Review – Tata Nano Twist
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Rather than selling it as a ‘cheap car’, Tata wants to project its Nano as a ‘smart city car’. And key to a good city car are features such as small dimensions and short turning radius, something the Nano already had.
The Nano Twist adds to this package the convenience of power steering and we spent the better part of two days driving around in what we think is the best city car ever made.
The Nano Twist can be identified by the ‘Twist’ and ‘XT’ badges on its non-functional bootlid. Tata also offers a new color exclusive to the Twist called ‘Damson Purple’. Apart from these changes, the Nano Twist looks identical to the 2013 model year Nano.
Note: Our test car was specced with the optional alloy wheels. This is not part of the standard kit.
Inside, the Nano Twist is identical to the 2013 Nano save for the instrument cluster which is now partly digitised. The fuel and temeprature readouts get digital gauges while the font style of the speedometer reading is new. The display below is now capable of giving readouts such as distance-to-empty and average fuel consumption.
The new instrument cluster looks better than that of the 2013 MY Nano, and was a must-do change in order to interface it with the electronics of the EPS (electronic power steering). Apart from these, there are no other changes to the cabin of the car.
The Twist XT comes with AC, front power windows, power steering, central locking with keyless entry, a music system with Bluetooth (Note: The music system was non-functional in our test car), twin gloveboxes and a partly digitized instrument cluster.
The power steering unit on the Twist is an EPS which uses a brushless motor and features an Active Return mechanism (which brings the steering wheel to its straight-ahead position upon release). The steering ratio though is identical to the regular Nano and as a result, turning radius of the Twist remains the same as the regular Nano at 4 meters.
Engine and Gearbox:
Powering the Nano Twist is the same twin-cylinder 624 cc engine which produces 38 PS and 51 Nm of torque. The small car uses a 4-speed gearbox, and has a claimed top-speed of 105 km/h, though our test car managed a bit more.
Since its update in 2012, the engine of the Nano feels a bit more powerful, and if we may say, joyful to use. While driving the car, you don’t get the feeling that the engine is underpowered, rather the lightweight of the car helps it in moving forward with a sense of urgency. Even at speeds up to 80 km/h, you don’t get the sense that you’re straining the Nano to do something it doesn’t want to do.
The gear ratios seem well chosen for city driving conditions. Aiding it is the light clutch which is again a joy to operate in bumper-to-bumper traffic. For some reason though, the gearlever of our test car had problems slotting into the first gear, as at times it would come back to neutral on its own.
What’s it like in the city?
The Twist is fun to drive in the city. Strangely, it’s more fun to drive the car in crowded market places thanks to the way it turns. At full steering lock, the Nano Twist turns in a similar manner to an autorickshaw, and don’t get this wrong for this is a compliment. While the power steering is a touch on the over-assisted side, it works in your favor as it means lighter effort in twisting the wheel.
Parallel parking, as you would imagine, is a breeze thanks to the steering and the small dimensions. And pulling out from a parking space, no matter how close other cars are, is equally easy in the Twist. We hardly found any use for the reverse gear as most often you don’t need to make a three-point turn!
Ride quality is just about average, with even small potholes and craters making their presence felt. However, for its price, we really can’t expect the ride to be any better.
The Twist comes with 180 mm drum brakes on all wheels. While braking can be described just about adequate, the option of front disc brakes would be the logical next step in future Nano variants we feel.
The Nano Twist has an ARAI claimed efficiency of 25.4 km/l, and it did 14.3 km/l in our tests in heavy city traffic.
The Nano Twist is available in a single top-end variant and is priced at INR 2.31 lakhs, ex-Showroom, New Delhi.
Without a question of doubt, the Nano Twist is the best city car ever made in India, and suits our country to the T! There is nothing to not like in the Twist; its spacious inside, has very good features for its price, comes with an engine tailormade for our driving conditions, and now with the added advantage of power steering, its convenient to drive and park.