This is the 2014 Tata Aria and it's the SUV’s first facelift since its introduction in 2010. The changes aren’t limited to cosmetics either, Tata Motors has retuned the engine too, boosting the power by 10bhp to 148bhp. There’s also the revised sticker price that starts at Rs 9.95 lakh for the base two-wheel-drive Pure LX variant and goen on to Rs 14.74 for the range-topping AWD Pride variant (all prices, ex-showroom, Delhi).
On the outside, the 2014 Tata Aria doesn’t look radically different from the older model and the changes are quite subtle for a facelift that has come after almost four years. Most noticeable being smoked projector headlamps with that now feature blackened inserts. Rear tweaks are limited to transparent lenses instead of yellow ones for the turn indicators.
Inside too, the changes are restrained with only a new colour screen infotainment system being an addition on the top-spec Aria. Tata could have addressed some of the ergonomic issues of the previous model but, the 2014 Aria retains its slightly awkward driving position. Also, the buttons for the steering-mounted audio controls still feel built to a price and the overall quality of equipment still lacks that final bit of sophistication. For instance, while the reversing camera is a welcome addition, its grainy image quality could have been better. Also, while the Aria supports Bluetooth telephony, it surprisingly doesn’t stream music from your Bluetooth devices. You need to resort to the more conventional USB, aux-in or CD for that. The top-end variant comes with an improved Harman Infotainment system as well.
However, the Aria’s forte of an airy cabin with comfortable and supportive front seats remains unchanged. The second row bench too offers decent support with sufficient kneeroom for six footers. But, the last row is best reserved for children and even adults of average height will find the squatted seating position and limited kneeroom far from ideal for long durations. In terms of storage, the entire roof is lined with as many as seven cubby holes that will be more than enough for all your knick knacks and with the last row folded, the Aria can easily hold a family’s holiday luggage. But, with the last row upright, space is limited to just a couple of soft bags.
The key improvements to the 2014 Tata Aria are hidden under the hood. The retuned 2.2-litre VariCor diesel motor helps it shave off almost a second to 100kph and now takes 14.79sec, though you won’t notice a stark difference while driving. What you will notice is that the engine feels more refined and free-revving than before and the power delivery is smoother with the turbo-spike being ironed out to an extent. The motor feels quieter too. However, while the gear knob looks premium and is nicely finished, the ‘box still feels a bit unpolished and transfers a fair amount of engine vibrations to your palm.
On the plus side, the Aria absorbs almost everything our roads throw at it. This big SUV manages to make easy work of fairly large potholes and only the really large ones crash through. However, with speed, the ride does get a bit floaty and the steering too is a tad vague, especially around the straight ahead position. Apart from this, the Aria handles predictably and although there’s a fair bit body roll, it’s not too unnerving and the on-demand all-wheel-drive system makes it feel surprisingly surefooted. There’s also a button on the dash to switch it into 4x2 on the fly to extract the best-possible fuel economy.
For the first facelift since its introduction in 2010, the 2014 Aria isn’t all that much different inside the cabin or out. That said, the mechanical changes under the hood definitely improve Tata’s flagship SUV in terms of refinement, driveability and are definitely welcome. And, the Aria retains its strengths as a large and comfortable family crossover/SUV. However, to make the 2014 Aria stand out and have customers take notice, Tata Motors could have injected it with more than just these subtle changes, especially on the cosmetic front. Maybe Tata Motors was banking on the fact that UV buyers don’t expect frequent changes to the styling. After all, the Toyota Innova has essentially been the same for nine years.
The refreshed Tata Aria is available in three trim levels – the Pure 4X2, Pleasure 4X2 and Pride 4X4.For more information on the variants, click here.