I’m constantly asked why I prefer driving our long-term Nano, especially since there’s a line-up of cars in the office garage to choose from. It’s not the tiny footprint that appeals to me the most, neither is it the orange paint that manages to draw countless eyeballs while on the move. Someone even asked me if I liked driving it because it reminded me of a simpler time, when cars as bare-boned and basic as the Nano were the norm rather than the minority.
In the 12 months that it’s been with us, what’s become very apparent to me is that the Nano is a car you can drive without a worry. There have been countless occasions when I’ve parked the Nano in what was probably not the safest spot. An inconsiderate car could have scuffed my front bumper while manoeuvring the following turn, a nearby tree could have inexplicably shed a few branches that could have landed right on the Nano, or a biker could just as easily have carelessly knocked my wing mirror out. This, more than anything else, is why I’m drawn to the Nano more than any other car. My logic is simple: howmuch could repairs on a Rs 2 lakh car actually cost? Admittedly, the heavy steering (especially at parking speeds) does take away slightly from the no-worries experience I’ve been on about, as does the non-progressive and heavy clutch. But a quick visit to the service station rectified these two niggles, and the Nano has been driving much better since. What’s more, Tata’s generous 4 year/60,000km warranty even got our clutch cable changedfree of cost!
The compact dimensions and responsive engine really count a lot towards giving you an easy car to drive, especially when dealing with Mumbai’s hectic traffic. What also helps is that you’re sat nice and high in the well-cushioned driver’s seat and there’s great visibility all around. The Nano’s engine itself surprisingly never feels like it has inadequate power, despite being a 624cc motor that puts out a meagre 37.4bhp.Another aspect that caught my attention after all these months is how there are no squeaks and rattles from the car, despite it being subjected to the worst of Mumbai’s infamous potholes. The short wheelbase, fixed rear hatch and beefed-up suspension have gone a long way in ensuring a squeak-free ride so far.
Niggles? The Nano’s choppy ride on bad roads is exacerbated thanks to the tiny 12-inch wheels. We’ve also noticed that the seats are quite prone to getting stained easily. And while the clutch cable replacement did make the drive better, the clutch is still jerky.But looking at the bigger picture, it’s easy to overlook these tiny details, as the Nano comes across as a no-nonsense, point A to point B machine that you needn’t pay too much attention to. Couple that with the 17.45kpl (overall) we’ve been getting and you have a car that makes a lot of sense.
Price: Rs 2.47 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)
Test economy: 17.45kpl (overall)
Maintenance costs: None
Faults: Clutch cable replaced