From the makers of Jaguar: the world’s cheapest car!


It doesn’t seem quite natural that the owner of British luxury icons Jaguar and Land Rover is also maker of the world’s cheapest car.

That’s what Tata Motors is set to do, though, as the already infamous Tata Nano goes on sale in India this April for about $2,500, or to put it another way, about the same price as the navigation system on Tata’s Jaguar XJ. How’s that for a contrast in vehicle offerings?

The Nano, which won’t be available in the U.S., is expected to bring the freedom of automobiles to the people of India. Tata hopes that the low price will be enough to lure Indians away from their mopeds and scooters and introduce them to a vehicle capable of hauling their families in dry comfort.

I use the word “hauling” loosely, however, as the Nano is powered by a rear-mounted 33-horsepower two-cylinder engine and isn’t much bigger than Apple’s same-named MP3 player. Still, though, for the price buyers get a four-door hatchback that can seat four people and has a CVT transmission helping deliver an estimated 54 U.S. miles per gallon.

On a car this cheap, though, corners must also be cut. The base Nano has no airbags, radio, or power steering and reaches a top speed of only about 75 miles per hour. Plus there’s no air-conditioning to help deal with the brutal Indian summer heat. 

While the Nano isn’t likely to make an impact in America, the technology behind it could represent a new era in the world of small cars. Plus, it sure beats driving a motorcycle in a monsoon in India.

If the Tata Nano were available where you live, would you consider buying one?



  1. Absolutely not for the same price i could buy a 1992 Honda Accord EX with a proper Manual transmission and 125 hp / 130 lb ft. This car is rubbish for a country such as America or England. However for India this is great because there are going to be many new cars available that wont require as much maintenance.

  2. I wouldn’t consider buying one because it’s not an appropriate vehicle for American roads. Before I purchased my Aveo, I did look at and drive the Smart For-Two, and came to the same conclusion about that car- it doesn’t work for my driving environment.

    The Nano makes sense for India, where it replaces a bike or scooter, and where urban speeds low. Add seat belts (which unfortunately won’t likely be used) and you have more protection than riding a bike or scooter without a helmet.

    Stateside, getting hit by a truck or American sedan in this class of vehicle is a likely losing situation. Small, light cars are the recipient of the bulk of the kinetic energy in a collision with heavier vehicles or barriers and the result is very high G-forces on the occupants. High G-force equals big injuries.

    I was test driving the Aveo when I drove in to look at the Smart, and parking the two cars side-by-side was a good visual aid for me to see just how much larger the Aveo was. When I did a value matrix comparing the two cars, the high price of the Smart combined with the higher risk, higher fuel costs of having to use premium fuel and higher insurance cost shut the Smart right out of consideration. (It could never realistically recover the cost difference based on fuel savings.) I do have to admit the car was fun to drive, especially compared to the Aveo, but the thought of a 70-mile commute on the freeways in the Smart was just plain scary. (It’s bad enough in the Aveo.) On the other hand, for my wife’s urban commute of a few miles each way, easy parking and high urban mileage, it would be a viable car if the price wasn’t so high. That’s the real problem with the Smart For-two, it is priced like an Ipod or Iphone to reflect the status factor.

  3. Seriously- this is the company that bought Jag? If I ever see a Jaguar with tires that small I’m officially giving up my love of cars.

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