By on February 3, 2017

Tata Nano

Tata Motors is best known for its unbelievably affordable and incredibly petite Nano supermini and the tiny Ace work truck. In fact, the two are so affordable that you could purchase them both in India with every optional extra and they would cost roughly the same as a base U.S. model Nissan Versa with no add-ons.

Despite still being deeply rooted in the economy car scene, Tata has grown in recent years — it currently builds smaller SUVs — and now wants to build itself a sportscar. While your first inclination is probably to say “how adorable” in a belittling tone, don’t forget that Tata also constructs vans, city buses, commercial trucks, construction equipment, and military vehicles. It could turn out a little basic, but the Indian automaker is probably up to the challenge of a small sports car.

Still, how utterly adorable.

Tata Tamo

Released in a teaser shot completely obscured by a red blanket, Tata’s new performance car will be called the Futuro and will be the first vehicle from the company’s new Tamo sub-brand. According to the company, Tamo will serve as a way to future-proof Tata by seeking “mobility solutions” and modernizing its passenger vehicle strategy. A big part of that will be the development of a couple of scalable modular platforms that will reduce complexity between vehicles and minimize cost while still allowing the brand to head slightly upmarket.

The mid-engined Futuro is to be the company’s first step toward offering slightly more expensive aspirational vehicles. Details are scarce, but Autocar India says it could cost as much as $35,000 — almost double that of Tata’s most expensive SUV — and model itself after the Opel Speedster.

Autocar cites inside sources as suggesting the Tamo sportscar would be powered by a turbocharged 1.2-liter Revotron engine making around 180 horsepower. Not exactly impressive, but isn’t terribly far from the power delivery of a turbocharged 2003 Opel Speedster. While cost constraints have eliminated the use of carbon fiber or any other exotic polymer, Tata Motors plans on minimizing weight by using composite plastics and aluminum, targeting a ludicrously light curb weight of 1,764 pounds.

Based off the Tamo logo and techie graphics, it sure looks like someone at Tata got into cyberpunk recently or really enjoys Faraday Future’s visual marketing style. Tata definitely wants to use the new sub-brand to ditch its old image and become the cool kid in class, though there are two ways to do that. There is the guy that spends his entire summer exercising and building up his confidence and the guy that buys a leather duster and wraparound sunglasses.

The Futuro will premiere at the Geneva International Motor Show on March 7 as a two-seater concept with aspirations to make it to market as a low volume flagship.

[Image: Tata Motors]

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43 Comments on “Maker of World’s Cheapest Car Really Wants to Build a Mid-engine Sportscar...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    But they’re deathtraps!

    Discuss. I’ll pick up the pizza.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Deathtraps only panic the weak-kneed side of TTAC.

      I drive my 99 GMC Sonoma, veteran of 17 salt belt winters, 3 or 4 times a week without a bit of worry.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      “But they’re deathtraps!”

      Ain’t deregulation grand!

      • 0 avatar
        Garrett

        It is, actually.

        From a regulatory standpoint, motorcycles shouldn’t exist due to the danger.

        People should be allowed to buy an incredibly unsafe car if they so desire, and insurance companies should be able to charge them through the nose for it. The only thing that should be required is full disclosure and 3rd party testing so that people know exactly what they are or aren’t getting.

        There is also a market for vehicles that are safer than required. Volvo is the best example. There is no way most other car companies could be profitable if they were forced to design all cars to meet the same standards Volvo does.

        Frankly, I would never buy an FCA product for use transporting my family, because I don’t think they are safe. Other people disagree, and I think they should be allowed to buy those death traps.

        I only buy vehicles that are rated good for every single impact test the IIHS does (including small overlap), but I don’t think that all companies should be forced to meet that standard.

        Let people decide with their wallets, and we’ll get the cars we deserve.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Motorcycles have their own regulations and most jurisdictions have mandatory helmet laws. No one on a bike expects it to save them in a crash.

          • 0 avatar
            Garrett

            If you consider the societal cost of motorcycles, there’s no justification for allowing them. I say this as someone who used to ride.

            To the extent that we allow motorcycles, why shouldn’t we also allow cars with minimal impact protection?

          • 0 avatar
            wumpus

            Funny, there’s a significant difference in mortality between riders who wear and not wear a helmet. It is clear enough to use as a counterpoint to the “want to be thrown through the windshield” idiocy about not wearing a seatbelt.

            Of course the helmet only keeps you alive if the rest of your body is recoverable. The helmet isn’t protecting anything but your head, and the rest of your body can get pretty messed up. And most of the rest of the gear doesn’t keep you alive, it just makes it easier to recover/look better after recovery thanks to keeping the skin on (and hopefully letting you maintain use of your hands).

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          @Garrett: Of course some people would buy unsafe cars. Probably the same who drive winter beaters (starting a new argument). However then who would assume the cost and responsibility of caring for them when they become permanently injured in a collision? The insurance companies would not be responsible for all the costs, as there are many societal costs involved, not including the lost potential.

          Safety regulations are in place to protect more than just the person involved in the collision.

          Of course you may believe like Margaret Thatcher that ‘there is no such thing as a society’.

          • 0 avatar
            Garrett

            Here’s a counterpoint: because we have standards, most people pay no attention to actual tested safety. People assume that cars are safe because the government makes them be “safe”.

            Imagine a different scenario: the government doesn’t have standards, but you have the ability to access information and decide what cars provides the level of safety that you want. It’s up to evaluate, and you can assume nothing.

            I would argue that a situation in which more people were forced to investigate the relative safety of their cars would result in lots of horrified people. This would have the ultimate effect of moving players like FCA towards offering reasonable safety compared to competitors, versus having consistently the worst performance.

            Think about airlines. Imagine no TSA (yay!). While some people would fly on a plane with no security, you’d have a lot of people willing to pay for El-Al quality security. The average security level would likely increase because it becomes a marketing angle and having minimal performance limits revenue.

            I think people deserve to have really safe cars, but relying on government standards results in “safe” cars as opposed to truly safe cars.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Arthur,
            I read many years ago each road fatality cost the Australian economy 1 million dollars (mid 80s). This figure did not include, vehicle recovery costs and medical.

            You are correct, there is a far bigger cost to society regarding productivity in comparison to the relatively cheaper cost of vehicle and medical.

        • 0 avatar
          John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

          “People should be allowed to buy an incredibly unsafe car if they so desire, and insurance companies should be able to charge them through the nose for it. The only thing that should be required is full disclosure and 3rd party testing so that people know exactly what they are or aren’t getting.”

          Garret, if that isn’t an argument against the stupid 25 year import rule, I don’t know what is.

          Let me drive a Honda S660 or an N/! I know I’m not buying a Grand Marquis or S80, but that’s alright with me.

          • 0 avatar
            Garrett

            Agreed.

            I think the only thing that gives me pause is the emissions aspect, but if imports remain low volume, and emissions equipment hasn’t been removed, it probably doesn’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Garrett, unfortunately history has proven that the average citizen does not act in their own best interests or heavily research their decisions.

            That is one reason why marketing/advertising is such a big business and is based on emotion not logic.

            And rather than purchasing cheap Chinese made goods, we would all be buying slightly more expensive products made by our neighbours or in other 1st world nations.

            And I will leave it to others to debate how this reflects on recent election results.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      I would assume this petite sports car will be easily 3 Star ENCAP. A 3 Star benchmark is easily achievable. Most Indian and Chinese vehicles are 3 Star or better.

      This is still better than a 2 Star Mustang.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The first two paragraphs might have a bit more bite if Tata didn’t own Jaguar.

    They conceivably could throw a Tama badge on an XJ220 if they felt like it.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Exactly. Not a single mention of Jaguar.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Posky

        If Tata implements Jaguar hardware on this new car, I’d be more than just a little surprised.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          “If Tata implements Jaguar hardware on this new car, I’d be more than just a little surprised.”

          The article says this car will be around $35k and the Jaguar XE is $34,900. I’d be surprised if they didn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            Matt Posky

            Beyond some aluminum bodywork there hasn’t yet been anything to even hint at the faintest possibility of Jaguar touching this project with a ten-thousand foot pole. While it’s theoretically possible to nab Jag parts, I’m not going to presume anything about the Futuro until I hear something of substance. Any collaboration seems highly doubtful.

            Future Tamo projects making use of JLR seem more likely. That, and Tata has been eyeballing Land Rover for its next (Q501) flagship SUV already.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Matt,
            There doesn’t need to be highly visible aspects. There will be a lot of tech and production transfer.

            A classic example of this is the Ford 6.7 V8 PowerStroke. Much of the design and engineering came from the Lion diesel, from the UK. Two different engines.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @Matt Posky
          Totally wrong platform for Jaguar to even touch. All the in house TATA products have Indian roots

      • 0 avatar
        John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

        Yeah. I expected references to the F-Type, not busses and machinery.

        I don’t expect a rebadged Jag here, but clearly they have more resources than commercial vehicles and the Nano.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Doesn’t Tata also own Aston Martin?

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Hell, it might also have more bite if there wasn’t a long history of people taking bits from people’s cars and deciding they wanted to use them to go fast.

      I mean, that weird Kraut who designed that piece of junk that Hank the Deuce decided wasn’t worth his time, he wants to take his ugly little thing and go racing. How adorable

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Give that they probably only have to meet the relatively low safety standards of India, they could feasibly create the best sports car in decades.

    Imagine a Jaguar E-Type with modern reliability.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The best sports cars in decades are being built right now.

      A 1978 Porsche 930 Turbo cost about $120,000 in today’s dollars, and a current Corvette Stingray could MASSACRE it in most, if not all, performance measures…with safety features that would have been pure sci-fi in 1978. And the Corvette can do it at half the price.

      • 0 avatar
        Garrett

        From a numbers standpoint, you’re right.

        From an enjoyment standpoint, you’re not. I’ve always found that older and less refined cars to be more engaging.

        Put another way, you can get minivans that are faster than the original Corvette, but which would you enjoy more on the back roads?

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        It gets better than that. I think it was 10 years ago that grassroots motorsports had a Porsche 356 vs. Minivan (possibly including a Jag type E as well) and the Minivan won. On an *autocross* (I’d expect that plenty of cars can beat early porsches (including a ’78 930) in a straight line).

        Funny thing is that I learned to drive on cars of that era (’76 and ’78 cars), and we could only look back at the muscle car era and think “there were giants in that era”. Not so now, everything great is new.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Tata also owns Range Rover/Land Rover as well as Jaguar.
      So obviously they can manufacture vehicles which the 1% and Hollywood celebrities ‘must have’.

      If they can do that, then they can make an affordable ‘sports car’.

      And eventually they should be able to make a ‘city car’ that meets first European and then North American crash and emissions standards. Although I see them waiting until they have a strong position in the African and South American markets.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @Arthur Dailey
        No, Tata does not manufacture the vehicles, they provide the finance. JLR does the design, testing and manufacturing
        TATA Nano is all their own design and manufacturing

        • 0 avatar
          tekdemon

          Since JLR is a subsidiary of Tata anything JLR makes *IS* something made by Tata, because JLR is part of Tata. What you’re suggesting is as silly as saying that Gap doesn’t make Old Navy clothes because Gap just “finances” Old Navy, that’s not how ownership works. JLR’s marketing might not want you to associate them with cheap Indian cars but that doesn’t mean it’s not a Tata product.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Garrett,
      Somehow I think you have it wrong here.

      This car will be reliant on export markets.

      All cars coming out of Thailand are 5 Star safety rated, which I might add is far superior to the 2 Star US made Mustang.

      Thailand is a developing nation with a GDP per capita lower than China.

      So, before you trash another country make sure your own backyard is clean.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Tata also owns Range Rover/Land Rover as well as Jaguar.
    So obviously they can manufacture vehicles which the 1% and Hollywood celebrities ‘must have’.

    If they can do that, then they can make an affordable ‘sports car’.

    And eventually they should be able to make a ‘city car’ that meets first European and then North American crash and emissions standards. Although I see them waiting until they have a strong position in the African and South American markets.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    if they put a turbo 1.2 three cyl. into a VX220 chassis they can keep it in India

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    CLARKSON: “Right, news from India! They have a big company there, called Tata, which have a large car division, and they rolled out their new car… Here it is (points at TV): Jaguar XJ!”

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Hmmm how’s this for a thought. TATA realise that the TATA brand simply won’t sell abroad. To crack the world market they need a new exciting sportscar which they could possibly introduce through JLR dealers before establishing their own independent network. To make sure the quality is there they will probably get Jaguar to design the car and then make it at home and sell it globally.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    “Despite still being deeply rooted in the economy car scene, Tata has grown in recent years — it currently builds smaller SUVs — and now wants to build itself a sportscar. While your first inclination is probably to say “how adorable” in a belittling tone, don’t forget that Tata also constructs vans, city buses, commercial trucks, construction equipment, and military vehicles.”
    Well they also own all of JLR so they’re pretty well versed in high end vehicles including a few sports cars.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Tata is a very large and diverse industrial company. Vehicle manufacturing ranges from prestige UK marques, heavy trucks and equipment to the Nano.

    Tata has steelworks, mines and is involved in most every industry. It’s huge.

    I do believe Tata can easily produce this sports car using in house knowledge and tech.

    I hope to see this sports car in Australia.


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