD Audio System with USB / AUX input & 6 speakers, electrically foldable & heated ORVMs and keyless entry. The top-end variant, over and above what's mentioned for the Pure, gets driver & passenger airbags, reverse guiding system (minus the camera), climate control, bluetooth telephony with steering mounted controls, 17" alloy wheels, glove box chiller, leather upholstery and front & rear fog lamps.

This is one of those rare cars where a manufacturer offers beige interiors on the base variant! I personally did not like the finish of the beige interior, especially when combined with the shiny fake wood. In my opinion, the interior of the Aria looks best in dark colors. Of course, this is entirely subjective & will vary from person to person. See what works for you.

The Aria 4x2 is nearly 200 kilos lighter than its AWD sister. This weight reduction is immediately noticeable, especially when accelerating away from standstill. The 4x2 even requires lesser throttle input to get it rolling. The front axle no more propels the MUV, thereby making the steering feel lighter & more direct than in the Aria AWD. For a car as tall as the Aria, body roll has been well-controlled. The 4x2 Aria rolls even less and feels well planted at highway speeds. The 138 BHP motor does its job well. Obviously, there is a certain amount of turbo-lag, yet it’s manageable & easy to drive around. You can feel the turbo spooling at about 1,700 rpms, after which power delivery is fairly linear. Thanks to taller tyre sidewalls (16 inch wheels versus the 17 inchers on the AWD), urban ride quality is also plusher. Fuel efficiency seems to have improved with the Aria 4x2 clocking 13.75 kpl in the ARAI tests. Considering the shaved weight of 200 kgs, this increment is minimal compared to the 13.5 kpl ARAI rating of the AWD. We'll wait for ownership reports to post a clearer picture.

On the flip side, the Aria still has an unsettled ride at highway speeds. Rear passengers will feel a fair amount of bounciness. The steering wheel had noticeable vibration above 100 kph, as did the gear lever. In addition, the huge ORVMs let in a fair amount of wind noise. Tata needs to work on consistency in its production process. I noticed varying panel gaps between the different test cars that were provided to us.

If you refer back to the Aria AWD review, it was noted that the brakes worked very well. Somehow, the 4x2 that I drove required a really firm push to bring the car to a halt. Then, there was an unnecessary amount of dead play too. It might have something to do with the test car provided by Tata Motors.
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Old 3rd August 2011, 09:10   #5
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Default Re: Tata Aria 4x2 : Test Drive & Review

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Old 3rd August 2011, 09:31   #6
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Default Re: Tata Aria 4x2 : Test Drive & Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratos View Post
• 200 kgs lighter. Better performance and more nimble to drive too
200 Kgs, difference between an AWD and a 2WD?

Quote:
Unsettled ride quality at highway speeds, just like the AWD variant
Is it the same or has it gone worse?

Spike
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Old 3rd August 2011, 09:31   #7
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Default Re: Tata Aria 4x2 : Test Drive & Review

I don't understand why the arm rests have been removed? Crap idea, even the Safari LX gets arm-rests. Why would I buy an Aria if it lacks this basic features and there is no other reason, neither do the engine specs too convincing that one should buy and stripped down ARIA. I think they forgot that it is not a making of NANO where they will have to compensate on each and everything. And this all when TATA said that the 4x2 will not lack in features?

Last edited by mercedised : 3rd August 2011 at 09:32.
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Old 3rd August 2011, 09:40   #8
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Default Re: Tata Aria 4x2 : Test Drive & Review

200 kg weight reduction over the AWD variant is something. Should significantly bump up the power-weight ratio of the vehicle.

Interiors look way too good for a Tata vehicle. I know many would crib about the wood finish.

Pricing seems to be attractive for someone not willing to shell out 15+ on the AWD variant and the Tata brand.
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Old 3rd August 2011, 09:41   #9
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Default Re: Tata Aria 4x2 : Test Drive & Review

Many thanks for sharing this review with us, Stratos. Rated 5 stars.

From the price comparison sheet you've provided, the Aria Pleasure variant is priced identically to the Innova V, and does carry a lot more equipment. We need to remember that the target customer for the Innova V is the private owner (not taxis). Actually, even the pricing of the Pure variant tells me that Tata is steering clear of the cab people-mover segment.

Will watch and watch on the market's response.
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Old 3rd August 2011, 10:13   #10
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Default Re: Tata Aria 4x2 : Test Drive & Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by SPIKE ARRESTOR View Post
200 Kgs, difference between an AWD and a 2WD?
In addition to the removal of the AWD system, the overall body / chassis construction has also been modified to lower the weight, which is why the Aria 4x2 cannot be rated on the Euro NCAP.

Quote:
Is it the same or has it gone worse?
I would say that the ride quality remains almost the same as in the 4x4 if not gone any worse.
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Old 3rd August 2011, 10:24   #11
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Default Re: Tata Aria 4x2 : Test Drive & Review

Finally, some good competition for the Innova top-end. Though Innova won't sweat much over this, I'm sure a few people looking at the top-end Innova will switch to Aria because of the additional features. The 4x4 version was a bit too costly and I guess it wouldn't come into much use for an average-joe.

Quote:
• Fully loaded Pride variant unavailable with the 4x2
The pricelist attached at the end shows the ex-showroom for the Top Variant (Pride). Some error?

Last edited by prateekm : 3rd August 2011 at 10:27.
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Old 3rd August 2011, 10:41   #12
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Default Re: Tata Aria 4x2 : Test Drive & Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by prateekm View Post
The pricelist attached at the end shows the ex-showroom for the Top Variant (Pride). Some error?
In the Aria 4x2 column, the top variant price is of the Prestige whereas in the Aria 4x4 column, the top variant price is of the Pride. Even though the 4x2 does not have a Pride variant, Prestige is its top variant.
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Old 3rd August 2011, 10:54   #13
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Default Re: Tata Aria 4x2 : Test Drive & Review

As rightly pointed out, it seems the Aria is only targetting the high end versions of the Innova.
What is your take, Stratos? Will it be a better buy than the Innova?
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Old 3rd August 2011, 11:46   #14
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Default Re: Tata Aria 4x2 : Test Drive & Review

I didn't like the beige dashboard - looks like a mish-mash of different parts.

Not too sure about the strategy to remove alloys from the base versions. It is still a ~12+ Lakh car, after all.

If one compares this to the Innova V, now there isn't Really that much more in features to draw customers away from Toyota's famed reliability. And the Innova can't really be called a poorer vehicle as compared to the Aria. Tata has obviously studied the Innova V and priced the 4x2 versions around it, but I'm not convinced of the USP.

If the media highlights the features missing from the Aria 4x2 as compared to the 4x4 (as would be completely natural), then people would get even more put-off.

Disclaimer: My personal opinion.

PS: Is there a smaller gap between the bonnet and A pillar because these versions are not intended for Euro NCAP?
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Old 3rd August 2011, 12:20   #15
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Default Re: Tata Aria 4x2 : Test Drive & Review

I still have one problem with the Aria vis-a-vis the Innova. If I am looking to buy an Innova, then I look at the Aria Pure or Aria Pleasure in 4x2 guise.

But when I would go to the showroom, and I would look at a Aria Prestige or Pride, that's the one I would want. But then I will see that its a good 1.5 lakh more at least.

Even among the present Aria sales, I think its the Pride and Prestige version which sell. To buy a Pleasure variant itself seems like a compromise. Its only in the top 2 variants that the Aria truly shines through.

I dont mean to say that the Aria is a bad or not VFM car. But its still not a car that I would look to in place of an Innova. If I had the money to go in for a Prestige or Pride variant, that's when I would look at it. It's still a car for a buyer who is looking to spend around the 15-17lakh mark only.

In fact, I think the Pure variant is pointless. I would much rather have a top end variant of the upcoming Merlin, which will probably have all the bells and whistles, along with the same engine. And I think the Merlin is also based on the X2 platform of the Aria.
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