Given that Tata Motors was the one to realise ‘sub-four-metre car’ need not always mean hatchback (remember the Indigo CS compact sedan), it has taken its own sweet time to come up with a compact SUV. Sure, the carmaker had made its intent about breaking into the segment very clear with the Nexon concept of 2014, but it’s only in September 2017 that the final product will be available at a showroom near you. One look at the Nexon, though, and you’ll probably agree Tata Motors has used its time well to come up with a genuinely eye-catching rival to the likes of the Ford EcoSport and huge-selling Maruti Vitara Brezza. The Nexon is an attention magnet. Its overall design and styling are so radically different from what we’ve seen from Tata Motors, even over the past two years, that the badges are the only big giveaways of its company of manufacture. Tata’s compact SUV looks almost concept-car-like and actually makes the Maruti Brezza from 2016 look decidedly boxy and old-fashioned. Check Price of Nexon
DESIGN AND STYLE ;
To begin with let us first inform you that the Nexon is based on the XO platform which is the same platform that also underpins almost all of their new generation compact cars including the Bolt, Zest and even the Tiago and Tigor.Take a look at the production variant of the Nexon, and you will instantly mistake it with the concept car which was showcased almost three years back at the 2014 Auto Expo with some practical additions. This compact SUV stands apart from the crowd because of certain factors which include its modern looking face, a sloping roofline like silhouette, big extended X like design towards the rear which has been finished in Ivory white ceramic type element that we can also find towards the side profile and also under the front fog lamps. The big 16-inch chunky alloy wheels, high ground clearance of 200 mm, projector headlamps and LED taillamps are some other highlights which make the SUV looks quite modern and well equipped and practical at the same time. Find best offers on Nexon
The premium looking front grille has been finished in Piano black and has the Tata logo at the centre while a chrome slat sits on the base of the grille and extends all the way towards the side headlamps edges (Tata Motors calls it a humanity line). The Nexon also gets LED DRL’s positioned below the projector headlamps units. Towards the lower front face, the round fog lamps placed slightly higher to perhaps highlighting the high ground clearance.Towards the side profile is where you will witness all the crease lines and bulges. The muscular wheel arches and the big 16 inch wheels along with black plastic claddings further add to its muscular stance. Just below the window line is where you will also find the Ivory white strip which you will also notice towards the front and rear profile of the SUV. One of the other highlights of the side profile of the SUV is its coupe like sloping roofline which is further accentuated by the Contrasting roof colour.Towards the rear profile the Nexon gets an X shaped element which is positioned just below the rear windscreen. The floating roof spoiler towards the rear also features a LED stop lamps.
INTERIOR AND COMFORT ;
The Nexon’s interior has three prominent layers. The upper portion is finished in dark grey plastic, and its quality is on par with its peers. The middle layer gets an aluminium finish, and it looks particularly upmarket. The thickness and solidity of this layer throughout the cabin makes you feel like you’re sitting inside a more premium car. The third and the lowermost layer is a plastic of greyish shade of beige. This plastic is hard to touch, and the fit and finish levels aren’t too high either. For instance, the glovebox requires more than one attempt to shut, and the fit on the lower portion of the doors is questionable, especially around the door pockets. These two are probably the only touch points where fit and finish feels compromised. Otherwise, Tata has managed to do a good job of ensuring satisfactory quality levels at contact points. Sitting atop the Nexon’s dashboard is a 6.5-inch Harman infotainment system that’s fixed to the dashboard. There’s simply no missing it. More importantly, it feels high quality and well thought out. The display is crisp and readable even under harsh sunlight. It’s only the camera display that is a bit grainy. However, that must have more to do with the output of the camera than the screen itself.
The user interface is friendly and easy to use as it gets hot spots at corners for quick access to functions like air con settings, audio source and the mega menu. The touchscreen isn’t the most intuitive, and there’s a slight delay every time you operate it. However, it doesn’t skip inputs much. It’s quicker to respond when you use the physical buttons and knobs, which Tata has thoughtfully placed well within reach to operate on the go.Tata intends to offer Apple CarPlay at launch, and the test cars we drove only featured Android Auto. The driver side instrument binnacle is simple in terms of design and gets a multi-info display unit between the speedometer and tachometer. You get two trip meters, average fuel efficiency display, distance to empty and the usual readouts there.The centre console extends from under the central AC vents and goes all the way to the rear. Apart from the automatic climate control knobs, it houses a USB and an AUX port and the Drive Select knob as well. It also gets a pair of cup holders that can be shut with a Tambour door, which is a roller shutter that you see on some of the higher-end cars. Visually, it leaves you impressed. However, the cubby holes are an ergonomic failure: it’s too deep and crammed to be used for keeping and taking out cups. Move further behind, and there’s the armrest that opens up a small glove box with enough space to keep your smartphone and your wallet. This should have ideally been the place for having USB and AUX sockets. The centre arm stretches all the way to the rear cabin and houses air con blowers for the rear passengers.
The Nexon’s cabin is so comfortable that it deserves a special mention. To make things clear up front, the Nexon is a car best suited for four. And when we say that, it doesn’t mean that the cabin is not spacious, just that the rear seats are designed such. So, while you get a bench at the rear, the seats are properly contoured buckets for two passengers. There’s a central armrest which folds up in case you wish to seat a third passenger. But you wouldn’t want to do that unless you’re doing short distances.Other than that, the Nexon’s cabin appears to be one of the most comfortable cabins in the sub-4m vehicle category. The steering is adjustable for rake, the driver’s seat is height adjustable and provides excellent lower back support. So, it’s easy to get into a good driving position. The bucket seats are big enough to accommodate people of varied shapes and sizes, and the extra under-thigh support just makes things more comfortable. The same goes for the rear seats too. Think of the two seats at the back as captain ones (yes, they’re so well defined in terms of their design), and you sit snug into them. The seat back angle is such that it is set into comfort mode by default. The regions around lumbar and under-thigh have been given more cushion in comparison to the other places, and the seats just feel made-to-order.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;
The Nexon will be offered with a new 1.5-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine and a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine. Both engines come mated to class-first six-speed transmissions with power sent solely to the front wheels. Automated manual transmission (AMT)- equipped versions of the Nexon are under development and could be out by the year end.Tata’s new 1.5-litre direct injection turbo-diesel that also debuts on the Nexon puts out a healthy 110hp. A scaled-up, four-cylinder version of the Tiago’s 1.05-litre, three-cylinder diesel, the new engine fires easily with the first poke of the starter button. There is a bit of flutter at startup and some vibration is felt through the gear level but it settles down to a smooth idle. This motor is pretty refined even at higher revs and doesn’t make the same racket as the gravelly sounding 1.3 diesel in the Brezza.What’s immediately noticeable is how tractable the engine is; the Nexon pulls cleanly from as low as 1,400rpm. This tractability, due to the 260Nm of torque from 1,500rpm, makes driving in traffic quite easy and you don’t need to constantly downshift. Once you are past 2,000rpm, there’s a gentle wave of power and there’s no real spike like in the Brezza’s Fiat-sourced diesel. Post 4,000rpm, however, you hit a wall, and though the engine does rev to 4,500rpm, the drop in power at the top end is quite sudden.
Unlike the Brezza’s unit which pulls well past 5,000rpm, the Nexon’s 1.5 diesel feels quite laboured at high revs. In fact, the lack of top-end punch and an average mid-range leaves you wanting for more power, even with the drive mode in the most aggressive ‘Sport’ setting.The Nexon’s high kerb weight of 1,305kg (110kg more than the Brezza) also blunts its performance to a great extent, and overall, we felt the Nexon could do with more punch. In a quick reference test, not done to our test standards, the Nexon managed to do the 0-100 run in 13.75sec, which is slower than the Brezza, at 12.9sec.The Nexon’s three driving modes, Eco, City and Sport, each with their own power and torque figures, distinctly alter the performance characteristics and have an impact on fuel efficiency as well. Sport mode, quite obviously, is the nicest to use, especially when extracting every ounce of performance but in the normal or City mode, performance is good enough for relaxed driving. In Eco mode, the Nexon feels particularly strangled and is only to be used if you’re running out of fuel or have exceeded your fuel allowance.
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
Where the Nexon scores top marks, however, is in the ride and handling department. Ride quality isn’t pillow-soft and you do feel some of the larger bumps, but the suspension rounds off sharp edges brilliantly. The little bit of stiffness in the suspension also means there is not much pitching or bobbing and body roll is well contained despite the Nexon’s height. There is a bit more up-down movement in the lighter petrol car, but on the whole ride quality is really impressive. The steering, borrowed from the Zest, is spot-on and one of the best electrically assisted units we’ve experienced in this class of car. It has a reassuring on-centre feel and weights up perfectly as you pile on the lock. All of this translates to brilliant overall stability, and with a best-in-class 209mm of ground clearance, and lots of wheel travel you really don’t need to slow down for potholes.The stiff chassis, impressive brakes and generous grip from the fat 215/60 R16 tyres give a lot of confidence through corners. It doesn’t feel as keen to drive as an EcoSport and isn’t as surefooted either, but work up a rhythm, keep the engines in their sweet spot and you’ll be nicely rewarded.
Tata Motors is offering dual front airbags and ABS with EBD on all variants. You also get a seat belt height adjuster standard on the Nexon. We all are pretty much familiar with the sales and service of the automaker. Sales outlets across the country are aplenty and service centres are also in abundance. While service quality levels may not be the best, Tata isn’t that bad either and the company is working their way up.
So it seems, Tata’s holistic approach towards the Nexon has paid off. The flamboyant styling, superbly finished cabin, modern tech along with impressive performance are sure to win many hearts. Moreover, Tata is already revamping the dealership and aftersales experience to welcome the Nexon.Yet, we all know that it’s not going to be cakewalk for the Nexon as it will be running into formidable competition from the heavyweights like the Vitara Brezza and the Ecosport. However, despite a few minor niggles, the Tata Nexon is well-placed to put the competition to shame and rake in good numbers.