I can’t believe my ears when one of our close associates informed me that he got a chance to drive the Tata Nano. He and his team driven the car for few kilometers and following is the test drive report.
Its incredible! but believe it, we driven the world’s most expected small car. Though its a brief drive, we are happy to share our experiences with you. We are happy that vicky.in readers gets the experience first before anyone in the world.
We took the stunner of the Indian Auto Expo & Geneva Motor Show to the road. But unlike a regular test drive’s where journalist spent kilometers and kilometers with the car, we drove the Nano for not more than 3 kilometers. But test driving a Nano is so special and is definitely a memorable drive in our life. Let us proudly present you the world’s first test drive report on Tata’s Nano.
Design and Styling:
Rather than frugal engineering i would prefer smart engineering. No one is going to accept if you are selling a ugly looking product. The cost cutting measures should not be felt by the end consumer. Cost cutting can be in the DNA but it should not be very apparent.When Tata announced its one lakh car project, I expected a car built on Tata Ace platform similar to Tata magic. I believed for the one lakh you can produce only a strip down version of Magic. But when i caught the glimpse of Tata Nano’s after so much nig-nag with the fellow press persons at the Delhi Auto expo. I was spellbound. I said to myself, Tata has done it! Nano is not a half car but a complete car and can be comparable to any other car you come across in the road. There are lot of cost cutting measures has gone into the car but all was not apparent. Nano is cute and it is eye pleasing. There are no cost-saving flat surfaces or flat plane glass on the Nano. When Girish wagh (the brain behind the Nano ) and his team came up with flat front similar to ace, Ratan Tata rejected the design and later Nano was designed with short overhang. Ultra short overhang not only brings the Nano a upmarket look but also improved its safety. Over the wedge shaped bonnet are the attractive headlamp clusters and in between them is the proud Tata badge. The design of the front bumper and fog lamp inserts makes the Nano like a toy car. The lines which starts from the headlamps flows smoothly over the length of the car. Large windshield ensures enough sunlight inside the car. The rear bumper which features a large airdam align with compact vents under the rear doors cools the engine. Stylish vents also increases the aesthetic factor of the nano. Similar to other Tata products Nano features vertical tail lamp cluster. Overall proportion of the Nano is attractive.
Engine and Performance:
Ratan Tata’s dream of convincing scooter and motorcycle buyers to buy Nano can be made real only if Nano is regular car with enough power under the hood. Nobody wants a car that is less than everybody else’s car. Tata has developed an engine on its own. While the a multi-point fuel injection system is developed by Bosch. The Value Motronic version o engine management system (EMS) supplied by Bosch is a stripped down version of popular Bosch’s Motronic system. Nano’s EMS uses only 300 of the Motronic’s 1,000 functions and employs only four sensors in order to reduce the cost. Tata has applied 10 patents for this engine alone. Let’s check out how this low cost performs on the road.
An all-aluminium, twin cylinder 623cc, square mill which produces only 33bhp of maximum power powers the Nano. But contrary to our belief, it never felt underpowered. We were five fully grown adults yet Nano pulled without any struggle. It move past 60kmph without any strain but becomes noisy after that. Nano is fitted with four speed manual gearbox. The gearbox is far from the engine and is operated through cables. The gearbox is precise but it requires sufficient effort to slot in.
As per the sticker mounted on the gear knob, Nano can be pushed to 30kmph in first gear,60kmph in second gear and 90kmph in third gear. The maximum speed is little upwards of 100kmph.
Ride and Handling:
The tall boy design and the rear engined layout are bane of the handling characteristics of the car. Nano combines the both so we cannot expect incredible in its handling.But honestly telling you Nano surpised us, before we tell you the Nano’s on road performance i wish to share the engineering gone into the car to offset the tail- heavy effect. Since the engine, clutch and final drive is located at the rear, the rear axle weighs more than the front. This weight has to be compensated and Porsche did this using advanced electronics and suspension systems. Tata cannot mirror Porsche technologies for Nano the same due to the 1 lakh constraint. Tata has adopted a new way, it has moved few aggregates such as the battery and spare wheel to the front and has adapted stiffer supension system. Nano is not a pure monocoque construction. The chassis features sub-frame and stiffening members for stability. Similar to anyother RR car (rear engine, rear wheel driven car) Nano makes use of all independent suspension. Tata has tuned the McPherson strut in the front axle and makes use of larger tyres(155/65) at the rear to increase the stability.
We put the Nano in a test track where cones are placed apart at a fixed distance (the test where cars zig-zag between cones is called a moose test.) Nano was loaded with five adults and we started swiveling the car between the cones. The body roll is minimal and we never felt nervous even while swiveling the Nano at moderate speeds. But under hard braking Nano tends to oversteer. Nano makes use of drum brakes on all wheels.
The test drive track is flat which means we cannot comment anything on the ride quality of the Nano. The nano variant we put into test drive comes with power windows but there is not power steering. The steering wheel is small and uncomfortable to hold yet Nano negotiates corners at ease. Hence parking and moving in the tight traffic won’t be an issue. Credits to the Nano’s length.
Engineering and Comfort:
The ultra compact car is only 3.1 metres in length. But the tall roofline ensures enough space even for tall riders and getting into the driver’s seat is not a muscle burning exercise. Also since the wheels are pushed to the edges there a plenty of raw space inside the Nano. Similar to Indica, Nano’s selling point is going to be its spaciousness. Even a fat guy can sit leisurely in the co-passenger seat. In-built headrests similar to what we found in Hyundai’s i10 for the front seats offers good support. The cabin is roomy and bright becuase of the large windshied. Quarter glass are nice addition but the ear view mirror is too small. Because of the rear engine, rear wheel drive layout the floor is almost flat and even the middle passenger can sit comfortably. The seats are firm and offers good support. Nano can host three adults comfortably in the rear seat.
As the instrument cluster is moved to centre of the dashboard it frees lots of space. On both the sides of the dash are the nicely carved out storage areas. But the real motive behind this centrally mounted instrument console not in front of the driver is the same dashboard can be used for a left-hand-drive vehicle. Similar handles and mechanisms are used for the left- and right-side doors to reduce cost. There are a lot of such innovations that are low-cost and future-oriented. But the exposed pillars,poor quality plastics and smaller control knobs reminds you the price. There are no rubber mounts on the pedal in our test drive. The rear of the car is welded and access to the motor is only from inside. Fuel filler is under the bonnet.
NVH (Noise,Volatile Vibration and Harshness) has never been better with Indian cars. Since it increases the cost significantly, Indian manufactuers bound to spend little on controlling NVH. Being a one lakh car we were not expecting anything big from Nano. But it produces more noise. To be frank, it’s no different from the regular autorickshaw, the noise level is too high. Get inside the Nano, rise the windows you can still hear the noise. Espescially the rear passengers sitting close to the engine can hear more noise. We pray for better insulation in the actual production model.
We cannot comment anything on Nano’s mileage with the 3km short drive.
We don’t want to make any conclusion and but we wish this Nano a grand success.