When Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, stepped out of the Nano at the Auto Expo in Delhi, automobile design experts admiringly noted his smooth exit from the roomy, high-seating family car.
The Rs 1 lakh car has stunned the world for rolling out as a stylish showstopper with no outward signs of a cheap, budget vehicle.
"Hats off!" was the spontaneous reaction from automobile designer Dilip Chhabria, chairman and MD of Mumbai-based DC Design who was 'surprised' at the car's style statement despite the cost challenge.
"They will rewrite the rules of the game for all car makers to emulate, not just in India," emphasised Chhabria. "This will have ramifications on the way cars are designed globally." The Nano design is original, radical and very futuristic, said Chhabria, adding that he was struck by its side profile.
At the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, professor Kishor Munshi gave the design a thumbs up too, as he watched the launch on television. "It's fantastic!" said Munshi, an automobile design expert at the IIT's Industrial Design Centre. "Cost was the biggest challenge in designing this car, and Indian designers and engineers have proven they were up to it. They've beaten every carmaker in the world hollow."
The mono-volume design and body shape is contemporary and 'excellent' given the car's size, said Munshi.
Tata Motors said in a media release that the lean design strategy has helped minimise the car's weight and maximise fuel efficiency and performance. "The wheels at the corners and power train at the rear combine space and maneuverability, to set a new benchmark among small cars," said a media statement.
"The proof of the pudding will be in driving it, but visually it looks pretty good," said London-based auto analyst Ashvin Chotai, who was at Thursday's unveiling. "The pricing was a bit of a surprise. I thought it would be a bit higher."
Tata said costs were kept low by cutting the "size of the package".