Tata Nano has been around for quite some time and honestly, I did not pay much attention to it beyond the few Nano jokes that would surface now and then. But the 2012 Nano edition was a riot of colours and that is what got my attention- orange, yellow, blue, green, red! It was a delight to watch this pretty little thing zipping about in an orange or a green..we sure can use more colour on our roads. And then during my recent visit to Shimla, I saw Nano all hardcore macho- one with a carrier laden with apple boxes and the other with so many fog lights on it. I just had to try out the Nano !!
First things first, the engine is 625 cc which is less than good ol’ Maruti 800 we grew up in. And that means less power – if you wanna get few kicks by zooming ahead on a red light or by overtaking the cheeky jerk who’s been bugging you, Nano will most likely not come in handy.
The interior is very spacious – more than what one would expect seeing its compact size.. Not only could my 7 year old happily jump back and forth but my husband at 6 feet something could sit comfortably as well- both in the front and in the rear seat. The interiors are nothing to write home about but decently done up. One thing that I did not like was that the button for the front power windows is way down near the gearbox. Anytime you want to roll the window up or down, you practically have to dive. The back windows are manual, something that threw my son into peals of laughter at the sheer antiquity of it.
The seating is something I enjoyed – it’s a hop in- hop out tallboy design which is straight after my heart. It makes getting in and out a lot easier even with any elaborate dress like a saree or some cocktail dress you might be wearing. Low seating, like that of most Sedans (say Honda City) doesn’t work for me. It’s like sitting on a bean bag- good enough in your bed room while you play PS3 but on a drive and that too in a Saree? Nah! I am yet to come up with a way of daintily sliding in and out of one of these low seating cars without showing more skin than I would like to. It was a feat that Late Princess Diana had mastered. But that was Lady Di; I’m just a bull in a china shop..let’s leave it at that. And lastly, in a weird sort of way, low seating makes me feel fat. The last thing I need is for a car to make me feel fat- so thanks but no thanks.
Higher seating also means more ground clearance. So if you are one of those who pays no attention to the abnormally high speed breaker or an abysmally low pot hole that can crop up anywhere on an Indian road, this will suit you. No point needlessly scraping the car as you drive along, now is there?
Sitting on the driver’s seat does feel funny to begin with. With the engine at the rear,there is practically no bonnet in front of you! It’s a bit like driving a Maruti Van or an auto, if you’ve ever driven, or at least sat in the driver’s seat, of either of the two. And the single wiper too strikes you as odd in the beginning. But all this is just a question of getting used to. It’s a four speed gearbox, good enough for its engine and the seat belts are all in place. But no air bags. The brake is “Dual Circuit, Vertical Split operated by tandem master cylinder with vacuum booster” …duh?? All that concerns us is that “lag jaati hai”- apply the brakes and it will bring you to a halt quickly enough at least in the city. How it fares on the highway at a speed of 90kmh, I can’t say. I for one, will not be cruising around on the highway in a Nano. Well yes Tata says that it meets all safety standards but from my experience of Maruti 800, this little thing will probably tremble on the highway and shake my bones to the core. So not trying – period! The steering isn’t power steering either. What people! At 2 Lac ( approx.) bache ki jaan loge kya? But not to worry. Steering is light enough and there is no fear of building arm muscles while driving Parking it, however, may be a different ball game altogether as the steering tends to become heavier at very slow speed. It is convenient to manoeuvre and the cutting is very good too. So don’t fret over lack of power steering- you wouldn’t notice it anyways. And with tubeless tyres, you don’t have to worry about getting a flat and being stranded in the middle of nowhere.
The boot does not open from the outside. Instead, you need to access it from the rear seats by folding them down, which may sound cumbersome but is not. As for the AC and heater, available in top model, Nano LX, both are efficient ( AC is there in Nano CX too). But then there were just 2of us on a 15minute spin. How it fares with 4 people in scorching June heat, I can’t say though I’ve heard that it performs well.
Okay now for what spoilt it for me. The noise inside. It gave me a headache! No matter what the Dealer said, I just could not get over it. When I am trying my best to drown out all exterior noises with loud music, I don’t need something drumming my head right inside. I believe a battery version of the car is on the way and that might solve this problem but otherwise Nano would be a no-no for me just because of this reason. What the diesel version will do to the noise, I dread to think.
While assessing the Nano one has to remember the price tag with which it comes- there is nothing comparable in this range. With a mileage of 25kmpl and all basic features in place, it is s good car for city driving, if you can deal with the noise. But if you are one of those whose social standing and esteem is defined by the car you drive, well Nano clearly is no Beetle. Otherwise a good enough deal!