Tata's Nano goes upmarket with GenX

By Dave Abrahams Time of article published May 20, 2015

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Mumbai, India - Tata's original Nano minicar, launched in January 2008, was a bold experiment in social engineering.

Company chairman Ratan Tata's stated intention was to build a car for the masses, with a base price under 100 000 rupees (the equivalent at the time of just R17 500) so that anybody who could afford a scooter could carry his family more safely on four wheels.

Ultimately, it failed because it was too cheap; an underpowered 624cc two-cylinder engine, ultra-basic spec levels and low-rent interior finishes put customers off, pushing them towards classier entry-level models from other makers and second-hand imported cars. Sales fell to just 16 901 for the year to the end of March 2015.

So Tata has re-invented its ugly duckling, if not into a swan, at least into a duck with a lot more to quack about. The "toy car" look of the first generation has given way to a wider, more prominent grille and sculpted bumpers fore and aft, adding a little to the car's overall length in return for upmarket styling.

The GenX Nano, launched on Tuesday in Mumbai, still has the same 624cc, multi-point fuel-injected, liquid cooled, naturally aspirated petrol twin, now rated for 28kW at 5500rpm and 51Nm at 4000rpm, driving the front wheels through a four-speed manual 'box.

Or for a few rupees more, you can have a five-speed auto transmission, complete with 'Sport' mode and built-in 'creep' function - if you take your foot off the brake the car will move slowly forward at idle, like a 1970s Valiant.


While it may sound like an admission of failure to Western ears, it'll be a useful attribute in India's notorious gridlock traffic.

Tata's media release doesn't mention performance (none worth mentioning, says Cyril) but quotes outstanding fuel-consumption figures of 4.2 and 4.9 litres per 100km for the manual and auto versions, respectively.

Fuel capacity is 24 litres, which should give it a range of close to 500km, and the car's boot - 110 litres on manual variants and 94 on self-shifters - is now accessed via a conventional hatchback.

Electric power steering is featured, as is a four-speaker sound radio/CD player with Bluetooth connectivity, USB and auxiliary ports, and a digital read-out in the instrument cluster displaying gear position, average and instantaneous fuel-consumption, and range to empty.

The GenX Nano is available in India in a five-strong line-up; the basic XE at 199 000 rupees (R37 300), the XM at 229 000 rupees (R42 900), the XT at 2.49 rupees (R46 650), the XMA automatic at 269 900 rupees (R50 400) and the XTA at 289 000 rupees (R54 100).

In an attempt to make the car more appealing to young buyers Tata has also introduced a range of custom made GenX Nano aftermarket bolt-ons, including door visors, a sunroof, art leather seat covers, fancy graphic decals, a body kit, reverse parking sensors and remote hatch release.

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