Since our last report, our Aria has been to the arid lands of Kutch playing support car to a distant relative, the Jaguar XKR (July 2012 issue). It did an admirable job of ferrying four men, their luggage and the TV camera gear on the 2000km round trip. Then, with the onset of the monsoons, our photographers seized an opportunity to drive the Aria to the scenic Bhandardara on an ‘official’ getaway, to return with great praise for the Tata’s long-distance comfort. Clearly, we haven’t really treated this Tata with kids’ gloves. So it’s quite remarkable that our Aria has held up quite well. All mechanicals are in good running order and we’ve had no problems with reliability either, though the cabin is beginning to show some signs of wear. The silver finish on the gear knob, for instance, has faded a bit.
Unlike my country-trotting colleagues, I’ve been using the Aria within town only. Accustomed to the convenience of driving a hatchback or midsize saloon, I initially found the hulking Tata a bit daunting to drive in Mumbai’s traffic. I’d also be hesitant to venture out into the city’s suburbs, where finding parking space is an art in its own. Over time, though, I’ve developed faith in the Aria’s accurate rear-parking sensors. So if you see the MH 01 AX 6076 parked skilfully somewhere, you should know it’s been technology to the rescue.
But what’s really helped the man-machine bonding here is the Aria’s fantastic low speed ride – its supple suspension has seriously got the better of this season’s round of potholes. I’m also greatly impressed by the Aria’s overall refinement. There is little suspension noise and even the engine remains quiet enough. As for the engine, it feels sufficiently powerful for most occasions though some more grunt low-down in the rev range wouldn’t hurt. I also hope Tata can redesign the footwell whenever the facelifted Aria is due – it’s simply too narrow and desperately needs a dead pedal. And while at it, they could also reposition the steering audio controls lower down to a more ergonomic position.
This apart, I’m quite happy with the Aria. Even the fuel efficiency has been a pleasant surprise and is quite good for a two-tonner. We’ve managed a best figure of 10kpl in the city and 13.9kpl out on the highway. With so many positives, it’s a real shame the Aria doesn’t sell more. I hear many Tata dealers are selling the Aria 4x2 with discounts of upto Rs 1 lakh, which makes this well-rounded MPV seriously worth considering.
Price 15.82 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)
Test economy 11.9kpl (overall)
Faults Gear knob losing its sheen