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Old 23rd March 2009, 17:32   #1
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Default Test-Driven : Tata Nano!

Note from Mod : GTO's 2012 Tata Nano Review has been uploaded at this link. Please continue the discussion on the review thread. Thanks

The following has been submitted by a staunch supporter of Team-BHP. He prefers to remain anonymous.

You know who you are : Many thanks!

So how does it drive?

Let me put first things first. The Nano drives like a car. It feels like one. And that is the biggest achievement by the R&D and the company given the cost structures. It also is better than the Maruti 800 in perceptible areas. But let's get back to the story.

The first impression one gets when one sees the car is that it is built like a car. Panel gaps, sheet work, paint quality, trim... they all are just what you would expect in a car. The 12-inch wheels might look dimunitive, but that's ok. The integration of the panels is pretty good, the head lamps and tail lamps look fine and even though the single rear view mirror looks a bit cheap and small from a safety aspect, everything else works. The packaging of the spare wheel at the front along with the battery is well done, while the fuel filler cap reminds you of the Premier Padminis of yore. Those who've seen it will know it. The air-conditioning gas charge point is located at the front as well. Tata Motors claim a 42:58 front/rear weight balance when loaded, not bad.

Get behind the wheel and there's lots of space. Importantly your knees don't foul against the dashboard at any point. Yes, your shoulders do collide if two well built persons sit ahead, though you really can't expect everything to be spot on. We were driving the LX variant, which has airconditioning, front power windows, fog lamps, better seat trim and better trim on the doors as well. There's ample head room - I could feel at least 2-3 inches of extra clearance over my head. Jump behind and you will appreciate the extra knee room and legroom. I made a 5 ft 11 inch person sit behind the wheel, while I sat behind and let me tell you, there was at least an inch and a half of knee room. Leg room is good too - really it can rival an i10. The steering wheel is slightly odd, while the seat is set high in typical Tata fashion. The pedals are offset to the left so it takes some time for someone who drives regular cars to adjust instantly. But you do after 10-15 minutes.

The engine is loud, let me put it this way. It's a two-cylinder unit and no matter what you do, it will sound loud. To some it might sound like a two-stroker twin motorcycle, and to some a bit like the Ace. Either way it really doesn't mar the driving experience. First things first, it takes off well from a standing start. There's no wheelspin for obvious reasons, but power delivery is fairly good. Driveability is where this car scores. it can keep up with regular traffic rather easily. It moves smartly and moves up to 80 kph with not much of a fuss. The first gear is short and at 30 kph you need to shift into second. It'll hit 105 kph alright, so there's no doubt about Tata's claims. The gear lever is a cable type and yet it isn't notchy to be troublesome. It does its job well for the price and is decently positive in its shift.

Ride is bumpy. A bit bumpy, but not as uncomfortable on the 800. Handling is alright, but there's considerable body roll, since there are no roll bars. Steering lacks some on-centredness but is good during high speeds, not that vague though. High speed stability is what makes this car truly unique. It doesn't float like the 800 and gets affected only by really strong crosswinds. Since the steering is non-power assisted it feels heavy only during parking speeds, but I guess we are really spoilt by power assisted ones. First time car buyers won't even complain, just like us when we bought our first 800s.

So is it good? That brings me back to the first question. It drives like a car. Feels like one. Handles like one. Has space like one. And is built like one. There are scruffy plastics, poor bits here and there. But keep the price in mind and it's great. And for the different tyre sizes, it's only because they wanted to make the car less oversteery.

Final call. It's a great car at its price. That's what you got to keep in mind and not go on a deliberate fault finding mission. Now for Tata to make it a reliably good product.

EDIT : Mr. Wellwisher-of-TeamBHP has provided the following answers to some questions raised in this discussion:

1. The air-conditioning is effective. Effective enough for four to not sweat. It won't chill, just like in the 800. TML claim a 5-7 per cent drop in power with the AC on. A 3/5 rating overall.

2. The car was homologated in two weeks flat in February 2008. That's a record of sorts by ARAI standards!

3. I wanted to add, the gears are not entirely notchy. They shift well and the clutch is light. Marginal notchiness is evident, but not disturbing.

4. It drives like a car, and comparisons with two-wheelers is meaningless. The real deal is if potential two-wheeler buyers can cough up the kind of deposits Tata expects at the moment.

5. It is built to similar techniques like the Indica Vista. That the Vista is decently built should give you a good idea of how the Nano is.

6. How much ever one tries to defend the M800, trouble is comparisons will be drawn. And though the M800 is 25 years old, it feels its age in terms of packaging. One must remember that a lot is riding on Tata as a group and not just Tata Motors on this project, globally. Am sure, reliability must have been top priority for the company, lest it tarnishes the group's image forever.

7. Take a test-drive. Don't draw comparisons with your car or any other but try and weigh it as what you get for what you pay. You will get your answer any which way.

Last edited by GTO : 20th December 2011 at 16:09. Reason: Adding link to review
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Old 23rd March 2009, 17:36   #2
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Score one for T-BHP

Nice read.
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Old 23rd March 2009, 17:40   #3
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Wow! somebody already took TD Nano even before launch. Congratulations for his spirit. Sure this will be one of the historical movement in India, considering the Indian economy.
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Old 23rd March 2009, 17:41   #4
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I really want to get my hands on one, I wonder what will happen to the Maruti 800 now. TATA should have atleast given power steering in the top end LX trim. I also wonder how effective the AC will be, given the fact that the engine capacity is soo small, but it look driveable.
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Old 23rd March 2009, 17:42   #5
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Test driven. Now that's a stonker of a scoop. Congrats to the guy who drove it and also to team bhp for the test drive of the year.

From the test drive, it looks like TATA has got a winner on its hands. Let's wait and watch how reliable it comes out. All the best to TATA and to the people who are booking it so that they get it early.
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Old 23rd March 2009, 17:43   #6
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Excellent review.

Lots of Pros.

Few Cons (especially engine noise, gear ration)

Overall its definitely better one over 800.
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Old 23rd March 2009, 17:44   #7
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Wow. That's a first for sure!
Nice to know that the Nano is good to drive and to the legroom mentioned in the review!
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Old 23rd March 2009, 17:46   #8
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+1 for TATA. Sounds like a winner..
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Old 23rd March 2009, 17:49   #9
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Good stuff ....

I hear that the price of Nano would be limit to the first 100,000 cars only. I guess there after Tata's are going to increate the price.
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Old 23rd March 2009, 17:50   #10
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nice one. just hope they start better than their start with the indica
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Old 23rd March 2009, 17:51   #11
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Before anyone suspects I'd like to state that it wasn't me who tested the Nano and wrote that review

So it is really happening. It is a real car then. And has legroom too. I remember when I first drove the little M800, we were not so fussy then.

Now this at 1.5 lacs with Airconditioning? The review sounds good. Good for Tata and good for India.
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Old 23rd March 2009, 17:51   #12
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Default Bravo!

Well written, and without any bias.

Kudos and thanks to the individual that contributed the review.

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Old 23rd March 2009, 17:53   #13
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Yup! Sounds surely like a winner, but only if TATA Motors can keep up with the huge number of bookings they are gonna get with a check on their infamous quality control set up.

As for me, I'm ready to book one with AC with a cheque in my hand, right now.
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Old 23rd March 2009, 17:53   #14
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Sounds good with the initial impressions.

Am just scared of the nano fever.

Nano in front , nano behind, nano on left and nano on right.

Nano nano, here and there everywhere.
Old 23rd March 2009, 17:54   #15
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Thanks " anonymous supporter of Team-BHP"
Thanks GTO.

It was an eye opener for me, I was really under the impression that Nano will be far worse than our M800.

2'nd car for the city runs ? Anyone ?

Talk about exclusive reviews, Team-bhp rules
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