Tata Goes From the Sublime to the Ridiculous
By Andy Bannister
This weird little van rejoices in the name Tata Magic Iris, and is one of the stars of the current New Delhi Motor Show.
Despite appearances of being a jokey concept it is in fact a serious vehicle, and one designed to wean India’s road-users off their habit of piling families aboard motor bikes and three-wheeled rickshaws.
Overladen two- and three-wheelers are a common sight on the roads of this rapidly-industrialising country.
Leaving aside its ridiculous name, the Magic Iris’s specifications don’t exactly sound like the most tempting of propositions.
A five-seater, the little Tata is powered – if that’s the right word – by a 611cc water-cooled diesel engine. It delivers 11hp – which admittedly is more than the typical Indian three-wheeler – and has a top speed of just 34mph.
It’s extraordinarily odd looks include a few full-size car components which sit uneasily on the rudimentary body, but it does undoubtedly represent a step forward for those families near the bottom rung of the transportation ladder.
At the same time it also illustrates how far India still has to go as a car-building nation, and the huge disparities which exist in the country.
The Aria, although slightly dated in appearance overall, looks a lot more professional than its baby sister and the two products are unlikely to ever share the same showroom space.
It features a 137hp 2.2-litre diesel engine and four-wheel drive as an option. Tata says the Aria is designed to compete with more established products from global manufacturers, and combines the space and prestige of an MPV with the off-road ability of an SUV.
Future exports of the Aria are likely in the near future, although the Magic Iris is a safe bet to stay at home.
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