In 2009, the Tata Nano swept the international automotive community off their feet with its introductory pricing, intelligent design and clever packaging. But, for reasons debatable, the overwhelming reaction translated into a rather underwhelming sales chart, with the Nano falling woefully short of its ambitiously set sales targets.
After revisits to the drawing board and a good amount of customer feedback later, the GenX was conceived as a part of the maker’s ambitious Horizonext product strategy. It’s not an all-new car by any means, and adds some polish to the original “people’s car” image and markets itself as a “smart city car” now. So let’s see how it works, since it is the most significant upgrade it has since 2009.
The next generation Nano, scheduled for a launch soon, gets a visual makeover, an automated manual transmission, a functional boot lid, enhanced safety and updates interiors. No major mechanical changes have been implemented.
With the GenX Nano, Tata Motors has introduced a new Infinity design theme which encompasses new bumpers, an openable rear hatch with a new design, an updated rear spoiler and revised interiors.
The front bumper is all new and has been heavily re-sculpted for the GenX. It is characterized by a large, ‘smiley’ grille with integrated inserts for the new circular fog lamps.
It is officially addressed as the ‘Infinity grille’, with reference to the infinity symbol design elements, which fill the void as recurring motifs. The grille is functional, and feeds a draft of air to the radiator unit, which has been re-positioned ahead from the back.
A single piece of piano-black trim, or an applique bearing the Tata logo, runs across the base of the hood.
The headlamps now get a smoked effect, which has been achieved using dark bezels, along with prominent Nano branding.
The rear bumper mirrors that of the front, including the sculpting style and the ‘Infinity grille’. For the AMT equipped variant, the exhaust has been shifted to the left side, while the manual transmission fitted variant continues with the centrally positioned exhaust.
The car pictured here is painted in – Sangria Red, one of the two new colors that the GenX will be available in – Persian Rose being the other one – apart from the usual Pearl White, Meteor Silver, Royal Gold, Dazzle Blue and Damson Purple.
Like always, the Nano rides on a staggered setup, with 135/70R12-F tires up front, and slightly fatter 155/65 R12-R tires at the back. Tubeless rubber is standard throughout the range.
Next page for Interiors and Practicality>>
Changes to the interior include a new Latte finish for the dashboard in the top-end XT variants, along with two additional glove boxes.
The centrally mounted instrument console has been updated too, with a newly designed speedometer unit flanked by fuel and temperature gauges. All are well lit and legible in all conditions. Rounding things off is a Digital Information Display which shows information like Low Fuel Warning, Digital Clock, Distance to Empty, Trip Meter, Average fuel consumption, Instantaneous Fuel consumption and a Gear Shift Indicator.
Entertainment gets better with four speakers mated to an AmphiStream music system which is compatible with Bluetooth, CD, Radio, USB and AUX-in options. Sound quality still leaves a lot to be desired though, after Tata spoiled us with the HARMAN systems in the Bolt and the Zest.
The seats are upholstered in fabric bearing the infinity symbol motifs as well, with prominent Nano branding. Top-end variants get front power windows, which are operated via the centrally positioned buttons.
This will be the first time the Nano will be available with functional boot lid, which is supported on two hydraulic mounts, and lends access to an usable, 110 liters of boot space. Which isn’t a lot, but the company insists that it’s enough for one carry-on suitcase and two hand bags. Thick insulation manages to keep the engine heat out from below. The AMT equipped version has a slightly raised engine compartment, which translates into lesser, 94 liters of boot space. However, with the rear seats folded, capacity increases to 500 liters.
The GenX Nano, according to its maker, offers the best interior space with 4% better shoulder room and 6% better legroom, than the competition – which is quite believable. Front legroom and headroom is generous, while even at the back, six-footers can sit in reasonable comfort, with more than a couple of inches to spare in all directions. However, to account for more physical room, interior storage has taken a hit, with the twin glove boxes being the only savior.
The Easy Shift variant gets 94 liters of cargo space, as equipped to the MT variant’s 110 liters
The GenX gets a parcel tray with Nano branding and a couple of integrated speakers.
Boomerang headrests for the front seats continue to be served..
..and so does the battery positioned below the front seat.
Door pad trim has ever so slightly changed; doesn’t miss out on the Infinity branding either.
Quality of materials and overall levels of fit & finish have significantly improved; yet leaves a lot to be desired.
Next page for Engine, Refinement, Dynamics and AMT>>
Engine & Refinement
The GenX Nano is powered by a 624cc, multi-point fuel injected, water cooled, naturally aspirated, 2 cylinder gasoline engine with 2 valves per cylinder. The engine, mounted at the back, produces 38PS power @ 5500 RPM and 51 Nm torque. Acceleration remains the same, and suffers with the air-conditioning on. However, it feels adequate for the Nano’s domain of operations, which should not ideally leave city limits.
NVH levels inside the cabin have been improved significantly, though refinement levels could have been addressed further. Racket from that rear mounted engine still makes itself evident, and personally, it isn’t aurally pleasing.
The engine now breathes better, courtesy improved thermal management, and as mentioned before, the radiator has been moved to the front of the car. Tata says that this accounts for better weight distribution.
Based on data derived by following the driving patterns of Nano users across all major cities, the Bosch sourced ECU was tweaked, and the Drive by Wire throttle mapped appropriately – in an effort to increase fuel efficiency. As a result, the manual now returns 23.6 kmpl, while the AMT version has a mileage of 21.9Km/l, which, in comparison, is lower than the Alto K10 AMT’s 24.71Km/l.
The new Nano now also has a 24 liter fuel tank. According to feedback received, existing users didn’t prefer having to make two trips to the gas station every week, to tank up the erstwhile 16 liter tank. The additional fuel capacity means the driving range is extended by approximately 210 kilometers now to over 500.
Handling has otherwise been improved by the car’s chassis and frame getting stiffer. To account for the loss of torsional rigidity due to the lack of a fixed rear hatch, Tata has strengthened the body-in-white significantly, apart from adding to the frontal-crash zone length. The C-pillar and front sections have been reinforced; while intrusion beams for side crash protection has been added on all four doors.
Apart from enhanced safety, this has resulted in a stiffer Nano which feels more confident and sure-footed on the road. Stability at higher speeds is commendable too. Independent suspension all around and anti-roll bars keep those 12 inch tires on the ground when pushed hard.
The Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) is incredibly light for easy maneuvering in tight driving and parking situations in cities, with the GenX changing directions at city speeds at the drop of a hat. The EPAS system uses brushless motor technology and also has an ‘Active Return’ feature. A turning radius of 4 meters is too good to be true in crowded environs.
The brakes take some time getting used to. Being drums all around, stepping on them and expecting sincere declaration, invokes fear and reinstates the reflexes.
While the variants XE, XM and XT continue with the 4-speed manual transmission, the top end XTA variant benefits from the aforementioned Automated Manual Transmission.
The AMT benefits from a Magnetti Marelli sourced actuator unit, has five speeds, a Creep function and a Sports mode.
An AMT gearshift feels like some invisible being is banging cogs for you, hence the shifts aren’t exactly the quickest – more so in the case of single-clutch AMTs, like the one on the Nano. Everything’s mechanically similar to a stick-shift, except a computer performs the clutch work.
The Genx Nano Easy Shift performs well, but shifts take their own sweet time to fall into place. Once used to, however, the Nano and its AMT make tremendous sense in city traffic. Its diminutive size can be flung into gaps in traffic without sweat, and when the AMT hooks up after its pause, the Nano settles into its own pace, which is fairly adequate.
Creep was envisioned for stop-go traffic conditions and to increase the ease of parking. Creep works in Drive and Reverse modes. Stuck in either the GenX Nano can be inched forwards or backwards by just taking the foot off the brake. Maximum speed in Creep would be about 5-7 km/h, post which one needs to mash the gas.
And it works perfectly fine, especially during long spells of bumper to bumper traffic – with just one foot controlling the vehicle, fatigue decreases. The function is a boon, but called for a smoother implementation, as the vehicle feels slightly twitchy when the brakes are released. But that’d be just nitpicking, as AMTs are built to a cost.
The Sports Mode exists because Tata Motors thinks that existing Nano customers who enjoy wringing out their vehicles to the max. The gear ratios change if you put the car into Sport Mode and helps you to hold on to a lower gear for a little longer., but for the most part it doesn’t necessarily translate into significantly different performance. Where it does help is when you’re trying to overtake or quickly accelerate.
Next page for Verdict, Specifications & Image Gallery>>
Is the Genx Nano that good?
It makes a lot of sense, but isn’t the kind of thing that would blow you away. That’s primarily because everything is centered on an AMT; the rest is more of a brush-up with better quality all around. It’s good, but maybe not enough to reinvigorate brand Nano all by itself. The AMT is nicely integrated, but like all AMTs, is inherently lethargic. Overall refinement, too, could have been better.
The addition of an AMT makes the XTA variant a compelling city car, and a pretty smart one at that. It does diversify the appeal and reach of the Nano, especially to the fairer sex and the college going kinds, but in the process, moves more upmarket. There it shares space with opponents like the Maruti Alto K10 AMT and the Hyundai Eon, which are perceived to be ‘bigger’ cars in the Indian scheme of things, with engines having a cylinder or two more and having features like disc brakes.
That said, all will depend on the pricing, which still remains to be announced. We’ll be back with our final verdict once prices are announced.
Key features and Specifications for Nano 4MT
|Type||273 MPFI 12, 2 cylinder, MPFI 10.3CR|
|Cubic capacity||624 cc|
|Made of||Head & BlockAluminum|
|Installation||Transverse, Rear wheel drive|
|Max power||38.19 PS @ 5500 RPM (+/-250)|
|Max torque||51 Nm @ 4000 RPM (+/-500)|
|Bore/stroke||73.5 mm x 73.5 mm|
|Compression ratio||10.3 1|
|Valve gear||SOHC 2 valves/ cylinder|
|Engine management||ECU controlled|
Chassis and Body
|Construction||Hatchback, 5 Door, Monocoque|
|Kerb weight||695 – 735 kgs|
|Tyre size / Types||135/70R12-F (Tubeless), 155/65 R12-R (Tubeless)|
|Overall Length||3164 mm|
|Max. Width||1750 mm (with ORVM)|
|Overall Height||1652 mm|
|Wheel Base||2230 mm|
|Track Front||1325 mm|
|Track Rear||1315 mm|
|Ground Clearance||190 mm (unladen)|
|Fuel Tank capacity||24 litres|
|Type||TA59 Synchromesh on all forward gears, 4 Forward + 1 Reverse|
|4th||0.838 for XE & 0.96 for XM & XT|