What happens when a truck manufacturer makes a foray into the passenger vehicles segment? It stutters and struggles for quite a long time during which it learns a lot about the sector which it might have had taken for granted earlier (read ‘less homework’).
That learning translates (it should ideally) into constant bettering of products so that, one day, eventually the company can minimize the gap between its, and the finest products in the market.
Tata Motors was still fortunate that it entered the ‘civilian’ territory first with its big utility vehicles like the Sierra, Estate (a station wagon) and the Sumo because in such vehicles, back then, the truck-DNA was still acceptable, and the Sumo anyway continued to sell in hordes in the taxi sector until the Toyota Qualis came along…
Tata has certainly come a long way from its initial Sierra days to the present zestful ones. And it plans to launch three new cars in as many crucial segments in the next 4-5 months. We’ll give you a brief lowdown on what they are and when you can expect them to hit your nearest Tata showrooms.
- Expected Launch Month: December 2015
- Expected Price: INR 3.99 lakh – 6 Lakhs
- Competition: Swift, Grand i10 etc
We told you in August about Tata’s confirmation of launching the Bolt hatchback this year only! The car is ready and Tata is just delaying the launch as it does not want the attention to shift from its recently launched Zest sedan, which is doing good so far… The hatchback will borrow both the petrol and diesel engines from its sedan sibling, however there are subtle changes…
So, while Tata’s new petrol engine, the 1.2-litre Revotron will be present, it will loose 5PS for the hatchback. Still, the turbocharged motor should make the lighter hatch equally good to drive. The 1.3-litre Quadrajet diesel will also be present, most probably in both the 75PS and 90PS trims.
There has been no confirmation yet, however, either or noth the diesel and petrol may get Automated Manual Transmissions apart from the regular 5-speed manuals.
Tata Safari Storme Facelift
- Expected Launch Month: November-December 2014
- Expected Price: INR 9-13 lakh
- Competition: Mahindra Scorpio, Mahindra XUV500, Renault Duster, and Nissan Terrano
Tata’s Safari, despite getting the first-mover advantage in the segment, has always been a step behind the Mahindra Scorpio ever since the latter’s launch in the Indian market. While Mahindra improved and updated its SUV continually, Tata just could not match its rival’s pace in this aspect. However, the current Safari Storme did finally nudge the Scorpio as a better product overall. Unfortunately, that did not reflect in sales and Mahindra recently added more to Safari’s woes by launching the most advanced (relatively speaking, of course) Scorpio yet.
Now, it’s Tata’s turn to one-up Mahindra by launching the new Safari Storme facelift which may get an automatic gearbox, which is one thing that, surprisingly, the new Scorpio does not get, yet! The 140 PS engine in the Safari Storme is more powerful than the Scorpio’s 120 PS, and the facelift might also see the power output rising to 150 PS! I did recently mention that when it comes to the 4X4 running gear, the Storme beats them all in the segment. Not only does it feature a Low Ratio, Tata has also blessed it with a Limited Slip Differential.
Tata Nano Twist Active AMT
- Expected Launch Month: December-January 2015, After Safari Storme facelift
- Expected Price: INR 2.5 lakh-3 Lakh
- Competition: Alto 800, Eon 800, and KTM RC 390 (okay, kidding!)
While the Nano is far from the one-lakh-rupee car that Ratan Tata had envisioned and promised, it still remains the cheapest car that you can buy in India. It also occupies the least space on roads and in parking lots. Heck, we recently parked one in a jiffy at McDonald’s reserved parking lot for its delivery two-wheelers – we were hungry.
Anyway, the diminutive size advantage should not make you feel that it lacks space on the inside. It sits four adults comfortably and that air-conditioner is surprisingly effective! However, a proper rear opening tailgate is sorely missed. The new Nano will address that. Tata had showcased the Nano Twist Active first at this year’s Auto Expo and the execution did look neat. The new Nano will also get new front and rear bumpers, new headlamps, and a few other changes to the exterior.
The addition of (or access to) a proper boot has come with the new Nano getting much bigger fuel tank. The current 15-litre tank will get replaced by one that will hold 24 litres of petrol. Yes, no diesel as of now, and the engine will remain the same 624cc two-cylinder petrol unit that produces 38PS of peak power and 51Nm of peak torque. The biggest bit, however, will be the introduction of AMT (Automated Manual Transmission) in the car, making it the cheapest offering in the country.
Will these new offerings turn the tide in Tata’s favor..?