Tata has given its new flagship model, the Aria, its European debut at the Geneva motor show. Conceived as a global model, it’s been developed to appeal to European and British buyers and is expected to go on sale here in spring 2011.
Crucially, the Aria has been designed to meet European crash legislation — the company is aiming for a four-star EuroNCAP rating — and is said to be the most sophisticated Tata to date.
However, the car uses a body-on-frame construction rather than a more modern monocoque shell, in order to give the vehicle the robustness necessary for dealing with rural Indian roads. At 4780mm long, the Aria is a similar size to a Kia Sorento.
One engine is available: a 140bhp, 2.2-litre, four-cylinder diesel coupled to a full-time four-wheel drive system. No official performance figures have been released, although it’s likely that for Europe, more power will be expected to improve the car’s performance.
Tata is considering a 170bhp version, although this would require a new gearbox because the Aria’s five-speed manual cannot deal with that much power. There are no plans for a petrol engine.
Inside, the Aria has a third row of seats and an LCD screen infotainment system, the first time such technology has appeared in any Tata.
Tata has launched an SUV in the UK before; the Safari was available here during the Noughties, but it was never a great success. In Europe Tata currently sells cars in Italy, Poland, Spain and Turkey.