Today’s comparison is between a Tata and a Toyota, and you might think, “that’s an easy one” – after all, until recently Toyota was the largest car manufacturer in the world. Until recently, Tata Motors hadn’t made a single passenger car. But today’s compare isn’t easy. Today we’ve got the Tata Aria and the Toyota Innova, and the contest is as close as it can possibly get. Also Read - Twitterati Express Anger After Bus Driver Who Complained of Coughing Passeneger Dies of Coronavirus

Let’s get figures out of the way: the Innova develops 102PS and 200Nm, weighs 1675kg and has an ARAI-claimed fuel efficiency of 12.7kmpl. Is it nice to drive? In a word, yes. This is still the ride and handling benchmark in this segment. It’s got a low centre of gravity, it runs on car tyres, the steering has got excellent accuracy and feel, the brakes (despite being drums at the rear) have good bite and progression, and the chassis is enjoyable and communicative. Also Read - Muskurayega India: Akshay Kumar Unites Bollywood Celebs For a Motivational Song, Asks People to Have Faith And Hope



The quicker you drive, the better it gets. That engine has a linear torque delivery through the rev range, and the turbo lag is all but absent – more impressive is the fact that you don’t get a surge when the turbocharger starts doing its work. Do we like driving this car? Yes. Would people get carsick in this car if driven badly? No. This is still the best driver’s MUV, if that’s the kind of thing you worry about when buying a car like this. Also Read - GoAir Open For Bookings From April 15 For Domestic Flights, From May 1 For International Flights

Does that mean that the Aria is a bad driver’s car? Far from it. That 140PS and 320Nm will leave the Innova eating its dust despite the 550kg deficit. Surprisingly, it’s got a higher fuel efficiency figure at 13.7kmpl.



Things get clearer when behind the Aria’s wheel – depress the loud pedal and there’s a soft whistle from the turbo, and a giant palm pushes you in the small of your back, hurling you down the road in a flurry of dust and not much drama. There is noticeable turbo lag at low engine speeds, but from 1500rpm onwards everything else looks like it’s moving underwater if you’ve got the pedal to the floor.

The ride and handling are very old-school SUV: it will shrug off bad roads in second or third gear with no complaint at all, and the body roll is evident around a corner, but it holds its line well. The fly in the ointment is the steering – there’s way too much slack around the straight-ahead, and it weighs up a surprising amount at parking speeds. Hit a bump with both front wheels at the same time, and it will shimmy and slip in your hands thanks to the hard plastic, undermining driver confidence.

The brakes are discs all around, but with that kind of weight, they need to be! Stopping distances are very impressive, aided by the standard ABS on all variants. Pedal feel was a little mushy and pedal travel was a little more than I’d have liked, but that is acceptable given that this is a press demonstrator that has undergone rigorous driving by the media.

There is wind noise from the elephantine mirrors at speed, but I’m willing to forgive it that because even at speeds twice the speed limit, the Aria doesn’t feel nervous. Crosswinds don’t upset it and it flattens any bump that has the temerity to roll under its highway terrain tyres. I am very impressed with the Aria’s ride and handling despite the Innova trumping it in absolute terms.

If you asked me what car I’d take for a cross-country jaunt, I’d pick this one. It’s more powerful, has better tank range, and will take on bad roads so much better than the Innova while still making it a fun drive.

Verdict

It’s six of one and a half dozen of the other: do you want the inexpensive to maintain, easy-to-drive Innova? But then you’ll be driving something from the taxi market. The Aria will give you the looks but it won’t be cheap to maintain if something breaks, like the headlamps for example. It also won’t hack it with the page three folks because of the brand. If you consider the variants we have here, you’ll spend Rs 11.7 lakh on the Aria Pure and Rs 12.3 lakh on the Innova V.

For that difference the Innova offers you two airbags, alloy wheels and climate control over the Aria, but the latter still has ABS, height-adjustable seat belts, a good audio system with USB and aux in capability, better performance, better fuel efficiency and decent ride and handling. The Innova offers you brand value, but it cannot match the value that Tata offers with this base-model Aria – which manages to be a complete car despite being a base variant. And that’s why it wins this comparison.