The Tata Ace was born in 2005 and was designed mostly for the Indian market. While other countries looked with skepticism at the mini trucks segment, India was the perfect market for this type of vehicles as they were cheap, efficient and also very practical.
With a length of only 3800 mm and a width of 1500 mm, the Tata Ace is the smaller brother of the Super Ace model and is positioned in the same segment with models like the Daihatsu Hijet, Piaggio Porter or Suzuki Carry.
The vehicle is available only in dropside guise and is powered by a tiny 700cc engine which develops only 16 hp. The Tata Ace is offered with a warranty of 36.000 km or 12 months.
Despite its compact dimensions, the Tata Ace features a body on frame construction which enhances its utilitarian character. The overall design is pretty practical with big door which offers easy access inside and wide glass area for a proper all round visibility.
The cab over engine configuration gives it a boxy appearance and a pretty dull look.
The front fascia features two circular headlights and round turning signals mounted above them. The lights are flanking a big radiator grille which is split in two sections by a thin bar that also bares the company’s logo in its center.
Unlike other vehicles in the segment which come with a big and imposing bumper, the Tata Ace features a very small bumper which is fitted with two round fog lamps.
The mini truck sits on tiny 13 inch wheels, but it has a pretty generous load area which has a 2200 mm length and 1500 width.
Virtually unchanged since 2005, the interior is as basic as it can be. But despite the spartan cab, we’ll have to admit that Tata used the interior space wisely. The Ace’s interior is the best representation of the concept “form follows function”. For instance, the dashboard features a pretty odd design, but it’s fitted with a lot of storage areas to enhance the comfort.
Needless to say, that all plastics are rock hard, as they were chosen firstly for their durability. The build quality is also on the rubbish side and the Ace feels noticeably cheaper than its Japanese rivals.
The instrument cluster is fitted with a single gauge for the speedometer which is fairly big and can be easy to read.
Due to the compact exterior dimensions, the interior space had to be sacrificed and the seats feel pretty cramped with limited leg-room. Instead, you have a fair amount of head-room and the seats have also a few adjustments to make your life on board a bit easier.
Compared to other units in the segment, the Ace’s steering wheel looks ancient, but its dimensions were wisely selected and it offers a good grab.
Thanks to the high driving position, you won’t complain about the all-round visibility either, and we also like the big windscreen and the generous lateral windows. However, the rear visibility is limited, as the truck isn’t offered with two exterior mirrors and is fitted with only one small mirror which is mounted on the driver’s side.
Engines and transmissions
Under the cab, the Tata Ace is equipped with a 700 cc 4 stroke, naturally aspirated, indirect injection diesel engine which has a maximum output of 16 hp @ 3200 rpm, with a peak torque of 37.5 Nm @ 2000 rpm.
The truck’s GVW (gross vehicle weight) is rated at 1550 kg while the kerb weight is 815 kg. These numbers are pretty small, but the engine still feels underpowered especially when it’s fully loaded or it has to deal with sloped sections.
Needless to say, that it doesn’t like to be hurried and its maximum speed is only 70 kmph.
The engine is combined with a five speed synchromesh transmission which offers deep gear ratios to extract the proper amount of torque needed for the arduous missions of the truck. Unfortunately the gearbox has a rubbery feel and needs constant gear changes in order to keep the engine’s performances to a satisfactory level.
Tata Ace Engines Specifications
|700 cc||16 @ 3200||37.5@2000|
Ride and handling
To be able to deal with generous payloads and harsh terrains, the Tata Ace is equipped with parabolic leaf suspensions at both front and rear. The heavy duty suspensions are combined with hydraulic telescopic shock absorbers.
This configuration offers a bumpy ride and you should also be prepared for a poor road stability. On the other hand, things will start to get slightly better if you’ll put some weight at the back.
The good part is that the steering is pretty accurate and rewards you with a proper road feedback. Thanks to its small dimensions, the Tata Ace is also surprisingly agile around the city and has a minimum turning circle diameter of 8.6 meters.
The stopping power is assured by discs at the front and drums at the rear. The brakes aren’t something to rave about, but you won’t need any stronger performances either, as the engine power is pretty small.
It’s easy and even justifiable to criticize the Tata Ace. It’s only half a truck, and it has a poor built quality combined with a spartan interior. Not to mention about the rubbery gearbox and the diminutive engine.
But after playing around in a variety of road conditions, the fog of novelty wears off and it’s practical nature wins the day. This mini truck is also very cheap to maintain and easy to repair.
It’s true that the Ace is devoid of any safety features, but it compensates with the rugged character of a small work horse which will serve you well in any situation.
If you need a small LCV in an urban area and only plan to use the vehicle as a mean to carry small loads from here to there, you could make a case for the Tata Ace. Just don’t hurry it around and be patient with its weak engine.
Video: Tata Ace Commercial