First Drive: Tata Hexa — Hexa-ting Times Ahead!

The Tata Hexa review provides details of the exterior and interiors, drive, ride and handling, performance, pros and cons, images, safety features and most of all the verdict.

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In the year 1991, Tata Motors became the first Indian manufacturer to potentially develop a competitive indigenous automobile with the launch of the multi-utility vehicle — Tata Sierra.

Later the company went on to launch its first SUV — Safari, to be designed, developed, and manufactured entirely in India. Now, the world's fifth largest automobile manufacturer is offering its Crossover Utility Vehicle, the Hexa.

Does the Tata Hexa — new flagship model — offer Hexa-ting times ahead? Let's find out.

Tata Hexa Exterior & Interior

Tata Hexa will carry forward the impact design philosophy for Tata Motors' future generation of vehicles.

Up front, the Hexa is butch and the beefy lines on the bonnet characterises its SUV nature. Keeping up with current flavour in the automotive industry, the Hexa carries off its Daytime Running Lights (DRL) housed above the fog lamps to the swept back projector headlamps with grace and it transitions seamlessly to it's neatly tucked design.

The thick chrome strip underlines the wide front grille — a departure from the smiling grille seen on Tata cars — is premium.

On the side, the assumption of a long and a boring design of an utility vehicle is tarnished with a clean profile above the beltline. The chrome strip runs along at the beltline and finishes off at the darkened third row window pane. The Hexa badging on the third row window reflects the effort on details the designers have put their effort into.

The design on the side does not end there, the flared arches outlining the large 19 inch alloy wheels to the roof rails which runs along to the C pillar punches the effectiveness of an SUV. Even the partial floating roof line showcases Hexa as a tall and has a bold approach rather than a long and boring people carrier.

Many manufacturers believe the rear profile of a vehicle can be compromised to help attain the practicality aspect. However, the Hexa is not, the heavy and solid rear door even further epitomises the SUVish character.

From the dual chrome exhaust tips to the thick chrome strip above the numberplate, the chunky taillights and the skid plates, the Hexa carries off its SUV nomenclature.

When you walk into the Hexa, the dual stitched Benecke Kaliko leather-feel upholstery captures your imagination immediately and asserts its premiumness in the segment that it will compete with. It does not stop there, the ebony black console housing the 5 inch infotainment system seals the luxurious image of the Hexa.

The interior does not end just yet, with the ebony black centre console and the ergonomically placed controls, the Hexa interiors are crisp and clear with simple yet with good quality plastics.

What is prominent is the infotainment system with Tata Motors' ‘ConnectNext' sat-nav system which is effective with clear details. When you take the driver's seat, the commanding driving position and the view of the road reflects practical driving experience, even the rear view from the IRVM is great and the rear view camera adds to ease of reversing the Hexa.

The second row is where you need to be, the captain seats are designed with best lumbar and thigh support. Seated on the captain seats with the armrest, the legroom to the headroom is ample and is comfortable for a long drive.

While the second impresses, the third row is a bit of downer. With high knee position, the bench seat is good enough for a medium sized and not a big person like me. The headroom was barely enough as the roof line grazes over your head. Feet position for the third row does not let you move freely and could be a bane while travelling far and wide.

The ingress and egress is just enough and is carefully designed to take the Hexa off-roading and the practicality of everyday use.

With six people as its passenger, the Hexa falls short in the boot space, but you can not argue on this front as any UV does gives priority to its passengers rather than luggages.

Commendable Features:

  • Mood Lighting with eight shades and can be controlled via your smartphone
  • Custom tuned JBL 10-speaker music system — Tata has spent 1,000 hours tuning it
  • Super Drive Modes: Comfort, Dynamic, Rough Road and Auto
  • Automatic Climate Control System With Six AC Vents Just For The Second & Third Row
  • Follow-Me-Home Projector Headlamps Operated via Remote
  • Cruise Control, Automatic Headlamps and Rain Sensing Wipers with 7-Speed modes

Drive, Ride & Handling Of Tata Hexa

With the features of an Crossover Utility Vehicle etched on the paper, does the Tata Hexa deliver when it comes to its image of an off-road and an utility vehicle?

It is not everyday that you hit the road for a long drive, everyday use comes to the fore. The Tata Hexa is practical with its six-seater layout. On the dimension front, the Hexa is slightly bigger than the Aria, be it height, width and length.

Tata Hexa Automatic Gearbox Model

With the crisp response of the automatic gearbox, it is a breeze to drive the Hexa through the city as well as long journeys. You can shift to ‘Sport Mode' on the fly and the Hexa responds effortlessly with an increase of 1,000 rotation per minute (RPM) without any fuss.

All this is possible with the 400Nm of peak torque from the Varicor engine of Tata Motors. This is an 80Nm increase from the Aria unit. Push the accelerator hard, the Hexa does ‘not' show any fatigue as there is hardly any lag from the diesel motor.

Getting the automatic variant of the Hexa to come to a standstill does not require any effort as the bite from the disc brakes is commendable. This is ably supported by the Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) with the Traction Control System (TCS).

Tata Hexa Manual Gearbox Model

Tata Motors have equipped the manual gearbox Hexa with four ‘Super Drive Modes' which distinguishes itself from the AT model. A luxurious looking rotary knob housed on the centre console helps you to choose between the four drive modes – Auto, Comfort, Dynamic and Rough Road.

At first you might find it hard to feel the difference with the four drive modes; however, each of these functions improve the performance of the Hexa on various conditions. The clutch on the manual version of the Hexa is a bit hard and the braking needs a little bit of effort to bring the Hexa to standstill.

Overall, the ride quality and handling of the Hexa is refined than the Aria. The issue of body roll on the Aria has been touched upon by Tata Motors and the Crossover UV is stable and tight around the corners.

The 2.2-litre Varicor 400 feels a bit smaller in power and reaching the required power band is a bit of a bother for an enthusiastic driver. Once the Hexa moves to the desirable power band, the crossover UV cruises well at top speeds.

As the Tata Hexa was test driven for almost 200kms, it returned a mileage of nearly 10km/l which is rather economical for a Crossover UV.

Tata Hexa Specifications & Key Features Overview

  • Engine Type - VARICOR 400
  • Displacement - 2,179cc
  • Maximum Power Output - 154bhp @ 4000rpm
  • Maximum Torque Output - 400Nm @ 1700 – 2700rpm
  • Gearbox - 6-Speed Manual/ Automatic
  • Gross Weight - 2,280kg
  • Fuel Tank Capacity - 60-litre
  • Tyres/ Wheels - 235/ 55/ R19 Alloy Wheels
  • Dimensions (L x W x H) - 4,788m x 1,903mm x 1,791mm

Safety & Security Of The Tata Hexa

  • Airbags - Six (Driver/ Co-driver/ Side & Curtain)
  • ABS with EBD - Bosch 9th Generation With Corner Stability System
  • Electronic Stability Programme With Traction Control System
  • Hill Hold Control (HHC) & Hill Descent Control (HDC)
  • Speed Sensing Auto Door Lock
  • Seat Belt With Height Adjustable 3 Point ELR Belt
  • Central Locking With Remote

Pros & Cons Of Tata Hexa

Pros:

  • Controls Ergonomically Placed
  • 6 Airbags
  • 4x4 Off-Roading Capabilities
  • Automatic model with ‘Sport Mode'
  • Interiors and 10 Speaker layout from JBL
  • Super Drive Modes
  • Commanding Driving Position

Cons:

  • Steering Feedback On Manual Gearbox Model
  • Average Third Seating Legroom & Headroom

Verdict Of The Tata Hexa

Tata Motors is redefining the Crossover Utility Vehicle segment with stylish design, off-roading capabilities and the Hexa automatic is fun to drive. If Tata Motors can price the Hexa competitively with rivals like Mahindra XUV500 and Toyota Innova Crysta, they have a winner in their hands.

The Tata Hexa is a fine mix of an SUV and an UV with off-roading capabilities and takes the utility segment to the next level. With its theme of ‘Power Packed, ‘Feature Loaded' and ‘Adrenaline Pumped', the Tata Hexa will appeal to the premium as well as the touring communities.

From The Eyes & Mind Of The Author

If Tata Motors is looking to the Hexa as their flagship model, then the Crossover Utility Vehicle ticks most of the boxes, but not all. As I was test driving the Tata Hexa, there were simple yet practical niggles which I felt Tata Motors needs to sort out after which they may just have a winner on the cards.

The Tata Hexa clearly demonstrates that the fifth largest automobile manufacturer in the world has the potential to spawn a new era of future vehicles.

A convenient retractable window shades

Lever to tumble the second row seats in the 7-seater layout.

Tool kit housing for the Tata Hexa

Tailgate height of the Tata Hexa, nearly 6 feet high

Third row seating of the Hexa is average, high knee and not so commendable thigh support.

Charging port for the third row seating with light for boot area.

Storage of the third row passengers which can be closed when not used.

AC vents for the third row passenger seats housed on the C-pillar.

Second and third row tumbled; however, they do not fully recline.

Cruise and telephony controls mounted on the steering wheel

Spare wheel neatly tucked at the rear of the Tata Hexa

Sunglass holder; the space is quite small.

Side body plastic cladding; epitomising the SUV nature of the Hexa.

Second row AC vents with retractable cup holders. The AC is powerful.

Second row seating on the 7-seater layout on the Hexa. Best-in-class space.

Adjustable second row AC Vents housed on the B-pillar.

Airbag for the co-driver can be switched off or on.

LED turn indicators for the ORVM which is electrically foldable and adjustable.

Dual driver meter console with MID; it also provides the mileage details and other important information such as drive modes, gear, trips, fuel gauge, among others.

Premium chrome finished door lock/ unlock lever. Tata Motors has put in efforts to detailing on the Hexa.

Foldable key and front light options.

The dual stitch upholstery on the dashboard of the Hexa looks premium and inviting.

Third row seating for person of 5'11 height is just enough on the Hexa.

Cooled glovebox which hold up to two 500ml of water bottle and three juice tetra packs.

Spacious enough glove box, this is apart from the cooled glovebox.

LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL) and the front fog lamp housing.

Front row 12v charging port; note the premium finish with chrome detailing.

Manual gearbox model centre console with ‘Super Drive Mode' rotary knob. Also seen are the USB and Aux-in options, the HVAC controls are seen as well.

Driver side power windows controls, ORVMs controls. Also, the chrome finished door opening lever.

Tata Hexa branding with door scuff plates to add grandness to the Crossover UV.

Driver and co-driver armrest, it has a storage space as well.

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Story first published: Friday, October 21, 2016, 21:48 [IST]
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