After using the ultra-frugal Celerio diesel for some time, I was given the keys to the brand new Tata Nano AMT. It was a bit of a déjà vu when I slipped into the big cabin, as this was my third Nano long-termer at the job. The new GenX Nano is the best Nano yet and the improvements are clear to see from the get-go.
First things first, this is not the usual manual gearbox-equipped Nano, but the newest model which comes with just two pedals courtesy an AMT or Automated Manual Transmission. The clutchless operation is a boon for my city commute to work, which is now four kilometres longer since our recent office relocation.
Our test Nano has power steering, which was introduced in the GenX Nano, has completely changed the character of the car and in fact, makes the earlier models feel archaic in comparison. The steering wheel itself is all-new and feels premium with a nicer grip. Slotting the Nano into a tight parking spot is really easy and no longer cumbersome. The Nano always had a tight turning circle since its inception but the advantage wasn’t appreciated because of the super-heavy steering. With power steering, you’re encouraged to make full use of the autorickshaw-like turning circle and I couldn’t believe the ease with which I took a U-turn on one of the narrowest lanes of Bandra. In any other car, I would have had to reverse and do a three-point turn.
Power steering helps the Nano navigate dense Mumbai traffic with ease. Steering a bit too light, even at high speeds.
This is also one of the best equipped Nanos we’ve ever received, and for the price of Rs 2.94 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), you get equipment that is not available in many other cars from even a segment higher. Our Nano is the top-spec XTA version, which features equipment such as a four-speaker stereo with Bluetooth, unheard of in a car at this price point. The fixed tailgate, which made luggage difficult to access in the earlier cars, now opens to reveal a modest 110 litres.
I’ve already highlighted the plus points of the Nano in my earlier reports like its high seating position, which was an instant hit with the elders in my family and its tiny footprint that allows easy punting around the small bylanes of the city.
The AMT gearbox makes the drive relatively effortless, but at the same time, it feels too jerky at low speeds and struggles to find a gear at times. The Nano takes a second or two to move from standstill, making it tricky to drive at low speeds. Once in motion, the upshifts and downshifts are slow but smooth, which makes the drive pleasant. A couple of things like its unsettling ride at any speed and the drum brakes feel almost the same as in the older cars.
The latest Nano, apart from more features has also got a subtle facelift, which differentiates it from the earlier model. I once tried to bypass security personnel at a mall entrance by stating that the boot lid doesn’t open since this was a Nano, but to my surprise, I was shown up right away and was told, “Saab yeh naya gaadi hai, hume pata hai” (This is the new Nano, we know). This statement indicates that the Nano, with all the new features, has gained immense popularity and this time, for all the right reasons. The car is new and it is too early to point out any serious issues yet. It is currently delivering a steady 11.8kpl for the city commute, which, by Nano standards, is a bit low. It’s a good thing then that the tank capacity has been enhanced from 15 litres to 24 litres. The Nano has indeed grown up.
The first-generation Nano. The most bare-bones car ever to join our fleet. We drove this one almost all across the country and it’s still with us!
This papaya-orange cutie was our favourite way to commute in the city. Kids loved its Pokémon-ish paint shade.