Had followed the pre-launch buzz about the Nano automatic from the time it was mentioned in the Auto Show in January 2014. Was hoping Tata would keep the price reasonable. Several months later finally after the launch was done I signed up on the Tata Nano Website for a Test Drive. Tata representatives called within a couple of days and organized the test drive. It took a couple of back and forth calls to schedule the time but finally it was to be done around 8 PM in the evening. The sales representative was very enthusiastic and interested in explaining the features of the Sangria Red Nano that was brought for the Test Drive. One point he kept repeating for me and for my father was to not use the left foot but to use only the right foot for both acceleration and braking. It was okay for me as I have spent 6 years driving an automatic Honda Civic, it took a few hundred meters for my father who has never driven an automatic to get used to it. But he managed just fine.
I started off and had to do a turn in the middle of our street to go out of the colony. The power steering made the turn very easy (I compared this with the manual non power steering Gen 1 Nano owned by my Father In Law which took some effort to turn). Starting off from a stop was decent and the acceleration though slow was adequate. Had to keep expectation in check as other cars I have driven recently have easily another 50+ BHP.
AC was cooling rapidly even before we covered 500m and was on blower setting 1 ! In total got to drive around 3 km of the XTA. This included one steep flyover. Didn’t feel the car struggled at that time with me, my father and the sales guy in the vehicle. On flat surface however did wish it had a bit more power but for the city traffic. For a relaxed drive felt it was more than enough. Headlamps were more than adequate. Like any unfamiliar car the brakes took some time to get used to but once you got familiar with it it was easy. Horn was a pathetic bleating sound from the single horn but still enough.
Throttle response was a bit better with the S mode. Manual mode was fine but figured best would be to put in Auto mode and drive peacefully (instead of using the AMT like a manual). Having the ability to use the 1st gear for a steep incline in manual mode is definitely useful. Didn’t get to try it however. Read about the AMT vehicles rolling back a bit before starting on inclines – some changes in driving style may be needed but for a new driver to get used to it should be easy. More power and better brakes would be welcome but will have to compromise on that as there is no other option at this price. For city only driving felt the car with AMT is brilliant. Interiors have improved over the original Nano. Sound of the engine is not very apparent in the cabin. The exhaust note has changed from an auto sounding note to something that sounds a lot more muted. Likes:
- Easy to drive in traffic with AMT
- Turns with the power steering are very easy and will be a very nice car for city traffic. I have driven the non power steering version and feel power steering is a must and really feel Tata should have launched it with Power Steering right at the beginning.
- Amazing AC(probably the best across segments). Very quick cooling even at the first blower position
- Great Interior Passenger Space
- Good seating position and easy to enter
- Folding Rear Seat (sorely missed on earlier version)
- Openable rear hatch (sorely missed on earlier version)
- Waiting period of 8-12 weeks (on a minimum)
- Low on power(may be difficult to take steep roads with full load of passengers) Sufficient for flat roads.
- Mileage may not be all that great (real world expect around 14 to 15 with city traffic and full auto mode)
- Lack of all Safety features
- Not so powerful brakes(drums only)
- Luggage space (hatch) is only for city use(groceries etc)
- Fuel filling still needs bonnet to be opened.
- Limited color selections(for me at least). Felt they should have a lot of bright cheerful colors. Right now only the red, blue, purple are bright colors. Will not be caught dead in the pink (called Persian Rose).
My FIL who had bought the first gen Nano(as a second car) when it first came out went ahead and sold it in the end of August and booked an XTA Silver. He was been told it will take 2 months. He waited for 2 weeks and then was struggling a bit at home without the second car called up the Tata dealership and was not able to get a confirmed date of delivery – cancelled the automatic booking and went in for the GenX with power steering and Openable Hatch. He is pretty happy with it.
Requesting anyone here has family/friends driving GenX Nano XTA/XMA to please provide their inputs.
PS: For those wanting a long detailed test drives read the reviews here Team-BHP / Indian Autos Blog / Motorbeam I had earlier posted about Mr. Thomas Chacko and his Mano Et Nano trip around India in a Tata Nano. Do read this in case you think the Nano is a sad excuse of a car. You will be amazed where the Nano has reached ! The book “Atop The World” by Mr Thomas Chacko is now available. . PPS: First Two photos are from the Tata Nano Website.