Just like human beings, Tata Motors seems to be engaged in an eternal quest. Whereas for mankind this quest relates to find something happiness-bringing elusive else, in case of Tata Motors there hasn’t been any such baffling with continuous improvement of its stable topping its quest agenda. In line with this perennial revision process that now symbolizes Tata Motors working philosophy, company has recently launched Nano’s new version with power steering; called Nano Twist xt at an ex-showroom price of Rs. 2.36 lakh, Delhi. Now Nano has been in the market for last couple of years though contrary to everybody’s initial expectation, it didn’t fare well in terms of its overall commerce. Critics vary in their perception about the various reasons that plagued the Nano’s fortunes; there is strong unanimity about the complicity of heavy steering behind meek response Nano has garnered in all these years.Without any power assistance, manoeuvring Tata Nano in the city; especially at the slow speeds was synonymous with working out in the health club with special attention on building biceps. This was especially annoying as Tata Motors had positioned Nano as a comfortable and zippy city car that promised to take off the regular fatigue and weariness of urban driving. However truth was exactly opposite in reality as at the end of Nano’s driving day, there was considerable exhaustion specially if commute involved some parking exercise. In fact right from the Nano’s inception, there had been a constant build-up favouring power steering and we all expected company to include this feature in the first serious upgrade that Nano got in 2012; called Nano 2012.Unfortunately that didn’t happen as Tata engineers resorted to some stop-gap measure in revised edition of Nano by increasing the steering wheel size as well as altering its geometry to reduce the overall manoeuvring effort. That worked a bit as refreshed Nano 2012 felt nimbler to steer than its predecessor though it was still far from being termed as convenient. But now with finally dawn on Nano Twist, Tata Motors has addressed the most critical chink in Nano’s armour as this new model Twist xt comes with all new electric power steering specifically developed for this Rs 1-lakh wonder. Designed in collaboration with BOSCH, Tata Motors has finally given the nod to the use of electrically assisted steering technology rather than using hydraulic one that has been doing the duty in all other vehicles in its stable. This power steering version of Nano comes at certain premium over the ordinary top of the line variant Lx, around Rs 15 k, still company is confident to find enough takers for this Twist xt badge. Now whether this Twist in Nano’s tale will able to make fortunes shine brighter on this currently ailing proposition or not is what makes rest of this road test story exclusively brought to you by your own beloved car portal; ecardlr.
Nano Twist: A long time coming
Before we set off to take Nano Twist for a spin to find out the difference the power steering has made to it, we took a quick sneak into the specification sheet of this new Nano variant. With the same tyre treading as before, Nano Twist looks quite skinny in its pretensions especially on the front where the tread is 135 mm wide. With the power steering option Tata could have bettered Nano by endowing its frontage with wider rubber however company seems to be more interested in keeping the overall cost factor in check that would have been gone up with the extra wide tyres. Also as power steering addition has already upped the retail price of this Twist model, Tata Motors may have reserved this wide tyre ace and even disk brake option for the next upgrade.
Rear Suspension: Trailing arm MacPherson strut up-front
Now coming to suspension system, Twist retains the linkages of the ordinary Nano with MacPherson strut doing duty up-front along with rear front guarded by the semi-trailing arm soldiers. Electric power assisted steering has been the very first in Tata’s portfolio and this indicates that may be future models of the company finally let in this innovation that has become quite ordinary feature in other branded marquees.
Right from the outset, the Nano Twist showed remarkably difference in terms of its steering effort as it became abundantly evident that this was the feature that should have been included a long time ago in Nano. Steering effort is almost zero, even at the complete halt with nada progress. Steering is absolutely light making this Twist behaves like a regular city car without requiring driver to show its physical prowess. We stepped on the gas and expected this light power steering to become even lighter as this is the typical way electrically assisted steering behaves. However this didn’t happen as this power steering unit weighed up nicely with rising whack. Now this is commendable feature as the unit has some communication ability unlike other power steering that simply shows the all dead behaviour especially while driving in a straight line. There is an auto cut-off of the power assistance above the speed of 80 km/h and that is definitely an ingenious touch.
Electronic Power Steering Perfect for City
We also tried our hands to park the car in the busiest street of the town and contrary to our apprehension, Nano Twist got in the parking slot effortlessly. In fact it was only with the power steering option we realized the full convenience of dainty dimensions of Nano.Further this power steering that has been made by the company in collaboration with BOSCH comes with Active-Return feature that automatically returns the tyres to their centre position after completion of the turning effort. We examined this and found that this feature worked largely for the wide turns where steering was turned considerably; still its subtle one that is not very perceptible.
Average ride with good handling prowess
Like the previous version of Nano, ride quality is good though with the contentious bone of puny tyres remains intact, Nano Twist feels a bit unsettled while approaching potholes. Small road pimples are never been a problem but one has to approach the big lumps with care. Overall for city driving, ride is at par with the standard though the handling is something that is sure to make you smile. While reviewing Nano 2012 we commended the handling prowess on Nano and regretted that it was only the absence of power steering that had taken the fun way from the Nano 2012 variant. However this time we aren’t complaining as Nano Twist gives us all the reasons to smile. One can literally twist and turn this new Nano as the Twist version has all the potential to tick the right box when it comes to handling. The only thing that causes a bit concern is understeer which comes in the picture in case of extremely hard cornering; otherwise there is no bad twist in this Nano Twist.
Inside the cabin the fresh and airy feel of the Nano has been intact with Twist feeling equally roomy and spacious. The difference however has been made on the centrally located instrument cluster that now comes with host of added features. Twist model comes with the added information display that gives the driver about the crucial information like Distance to Empty and Average Fuel Economy in addition to trip-meter and odometer. LED display of digital clock along with the bars-type display for fuel gauge and temperature control has also been included in the latest iteration of instrument cluster available in Twist xt Dash integrated sound system is also fairly equipped as it runs all the formats including CD/MP3/AUX/USB though sound quality is average even at its best. Dual glove boxes with proper lid are feature retained in Twist as this has got considerable admiration at its inception in the last upgrade of Nano.
Instrument cluster with added features Music system with cd/MP3/USB/Aux-in
Wide and comfy seats both at front and rear
Seats are wide, comfy and surprisingly roomy. While front seats have sufficient space, it is the rear bench that has won accolades for its overall comfort and convenience. Wide opening doors and high-set rear bench are sort of benchmark when it comes to the ease of ingress-egress and Nano Twist packs in all this good stuff.
Matter of the Heart
Barring this steering change, mechanically Nano Twist comes with no change as all other linkages and hardware including the heart and transmission has been the same as of Nano. 624 cc twin-cylinder MPFI engine that propels the rear wheels of the vehicle. Power and torque units pumped out by this small motor stands at 38 PS and 51 Nm respectively. The engine is refined than the previous variant of Nano but still sounds hoarse once the whack begins to rise above 70 km/h. For safety purposes power supply automatically ceases at 105km/h mark. For city purposes the grunt is adequate especially at the low engine rpm’s making the Nano a wonderful and very drivable city car. Car has sufficient alacrity and pottering around the urban areas and localities is now been effortless especially with the inclusion of power steering.
Unchanged Heart and Veins
Mated with 4-spped manual transmission, Nano Twist has a slick gear shift that is surprisingly very direct however the long gear lever has taken away some of the charm of this confident shifting. A small transmission knob would have given even more direct and precise experience of the gear shift. Brakes are all-around drum type and though they are enough for doing their job, these are nowhere as safe as disk brakes would have been. Foot well is not tight and placed decently unlike other Tata Cars where one has to struggle with the paddles width.
Pulling it together
Undoubtedly Nano Twist is the huge leap forward by Tata Motors and thankfully in the right direction. This was the change that had been a long time due and we are surprised to consider why it has taken so long for this home-grown auto major to include this crucially important feature in the Nano. Nonetheless it’s better late than never and we feel that now Tata Nano has almost got it all what makes it a complete city-friendly effortless car. Still being an Indian we would like to have many more features in this Twist like wider tyres, more capable engine and disc brakes still we are feeling happy with the fact that the most critical and contentious problem of Nano has been removed at last. Priced at Rs 2.36 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) Nano Twist xt is round about Rs 15 k dearer than the top-variant of ordinary Nano Lx. However this extra price is all its worth (or even more) paying for as Twist version of the Nano symbolizes the extra-ordinary combination of space, convenience and effortless city driving that no other car match at the price point Nano Twist xt comes with.
Style & Substance 3/5 Ride & Handling 3.5/5
Interiors & Ergonomics 3/5 Safety & Equipment 2/5
Power-Plant & Transmission 2.5/5 Fuel Efficiency 4/5
Value for Money 4/5