Inside the Tata Nano: No small achievement

The Economist: Full print edition Inside the Tata Nano: No small achievement It’s cheap. But what is the Nano like to drive?
THE cacophonous capillaries of India’s infrastructure may be about to get a lot more clogged. By the end of 2010 there could be as many as 300,000 Tata Nanos on India’s roads. Well before its launch, the tiny car had become an object of loathing for environmentalists (unfairly-it is one of the cleanest vehicles around). But for potential buyers, what matters is whether it is any good. Despite the Nano’s size (it is a bit over ten feet, or three metres long) its interior is surprisingly spacious. This is no accident. The car is the pet project of Ratan Tata, the Tata group’s revered chairman, who is over six feet tall. Accordingly, the Nano is optimised for the 95th percentile of American men. In South Asia, this makes the car downright cavernous. When it comes to performance, the Nano goes from zero to 100kph (60mph) in a languid 30 seconds, but it is surprisingly enjoyable to drive. And with a petrol consumption of 67mpg, few cars can match its fuel-efficiency. …


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