4,620 km report: The Nano is proof of how drastically the template for affordable cars has changed over the past few decades.
Come May, it’s holiday season, which means it’s ‘relatives visiting Mumbai’ time. And this holiday we had an extra-special visitor, my grandmother. Unlike most grannies, however, this 88-year-old loves to travel around the city; and her chauffer of choice, more often than not, is me.
Now normally, the weekends are reserved for my beloved blue SS80, better known as the first-generation Maruti 800. It’s a car I absolutely love, and driving it is a real treat. But though I love piloting it on weekends, my family doesn’t think very highly of it, especially when I ask them to squeeze themselves into the rear. Also, my gran finds it very uncomfortable to be sat so low. This holiday, however, I had at her disposal our very attractive, papaya-orange, long-term Nano.
The Nano ticked three very important boxes on my gran’s list of ‘car comfort’. First, the interior is cleverly packaged, so you get acres of space. Second, the seats are positioned at a near-perfect height, so senior citizens can simply slide right in. And third, the air-con is quite effective too – an essential given Mumbai’s weather in May.
The youngsters in my family were delighted by the Nano’s cute looks, while the elders were happy with the airy cabin. The ultra-frugal nature of the Nano also meant I had much more money in my pocket than if I’d been driving my 800 around that weekend. Our updated 2012 Nano is more efficient as well, and has recently been returning a very impressive 17.45kpl.
Also really nice on this updated car are the interiors. There’s more support for your shoulders in the driver’s seat, while the material on the door pads and seats is nice to touch. The air-conditioner really is pretty effective (it kept the family cool and happy all through the weekend drives), and using it does not put an unduly high load on the motor.
That said, the steering still feels very heavy, especially at parking speeds, the non-progressive clutch takes time to get used to and the high driving position feels strange initially as well. Once you’ve got a few hours on the car however, the Nano just becomes second nature and the responsive engine makes it feel nice and perky in traffic.
The best bit, however, is that the cheerful orange Nano still manages to turn a lot of heads, most of them with broad smiles, and that just feels good.
Price: Rs 2.47 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)
Test economy: 17.45kpl
Maintenance costs: None
Read previous report on the Nano 2012 here