Autocar’s Steve Cropley was given a sneak preview of the Tata Nano Europa this week when it came into our London studio.

The European version of the world’s cheapest car was first seen at the Geneva motor show earlier this year and it has been eagerly anticipated ahead of its expected release date of 2011.

See our exclusive Tata Nano Europa studio pics

The Nano was launched in India earlier this year and retails for less than £2000, but due to the increased cost of making it ‘Europeanised’ (more creature comforts, improved crash test safety) it is likely to cost from £4000 - £5000 in the UK.

It will be powered by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, which will produce around 60bhp. The Europa will get a five-speed manual ‘box (the Indian version is four-speed) to allow for longer gearing, improved fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions.

It features an all-steel body, with an overall length of 3300mm. This makes it around eight inches longer than the original Mini, but far shorter than any contemporary European supermini. The show car rides on 14-inch alloys.

Under the skin, all-independent rear suspension features, while Europa models will get ABS, traction control, electric power steering and twin airbags.

Boot access has yet to be decided – Indian Nanos are strictly four-door, but a full-size hatchback is till possible.

And what does Cropley make of the Europa? “There’s one certainty: it will change the way car prices are viewed when it hits British showrooms – for substantially less than a Hyundai i10 and around half the price of a Smart.”

The full story can be read in this week's Autocar magazine, which is on sale now.

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