Certifiable, crazy and insane are just some of the ways you can describe the Tata 'Super Nano'. And you wouldn’t be far off the mark; what with a claimed 200bhp-plus kicking out of the rear and those mad, mad wheels. But just what is it? Weekend track car, real racing car or something to drive to the movies in?
I put the question to J Anand (of JA Motorsport). “Well, officially, it’s an engineering showcase, a sort of here’s what we can do. But it’s also loads of fun and shows the Nano in a new light.”
Like he said, that’s the official answer. I, however, think this is what happens when you make an ex-racing driver pilot a 37bhp Nano around, month after month. Of course, Jayem Auto, JA Motorsports’ mother company, works closely with Tata Motors on many of its engineering projects, so, the Super Nano is a step in the right direction too.
But what’s a 200bhp Nano like to drive? It’s clearly racing car-like to climb into. You need to squeeze your way past the jungle gym-like roll cage, and seat adjustment is only via a set of spanners. Once in, you get clipped into the racing harness and it even needs an external power supply to get going. Everyday usability? You can forget that.
What I discover later, however, is that there’s much more performance at the top of the powerband: of course, there is. What’s worse is that I’ve been shifting up at what I assumed was the redline, but there’s at least 3000rpm more to go. No earplugs needed though, to protect from that shrill F1 car wail; now I’m officially deaf.
The motor, in fact, only really wakes up past 8000rpm and then, this junior dinosaur quickly turns into a full-fledged T-Rex, big steak knife teeth and all. And only then – as I begin to hit the 11,000rpm mark regularly before snap shifting to the next gear – does the real Super Nano begin to reveal itself. The rear squats down marginally as I accelerate out of a tight corner, the scenery comes rushing at me in a blur past 8500rpm, and so continuous is the build-up in acceleration, it feels like the car is running away from you.
What’s also pretty unreal is the grip this car generates. Of course, it’s nothing like a Nano, which bobs and rolls constantly and feels like a shopping trolley. In contrast, the Super Nano is low-slung and wide, and comes with tyres that are at least five times as wide. I find myself carrying an incredible amount of speed into corners, tapping down on the gearbox as I turn in with a fair amount of controlled aggression. And once settled, I can accelerate as hard as I want, the front wheels going a bit light with the weight transfer to the rear.