Tata Aria automatic to be launched by end of 2012

Tata Motors is readying the automatic transmission (AT) variant of the Aria which is expected to be launched by the end of 2012. We expect the price of the automatic variant to be around Rs. 1 lakh more than the manual transmission variant. Whether Tata will offer the automatic transmission in both 4×2 and 4×4 version is yet to be known.

The Aria automatic has been spotted testing in and around Pune for a couple of times, confirming its launch in India. The Aria automatic may attract prospective Mahindra Scorpio automatic buyers or even those of the pricier Ford Endeavour automatic or the Chevrolet Captiva automatic.

tata aria photo
Photo: An automatic variant of the Tata Aria may help it lure in some more buyers

Looks and comfort

With regard to looks and interiors, the AT variant will be same as the manual variant except for an ‘auto’ badge on the exterior. Aria is the best Tata car in terms of interiors, fit and finish with a dashboard that is soft to touch. The seats themselves are quite comfortable.

Front and middle row passengers have ample headroom, legroom and shoulder room to relax especially during long drivers. Speaking of the rear, the third row of seats lacks user space and is best suited for kids only. The automatic variant will enhance the overall driving especially in short distance urban commuting.

Aria Automatic vs. competition

Tata is likely to use a six-speed automatic transmission for the Aria. The Aria AT will be powered by the same 2.2-litre DICOR engine (used in the Tata Safari) that makes 138 bhp of power and 320 Nm of torque. We expect the Aria AT to accelerate from 0 – 100 kmph in about 16 seconds (manual variant takes 15.65 seconds). Read our Mahindra XUV500 vs. Tata Aria story here.

The Scorpio automatic one of the Aria’s closest competitors takes 15.39 seconds to accelerate from 0-100 kmph which is only half a second quicker than estimated time of the Aria AT. Hence, performance wise, the Aria AT will be in par with its direct rival, the Scorpio AT.

Expect a mileage of roughly 12.5 kmpl for the Aria AT (Aria MT returns 13.71 kmpl) which is slightly higher than the Scorpio AT which has ARAI-certified mileage of 11.79 kmpl. More can be said only once the car is unveiled and official specifications are out.

Features

The Aria AT will likely have the all the features found in the manual variant depending on the trim levels. Expect the safety features offered on the Tata Aria AT top-end variant to include; Electronic Stability Program (ESP), ABS, EBD and traction control, six airbags, cruise control, side intrusion beams and a collapsible steering column. The steering wheel will have cruise control switches, Bluetooth and audio controls mounted on it. Satellite based navigation system, leather upholstery, darkness sensing head lamps, rain sensing wipers, glove box chiller, 6 CD audio system and reverse camera are some of the other comfort features expected in the AT variant.

Expected price

The Aria AT will likely be priced Rs. 1 lakh (approximate) more than the manual variant. Hence the Aria AT top-end (Prestige) 4×2 variant will likely have a price tag of Rs. 15.26 lakh while the 4×4 variant will have a price tag of Rs. 16.84 lakh. Read our Tata Aria 4×2 review here.

However, if Tata offers the AT across all variants, which is most unlikely, the prices of Aria AT 4×2 variants will range between Rs. 12.61 lakh – 15.26 lakh while those of 4×4 variants will range between Rs. 14.25 lakh – 16.84 lakh.

It has to be noted that the nearest competition, Mahindra Scorpio AT is priced at Rs. 11.24 lakh for the 4×2 variant and Rs. 12.21 lakh for the 4×4 variant. Other rivals such as the Ford Endeavour AT is priced at Rs. 18.27 lakh for the 4×2 variant and Rs. 19.70 lakh for the 4×4 variant while the Chevrolet Captiva AT is priced at Rs. 19.71 lakh. All prices are ex-showroom, Delhi.

Summary

The automatic transmission may not boost the sales immediately for Tata but in the long run it will help Tata adopt this automatic gear box in other cars. However the recently launched Mahindra XUV 500 with an aggressive price range of Rs. 10.80 lakh – 12.88 lakh got 8,000 plus bookings within weeks of the launch and the Aria seems to have lost its appeal.

With the launch of automatic transmission, Tata is once again trying to grab the attention of potential buyers who seek comfort rather than performance or fuel economy from a premium utility vehicle. But by the time the Aria AT hits showrooms in late 2012, the XUV 500 could also receive an automatic gear box.