The Nano, for me, has always been a diamond in the rough; absolutely brilliant in conception, but lacking in finesse and detail. Despite this, we at Autocar India were so enamoured, we actually bought one of the first cars; a top-of-the-line LX. And it’s that car that springs to mind every time I think of the Nano. The uncomfortable seat, the muscle-burning, heave-ho steering, the basic interiors, the resonance from the engine; there’s little doubt, the original Nano was crude around the edges.
The new Nano Twist, however, is so far from that original in almost every way, Tata should have swallowed a brave pill and tagged it ‘V2’. It’s better in almost every department.
The tipping point, quite clearly, is the lighter and really well set up power steering. The assisted helm means you no longer need to play tug of war with the Nano, especially at city speeds, and that immediately removes a constant irritant. Better support for the shoulders removes problem number two for me, and Tata’s ‘kaizen’ or continuous improvement approach to the car means there’s a huge leap in overall ability compared to the original. It really is quite a shocker. The list of improvements over the years is so long, in fact, it’s almost as if this car is all new.
What you get now is a smoother and more silent engine, less peaky power delivery, a lighter clutch, an improved seat, more upmarket doorpads, a nicer looking dash, a Bluetooth-equipped four-speaker audio system, more suspension travel and a better ride; phew! And the impossibly cute Nano even looks better.
Yes, there are plenty of issues that still need sorting; budget willing. An openable rear hatch, a five-speed gearbox, disc brakes up front and a wider track are part of the obvious list. And so is the greater fuel economy of a diesel, essential if Tata wants to bridge the gap in running costs between two and four wheels. A cheaper, two-door version and an SUV on the same platform would be part of my list too.
Still, even as it stands, no car offers the combination of space, comfort, efficiency and ease of use as the new Nano Twist. Tata’s ‘zara hat ke’ city car clearly deserves to have a stronger second innings. Make sure you drive a new one, it really is quite a sea change.