Tata Nano Driven In The U.S., And It’s Even Worse Than You Think

Back in 2008, Tata thought it would change the global automotive landscape with the Nano, the world’s cheapest car, which used to cost Indians the equivalent of $2,000 to $3,000, depending on options. Mind you, they weren’t that many to choose from – just power windows, a passenger side mirror and… not much else.

The Nano doesn’t have some things normally found in cars that are half a century old. You don’t get a glove box, tachometer, power steering and fuel filler door, so filling the tank with gasoline is done through the trunk. Even accessing the rear-mounted 38 horsepower, 624 cc engine, connected to the 4-speed manual gearbox, is an arduous process as the tailgate does not open, so you’ll have to remove the rear seat.

Also Watch: 2019 Harrier Based On Land Rover Discovery Is The First Tata You Might Actually Want To Buy

Unsurprisingly, given the pathetic engine output, the 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) sprint takes about 30 seconds, and top speed is a laughable 65 mph (105 km/h). However, in this weird mix of drastic cost-cutting measures and the sense of losing which decade (or century) you’re actually in, there is one good thing, and that’s the fuel consumption. The Nano does 55 mpg (4.2 lt/100 km), if you care about stuff like this, anyway.

All of the above, though, pale in comparison to how the Nano drives: it is actually a scary experience. It’s too tall for a light car, the suspension travel is too long, it has the aerodynamics of a shoe box and extremely narrow tires. As a result, even a passing motorcycle will rock it, not to mention that applying the brakes is a different experience all the time.

Jaguar Land Rover’s parent company, Tata Motors, didn’t sell that many Nanos either as it initially anticipated. From a projected 250,000 units annually, it shifted about 7,000 in the first year, and a bit more in the 2016 and 2017 MY, before pulling the plug on it last year. And that’s okay, really, because the world does want to forget the car that makes the Fiat Multipla look like a Ferrari, both to look at and to drive. Did we mention that it tends to burn to a crisp, too?


  • ME

    Death Trap, and they own Jaguar, lol.

  • Netsphere

    this is how i feel about smart car as well

  • roy


  • Alduin

    Well it is the perfect car for Bernie bros and hos. Looking sharp going to your local DSA meeting in San Fran sicko.

    • Rimas Kurtinaitis


    • Matteo Tommasi

      Oh, a brainless creature.
      Look boys, you can learn hot to recognise one.

      • Paulbe

        So woke.

      • Alduin

        Learn to spell you retarded buffoon.


    • trucks doing sedan stuff

      Why is it always the kkkonservatives who bring politics into everything?

      • Alduin

        Why do Communist loving f4ggots like yourself always try to start crap?

        • trucks doing sedan stuff

          You mean like the deeply profound intelligence you’re showing in this comment, right?

          Thanks for proving my point, bud.

          • Alduin


          • trucks doing sedan stuff

            ROFLOL, look in the mirror, bud.

          • trucks doing sedan stuff

            ROFLOL, look in the mirror. That’s the maturity level that best describes Konservatism.

          • Alduin

            Says a low IQ libtroll.

          • trucks doing sedan stuff

            You’re showing yourself well here.

  • Craig

    The Tata Nano just makes me mad. It’s as if it was created on purpose to be a horrible little car. And there was no need to do that. ‘Thanks’ to the Tata, the Smart Car and the Toyota iQ – the reputation of the tiny car is all but destroyed. And I think there’s a place for cars this size. I would love to own one.

    • Albert Ferrer

      Disagree strongly.

      Just mentioning the Smart, the Toyota and the Tata in the same sentence shows how off the pace you are when it comes to small cars.

      The Tata may be a terrible car, but the Smart is fine (if a little on the expensive side) and the Toyota iQ is perhaps one of the cleverest cars of the last decade.

      It is a shame that, just like the Audi A2, nobody understood it.

      • Craig

        I’ve driven the Smart and the iQ. So I stand by what I said.

        • Albert Ferrer

          I have driven the Smart too, both the second gen (fine packaging, terrible gearbox) and more extensively the third gen (much better drivetrain, tight turning circle ok packaging).

          Unfortunately I haven’t driven the iQ, but any car that manages to fit four seats with all the modern conveniences (airbags and crumple zones and whatnot) in less than 3 metres long is a win in my book.

          In terms of packaging the iQ is the modern equivalent to the Mini.

    • Matt

      No it was designed to be the cheapest car in the world. Obviously at such a low price point it wasn’t going to meet the expectations of say a North American buyer.

    • Exotics

      I daily drive a Smart Electric 2016 and it’s amazingly fun

  • Paulbe

    The thinking behind it incorporated third-world assumptions, not realising that India had moved on and expected better. It was probably 20 years too late.


  • robotlogic

    But what will all the party and circus clowns drive?

  • Six_Tymes

    “Regular” obviously not. They should just call these reviews what they are, Smarmy Car Reviews.

  • trucks doing sedan stuff

    Context is everything. It wasn’t designed for developed nations with full infrastructure. It was designed for India which has many unpaved roads and where traffic often doesn’t move very fast, especially on said poorly/un-paved roads and in the city. It was never posited as a C-class competitor. It’s not “worse than walking” especially considering many people in India pack entire families on small displacement motorbikes like Honda Cubs.

    The reason it didn’t sell well was purely sociology and psychology. It became known as the “cheapest car in the world” and that became a social/status stigma that killed it in the public’s eye there.

    What new Western/Japanese/Korean car of the time comes even close to the price of the Nano AND does better than it?

    • pgautham

      You have said it all. Very sad but true it didn’t sell just because of the social status tag and the wrong notion that it can’t do long distances or climb mountains. Many of my friends were in disbelief that I was buying the world’s cheapest car 😕 as if I was that poor!

      • trucks doing sedan stuff

        It’s funny how modern “civilized” cultures/people project a false image of ourselves as so enlightened and rational. Yet we often psycho-emotionally don’t deviate far from the developmental level of children in puberty in our actual behavior and drives…

    • ramish rambarran

      Agreed !

  • Yash Pund

    Dont know who made you the reviewer.

  • Ash mercury

    I own one since last 8 years and it works flawlessly.Your review is extremely poor and I am sure you don’t understand the context on which this car is made. I have taken it to all sort of roads and it has never let me down. Let me know if you wish to hear fromaan actual user who is extremely happy with this car.

  • Baeyoung ❂

    That thing rolls on every angle

  • Miknik

    “The Nano does 55 mpg (4.2 lt/100 km), if you care about stuff like this, anyway.”

    Yes, the average person going form a scooter to a car cares a lot more about that than 0-60 times; Even the average small car customer in the Western world will choose economy over performance in most cases.

  • P Ashwath

    This is such a stupid Article. Tata Nano is an Engineering marvel. It has more than 20 patents.
    For such a low price it is actually a Challenge Accepted and Delivered kinda car.
    Of course it has just the basic stuff, but it is a really good car, Made for City Traffic and to provide Air Conditioning and a comfortable ride for Families driving Scooters and Bikes on hot, rainy or cold days in India.
    I own a Tata Nano for 9 years and it still works great.
    For $2500, there is so much space inside. Great fuel Economy. Comfortable ride. And the speed limit is a safety feature.


      Yes I agree with you


    Nano is the 💎 of Indian road.

  • pgautham

    The review is based on totally wrong premises.
    The car was never intended to be a sedan nor a sports car. So the maximum speed is more than enough for it’s owners and no one complains of opening the bonnet to fill gas.
    And mileage is an important factor in this part of the world.
    I have this car since December 2012, and have driven long distances with my family, up even steep hills and mountains and it’s still rocking. I recently go an offer of a Wagon-R, but didn’t take it as I love my Nano.The Nano has even been driven to Leh-Laddak. It has solid leg room space for it’s size, it’s maintenance is almost nothing to say. It doesn’t need a power steering as it’s quite easy to steer, though later models DO have power steering. I apply the brakes confidently and comfortably.
    In short, nothing that the reviewer complains about stands the test of time nor truth.
    I call my Nano my love bug.
    I can post photos of it being atop mountains.

    • trucks doing sedan stuff

      Exactly! Heck, I had a 90’s Isuzu pickup truck in the U.S. that’s a lot bigger than the Nano and it had no power steering. Yet I had no problem steering it even with lots of junk in the back. It also had a 5 speed, manual windows, no A/C… Pretty simple and it was still carbureted. Not a problem and you still see some of them on the road today.

      As I and others have mentioned, there’s a far more reasonable review of the Nano on Jalopnik. In fact, I think they had this exact same car. I wonder if they thrashed the heck out of it to make it overheat. Given how much ignorance and contempt they show, I question the fairness with which they even treated the car itself.

    • ramish rambarran

      Well said !

  • Mr. EP9

    I’m sorry, but you’re incredibly ignorant. If you actually looked at it from the perspective of what it was intended for and the market in which it was built, you review might be a bit more reasonable. This entire review is based off an US-centered perspective which the Tata Nano NOT designed nor intended for. It wasn’t designed for a developed nation like us and it wasn’t designed to be comparable to cars we have. It had the basic necessities at a very cheap price and did what people needed to. Social stigma does play a role as to why it didn’t sell so well, but as others have said – context is everything. This “review” has none of that.

    • ramish rambarran

      Yes !

    • pgautham

      You have summed it up perfectly. If the review was based on context and geography, it would have been totally different.
      Hats off to Ratan Tata and and his team for this bold innovative car. One and only Nano of which are proud and uniquely privileged owners.

  • Ash mercury

    Google Tata Nano and jalopnik


    Who is this moron? He could not fathom how such an engineeing marvel which featured on NatGeo could be made in India. I am a proud owner of Nano for d last 4 years and driving it is like a feather. It is made for Indian family who ride daily on motorbikes risking their life on Indian traffic. I salute Ratan Tata. As regards the reviewer ‘Go to Hell.

  • Mahesh Yadav

    A lot of points this chap made are totally valid. Tata messed it up by marketing it as a cheap car in a country where cars are considered status symbol, not an appliance.

    With the second generation though, they fixed quite a lot of issues with the car. They focused on the buyers and their use cases and addressed them.

    Apparently, quite a few buyers who bought the nano did so because it was cheap to buy, cheap to run, cheap to maintain, took very little space to park and maneuver in tight spaces and traffic and used it mainly for city runs.

    The second generation car targeted buyers who already have a car but hate taking it out in City traffic where minor fender benders are inevitable. Where a small footprint could get you home sooner. Since it shines in traffic, Tata gave it a 5 speed automatic (AMT) with tiptronic for manual selection. Allowing you to relax your left foot and arm in traffic. You have to drive in Indian traffic to really appreciate an automatic.

    Once they realized that price was not that big of a concern for these buyers, Tata chose to Jack up the price and the quality. The storage bins in the dash now come with lids, the AC vents have always been infinitely adjustable and closable (unlike in my Chevy), the steering is taken straight from their 1,200,000 INR car and so are the indicator and wiper stalks. There are front power windows. The paint quality is a lot nicer. The hatch now opens making maintenance easier as you don’t have mechanics sitting in your rear seats with greasy clothes. There’s a Bluetooth/CD/aux/USB/radio music system. A decent set of 4 speakers help drown out the engine and road noise. One of the radiators is moved to the front for better efficiency. There is a very informative multi info display with 2 trip meters, distance to empty, individual fuel efficiency figures for both the trip meters, instantaneous fuel efficiency gauge, gear position indicator. With the 5th gear, it doesn’t feel out of breath even at 80kmph. The fuel tank now holds 24 liters, up from 15. There’s power steering.

    The usual benefits are interact. SUV-Like high seating position for better front visibility, big glasses and windows for great all around visibility, mirrors that aren’t mounted on pivot ball joints like all the other entry level cars in India, so they don’t require adjustment every time someone folds them in, spacious interiors. I’m 6 ft 2inch tall. And I can’t sit behind myself in a VW Polo. In the Nano, even with a relaxed driving position, my knees barely brush against the seat back when in the back seat. The head room is enormous. The turning radius is insanely tiny. I rarely have to make a 3-point turn. The ground clearance is India friendly at 185mm. When we have to deal with non existent village roads, Nano is the default choice.

    It drives 18-22 km per litre. Depending on the traffic, driving style, and air conditioning used. The maintenance is cheaper than a KTM 390 Duke. About 1500-2000 bucks every 10000km.

    I urge you to drive a manual during rush hour traffic in Delhi to fully appreciate the Tata Nano. It’s not that cheap anymore. The top of the line variant I drive, costs 392,000 INR before discounts. As a city car, it more than lives up to the promises it made. In fact there is no better city car in India. Because you rarely get to drive at 80kmph in the city, the high speed performance doesn’t matter. For highways, we have the diesel car. In the city, the the Nano rarely shifts to fifth.

    We already had a diesel Chevy at home. After we added the Tata Nano to the garage, my wife doesn’t want to deal with the hydraulic clutch of my diesel car. My son just doesn’t want to sit in the claustrophobic Chevy. I too sometimes look for reasons to take the Nano to work. The AC is also better in the Nano.

  • NOPE.

  • Wait, how did you get to register the vehicle in the US?

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