From building trucks which continue to move the nation to giving India, its first, internationally-recognised safest car, Tata Motors has transformed since it first began manufacturing personal vehicles. Along the way, the brand has given us cars and SUVs, some of which were ahead of their time, some which have attained legendary status, and some which were developed purely to address public needs as a primary priority rather than adding big numbers to the sales report. Let’s take a look at ten such cars from Tata Motors we can never forget:
A proper, modern-looking SUV, the Tata Safari became an instant hit from the very moment it was introduced, 22 years ago! Discontinued last year, the Safari is still a darling for many and such is its fan following, people want the mile-muncher to make a comeback in a new avatar. We want that too!
For how many mist-filled eyeballs the Tata Sierra concept attracted at this year’s Auto Expo, it just goes on to show how so many of us are still star-struck with a design that was way ahead of its time.
“More car per car.” That was the tagline for India’s first attempt at building a modern hatchback which offered nearly twice the space inside, compared to every other hatchback we’d seen until then. It sold in great numbers and was exported to international markets, where a badge-engineered version was sold in Great Britain by the MG Rover Group. We were overjoyed when we spotted one on the streets of Zurich, in the company of really fancy cars, a couple of years ago.
Somewhere above, we did mention about how Tata Motors developed cars which addressed needs as the first priority. The Tata Nano is a perfect example of that. The idea of a seriously affordable car which allowed room for four was envisaged by Mr Tata when he saw a family of more than two risking their lives astride a two-wheeler. Although it did sell in decent numbers, the Nano could not fight the Indian mentality where a motor car is considered as a thing which enhances the societal image and portrays wealth than being a mere tool for transportation. However, we feel the Nano could come back and swim really well in the electric current of present times. All it needs is a battery, a motor, and a wave of that Impact Design wand from their design department.
India’s first Estate car and called just that, this Tata offered five doors, air conditioning, power steering, power windows and central locking, way back in 1992! Just like other Tata vehicles which were quirky, the Estate was ahead of its time and had many features, no other Indian car offered at that time. Based on the T- Series Mercedes Benz station wagon, it was also powered by the 1998 cc diesel engine from the Sierra.
Tata Tiago JTP
A performance hatchback built to please the driver, the Tata Tiago JTP offered a lot more than just the gloss in its red paint. It was priced to be pocket-friendly, pleased the enthusiast, and still offered everyday practicality. Even after all that, it suffered the same fate as all other enthusiast-pleasing products which were offered to us in the past. Having driven one like it should, we hoped for it to be bought in decent numbers at least. But we knew we were hoping against hope when we heard people complain about the lack of connectivity options on its infotainment system.
With its G-wagen-like boxy styling and a name like Sumo, this Tata exuded toughness like nothing else. And tough it was. Testimony to that is the fact that it still is the preferred vehicle as a taxi in the Himalayan region. After a successful run and multiple iterations, the Sumo (Gold in its last generation) was discontinued in 2017 ahead of the BS4 emission norms.
India’s first 5-star rated car in terms of safety, the Tata Nexon is bought in big numbers. Reasons for its popularity include the styling, a spacious cabin, multiple engine and gearbox choices, modern features, great ride quality and again, styling. What we’ll remember it for the most is the fact that it is now offered as an all-electric vehicle, one which can rub shoulders with international products, at almost 3/4th the cost.
Tata Motors’ current flagship, besides the much-loved styling, the Harrier will be remembered as the first product which leveraged the positives from an international brand, owned by the company. From the time it was first caught testing to the current form where it has improved further from what it was upon introduction, the Harrier is a product which is as good as it looks.
The reason why we can never forget the Hexa is because of its seats. Not that the rest of the vehicle is nothing to be talked about, but those seats up front and in the middle row (captain seats) are comfortable on another level altogether. Besides those seats, the Hexa’s brilliance is also about a relaxed motor paired with a smooth automatic trasmission and a suspension system which soaks everything our roads have to offer. No wonder the Hexa took over from where the Safari left. Perhaps the connection explains the Hexa Safari Edition we saw at the Expo.