Its been quite some time now since the news of a new Tata car sitting between the Nano and the Vista has surfaced. The car is codenamed ‘Project Dolphin‘ and is expected to be a tall boy design as is seen in the artist impression by Auto Bild (below). In fact earlier reports did suggest that the Tata Dolphin is being developed to take on the likes of the Maruti Suzki Wagon R and the Hyundai Santro, which are both well-established tall-boys in the Indian market. To go head on against these vehicles, or should we say, carmakers, the Tata Dolphin is said use an all new platform ‘that currently does not underpin any other Tata car‘. Why was that last bit in Italics? Well, some of our very reliable sources (who earlier broke the news of the 2010 Tata Safari and confirmed the Punto 90HP) have told us that the Dolphin is indeed a new platform for Tata, but not a new platform for FIAT. Let’s not beat around the bush then, head over to the next page for the details…
FIAT India was recently in the news when they announced that they are working on a new car which will sit below their Punto hatchback in the product portfolio. And while they announced this development, FIAT India also denied any plans of launching the Novo (new) Uno in India, contrary to earlier reports. The interesting part is, our sources are telling us that the Tata Dolphin and the upcoming small car from FIAT will use the same platform! Both the cars will use a revised derivative of the ‘Project 327’ which in itself is based on the FIAT Panda’s platform. In layman’s language, the ‘Project 327’ is the same platform that underpins the new Uno that FIAT recently launched in Brazil.
Could this be true?
Apart from the fact that these sources are accurate with their info, we have every reason to believe that the new small car(s) from FIAT and Tata will based on a revised Uno/Panda platform since the new cars are speculated to be tall boy designs themselves, much like the Uno/Panda. Furthermore, the Tata Dolphin and the upcoming FIAT small car is said to use a 1.0-litre petrol engine with the possible introduction of a similar capacity diesel mill in the future. The new Uno currently uses a 1.0-litre flex fuel engine which essentially runs on petrol as well as alcohol. We won’t be surprised if the Indian arm of FIAT Powertrain Technologies (FPT, India) tweaks the engine and drivetrain for Indian road and fuel conditions. Looking at the amount or structural and technical similarities that both the speculated cars are pointing at, we have every reason to believe that the Tata Dolphin and the upcoming small car from FIAT are indeed being co-developed and could be based around the same platform.
When are these cars expected?
Both the cars are expected to be launched as MY 2012 vehicles which means the final prototypes could start testing on the public roads by March 2011. The market positioning /arrangement will most likely be similar to the Vista/Punto or Manza/Linea arrangement, with the FIAT being the costlier car and Tata being the cheaper alternative. While we expect the base model of the Tata Dolphin to be as low as Rs. 2.5-lakh ex-showroom, the top end model of the FIAT could compete in the 4.25-lakh rupee range.