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Tata Nano Standard, in "Dazzling Red"

Tata Nano Luxury, in "Lime Yellow"

A minimalist interior is the order of the day for the Nano, as this dash shot and cutaway shows.
The "People's Car" gets 54mpg, seats five.

While there is no shortage of news from the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, the Auto Expo in New Delhi, India featured a unique new vehicle that might interest North American buyers wary of high gas prices -- and high vehicle prices as well. Tata Motors unveiled its interpretation of the "People's Car" -- a phrase that until now was the exclusive domain of German automobiles -- the $2,500 Nano.

With a length of just over ten feet, the Nano makes current "sub-compact" cars like the Honda Fit and the Toyota Yaris look like a 1980s-era Cadillac from the outside -- but nearly all of the interior space is devoted to the passenger compartment. Tata claims that the vehicle can seat five passengers, but the rear seat would undoubtedly become cramped, as the Nano is only a hair less than five feet wide. A highway trip would be a painful exercise, but Tata is targeting the car as an all-weather replacement for the motorbikes commonly used for family transit, so shorter trips with more passengers might be tolerable.

Power from the Nano comes from a rear-mounted 624cc two-cylinder SOHC engine, which produces approximately 33hp at 5500rpm, and 35lb-ft of torque at 2500rpm. Mated to a four-speed manual transmission and driving the rear wheels only, the Nano is in no rush to reach high speeds -- in fact, the more common 0-60 time was replaced by a "0-43" time of 14 seconds. The time to reach the stated maximum speed of 68mph was not given. This slow acceleration does let the Nano achieve excellent mileage -- estimates are 50mpg city and 60mpg highway. While other cars have exceeded these numbers, they don't share the Nano's low cost of entry.

The Nano will be available in two trim levels, "Standard" and "Luxury." The "Standard" is truly spartan, with vinyl seats, a single-color interior, black plastic bumpers and not much else. The "Luxury" lives up to its name by comparison, offering a list of features such as:

  • Body-colored bumpers
  • Fog lamps
  • Power door locks
  • Power mirrors
  • Air conditioning and heater
  • Dual-color interior
  • Fabric seats   

The sticker price for the Luxury model has not yet been announced. In addition to the two model choices, the Tata Nano microsite offers a range of accessories that can be viewed from the car builder, including pin striping decals, a choice of air scoop for the rear-mounted engine, and alloy wheels.


Despite the Nano's diminutive size, Tata is confident that it will be a safe vehicle, stating that it passes all current safety standards. With over 22,000 employees, a target production run of 250,000 units per year, and recent talks of purchasing Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford, Tata Motors could very well make this pocket-sized commuter car a reality in North America.



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RE: Pimp my ride
By FITCamaro on 1/10/2008 1:56:41 PM , Rating: 3
You apparently don't realize just how much damage can happen at 60 mph. Even 40 mph. Go look at some accident photos of crashes at 40-60 mph. And this thing probably isn't anywhere near as strong as an American car. I doubt it'd get a 1 star crash rating. Crumple zones don't mean its safe. Just that it folds up. And with it having no real front end, its going to fold up into you.

And its not always a matter of how fast you're going. If someone in an SUV hits you in one of those, you probably won't live through it.


RE: Pimp my ride
By xsilver on 1/11/2008 8:14:19 AM , Rating: 2
If everybody started buying monster trucks and started driving those around everyone driving a SUV would be complaining because of the safety hazard they pose (being so easily crushed by a monster truck and all)

And thats why everybody prefers to buy a SUV, because they'd rather hit someone in a hatchback and destroy them than be the one being destroyed in the hatchback.

I think certain parts of england banning SUV's and/or imposing increased parking fees for downtown areas can really give people incentive to change.


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