Automotive

Low-slung, high-tech, Indian: Meet the Tata Racemo

Low-slung, high-tech, Indian: ...
The TAMO Racemo launched at the Geneva Motor Show
The TAMO Racemo launched at the Geneva Motor Show
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The butterfly doors on the Racemo add a touch of supercar drama
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The butterfly doors on the Racemo add a touch of supercar drama
The Racemo is mid-engined
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The Racemo is mid-engined
The TAMO Racemo is built on a new type of chassis for Tata
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The TAMO Racemo is built on a new type of chassis for Tata
The TAMO Racemo launched at the Geneva Motor Show
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The TAMO Racemo launched at the Geneva Motor Show
The face of the new Tata Racemo
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The face of the new Tata Racemo
The Racemo is powered by a compact turbocharged engine, good for a six-second sprint to 100 km/h 
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The Racemo is powered by a compact turbocharged engine, good for a six-second sprint to 100 km/h 
The Racemo is built on a modern, multi-material sandwich chassis
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The Racemo is built on a modern, multi-material sandwich chassis
The Racemo will be built, although we don't know how many will be made
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The Racemo will be built, although we don't know how many will be made
The Racemo is the first foray into sports cars for Tata
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The Racemo is the first foray into sports cars for Tata
The Racemo is a similar size to a Mazda MX-5
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The Racemo is a similar size to a Mazda MX-5
The complex rear-end of the Tata Racemo
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The complex rear-end of the Tata Racemo
The cabin of the Racemo is all about screens and buttons
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The cabin of the Racemo is all about screens and buttons
The Racemo comes with a paddleshift gearbox
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The Racemo comes with a paddleshift gearbox
The Racemo can be customised with lots of colors and stickers
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The Racemo can be customised with lots of colors and stickers
Behind the wheel of the Tata Racemo
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Behind the wheel of the Tata Racemo
The Racemo is designed to be a new, connected take on the sports car
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The Racemo is designed to be a new, connected take on the sports car
The Racemo represents a new passenger car strategy for Tata
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The Racemo represents a new passenger car strategy for Tata
The Racemo looks wild with a wing on the back
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The Racemo looks wild with a wing on the back
The Racemo is a huge change of direction for Tata
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The Racemo is a huge change of direction for Tata
The red highlights in the Racemo are there to add a bit of sporting credibility
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The red highlights in the Racemo are there to add a bit of sporting credibility
The Racemo rides quite high for a sports car
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The Racemo rides quite high for a sports car
The Tata Racemo on the move
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The Tata Racemo on the move
The Racemo will be built on a new modular chassis
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The Racemo will be built on a new modular chassis

What comes to mind when you think of Tata? For most people, the first image to pop up is the faceless Nano microcar, although car nerds will also recognise the Indian giant as the latest owner of Jaguar and Land Rover. You can imagine how surprised we were, then, when it unveiled the low-slung, high-tech Racemo in Geneva.

The move into sports cars represents a massive change of direction for Tata. Motivated by a desire to mobilize the Indian population with cheap, ultra-reliable cars, the brand whipped the covers off the Nano in 2008, but the car never sold in the quantities initially expected. Turns out the Indian middle-class wasn't interested in bare-bones motoring, preferring to stretch the budget for luxurious offerings from Maruti Suzuki and Honda. The fact that it looked like a cartoon monster probably didn't help either.

This failure has led to the creation of an all-new passenger car strategy for Tata Motors, led by the TAMO sub brand. Rather than focusing on high-volume cars for the masses, TAMO is designed to create high-tech, low-volume cars that move the game forward, starting with the Racemo.

With that in mind, the car represents a smorgasbord of firsts for Tata. It's the first car built on a new modular multi-material sandwich chassis, designed to allow a quicker transition from prototype to production reality. Tata says it's the first company to use this production method, which will mean it can deliver more exclusive, exciting cars to the Indian market without an exorbitant price sticker.

The Racemo is a similar size to a Mazda MX-5
The Racemo is a similar size to a Mazda MX-5

Power comes from a compact mid-mounted turbocharged petrol engine with 188 hp (140 kW) of power and 210 Nm (155 lb.ft) of torque, enough for a sub-six second sprint to 100 km/h (62 mph). Not numbers to make Porsche nervous, but plenty fast enough in a car the size of a Mazda MX-5.

Beyond its conventional powertrain, the Racemo debuts a set of connected technologies for Tata, which describes it as the first "phygital" car. Yes, that's a conjunction of physical and digital and yes, we wanted to punch something when we first read it too. Here's hoping the first phygital car is also the last, if only so the word never reappears.

Although it doesn't dive into too much detail when talking about the tech suite, Tata says the TAMO Racemo will use "cloud-computing, analytics, geo-spatial and mapping" systems. To us that would suggest a set of live, cloud-connected performance tracking tools will be available, although we have no doubt some of that Microsoft-powered computing will also be used to offer the "adventure loving, digitally native, mobile first technophiles of India" a tool to easily share their in-car exploits on social media as well.

The Racemo comes with a paddleshift gearbox
The Racemo comes with a paddleshift gearbox

Inside, the Racemo looks like something straight out of a video game. The button-laden steering wheel is flanked by three screens, and there's a set of bright red paddles for self-shifting attached to the back. All the details are gloriously overblown, from the bright red door pulls to the angular dashboard, but we love the childish abandon with which the designers have approached their task.

Things aren't so rosy on the outside, where the same focus on making everything look exciting makes for a strange, gaping face and complex rear end. It does have butterfly doors though, which is always a good start when it comes to sports cars.

"Symbolising the change that is taking place at Tata Motors, 'RACEMO' is the proving ground of the TAMO family of vehicles and will drive the future of India's connected generation," says Guenter Butschek, CEO & MD at Tata Motors. "From styling and design to driver experience and technology, RACEMO is an extension of customers' personality, as part of their digital ecosystem and will break the ice with a radical new presence and pique the interest in the parent brand."

The Racemo can be customised with lots of colors and stickers
The Racemo can be customised with lots of colors and stickers

At the moment, there's no word on how many TAMO Racemos will be built, and what they'll cost when they are. Those who are desperate to check one out can see it at the Geneva Motor Show, or download it on Forza for XBOX.

Source: Tato TAMO

1 comment
Charles S Roscoe
No Bumpers? Interior design by Lego?