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The Nano viewed from the perspective of its main rivals, the 800, Alto, Spark and San
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Don’t know about you but I’m all Nano’d out. Ever since its launch (come to think of it, it started long before that) I’ve fielded a zillion questions on the Nano. I’ve already done six stories on the car, filmed an entire episode for our tele show and here I am, writing again on the Nano. You could say we’re overdoing the whole Nano thing but in our defence this is THE most important car since the Maruti 800; a car whose significance transcends Indian boundaries. It’s a car that has chieved worldwide acclaim (our European editor Ray Hutton’s verdict is on page 80) and it’s a car that, by now, would have nailed a Guinness world record for the most number of bookings.

But has it slipped your notice that unless you’re incredibly lucky,your Nano dreams are a good year (or two, or three!) away? If your booking number is 90,000 that’ll mean delivery by the end of 2010.If it is 200,000 it might mean alyear Are you willing to wait that long?

Then there’s the price. All said and done the Nano isn’t exactly one lakh rupees worth; the LX on test here will cost you Rs 1.98 lakh on-road in Pune. That’s almost two lakh rupees, a price at which there are other options – like the Maruti 800 at Rs 2.26 lakh, or the Alto and Chevy Spark at a shade under three lakh rupees. Even the Santro is heavily discounted and that’s the rationale behind this test – while the Nano will only get more expensive in the years to come, all the other cars here are heavily discounted and the discounts will only increase. If you’re smart you will factor in the interest on your
money – Rs 1.40 lakh (the booking amount on the LX you’ll have to stump up) will fetch you 25 grand in interest in 1.5 years (and we’re talking very safe instruments here). Add it all up and the Nano is no cheaper than a similarly equipped 800; depending on the wait it could even work out to be more expensive! So is the Nano worth the (long) wait? Is it even worth the money? It’s time to decide.

THE BEST SELLERS
Tata Nano LX - Rs 1,98,953
Maruti 800 AC - Rs 2,26,520 (Rs 12,000 discount)
Maruti Alto LX - Rs 2,76,337 (Rs 14,000 discount)

What we’re looking at is the best selling car in the country (Alto), the previous best selling car (800) and the future best eller (Nano). The latter is no speculation – once the mother plant in Sanand comes on line by the year end, the Nano will clock some phenomenal numbers. It will be helped, no doubt, by Maruti gradually phasing out the 800 as BS IV emission norms come into force. So it’s goodbye 800 and hello Nano, except that it’s not so simple.
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