I was in Kozhikode the previous week to attend the funeral of a relative and I travelled from Trivandrum to Kozhikode in a KSRTC super fast. My cousin said he was glad to take me back home in his car I didn't know what car he was driving so agreed. When he pulled up next to me I was shocked ,a tata nano was going to cover 400 KM in a single day that too at night. It was too late to back out now.
Here's the experience.
Started at around 12 noon from Kozhikode and I took the wheel because I was petrified at the thought of my cousin a known rash driver driving me in his nano on these highways.
It was my first ride with the nano a 2011 model with air con I expected a dull performance but it was kicking well thanks to the short geared 1 and 2 gears. Third is quite tall I drove mostly in the range of 60-70 and overtaking was ok with a quick shift to third. The brakes were good but was useless at speeds above 80 so I never crossed 70 . He was constantly pushing me to step on the throttle but I refrained.
The ride quality was ok took sharp bends decently and the steering was great except once we had to take a tight U turn it had a heavy feel, overall it does not need power steering.
The turning radius I felt was much larger than the M800 I really had to shift lanes first starting from the far left to turn right don't know whether I treated the nano like my safari which never gave a clean u turn on narrow kerala roads and I usually had to reverse with the steering fully locked left after I joined the other lane.
The engine though only 600 cc had enough grunt to tackle the highway(kerala so obviously clogged with traffic).
Good visibility but a thick A pillar means I had to sway my head quite a lot.
The headlights were good and had a neatly focussed beam the car's ground clearance is fantastic and will not scrape any bump.
Some cues I learned about this car-Nano is quite zippy in the first two gears the car can crawl in the second gear easily in city traffic no downshift required. The handling is good with manual steering, it has some weight even at good speeds. Poor braking after 80 KmPH till then it's good.
What felt good-Good power to weight ratio, well geared, good headlights, decent brakes at normal speeds. Great seating positioned, good ergonomics.
What could have been better-
Easy access to engine ,had to remove six wing nuts in the middle of the nowhere because the owner was crazy enough to run the car without coolant luckily I soon inferred It was lack of coolant once temp readings showed up(my cousin believed his car was air cooled all these years
) and had no idea how to access the engine. It took me half an hour just to top up the coolant with water.
Poor turning radius, when I searched the net nano was having shortest turning radius(4 M)but I really felt it took a lot more and the steering was very hard as it was getting locked to the right.
Had a dreadful music system which is better turned off.
The car needs better brakes if it is to be ridden at high way speeds.
The end of the journey- I gave my cousin the wheel only when we reached attingal nearly 30 km from Trivandrum. The little nano has taken us from Kozhikode to TVM in 10 hours it was an unforgettable journey ,the tiny car is a good city car and a gem in city traffic and hopefully my cousin will take good care of his cute car.