New Tata Nano AMT Review: Small automatic wonder
Ratan Tata’s dream project, Tata Nano was probably the most ambitious and indigenous project undertaken by Tata Motors. First launched in 2008 for a price of Rs 1 lakh, almost everybody was certain of its success in the auto industry. It ticked all the right boxes in order to pursue every Indian family who didn’t have a car, to buy a car.
Sadly, things didn’t go as plan. Singur trouble, delay in delivery to first customers, price increase meant it was no longer a Rs 1 lakh car, fire problems, and the biggest of them all – ‘cheapest’ car tag. Over the years, slowly and steadily, thanks to customer input and market research, Tata Motors has been carefully taking care of issues and updating Nano regularly.
This is where 2015 Tata Nano comes in. Called Nano GenX, it claims to be the most updated, safest and best Nano till date. We take a test drive and here is our 2015 Tata Nano AMT review.
Exteriors: With overall design staying same, exteriors don’t see much change. In front you now have a re-designed bumper with a new grille, which Tata calls Infinity Motif. Then there is smoked treatment to the headlamps, which also have a ‘nano’ engraving now. Connecting the two headlamps is a garnish in piano black finish, with a Tata Motors logo in the centre.
Tata Motors says that its new logo is much bolder, and carries the brand name in a very proud manner. Apart from this, complementing Nano’s front look, are the two circular foglights.
Side profile remains unchanged, while rear now gets openable boot-lid, which means that you can officially call the Nano a hatchback. Sadly, you can open rear hatch only with a key. So every time you want to open Nano’s rear hatch, you will have to switch the engine off, and get out of the car. (Imagine entering malls, movie theatres or going through car check points). Other changes at the rear includes a new grille, same smiling grille from the front.
Interiors: 2015 Tata Nano dashboard layout remains unchanged, but there are some revisions. This includes centre console in black, new instrument cluster, circular chrome rings on AC vents, gear lever position is now nearer to the driver, while front power-window buttons have been placed ahead of the gear lever.
The new three spoke steering wheel, is one of the most pleasant updates. It is same as that which is being offered in more expensive Tata cars like Zest and Bolt. Unlike those two, in the Nano there are no steering mounted audio controls. In order to control audio, you will have to use centre console buttons.
The instrument cluster too is much better and displays more information as compared to outgoing Nano. (Yes, this is the new Nano, old Nano’s will be discontinued once GenX is launched: AMT or MT). Apart from speed, engine temp, fuel level, it also displays which gear your car is travelling in, gear shift indicator, time, real time fuel efficiency, average fuel efficiency, distance to empty, and trip meter.
As seen in older Nano, this one too gets USB port and Bluetooth for music. To charge your phone, there is a 12V socket. Cubby holes on dashboard, continue to be same. Tata should have given a better locking feature to these cubby holes, as over time, the current lock tends to malfunction.
2015 Tata Nano’s AMT unit comes with R – N – A – S and M. R stands for Reverse, N is for Neutral, A is for Auto, S is for Sport and M is for Manual. You can use Sport mode only during Auto mode, by pressing the S.
Gear lever is easily the most premium looking thing inside Tata Nano AMT. It comes with a steel rod and has a nice feel to it. For AMT variant, instrument cluster also displays which drive mode you are in.
You can drive Nano AMT in three different modes. Auto, Sport and Manual. In Auto, the car automatically tunes gear shifts to deliver best possible fuel efficiency figures. In Sport mode, gear shifts take place at a higher rpm, while in Manual mode, gear shifts are under your command. All you have to do is push the gear stick forward or backwards, in order to change gears. But, even if you don’t change gears in manual mode, the system will automatically change them once you hit a certain rpm.
Interior space remains unchanged. There is plenty of leg room and head room, and accommodating five adults is not a problem at all. Having said that, the problem is safety, the rear passengers only provides two point safety belt, and that too only for two passengers. Other problem is, that seats do not have enough cushioning, it gets uncomfortable over long distances. With so much interior space, Tata could have re-designed seats to offer better comfort and safety.
Talking about boot space, AMT variant offers 94 litres of space, while MT variant gives 110 litres of space. This space is enough to store a small trolley bag and a regular sized knapsack or your shopping bags. Do keep in mind that the engine unit is just under the boot, so it does get hot in here, in spite of Tata Motors placing a insulator.
You also have company fitted rear speakers, which has completely changed the music listening experience. This move will definitely get the attention of young buyers. Apart from this, there are some funky colour combinations on offer, interiors and exteriors.
Rear speaker tray is easily removable. Once removed, and rear seats folded, you have enough space to place store luggage for a month long holiday.
Door pockets are hardly usable, they are good enough to store paper work. Rear seat also pockets the tool kit. Front driver seat continues to be a problem for tall drivers. Thanks to the battery placed under the seat, Tata cannot lower seat height.
Engine and Mileage: Placed under the boot, the engine is same as it has always been. The 624 cc twin cylinder petrol engine delivers 38.19 PS @ 5500 RPM and 51 Nm torque @ 4000 RPM. Fuel efficiency of AMT variant is claimed at 21.9 kmpl, while that of the manual variant is same as earlier at 25.4 kmpl. During our drive of about 200 kms, we got fuel efficiency of a little over 13 kmpl. Apart from this, Tata Motors has also increased fuel tank capacity to 24 litres on both variants.
Drive and Handling: Compared to the existing Nano, this one offers a much better driving experience. Engine noise has been reduced, NVH levels are improved, car is easier to manoeuvre, music listening experience is fantastic (and not like earlier, where it was like similar to listening music in a rickshaw), and braking is improved due to better weight-distribution. (MT kerb weight is 695 – 735 kgs, while AMT’s is 755 – 765 kgs)
Our drive started from Tata’s Pimpri plant in Pune at about 10 AM. The first thing we decided, is to test the Nano AMT inside city traffic conditions, plus it was the perfect time. Everyone was busy heading to their respective offices. We were not wrong and in no time were in the middle of bumper to bumper traffic. Driving in Auto Mode, all I had to do was use my hands to manoeuvre, nothing else. Both my legs were free, most of the time. The creep function, which is seen in more expensive cars, allows the car to slowly move forward automatically when you are in the driving mode (M or A). This feature comes handy while parking or in bumper to bumper traffic like the one we were in.
When getting off from still, especially at traffic signals, Nano AMT does not disappoint. It has decent pickup, good for up to 60 kmph. The steering wheel also starts weighing in accordingly. On bad roads, we did feel jolts, but they were not as bad as you can feel in current Nano. On higher speeds, bad roads will unsettle the car, as the small tyres are not capable of maintaining grip.
Another thing we noticed, with every gear up-shift there was a slight jolt, which is easily noticeable. Apart from this, there is a small mechanical sound every time a gear is engaged.
Its on highways where you have to be a little more attentive, as compared to what you were in city traffic. Especially on express-ways, where everyone around you is overtaking you, and at the same time you are getting pushed to the opposite side, because you are weighing less than a tonne. Other than that, the ride quality on concrete roads was very bad. You get continuous jolts inside, thanks to the uneven gaps in concrete blocks.
What was impressive, is that if you are cruising in 5th gear at 60 kmph, and want to overtake a truck in front of you, all you have do do is push the pedal all the way, and the AMT unit will shift you to 3rd gear, and give you much needed boost. Same is true for any other gear as well.
In ghats, the AMT was a bit disappointing. Power delivery came with a lag, as AMT unit failed to gauge quickly enough what was the appropriate gear it needed to be in. Apart from a decent amount of body roll, there were also times when the creep function would give-in and the car started rolling backwards, in spite of being in Auto mode.
Then there is safety, which has always been an issue. There are on airbags, nor ABS is on offer. What Tata has to offer, is that they have re-enforced the body shell by adding new strengthening components. They claim that this is the safest Nano every built.
Verdict: Tata Nano has always been a city car. Easy to manoeuvre, fastest to get out of traffic jams, and first to find a parking spot, even when the sign says ‘Parking Full’. Back in 2013, Tata launched Nano Twist, which made life of Nano owners easier. Now with GenX Nano AMT, Tata Motors is making life even more simpler.
New Nano’s AMT unit is not the best. It does have lag, shifts are noticeable, and the creep function is useless on the slightest of slopes. In spite of all these neggings, it does the one job perfectly well, offering ease of driving inside city. It would not be wrong to say that 2015 Tata Nano AMT is the most practical, and affordable small car to drive inside the city. But will this be enough to bring their Sanand plant back to life? Only time will tell.
Why would you buy Nano GenX:
– Trendy and young look
Why not buy Nano GenX:
– Driver seat not optimum for tall people