Tata Nano Twist Vs Maruti Alto 800 LXi

  • May 13, 2014

Entry-level car segment is a very interesting segment in India. Reason number one: There has been no car till date, since 2000, that has been able to de-throne the leader Maruti Suzuki Alto.Reason number two: Despite an overall sluggish behaviour of the market, entry-level segment alone sold 27,018 cars in the month of April (16,763 units were of the Alto, which is about 38% of the total sales). Reason number three: Many new cars came, tried and gave up but Alto is just indispensable.

Alto sure is the highest selling car in the country, nobody else comes close etc, we all know this. But is it really that good? Is there no other entry level hatchback that can give it sleepless nights? There isn’t right now but one cute little wonder is trying hard...and this wonder is called the Tata Nano with a twist. I mean, it’s called the Tata Nano Twist.

Tata Nano was not immediate hit but since it’s launch Tata Motors has taken constant feedback from customers and made various changes to the Nano. Today when the Nano stand next to the Alto, it does deserve a fair chance. Read on to know why.


This isn’t the segment of very good looking cars. Both the Nano and Alto are rather peculiar looking. But then, looks are subjective and as the famous saying goes- beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. If you look at the Tata Nano is seems to be straight out of a comic strip, a kids comic strip. The Alto on the other hand has a maturer impression on the buyer. A wide grille, tall headlamps and a u-shaped line on the bonnet of the Alto make it more attractive than the round-ish shape of the Nano. 

Tata Nano is 177 mm taller than the Alto and stands at an overall height of 1,652 mm. It’s tall body shape is an advantage for more than average height passengers. Then it’s wheelbase, where the Alto wins with an advantage of 130 mm. And the Maruti Suzuki Alto is just 5 mm wider than the Nano Twist. That’s not much of a difference.

If you look at the Alto from the rear then it does look more wider than just the 5 mm difference. The rear lamps blend well into the body though they are placed very far from each other. The Nano on the other hand has the flowing lights and not much to boast.

Another very big advantage of the Maruti Suzuki Alto is boot space of 177 litres. The Tata Nano offers just 80 litres.


The cabin of the Tata Nano Twist seems more roomy than that of the Maruti Alto 800. It’s mainly because of the beige interiors and large windshield and good view from all windows. The speedometer is placed in the center of the dashboard and just below it are round a/c vents and below that the knobs for air conditioning control. The plastic quality is not much to boast about.

However, the Nano Twist offers more features than the Alto. For starters, the Tata Nano comes with Bluetooth connectivity for phone, though it wont connect in the first go-multiple attempts are needed. The audio quality of voice calls is good and no other car offers Bluetooth in the segment. The buttons on the music system are tiny and are inconvenient to use while driving because the driver has to look at the system to change channels. Apart from this, the Tata Nano Twist offers features like distance to empty display and average fuel economy. Not just this, Nano Twist comes with Keyless Entry too.

The Alto, on the other hand, looks very basic in front of the Nano. The cabin is grey and the LXi comes without a music system too. It does offer front power windows though. To brighten the cabin, Maruti offers silver accents around the dials but there isn’t much flaunt factor there.

Where Maruti Alto 800 beats the Tata Nano Twist is the seating. The seats of the Alto 800 are much more comfortable and well cushioned than the Nano. Front seats of the Alto 800 are comfortable with decent lumbar and under thigh support. In fact, when you sit in the Maruti Alto you feel like you are in a more safer environment than the Nano.

The Nano does offer a better view of the road with its tall seats but the seating posture is too upright. The seats are wafer thin and long drives in the Tata Nano Twist will cause fatigue and tiredness for the driver. In the long run, the Nano will not be a very comfortable companion for long drives.


The rear seat of the Maruti Alto 800 is more comfortable than the Nano Twist. Though, space on the Alto 800 isn't very great and tall passengers do not feel comfortable. The knee room is weak and three passengers do feel congested. The Tata Nano feels roomier than the Alto 800. This isn't because the Nano offers more space but simply because the seats are thin and straight. There definitely is more knee room in the car because of this.


The Nano Twist comes with the same 624 cc 2-cylinder motor which reached peak power of 38PS at 5,000 rpm and torque of 51 Nm at 4,000 rpm. It’s good enough power for a daily city commute. Plus, the Tata Nano Twist now comes with a power steering and the drive quality has improved drastically. The Nano is now much easy to drive around in the city and even more easier to park as it has a turning radius of 4 meters. The car does a good job if you are traveling alone but 2 more people in the car and it runs out of breath. There’s not enough power for the engine with a full house and the a/c also seems weak.


The Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 comes with a bigger 796 cc motor which pumps 48 PS of power and 69 Nm of torque. Since the Alto has a bigger motor, it obviously feels like a better car to drive. The steering isn’t as easy as that of the Nano but is convenient to cut and manuever in city traffic. Alto 800 seems like a more confident car than the Nano. The kerb weight of the LXi is at 720 kg which is 60 kg more than the Nano Twist.


Due to it’s small size and light weight, the Tata Nano seems not so confident on the highway too. In fact, each time a heavy vehicle crosses you feel the impact inside the car. The Alto 800 seems much more grounded and confident in this matter. What favour the Nano is the 25 kmpl plus fuel economy claim (ARAI tested) against the 22.7 kmpl for the Alto (ARAI tested). What is interesting in the Nano Twist is the fuel economy display, something that can help the driver alter his driving habit for magical figures.

Ride and Handling and Safety:

The power steering on the Nano has made the car a lot easier to drive. It is now easier to take turns in the Nano but you do not want to do it at a higher speed. Push the Nano hard and you will want to slow down but then again, entry level cars aren’t made to go fast. It does not take bumps very smoothly and the thud filters into the cabin.

Alto 800 feels more mature when it comes to ride quality. Though the bumps are felt in this one too, but the impact is less. With full seating capacity too, the Alto seems to deal with the irregularities of the road better.

In terms of safety, Tata Nano has nothing to offer except for 180 mm drum brakes up front and rear. The Maruti Alto offers more safety than that. There is an (more expensive) Airbag version and if you opt for the LXi then at least you get front disc brakes.


First things first, the Nano with it’s power steering, Bluetooth and other features comes with a price tag of Rs 2.31 lakh (Ex-Showroom, Delhi). This is a very mouth-watering price. The Maruti Alto 800 LXi is priced at Rs 2.98 lakh (Ex-Showroom, Delhi) for the Mettalic colours and Rs 2.94 lakh (Ex-Showroom, Delhi) for the non-metallic. There is a price difference of about Rs 53,000 in both cars.

The Tata Nano Twist and Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 are both for different buyers. In case you are looking for a car more grounded and mature, one that is comfortable and poised for the occasional highway run and a car that can easily last you 7-8 years then it has to be the Maruti Suzuki Alto 800. However, if you are young and single and want a car that comes with bells and whistles seen in a Rs 4 lac hatchback, the Twist makes sense in this case. It is also for those who want a city car that’s light on the pocket and yet comfortable for your daily chores.

Photography by Kanupriya Bhatnagar

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