The Tata Aria certainly wasn’t the most anticipated long-term car at Castle Autocar. Sure, we were suitably impressed with the two-wheel-drive version when we tested it back in September 2011, but would something so big be practical and usable on a daily basis? And would we still be impressed a few months down the line?
Things got off to a slow start for our Aria. It spent the first couple of days just sitting in our parking lot — I guess it was the fear of taking something so large and unwieldly out and trying to squeeze into Nano-sized parking spots. But then someone discovered the rear parking sensors, and the Tata people-mover moved out from its preferred spot.
I’ve been driving the Aria for a month now, and I can think of more positives than negatives – I don’t think I’ve ever said that about a Tata car before. I know for sure that the Aria is a phenomenal highway car. I realised this when I was ferrying elderly Dandekars between Pune and Mumbai for my sister’s wedding.
Thanks to the DiCOR motor’s smooth nature, the good sound insulation and the flat ride, I could count six separate snores. Meanwhile, I wasn’t having a bad time either. Even with a full complement of passengers, the Aria never felt short on power and overtaking those irritating trucks on the expressway was a breeze. And the ride is another aspect where the Aria excels. It just feels so pliant and composed on the highway.
The interiors also contribute to the Aria being such a brilliant long-distance car. The sheer size of the big and airy cabin means you’ll never feel claustrophobic, the dash design is very functional and the seats are very wide with lots of support. There is plenty of space in the front two rows. Even the third-row passengers had very little to complain about – unlike some of the other people-carriers around, the Aria’s third row is very comfortable. The middle-row passengers even appreciated the fact that the Aria has a flat floor, which makes moving around very easy.
It’s only on my daily city commutes to office and back that I realise the big Aria has a downside. The relatively light clutch and light steering make life easy, but the car feels way too big and is almost akin to a mini-bus when punting around. The wide mirrors, while good for visibility, are always prone to being hit in tight spots.
An average fuel-efficiency figure of 12kpl is not bad, taking into account that the Aria was mostly driven fully loaded.
The Aria is a fantastic car to own and this in itself is a big compliment to any Tata car. It’s a great long-distance cruiser and, combined with the huge, comfortable cabin, it’s a combination hard to match. Suddenly the Aria has become quite a favourite in the Autocar long-term fleet.