What good is a compact city car if you can’t get it into small spots, reverse it in an alley, or change directions quickly? The Tata Nano, which is made in India, was designed to achieve all of this and more. It was designed for a family of four who would otherwise have to rely on a two-wheeler, compromising on comfort, safety, and other factors.
When it was first released in 2009, it had the standard equipment and choices that one would expect from a cheap hatchback. Tata Motors intends to push the Nano brand into a more aspirational market now that it has established itself. They intend to bring the new design language, which has already been seen on the Zest and Bolt, to this smaller product as well.
The GenX Nano, on the other hand, isn’t only a cosmetic upgrade. It has a redesigned boot lid that makes the back luggage area more accessible, and it also has an automatic transmission. On four wheels, this may make it a good micro buy. True? In our in-depth first-drive report, we expose everything.
There is now nothing on Indian streets that looks remotely like a Nano. This compact car has a tall body, short wheels, large windscreens, and a characteristic exhaust soundtrack, all of which are typical of this type of vehicle. The Nano has been given the Designext treatment, which is Tata’s new generation design language that has been applied to all of the company’s vehicles to make them look more upmarket.
It comes with smoked headlights with transparent lenses and the word ‘Nano’ inscribed on them. The Tata logo now stands on a darker piano black strip that connects the headlights, with a significant focus on the brand name. The new Nano has a smiling infinity motif grille with huge circular fog lamps, so no more frowning. With a wedge-shaped design, the underside of the front bumper acquires additional curves. The sleek hood profile and single front wiper remain unchanged.
There are no noticeable modifications to the side, since it retains the same features and lines of the previous Nano. They haven’t changed its proportions; the length and width are still 3164 mm and 1750 mm, respectively. It has a 180mm ground clearance, which is essential for tackling potholes and hard roads. The wheel arches have slight flares. Tubeless 135/70 R12(F) and 155/65 R12(R) tyres are still used.
Finally, they listened to every Nano owners’ long-awaited request, including mine. The revised rear tailgate can now be opened to gain access to the rear luggage area, which previously required folding down the rear seats. There is a handle to lift the gate for convenience, but to unlock it, one must use the ignition key because there is no internal mechanism to operate it.
The lid has a chrome accent over the back bumper and a grille that is similar to the front but without the brake lights. The centre exhaust opening has been replaced by a more car-like exhaust outlet on the left, neatly nestled under the bumper, as the rear bumper has been totally redone.
Except for updated parts like the new generation steering wheel, which has made its way into the Zest, Bolt, Safari Storme, and now the Nano, the basic architecture within the new Nano remains unchanged. This one feels a lot nicer to turn than the previous one, which lacked anything and was just an excuse to turn.
Don’t hold your breath for steering-wheel-mounted controls on this one. New latte-inspired colourful accents have been added to the interiors. A chrome accent is added to the AC vents. The seat textiles have been upgraded to give them a plusher feel, with an infinity pattern embossed throughout and Nano branding in the back. The air conditioning equipment has also been overhauled, and it is now 15% more powerful and cools the cabin in half the time.
The Twist’s modern instrument cluster has been modified to include an ideal gear position indicator as well as multiple drive modes such as sport, manual, and automatic. It also includes a low fuel warning bulb, distance to empty, average fuel economy, electronic trip metre, digital clock, and a digital clock.
With all of these modern features, it’s clear that the Nano has come a long way since its first release. The top-of-the-line model also has an AmphiStream Music System with four speakers, Bluetooth, USB, and Aux-in connectivity. The same method can be used to couple Smartphones and stream music. It has a 12V Power socket that can be used to charge a phone or a laptop, making it more convenient.
Inside the Nano, there is something in abundance that is also a class rivalling feature: spacious passenger space. When it comes to legroom and knee room, the front row passengers can never complain. In contrast to other cars, where the knee is always brushing against the central console, this interior has plenty of space. Its tall boy design ensures plenty of headroom for even taller passengers. The same can be said for rear passengers, as the level of comfort is outstanding. The backseat occupants have enough room to extend their legs beneath the front seats.
The access to the rear boot space has to be the highlight of the GenX Nano’s interiors. The boot space varies depending on whether the vehicle is manual or automated. The manual transmission receives 110 litres, while the automatic transmission receives 94 litres. It’s still not big enough to carry weekend luggage, but it’ll do for everyday grocery. There are modest pockets on the door trims, as well as some space for tickets and tolls inside the dashboard’s utility trays.
Driven by Results
Because it is intended to map the length and breadth of a city, a micro vehicle does not need to be a tarmac scorcher. It should be particularly modest since, with ever-increasing buildings, malls, and parking spots, there isn’t much road left. With a turning radius of a top, it should be nimble and agile. It should be light and easy to manoeuvre, and it should not necessitate frequent trips to the gas station.
In terms of fulfilling my ideal wish list for a perfect city car, the Nano comes close. Its size undoubtedly make it a useful traffic invader, and its lowest turning radius allows you to change directions at your leisure. The same two-cylinder, multi-point fuel-injected 624cc petrol engine powers the new Nano. This unit produces 38 horsepower and 51 pound-feet of torque, both of which have been improved with the Twist. It comes with a 4-speed manual transmission, and the AMT model adds a 5-speed automatic transmission to get it closer to the most convenient tag.
After the Zest, Celerio, and Alto K10, this is my fourth AMT vehicle, so my expectations were not high. AMT, or Automated Manual Transmission, provides the ease of an automatic transmission without the cost of a regular automatic transmission. Simply said, hydraulic actuators work in conjunction with electronically controlled gear shifters to eliminate the need for a clutch.
There is a unique creep mechanism that allows the car to move in D mode without having to touch the throttle. This is useful in congested traffic since it allows you to control movement with simply a push and release of the brakes. The engine’s harsh vibrations tend to creep into the interior, so it still doesn’t seem refined.
When you put it in Drive mode in automatic, the engine feels sluggish. To achieve higher speeds, it must be revved harder than in manual mode. When the revs are high, the shift quality isn’t great, and it can also falter and seem confused. Because the revs do not hold up well while overtaking, this diminishes confidence, and there is a Sports mode to solve this need.
The Sports mode may sound like a really enthusiastic setting, but it only improves the acceleration characteristics slightly to give it a tiny boost. If the Sports mode doesn’t satisfy you, push the Zest-sourced AMT lever to the left and switch to manual transmission; this is the appropriate choice for some snappy driving, especially when approaching and exiting corners at greater speeds.
The foregoing does not appear to be in favour of the AMT, but to the contrary, someone who wishes to drive at a steady speed, is new to cars, or is elderly will not be bothered by any of the above. Drive it patiently in automatic mode, and the gearbox will shift in a smooth and relaxing manner.
With independent front and rear suspensions and an anti-roll bar for enhanced stability at higher speeds, the ride quality is also pleasant. The 180mm ground clearance ensured that the severity of potholes did not totally transfer to the cabin. The exhaust system has been rerouted, and the radiator has been relocated to the back for better cooling and safety.
There was a persistent voice against the need to refuel on a regular basis, and Tata Motors has solved the issue in a unique way. The gasoline tank capacity has been raised from 15 to 24 litres, extending the driving range. The ARAI claims that the MT variant gets 23.6 kmpl while the AMT gets 21.9 kmpl.
Because the new boot is not an integrated part of the body structure, the safety criteria were accomplished by strengthening the front body structure, adding intrusion beams for side crash protection, and strengthening the crumple zones. It still doesn’t come with an airbag, but officials have hinted that it would be included in future models.
The GenX Nano has progressed significantly since its inception, and now includes more acceptable and modern features. The addition of an AMT will appeal to a variety of purchasers, including first-time buyers who want an easy-to-drive solution in congested areas, the elderly who want a lighter and more convenient mode of transportation, and the younger generation.
It’s really a compact city hatchback, so it’s not ideal for transcontinental travels, where the engine’s piddly nature takes its toll. As you kart it through small roads, traffic signals, and parking lots, you’ll realise how useful the power steering and AMT are.
The GenX Nano was released with an ex-showroom price of Rs 1.99 lakhs for the XE variant and Rs 2.89 lakhs for the top-end XTA variant, making it the world’s most affordable automatic hatchback.