Tata shows its Nanos in Geneva
By Blake Muntzinger
Tata made its European automotive debut at the Geneva Auto Show 11 years ago with its Indian-penned Indica passenger car. Response at the time was so overwhelming that Tata found it fitting to debut its Nano in Geneva. Tata also displayed three other product ranges in Geneva: the redesigned Indica five-door, the Xenon truck, and the Safari SUV.
The Nano (pictured at left) will not be released in Europe yet, but the company would like to eventually launch a higher-end version there. Adding equipment to comply with European safety and commissions standards will undoubtedly raise the €1,700 ($2,500) price tag. Both the base and high-end Nanos were on display. The Nano looks like it can truly seat four people without inducing claustrophobia.
Standing next to every Tata but the Nano, both which were on turnstiles, I found myself surprised at the visual quality of the vehicles from a design standpoint. Tight panel gaps and straight lines were in abundance. All models were right-hand drive, and if they were to be sold in North America, visual modifications would be required, such as the lack of real rear bumper on the Xenon.
Tata’s second-generation Indica hatchback (pictured at right) provides a clean design, flush with the body’s lines. Its raised headlights wrap around, creating an eyebrow effect that is seen on many of today’s automobiles. Looking at Indica’s side profile, its higher ground clearance becomes evident; this clearance is greatly needed in many of Tata’s markets for unpaved routes. The rear is clean but plain with roof-to-bumper tail lamps. Its 1.3 litre Quadra-Jet Direct Injection Diesel engine is the product of its joint venture with Fiat. Both 1.2 liter and 1.4 liter gasoline motors will also be available.
Tata’s Xenon truck could very well find a following in North America. It borrows styling cues from the Toyota HiLux with the head lamps and doors. Strong fender flares are masculine, adding visual breadth to the truck. Its attractive front fascia is nothing bold – no love-it-or-hate-it lines here. It’s the same story with Safari (pictured at left), whose front end a hints at last-generation Land Cruiser’s.
Admittedly, I had low expectations, but overall I left Tata’s display pleasantly surprised. Judging from Tata Group Chairman Ratan N. Tata’s press conference, Tata appears sincere about wanting to contribute to the world market. In designing cars that do not force people to debate design patents, increasing its international presence, and its Jaguar and Land Rover deal, the time for Tata’s global contribution is rapidly approaching.
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