Tata sells everything in India, from steel and soaps to salt, from ready-made clothes to Hotels. They are seen everywhere, and one of their businesses is Tata Motors; it has been around since a long time. Tata Motors has seen a lot of ups and downs. They were down as a car company some time back, but now the New revamped and rejuvenated Tata Motors currently has its tail up. The new age Tata Motors has seen some good response with the Zest, Bolt, Hexa, Tigor and the biggest seller of them all, the Tiago. Now to add to the list Tata Motors is all set to launch their first soft-road, compact SUV – the Nexon. We have driven the latest and much awaited Nexon on some scenic, winding hill roads of the Kochi-Idduki stretch to get you this detailed road-test review. Read on.
Food For Thought:
Tata Motors revealed the Nexon concept at the 2014 Auto Expo and then again at the 2016 Auto Expo. The Nexon was code named X104. It shares the platform with the Zest and the Bolt. Tata Motors have managed to make the final styling of the Nexon very similar to that seen on the final concept showcased at the 2016 Auto Expo.
One look at the Nexon and it demands a more thorough study. The styling on this car is uniquely different and catchy. Well, some may take time to understand and maybe like to agree with the design language, but the fact remains that this car demands attention instantly. Rounded bodylines are prominent and the design element is deliberately more like an SUV cum Coupe. The front comes with the now familiar Tata face that comes with what they call as the ‘Humanity Line’ also seen on other new gen Tata cars. The face is made up with an extended honey comb design center grill with a neat glossy black line running on the top and a thick chrome line running below it. Neatly designed wide and angular shaped headlights compliment the wide grill. These are projector headlights that come with a V shape day time running lights (DRL) and a slightly popped-up turn indicator on the top that adds to the overall design. The extended wide grill and headlights make the face of the car look much wider than it actually is. The fog lights come infused in thick white housing along with black eye brow band above it. The front bumper is nicely finished off with three black slats that is actually the dam but looks like the skid plate of an SUV. The front bumper extends itself neatly with the overall design theme.
Coming to the sides, the fenders come all looking flexed up and bulge out, making the car look muscular. The wheel arches get the unpainted fiber molding that runs around the edges and also extends on the running board across the length of the vehicle. The roofline slopes downwards towards the tail gate to give that coupe-like feel. The roof comes with silver color finish making it look kind of floating and also gets roof rails that makes the car look a bit more taller than it actually is. The waistline gets a sharp character line that runs upwards across the door handles and mates on the tail lights. The lower window lines get a thick white band that runs from the A to the C pillar. This finisher line is painted in special ceramic paint, adding a lot of style value to the sides. The Nexon drives on 215/60 R16 spec Goodyear Excellence tyres mounted on multi-spoke machined black and metal finished alloys. Not forgetting the 209mm of ground clearance that the Nexon has, making the car stand really tall. The roof also gets a shark fin radio antenna mounted on it.
The rear profile is the trendiest design profile on the car. It is here that you see the `X` styled ceramic lines that engulf the boot lid and the popped-out tail lights that come with `V` shaped LED lights in them. The boot lid also has a glossy black area that gives the `X` lines their real significance. The rear bumpers extend itself till the tail lights. The lower area of the bumper is left unpainted and comes with the honey comb patterning on the sides of the license plate and also gets a pair of stop reflectors placed at an angle. The rear windshield is at a sharp angle and also gets an extended rear spoiler. The boot lid comes with a keyless electric opening feature. From the rear, the Nexon does have some faint resemblance to the Range Rover Evoque to an extent, which is a big plus for it.
Step inside the cabin of the Nexon and you instantly notice the well laid out dashboard along with the center display screen mounted on it. The dashboard is designed in black with a flat top and round flowing metal finish silver molding insert in the front. The highlight of the dash is the 6.5 inches floating touch screen display unit. This is a high definition infotainment unit that comes loaded with Connectnext system developed by Harman for Tata Motors. You can control the 8 speakers surround sound system, connect mobile phones, connect smart phones using Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (under development) with this unit. The screen reads out the Aircon settings and also doubles up as the reverse park camera display when in use. You have an option to download ConnectNext app on your mobile and control this system.
This infotainment screen is placed at easy eye level so the driver does not have to look away to see the screen. Control shortcut buttons are also placed below the air-con blower. The steering wheel comes with the multi function control buttons and is a three spoke design and has been also seen on the Zest and the Tigor models earlier. The steering can be manually adjusted for height, but there is no adjust for reach. The instrument cluster gets twin flat bottom dials and a MFD display in the middle. This design is also seen on the Zest and Tigor.
The center console gets an aluminium finish 6-speed shifter along with the round rotary drive mode shifter placed next to it. There are lots of storage places spread out across the cabin, a closable center arm rest in the front that’s deep enough to store lots of stuff. The push button openable glove box comes with a removable tray and also gets a chiller feature to it along with glass holders on the inside of the glove box door. You also get umbrella holders in the front door panels. The brushed metal finish band runs across the door panels and also on the center console.
The seats get fabric upholstery and the drivers seat comes with manual height adjust. Front seats offer good amount of support and comfort level. There is good shoulder room and head room for the front passengers while the rear passengers get adjustable headrests and a foldable center armrest. Rear AC blowers with a two-speed manual adjust for the rear passengers comfort. Rear seats offer good comfort with good amount of leg room, more than the zest or the Tigor. Head room is also good considering the sloping roofline. The rear passengers also get a 12V charge point that placed behind the left passenger headrest just beside the parcel tray. Getting in and out of the Nexon is pretty easy and comfortable and you don’t need to stretch or bend a lot due to the upright stance of the vehicle.
The Nexon comes with a boot capacity of 350 liters that can be further extended by folding the rear seats to 690 liters when needed. Rear seats come with 40:60 split fold configuration. The fit and finish in the cabin and use of materials and plastic is good and far better than earlier Tata cars. Cabin is well laid out and loaded to the brim with features.
Engine – Drive – Suspension
Tata Nexon comes powered with 2 engine options. You get a All New 1.5 Litre 4 cylinder Turbo Diesel engine and a 1.2 Litre 3 cylinder Petrol engine, both mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. Both the engine options also get the multi drive modes (City, Economy, Sport). Tata Motors tells us there would be an AMT transmission option later available in the range.
Speaking of the Diesel motor first, this is an all new Revatorq 1497cc diesel unit that has 110PS @ 3750 RPM and makes 260 Nm torque @ 1500-2750 RPM. The engine offers good power and drivability at all speeds. Not an outright enthusiasts’ engine, but rightly suited to do the daily job maintaining good fuel economy. The Petrol version comes powered with the Revatron 1198cc 3-cylinder that makes 110PS @ 5000 RPM and hits out 170 Nm of torque @ 1750-4000 RPM. This engine is highly refined and very well tuned for a 3 cylinder engine.
How is the Nexon to drive? We drove both, the Diesel and Petrol version on our way to Idduki and back. First the Diesel… Fire up the engine with the push button starter and the motor comes to life with a distinct roar. The engine noise at idle is bearable and vibrations are bare minimum. Shift to the first and the Nexon chugs ahead at a good pace. The car pulls ahead at low RPMs with ease, power comes in at as low as 1400 RPM and stays till you are coasting. The engine likes to be pushed hard across the RPMs and that’s the best was to extract maximum juice from it. Gear shifting was good with rations tuned for a mix of city and highway driving. Steering felt lively and connected at all times and the Sub-4 meter Nexon behaved sanely when we tried to put it in the sharp corners of the ghats.
If you demand some more fun then you can toggle to the Sport mode using the Drive mode dial. In this mode, there is a bit more power and torque at hand, but then this would sacrifice the mileage to an extent. The 6-speed segment first transmission feels lively to use and the extra gear helps in extracting the most out of this engine. Eco mode was the mode we least used but then that would be the one for extracting high fuel efficiency. The diesel variant weighs around 1305 kgs and that makes it the heaviest model in the segment. The 209 mm of ground clearance did a wonderful job in gliding us over bad roads and potholes, and not even once did we scrape the bottom. The diesel engine cruises nicely at speeds of 100 kmph -120 kmph with ease and the cabin feels relaxed and well sound proofed.
The petrol-hearted Nexon uses the same engine that powers the Tiago and Tigor. This motor is a turbocharged unit and also gets Variable Valve Timing on it. Tata Motors tells us that they have further strengthened for higher pressure and temperatures and the engine has also been remapped over the Tigor and Tiago ones. The petrol version feels highly refined and it’s not easy to make out that this is a 3 pot engine. Torque is lesser than the Diesel unit and that can be felt during steep inclines and climbs. On the highways, this engine variant won’t give you an easy chance to complain though. Both the Diesel and Petrol offer good ride quality and handle well. Suspension setup is on the harder side and that is a boon while driving over our roads. Overall, the Nexon offers a good drive package.
Safety and Gadgets
You get front two airbags and ABS as standard on all variants on the Nexon. The top end model comes with keyless entry on front two doors and the boot too. Along with this you also get a wearable wireless band that works like the key remote. This band looks a lot like your fitness band. So if someone for example goes to the gym or morning walks, he just needs to wear this band to lock or unlock his Nexon. You also get height adjustable front seat belts, central locking etc. on the safety equipment list. And not to forget the floating screen and the kool Drive Modes.
This segment is ruled by the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza and followed by the Ford EcoSport. The Tata Nexon is a model that’s a real head turner, with design and styling that the segment hasn’t seen. It comes loaded with many segment first features and gizmos. A spanking new diesel engine and the tried and tested petrol motor to choose from. Drives well and has a lot of feel good factor. Can it challenge the segment leader will be only known when the Nexon launches in September? Wit and watch this space till then. How much will it cost? We expect the Tata Nexon to be priced between Rs. 6.25 Lacs to Rs. 9.75 Lacs.
Photography by Dr. Anand Narvekar
Key inputs by Manesh Oommen