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Geneva show: Tata reveals Pixel city car concept

Pint-sized: Tata Pixel shows the future of the Indian auto giants' European design.

Tata eyes off Europe and Toyota iQ with high-tech Pixel concept

Tata logo4 Mar 2011

By MIKE COSTELLO

INDIAN carmaker Tata has revealed its vision for a European city car with its Toyota iQ-sized Pixel concept at Geneva.

Tata claims the tiny four-seater, which is slightly longer than the four-seat iQ at just over three metres and based on its groundbreaking Nano model – famed for being the world’s cheapest car – is “the most package efficient four-seater in the world”.

Tata’s clever ‘Zero Turn’ system rotates the outer rear wheel forwards and the inner rear wheel backwards during low speed manoeuvres, while the front wheels turn at an acute angle. This system gives the tiny Tata a forklift-like turning circle of just 2.6 metres, compared with 3.9 metres for the iQ and nine metres for the larger Nissan Micra.

The swooping design, reminiscent of the Kia Pop concept from last year’s Paris show, features large glass areas on the doors for enhanced visibility and a window graphic that changes colour to add to the car’s funky appearance.

47 center imageLeft: Tata Pixel's scissor-doors and interior. Bottom: Kia Pop concept from 2010 Paris show.

Instead of a traditional instrument fascia, the Pixel’s entertainment, navigation and air conditioning systems are controlled via a tablet or smartphone device that can be docked into the dash and synchronised with the car. Performance and fuel consumption information traditionally found on a more conventional trip computer readout is instead displayed on the device.

This method of integrating vehicle functions with tablet or smartphone devices has been a trend at Geneva this year, with other concepts such as the VW Bulli, Smart Forspeed and Rinspeed BamBoo all exhibiting similar setups.

The rear-engined Pixel is powered by a 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo diesel with idle-stop. Low rolling-resistance tyres, ‘intelligent battery charging’ and a super-slippery design give the Tata claimed combined fuel consumption of 3.4L/100km and CO2 emissions of 89g/km.

Tata Group managing director and CEO Carl-Peter Forster, who is the former president of GM Europe, said at Geneva that the Pixel is indicative of future Tata designs for the more sophisticated European market.

"Tata Motors holds true to its belief that there is an opportunity in Europe for a city car, which is optimal in space, manoeuvrability and environment-friendliness. The Tata Pixel is a reflection of Tata Motors' idea of what such a car should be,” he said.

The Indian manufacturer, which owns Jaguar Land Rover, also displayed its Indica Vista EV at Geneva. The four-seater, which has a range of 160km, is going on sale to fleets in the UK in the middle of this year.

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