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A Nano fit for kings. Image by Newspress.

A Nano fit for kings
Tata re-bodies a Lotus and unveils the ultimate Caterham-baiting city car. Not really... it's just a heavyweight Nano.
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What is it?

It's a European Union spec version of the 'world's cheapest car', which means it changes the basic Nano from a literal interpretation of that phrase to a pejorative, not actually true one, probably.

Why's it here?

Most people in Europe enjoy the simpler things in motoring, like airbags and the like. Until recently that wasn't the case in India, where 'being safe' meant putting extra gaffer tape on the bit where the driver's seat meets the floor. Conversely, in Europe we just can't be trusted not to have a tankslapper at every corner, so we need stuff like airbags, ESP, big brakes and wide tyres - all of which the Nano Europa has got. It also has a longer wheelbase, power steering and 14-inch alloy wheels.

Tata has replaced the original version's two-cylinder petrol engine for a three-cylinder item, as well, but it promises that CO2 emissions will stay below the magic 100g/km mark. The problem is, all that extra stuff adds weight and cost to the 2,100-ish price the Tata will sell for from March in India. We don't know how much yet, but we'd be surprised if it was less than double that in the UK.

Show stopper or floor filler?

Meh, we've seen it before. The European version looks better, with its smartened up interior and chunkier gait, but when it goes on sale in 2011 there's a risk it will be priced too close to Japanese and European contenders to be truly competitive in an increasingly important segment. We may be wrong though - if it ends up costing 3,000 it'll be as common as chicken tikka massala.

Mark Nichol - 6 Mar 2009

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The 3 million Tata Nano. Image by ITN.
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