Tata Aria Car Test Drive and Detailed Expert Review

Tata Aria Car Test Drive and Detailed Expert Review

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Hello and welcome to this new review of the Tata Aria.  We've seen a lot of new cars being launched, but this next vehicle is in a class of it's own.  A combination of the best in SUV qualities and the best in MPV qualities in one vehicle.  So without further a due it's over to an in depth review of the new Tata Aria.

We Indians love SUVs.  It could be the size or the sheer pulling power, whatever.  We love SUVs and we buy Scorpios and Safaris in really large numbers.  We Indians also enjoy traveling in really large numbers.  That's why MUVs and MPVs do so well.  But what analysts believe is that there are a growing number of people who look to own the desirability of an SUV with the practicality of an MPV.  And that's why we have this new hybrid of the two, the Tata Aria.  The most expensive Tata Motors vehicle in the country today.

Tata Aria Car - Test Drive and Detailed Review

The Tata designers have really stepped up their game and pulled off some nice tricks to jazz up the traditional MPV profile.  The rear glass area has a roof line much like a coupe roof that you would find on the CRV and the tailgate and tail lamps are attractive.  There are also twin exhaust pipes exiting the rear of the vehicle.

Tata Motors have never made an ultra cramped vehicle, and the Tata Aria is no different.  The middle seat of the Tata Aria is comfortable, it's supportive.  You can ride long distances comfortably in here.  But one feature I don't understand is why don't they have captain seats in the rear?  This is a premium vehicle and as such it deserves such premium features.  Also you got water holders in the doors but that's it for them.  Instead what you get is, and this I find truly bizarre, 7 sunglasses holders!  One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.  Actually eight, there is one over there on top of the driver's seat.  What are you going to store in so many of these storage bins?  And over here, you only get a small little cup holder in the back.  This is truly bizarre.

A main reason for the Aria's appeal has got to be it's styling.  And I think the designers picked out all the right elements.  It's got a typical starter motor smile shaped grill but brought up to date.  A large wide and muscular air dam, very very attractive looking head lamps, & it is very technical.  I especially like these amber turn indicators, and because it's a 4 by 4 its got a decent amount of muscle.  Especially these wheel well extensions, in fact the tiles reach 17 inches.  The Aria doesn't have the appearance of a boring MPV, it looks like an attractive pseudo MPV, pseudo SUV.

The seat in the back is not very comfortable.  Getting into the very back is not the easiest task.  You've got to fold this (seat), find the lever in the back seat, get the whole seat down, and finally climb into the back.  And then when you sit here and get settled, there is no leg room, there is no knee room, there is no head room.  This is clearly a cramped place to be in.  For children this seat probably is okay, but for adults over any sort of distances it's a complete no-no.

This might sound a bit cruel but whenever a Tata Motors vehicle's interior is reviewed they come under a load of criticism.  For instance in other Tata Motors products the panel gaps have been so wide you could fit a wide book through it and not notice.  But with the Aria you would struggle to fit a postcard, because everything fits so well no space is wasted.  There are no gaping panel gaps, nothing feels out of place.  And I've been trying since morning, trust me, nothing has gone and started rattling making noise. 

This is unique from other Tata Motors interiors, and I for one welcome the change.  But there are a few ergonomic setbacks.  For example the driving position, the steering wheel and the pedals are ever so slightly offset to the right.  The first time I sat in the car I wondered what was wrong, but you get used to it.  This is an issue that shouldn't have been there in the first place.  Then there are these air conditioning vents, now while I'm driving these vents flow cold air straight at my palms freezing them instantly.  So the first option is you move them up, but they don't move any higher.  So you choose to move them lower and then the air conditioner freezes your knee.  So the only option is to shut it off, and that really isn't ideal for a hot day.  Then there's another problem, the steering wheel for instance, it's the perfect size but when I hold it here my palms keep dabbing at the volume controls, which again is not ideal.  Then there's this knob in the center, the first time I sat in the car I thought this was for the volume, but actually this is for the navigation menu.  The little button to the left of the navigation is for the volume.  Again, this is not properly laid out.  These small little glitches add to the fact that for a cabin so wide there is no dead pedal and the central control doesn't have any cup holders.

Now the first time I saw the Tata Aria, I thought it was a damn fine concept.  Except for one feeling, it had the same 2.2l diesel engine that the Sumo and the Safari had and that was an engine that did not excel in any department.  But now after having driven the Tata Aria, I do not think that the engine is an issue anymore.  The automotive engineers have worked hard on this engine.  They've worked on the Tata Aria engine's refinement and on it's performance.  And though it still makes 140 PS of power which is the same as the Safari, performance is greatly improved.  You do need to keep the Tata Aria engine over 15, or preferably 1800 RPM to get moving.  But in such a way that is acceptable, as are the noise and refinement levels.

Now a lot of start up SUVs or MPVs have done well in the handling department.  But with the Aria, the automotive engineers have really turned a new leaf.  Okay I wouldn't go so far as calling it car-like in terms of handling.  When you talk about an SUV the Tata Aria sets a new benchmark in handling.  For one thing, the ride quality is really really good.  So all of the bumps, mid corner bumps, entry bumps, exit bumps all leave the Aria unphased.  And then the Aria has grip to spare, because of the all time four wheel drive, because of the wide tires, because body dome is kept slightly in check, she grips very well around corners.  And in fact the Tata Aria is rather nice to drive.

Performance is also excellent.  100 kilometers per hour can be achieved in just 15.6 seconds.  The Tata Aria tops out at a maximum speed of 170 kilometers per hour, and at that speed she's rock steady and stable.  Even the braking, thanks to top brakes all around with ABS and ESB systems the Tata Aria excels at this too.  This is let down only by significant nose dive at the front.  And at 12.7 kilometers for the liter the gas efficiency is also quite good.

Finally then, is the most important bit.  Pricing.  Now Tata Motors have always been very competitive about price of their vehicles, always offering tremendous value.  But the cost of the Tata Aria will truly shock you.  The fully loaded variant of the Tata Aria costs 15.8 Lakh Rupees.  It makes it the most expensive Tata Motors vehicle on sale today.  And even the empty level version which also gets 4 wheel drive is 13.18 Lakhs.  That is a lakh and a half more than the Aria's fully loaded nearest competitor!  And to be honest it is a lot of money for a car wearing the Tata Motors symbol.

Whenever we compare a vehicle we always compare and benchmark it against the vehicle's key rivals.  But in the Aria's case that's proving to be quite difficult because it has no clear direct rivals in it's hybrid category.  So let's go over it's not so direct rivals.  In the MPV space we have the Xylo and the Innova which are tried, tested and totally practical vehicles.  But are these desirable?  I don't think so.  In the SUV space you have the Scorpio and the Safari.  Desirable but are they completely practical?  Again, not quite.  And that's the niche that the Tata Aria fills in.  It straddles both of these segments, practicality as well as desirability.  And I know I said desirable.  And yes I know there's a Tata badge on it's nose.  The Aria could just about be the first Tata Motors product to be truly desirable to the consumer.  And I think that's a job well done.

Well Tata Motors are hoping to export the Tata Aria as well but it remains to be seen just how Indian consumers will react to this MUV or is it an SUV or a cross over as the Tata's are positioning it.  We'll get you more on that in a future review but that is all for this review now.

Tata Aria Price

Comment on This Review1 comments | Write Comment on this Review
Commented By : Rajeev
Commented On : 2012-03-06
Tata Aria is nice car, it looks very nice, I am truly impressed by Tata Aria Car.
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