By equipping Nano with power steering Tata Motors has finally addressed the biggest criticism this Rs 1-lakh wonder has been facing right from its inception. Nano had always been a convincing proposition for our densely populated cities though the lack of power steering held back this dinky car from realizing its full sales potential. But now with feather light electronic power steering Nano seems to have got odds in its favour. With exceptionally spacious cabin and finger-touch manoeuvrability Nano has inched closer to claim coveted title of ideal city car. But then there are other veterans who are staying put firmly in their position with the same idea of clinching this top city car throne. Topping these veterans list is Alto 800 that has carved a special place for itself in market. This Maruti has been successfullyleading the B-segment sales chart for years and with solid performance backing makes a strong case for itself to win the race against Nano for best small city car medal.Further almost overlapping prices of Nano and Alto 800 make this clash simply inevitable as similar purchase value only escalated the tensions between these two warriors. Amidst these raised hostilities both companies are leaving no stone unturned to woo the first-time buyers of Indian automobile industry who seems to be in a fix to choose between these two commendable and closely matched vehicles. Sensing this buying dilemma that large number of prospective buyers is facing, weat ecardlr, decided to extend our helping hand. By pitting Tata Nano against Alto 800 in our time-tested road comparison trick, we are sure to muzzle this puzzle that has indeed become pain in the rear for many. Also unlike others portals; ecardlr doesn’t accept any complimentary exotic test-drives offers from any of the auto-manufacturers so you can simply bank upon us for honest, unbiased and straight-forward reviews.
Both the cars in question come with tiny dimensions in line with their city-friendly demeanour though Nano stands out with its unconventional cuteness. Even an untrained eye can judge that Tata Nano is going to win this first bout of design as its bubbly and rounded pretentions get better of Alto 800 with quite an ease. Flat smiling nose, tall boy design and even puny tyres feel nice to look and despite of being in market for a while, Nano looks brand new in terms of style freshness. Tata has tippedNano with chrome and vibrant colours from time to time that has indeed worked in favour of this small cute wonder. Generous glass area, large opening doors and high set seats takes Nano’s practicality to another level without denting its beauty aspect.
Alto 800 on the other side is very plain-Jane design with serious lack of flavour. Petal headlamps, twin-grille and subtly pronounced front bumper feel commoner. Side profile with prominent crease line aids some zing to overall aesthetics but small windows and tyres immediately bring down excitement. Rear of Alto 800 bears uncanny similarity with its cousin A-star as it features wafer-thin bumper that merge with hatch door.
Even without the utility of open hatch, Nano wins Alto 800 hands down. In fact Nano’s aesthetic attraction has been instrumental in its sales and with addition of vibrant colours we are sure Nano’s beauty quotient will continue to remain at forefront of Nano’s appeal.
Nano: ***** Alto 800: *****
Don’t let the tiny dimensions of Nano to fool you as once you get inside Nano you will be pleasantly surprised by the amount of space this dinky car comes with. Leave aside this comparison; Nano has got space-guts to even challenge the segment higher cars on room front. Both front and rear seats are stupendously spacious and especially at the back, Nano outperforms Alto 800. Even three person abreast that back bench of Nano will find them more comfortable for shorter city runs than in Alto 800 though none of the car is a genuine 3-seater for long drives. Large doors with wide opening aperture make Nano more comfortable for ingress-egress which is quite a pain in Alto 800. In comparison to highly set seat benches of Nano, Alto 800 has opted for low stance making it mandatory for the occupants to have some acrobatics while entering/leaving the cabin.
In terms of overall layout of cabin, Alto 800 has edge over Nano as it features a proper and fuller cabin layout. Although Tata has added many nice touches to Nano’s cabin in order to move Nano up the ladder of a complete car; still there are rough edges that hamper the overall feel of Nano. Centrally located instrument cluster of Nano though now comes with added equipment still feels a generation behind than Alto 800. Quality and feel of switches is also flimsy in Nano though even Alto 800 struggles to remain ahead. In terms of colour combination, Nano again takes the lead as its two-tone colour feels more sober than of Alto 800.
In terms of equipment, both cars come with bare-minimum philosophy though Nano feels surprisingly equipped especially at the cost it comes at. Music system with aux-in and AC with rather surprisingly cooling capacity is sure to appease the owners.
In terms of boot area, Alto 800 is better vehicle as it has got the trunk space that can be accessed through rear hatch door. In Nano there is no such provision but we assume antidote of this hiccup is already been invented by Tata Motors as they showcased open rear hatch version of Nano at 12th version of auto expo concluded in Feb, 2014.
Nano: ***** Alto 800: *****
In terms of engine, Nano uses 2-cylinder, 624 cc MPFI petrol motor that produces 38 PS of power and 51 Nm of torque. In comparison, Alto 800 relies upon 3-cylinder, 796 cc engine that puts out 48 PS of power and 69 Nm of torque. On paper owing to higher capacity and performance figures, Alto 800 seems to an easy winner. In city driving however this extra meat of Maruti motor is not very perceptible as Nano performs almost on par with Alto 800. Nano does almost anything that Alto 800 does and with equally graceful way. One can scoot in Nano effortlessly and the addition of power steering has made Nano an effortless city performer. In fact Nano has got the very first iteration of electric power steering as Tata Motors till now has been relying on the old-school hydraulic assistance technology. Nano nips in and out with amazing alacrity and liveliness.
However once out on highway, one is sure to realize that Nano is far better to drive in city than out on open tarmacs. Once you cross 80 km/h mark, Nano tends to lose its breath as tiny 2-cylinder motor has its own limitation. However this is not case with Alto 800 which climbs to three-digit marks quite easily and happy to be there without any complaint. In fact Maruti’s motor seems to be far more confident than Nano’s and performs equally well both in city and out on highway.
In transmission terms, Alto got an advantage of 5-geras while Nano contended with 4-gears. Gear shift is not a happy affair in either of the car as both these vehicles has got a fair amount of notchy feel associated with their transmission. In terms of halting capacity, Alto 800 with disc brakes up front feels secure and safer than Nano. Although the brake booster in Nano works well to stop the car still the vulnerability aspect in Nano is higher as compared to Alto 800.
Nano: ***** Alto 800: *****
Thanks to the addition of power steering, now manoeuvring Nano is a child’s play. Nano has got the electrically assisted version of power steering that makes the whole world of this car spin at a finger touch. One can do any manoeuvring exercise of new Nano literally by using index finger. This addition though a welcome change still we can’t help but think that it has taken too much long time for Tata Motors to realize this weakness of Nano.
Ride quality of Nano is not in leagues of other hatchbacks as in order to keep the price in check there are many compromises made by company. Skinny and puny tyre is one such compromise that has resulted in average ride quality Nano comes with. In ironing out normal city road’s undulations, Nano feels quite capable though the story is exactly opposite when it comes to potholes. Ramps as well as caves severely hamper the composure of Nano’s occupants. Similar intrusions are felt inside the Alto 800 though the intensity of intrusions is far less than one experience in Nano. Alto 800 too feels a bit jittery at slow speed though the response of the suspension improves once the whack rises.
In handling department too, Alto 800 retains its edge over Nano as it feels more composed in array of twists and turns. Tata Nano has got tendency to roll owing to its tall boy design and feeble tyres that occasionally threatens to leave the desired driving line. On highway it’s the Alto that feels safer and secure with its generous grip and poise.
Nano: *****Alto 800: *****
On value for money aspect, Nano has huge advantage not only over Alto 800 but on any other car that contest election against this Tata vehicle. Over the years there has been incremental cost addition to Nano price still at Rs 2.38 lakh for power steering equipped xt variant, Nano is cheapest 4-wheeler buying option available in country on date. It is phenomenally spacious, having enough grunt for city driving and now with power steering it’s exceptionally easy to drive. As an ideal city car Nano checks all the right boxes though its credential as ideal highway sprinter is under serious shadows of doubt. Once out in open, Nano goes out of steam as small engines and puny tyres simply refuse to budge to accelerator command. And this is exactly where Alto 800 scores brownie points. There is no ability hindrance for this Maruti as Alto delivers equally well on both in-city and out-on-highway scenarios. Even on dynamic front Alto feels more secure and planted giving feel of a proper and non-compromised driving experience. So if you are looking for a car only for mundane city commute then Nano makes perfect sense otherwise prospective buyers hunting for all-rounder machine which can take easily go far places, Alto 800 definitely makes a better sense.
Nano: *****Alto 800: *****