Six months and 9,000km later, the latest version of the compact and practical Nano has proved itself to be the best yet.
The Nano GenX AMT is the third Nano long-termer we’ve had at Autocar India. I’ve had the privilege to drive all three iterations, and I still drive one of the very first Nanos that is still part of our fleet. I had been eagerly waiting to get my hands on the GenX Nano since its launch, and was lucky as I got to drive it around the city before the Chota Chetan of our long-term fleet was sent back.
The first two models came with a non-opening tailgate, which was often a cause for funny situations at security checkpoints. Keeping that in mind, I decided to prank the security officer with the GenX Nano at one such checkpoint. But, to my surprise, the security personnel called my bluff saying this was the new Nano and he was aware it came with an openable boot. A true sign of the growing awareness of the GenX Nano among the masses.
The first thing noticed by my family members — who generally sit in the rear seats — was the reduced engine noise. Yes, the GenX Nano is still noisy, but the extra insulation in the cabin ensures that much of the thrum is filtered out. Those rear seats are best for two full-sized adults; they provide a really good view out — great for the older members in my family, who also commented on how comfortable they were, even after some pretty strenuous three-hour drives.
In its time with us, the GenX Nano had mostly been used in the city, with a few occasional trips to Pune thrown in for good measure. And quite obviously, thanks to the useable boot space of around 100 litres, the responsibility of the weekly supermarket run was passed on to the GenX Nano from the old car. The slight ‘warming’ of the groceries was a reminder of the 624cc powerhouse that’s located right below the boot.
The security guard was clued-up about the GenX Nano’s openable boot.
I spent all of my time in the driver’s seat, and appreciated another important feature in the GenX Nano that facilitates driver confidence: an anti-roll bar. There are set of corners on certain Mumbai city roads that I refer to as “dangerous corners”; those familiar with the twisty Lalbaug or JJ flyovers or the S-Bridge notorious for their curvy sections will know what I’m talking about. The addition of an anti-roll bar in the GenX Nano meant that I could easily negotiate these twisty sections at higher speeds; something the earlier Nanos couldn’t pull off safely.
It doesn’t take much time to notice that the GenX Nano sits slightly higher than the previous models. This has been done as part of the suspension upgrade, which has made the new Nano’s ride much better than that of its predecessors. Even during the Mumbai monsoons, when the city roads are dotted with potholes, the Nano did decently well; except for that one time when its small 12-inch wheel ended up getting stuck in a deep one.
The addition of an AMT gearbox is a smart move by Tata because it has added to the car’s appeal, but even after clocking up more than 8,000km, the shifts are still extremely slow and jerky, which is a big thumbs down. I would pick the manual transmission over this. Secondly, the Nano still comes with drum brakes all around and I found stopping power to be on the weak side, especially after repeated usage.
As a Nano aficionado, I would love to see Tata offer more safety kit on the car, and this includes
better brakes (discs on the front, at least), ABS and airbags. I also wouldn’t mind the addition of steering-mounted controls like those offered on the Zest.
With the GenX, the Nano has taken a giant leap forward, from budget car to a cool feature-laden city runabout. The hatchback didn’t skip a beat during its time with us, and I am looking forward to the next Nano that will be part of our fleet. I am sure it will raise the bar to a higher level.