Tata Nano Europa at Geneva Auto Show
Introduced 100 years almost to the day after the 1908 Ford Model T, the Tata Nano has always been one of our favorite small cars. And it just might put India on wheels as the Model T did a century earlier in the United States.
At the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month, Tata unveiled the Nano Europa, its version planned for export to mainland Europe and the United Kingdom. The revised Nano will meet all safety and emissions standards, the company says.
For Europe, the wheelbase has been lengthened by half an inch, and the front bumper and headlights have been restyled to give a more sophisticated look. Together, the entire car is roughly 7.5 inches longer than the original. The interior has also been completely redesigned for Western markets.
Tata is targeting 60 miles per gallon and less than 100 grams of CO2 per kilometer from the three-cylinder aluminum engine, which is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. That's on a par with hybrids like the Toyota Prius as well as Europe's most efficient diesel small cars.
It uses larger 15-inch wheels and tires, and includes electric power steering, anti-lock brakes, stability control, and airbags. Tata promises climate control, a full infotainment systems, and even optional leather upholstery. Hybrid and electric powertrains may be offered later on.
Like its Apple iPod namesake, the four-seat Nano for the Indian market is small (10 feet long) but capacious. Its engine is minimal, but fitted with modern emissions controls. And like the VW Beetle, the original Fiat 500, the Citroen 2CV, and the BMC Mini before it, it just looks ... cute.
The Nano has been widely touted in India as "the 1-lakh car", meaning 100,000 rupees, or roughly $2,500. Yes, you read that right: two thousand, five hundred dollars. That's half the price of the cheapest car currently sold in India, the 25-year-old Suzuki Maruti 800.
But to hit that target, the Indian-market Nano forgoes airbags, air-conditioning, power steering, central locking, electric windows, a radio, a passenger-side mirror, even sun visors and a second windshield wiper.
The home-market 623cc two-cylinder engine puts out 32 horsepower, though it has a balance shaft to tame vibrations and multipoint fuel injection. It's fitted under the rear seat, to avoid expensive front-wheel-drive parts. Top speed of the 1120-pound car is roughly 60 miles per hour.
Tata told the Financial Times it plans to offer the Nano Europa starting in 2011. The Indian-market original was delayed after Tata had to relocate the main manufacturing facility. That version will be formally launched on March 23, and buyers can place orders starting in April.
[SLIDESHOW of Tata Nano Europa images from IndianAutosBlog]
2009 Tata Nano