Sunday, March 02, 2014

The evolution of Tata Nano: Then and now!

I've been closely observing the evolution of Tata Nano and have an emotional attachment with it-ever since I was part of Tata Nano superdrive in 2010, a 26 days, 5000km road trip in Nano.

Then positioned as an affordable and world's cheapest car, Nano has evolved a lot over time. Though the sales were below expectation, Tata Motors have been continuously investing in Nano, giving it frequent upgrades and refinements, while trying hard not to make it un-affordable. Recently I drove the latest version of Nano- Tata Nano Twist for about a day and this post is my comparison of the new Nano, to what I'd seen and felt 4 years ago.

There isn't much of a change on the outside yet- Nano still retains the same look, with only changes being the new chrome stripe and introduction of new colours. However the next edition of Nano, Nano twist Active, will be getting smiley like front face with redesigned bumper and fog lamps, as well as open-able rear door- that will be something to wait and watch for.
Above: The 3 Nanos of Superdrive green route in Chennai, June 2010,
Below- Nano twist 2014 in Cubbon park, Bengaluru
However, most of the evolution can only be felt if you sit inside and drive. Nano was a small car and like most of the budget cars back then, it was denied a power steering, to save some cost. Lack of power steering wasn't really a show stopper, but it did demand some manual effort while parking the Nano. The new Nano targets women customers more than men and to make life easier for them, an electronically assisted power steering has been added. Now you can drive Nano with much more comfort and steering can be controlled at your fingertip. This feature has made Nano twist highly drivable and to demonstrate its maneuverability, some of the Tata Motors dealers (such as Prerana Motors, Bangalore) are allowing prospects to drive the car inside the showroom- you also can walk in, drive it in between the pillars and walls of the showroom and experience its short turning radius and smooth steering control first hand. Do try it out.
Above: Speedo console of a 2010 Nano, clicked after we logged 5000kms during Nano superdrive

Below: Refined console of 2014 Tata Nano twist- more information and controls added now (Be assured this photo wasn't clicked while driving at 120kmph+. It was clicked after ignition, wherein everything is illuminated and dial rotates to right most and then returns to zero, to self test.)

Once I sat inside and start the engine,  I could sense the noise reduction. Compared to the 2009 version, amount of noise seeping into the cabin has come down drastically. The clutch assembly is also said to be all new- based on the previous complaints that clutch was getting harder over time, new Tata Nano twist gets all new clutch assembly with better life and smoothness. I am told close to  40% of nano's customers are women and new Nano twist is very peppy for such customers, for quick city hop.
Above: Dashboard of a 2010 Nano LX clicked using ordinary digicam, somewhere around Goa
Below: Wide angle view of 2014 Tata Nano Twist-notice the twin glove boxes and speakers, re-positioned parking light button. Also quality of plastics has improved over time
Fundamentals of Nano haven't changed. Rear Engine, 15 litre fuel tank, 630cc engine and the shape of body and head/tail lamps still resemble the 2009 variant. Expect these to change a bit with Nano Active.
Above: Rear view of 2010 Tata Nanos, during Superdrive 1st edition

Below: Rear of 2014 Nano twist- notice the redesigned bumper with a touch of chrome and a mesh to facilitate better air flow.

Other noticeable changes are better padding/coverage of exposed metal parts, re-positioned power window controls and nice interior colours. Overall, new Nano twist reaffirm its value proposition of a smart city car, with all basic necessities that you'd need in a car, yet priced well around 3 lakh rupees (on road Bengaluru price for Tata Nano twist LX). Nano is about 1 lakh rupee cheaper than a comparable variant of its closest rival, Alto 800, without much compromise on power and features.

A cheaper variant of twist, called LE is also expected soon. Earlier variants- Nano LX and Nano CX, both awesome (2013 edition) and non awesome (old stock) are also available, with cheapest variant now having an on road price of 2.4 lakhs in Bengaluru. (Back in 2010, Nano std was the cheapest variant priced at about 1.5 lakh ex-showroom and 1.8 lakhs on road, which has now been discontinued). While at showroom, I noticed few existing customers of Nano looking to upgrade to Nano twist. One of them was told that 2009 model of Nano LX could get a resale value of about 90k.

Nano CNG (already in markets which supply CNG), Nano Electric, Nano Pixel are all in the works, reaffirming Tata's focus on Nano brand. I wish it all the success.

View Tata Nano sunset photos * Nano superdrive covered in Exhibitor Magazine * Check out the 2015 Tata Nano GenX AMT  * 


vaibhav said...

It was fantastic review ...but one thing that went wrong was that nano cng has already been in market for around 6 months . And thankxxx. ..the review was really fantastic

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Vaibhav, have updated that part

Anonymous said...

Nice write up. A friend of mine told me that feeling inside a new nano is any way better than a 3 year old other car, say i10. & moderately driven car retains its warmth even after 2 years. Could be a clincher in favour of nano, for city dwellers.

anandbhat87 said...

Nano diesel which was under consideration has been backed out last year as because making a diesel model is incurring a huge cost which wont make the nano diesel a budget friendly model.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Anand: True. Have removed diesel