In October 2010, Tata Motors sought to break new ground with the Aria, a 2.2 litre DiCOR powering all four wheels and with a long list of electronics and gizmos. But it didn't rake in the expected numbers, the hefty price tag being the main reason behind this. And so almost a year later, Tata Motors has finally decided to launch the Aria 2WD.
The 4x2 variant does not see any design changes and looks exactly like the 4x4 except for the badging. Among the carry forwards from the 4x4 variant is the 2.2 DiCOR engine which retains its power rating of 140PS at 4000rpm and the torque figure of 320Nm at 1700-2700rpm. The Aria's G76 Mark II transmission has been reworked for even slicker gearshifts and shorter throws (the same gearbox will be available in the 4X4 model as well) and it is better than the Innova's. This will have only rear-wheel drive. In fact, Tata Motors hope to sell more 4X2 Arias just like the Safari (70 percent of its sales is the 4X2 version).
On the handling front, the new Aria is just as good as the 4x4 version. It feels light at low speeds and stable even when the speedometer needle is leaning towards the right. Thanks to the double wishbone setup at the front and the 5-link unit at the rear, the ride is smooth enough over most surfaces except the harshest. The steering still feels a bit light at high speeds leaving the driver slightly nervous when steering into corners. The car retains the four disc brake format from the earlier variant. The 4X2 retains the ABS with EBD but will not have traction control or ESP.
The major difference between the 4X2 and 4WD models is in performance. The 4X2 takes 13.08 seconds to touch 100kmph making it more than two seconds quicker than its 4WD version and similar to a few C-segment diesel sedans. The quarter mile run is completed in 18.64seconds, 1.3seconds quicker than the 4WD's 19.94seconds. The car also posted roll on times of 13.3 seconds for 40-100kmph in 4th gear and 29.46 seconds in 5th gear (due to the turbo kicking in only after 1600rpm) while 20-80kmph came around in 13.75 seconds in 3rd gear. Very impressive figures for a vehicle that weighs more than two tonnes.
In terms of fuel efficiency, the new Aria returned 11.1kmpl in the city (Aria 4WD - 10.9kmpl) and 18.7kmpl on the highway (Aria 4WD - 18.3kmpl) which means an average of 12.99kmpl (Aria 4WD 12.75kmpl). This gives the 4x2 an estimated range of 780km.
In terms of features, the 4X2 Aria has dropped the air bags, cruise control, sat nav, ESP and traction control from its arsenal. Even without the few knick knacks that have been dropped, the car is still good value for money. However, quality of plastics and fit and finish still needs to be improved.
The 4X2 Aria is available in three trims. So together with the 4WD variants the Aria is now available in six variants - Pure, Pleasure, Prestige and Pride. The Pure will only be available as a 4X2, while the Pleasure and Prestige are available in both 4WD and 2WD. The Pride meanwhile will remain the flagship variant with all the fancy gadgetry and will be available only as 4WD. The 4X2 Pleasure is priced at Rs 12.61lakh, which is Rs 29,000 cheaper than the 4X4 Pleasure. The Prestige 4X2 meanwhile is priced at Rs 14.21lakh which is again Rs 29,000 cheaper than the corresponding 4X4. The cheapest model in the entire range is the Pure 4X2 at Rs 11.61lakh. The only problem though is that the top-end fully-loaded Innova VX is Rs 11.66lakh and even though the Aria is far more stylish and distinctive
it is hard to make a conclusive enough case for it over the segment benchmark.