Microwonder 2014 Tata Nano Twist
The Tata Nano is a novelty in our choked city streets. It looks unlike anything else rolling on four wheels. Stop at a pump and people crowd the car to ask questions. Kids point with a smile as it passes by. It's the most anthropomorphic car out there. It has a front design that looks like it could speak. But novelties are short term. And when that wears off, the Nano needs to roll on its inherent merits. Which frankly are limited yet crucial.
How many oranges can you squash inside?
Surprisingly many. The Nano's greatest merit is the packaging. The designers utilized the maximum space available for seating four full-size adults carrying their big smartphones and a tiny pet dog. The interior is surprisingly spacious with decent leg room. The tall riding position provides a clear view ahead over most of the other cars and rickshaws. The view from inside creates the impression of being in a much bigger car so you don't feel lost among all the murderous buses. Small on the outside, large on the inside.
So what's it like to drive?
The engine is a 624cc two-cylinder fuel injected unit delivering 37.5bhp and 37.6 lb/ft of torque. Both these numbers are available at a very low end of the RPM range. That means those power and torque figures are right there when you will need it in this car – during heavy traffic maneuvers. The first surprise was how it accelerated remarkably well. 100 kmph comes in under 30 seconds. This was a factory fresh car so the times should improve after the engine loosens up a little. And yes, it can do 100 and a little beyond. But this car is all about the lower ranges. There is a strong enough grunt up to 60kmph where it manages to keep up easily with much bigger cars. The 4-speed manual helps. The car may be rear-engined, rear wheel drive similar to a Porsche 911, but it isn't a pocket rocket. What it does is offer perky, zippy movement. The more I pressed on, the more I was grinning from realisation that this is doing exactly what it is designed to do: tackle urban warfare. This little car could actually accelerate at a decent pace. I even took a few of those tight rolling turns at 70kmph. Car exhibited plenty body roll but it won't topple over like many people think. To further try the limits, our test car was loaded with three people, camera gear and AC turned on full blast.
Will it stop?
There are drum brakes all around although the front units could have benefitted more from discs. But the drums do a good job of stopping such a light vehicle. THere's not a lot of speed to go up to so there''s not much brake fade happening in vigorous city driving. Target owners will drive it more conservatively than us will find the brakes perfectly adequate.
Does it need the reverse gear?
Probably not and that's a good thing. The turning radius is so short (4 meters) it feels the car can turn on its own axis. The Twist is the top-end version of the Nano and it comes with an electronically power assisted steering. It's a fun and easy video game of piloting the Nano among errant rickshaws, cars and people that decide to play a game of Russian roulette every day.
Does it pamper?
The short wheelbase often has to deal with potholes that are larger than the car itself. That leads to a choppy ride but that is only to be expected of a car that is roughly 10 feet in length with wheels on each corner. Those compact dimensions mean parking in tight spots is a breeze. And if you can't find a spot, you could probably carry the car up into the house and park beside your bed. The AC is very cool although road noise intrudes into the cabin a lot due to the thin door padding. As a plus, the doors have side intrusion beams to protect against side impacts. There's even optional alloy wheels but they come with three lug nuts. Good luck trying to find different looking replacements later.
Can it do family?
There's a small storage compartment up front. It's enough for an artist's portfolio and half a day's grocery shopping. But there is plenty of space inside so stuff everything there.
What to get?
We suggest bright shocking colors. An odd, quirky shape like this needs to be celebrated. The searing purple we had is a good one. White is too tame and makes it look like a surprised insect.
Should you get one?
That's a tough call. It's the cheapest brand new car available in our market right now. And that matters to a lot of people who want a pristine, untouched car with full dealer warranties coupled with low running costs. For a brand new car, you can't get any more for less.
It's a city car aimed at young people who like cool things or families that want optimum efficiency. How does all that work out when we factor in the word 'cool'? Built to a budget, this offers practicality as its trump card. There's enough space for big biriyani-loving people. It is moderately zippy in city conditions and can pass through a petrol pump without causing massive internal injuries to the owner's wallet. What you get is a frugal car with funky looks. Okay, so those looks are a matter of great debate. The Nano is the modern version of the original people's car:small, efficient, simple. It won't set your pulse racing with excitement but it will get you from A to B. Most days in Bangladesh, that's all we're looking for.
Engine: 624cc two cylinder, four stroke, fuel injected (37.5bhp, 37.6 lb/ft of torque), rear mounted engine.
Transmission: 4 speed manual gearbox
Brakes: Drum brakes all around.
Features: Electronic power assisted steering (Nano Twist only), air-conditioning, side impact beams, optional alloy wheels, basic stereo system.
Price: For pricing and availability, contact Nitol Motors Limited (01678667751).
Should you get one?
It's the cheapest brand new car available in our market right now. And that matters to a lot of people who want a pristine, untouched car with full dealer warranties coupled with low running costs.
It's a city car aimed at young people who like cool things or families that want optimum efficiency. How does all that work out when we factor in the word 'cool'? Built to a budget, this offers practicality as its trump card. There's enough space for big biriyani-loving people. It is zippy in city conditions and can pass through a petrol pump without causing massive internal injuries to the owner's wallet. What you get is a frugal car with funky looks. The Nano is the modern version of the original people's car: small, efficient, simple.