It’s easy to question where I’ve been all this while but let’s subject ourselves to a challenge and save that question for some other time.
I had the Tata Nano for a month. For those of you who don’t know, this would be the world’s cheapest car, a product of Indian ingenuity, India’s pride and all the other fancy superlatives that come with it.
I was not too thrilled, to be honest.
Why? Here’s the first reaction I had from a friend – “You look like those bears in the circus that drive those toy cars with party hats!”
Now, I may have put on a little weight but that was just mean.
No, but seriously, I’ll come clean. It wasn’t the kind of car I was used to driving and was naturally out of my comfort zone. I remember saying something along the lines of “It doesn’t have Bluetooth hands-free?! OUTRAGEOUS.”
But see, that was where I was wrong. This car isn’t meant to be a premium vehicle. It isn’t meant to be as spacious as an SUV either. It’s meant to get you and your family (unless you have a ridiculously large joint family, in which case, buy a bus) from Point A to Point B. Which it does. Remarkably well.
Somehow, stupid now that I think back, that’s the perception I took with me when I went to see the Nano for the first time. I expected so much more than what was logical to expect at that price point. Whether that was a failure on my part or on the team that convinced everybody from the get-go that this was every bit a full-fledged car, I’m not qualified enough to say. They weren’t wrong, though. It is every bit a fully-fledged car. Just…smaller.
Smaller? Well, yeah. The Tata Nano kind of reminded me of a bumblebee. There’s no denying it had the design aesthetics but the first few days were a torrent of ‘it isn’t as fast as my main car!’ or ‘the boot space isn’t as much as my old car!’ or even just ‘I miss my old car!’
Was it my fault that I was comparing cars belonging to two completely separate segments and feeling jaded? ABSOLUTELY. That’s the perception I took in with me and that was my biggest ‘complaint’ with the car, which really isn’t a valid one, to begin with.
Over the next few days, I slowly found myself turning to the Nano for short distances and my main car for longer distances. And slowly, that balance kept shifting to the Nano, up until a point where I drove to Thane with a few friends and back, exclusively in the Nano.
I hear the car isn’t selling as well as the company had hoped which comes across as a major disappointment to me. Having used it for just a month, I already feel a sense of ownership, needing to defend it when it comes up in conversations. Oddly, every person I spoke to – and I was stopped on the roads and asked about the car! How often does that happen in my regular car?! – seemed to have the same misconceptions that I started off with.
Driving through the city traffic? It’s zippy and weaves through narrow spaces brilliantly. Driving on the highway? It holds its own quite impressively against the barrage of large car owners thundering past. Own a bike and want to upgrade to a four wheeler for the first time? Buying a car for the first time and are just learning your way around cars? Seriously, this is what your target should be. Heck, it’s worth the price just to be able to park in that narrow space between two cars and grin smugly at all the other luxury car owners mutter and look elsewhere for parking.
I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. Give it a chance, clear of any misconceptions or bias that you may carry with you and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised. It’s so convenient, so perfectly, well, ’Made for India’ that you wouldn’t look any further.