First Drive: Tata Nexon Review - A Rebel In A Boxy World

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The year was 2014 when Tata stole the show at the bi-annual Auto Expo in the Nation's capital with its Nexon concept SUV. Pundits expected the Nexon to meet the fate of most concepts due to its rather radical design.

However; Tata Motors had captured the eye of the public, and the Nexon got the green-light to move forward into production. A production-spec car showed up two years later at the next expo, retaining almost all the design cues of the original concept.

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First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

While the Nexon may look different, it is a few years late entering a segment that is the hottest property in the Indian car market today. So, has Tata done enough with the Nexon to beat its well-established rivals like the Maruti Vitara Brezza and the Ford EcoSport and is it worth your hard-earned cash?

Tata Nexon Design, Features & Safety

Exterior

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

In the world of SUVs, the Nexon's design comes as a breath of fresh air. Its bold styling cues, the fourth iteration of Tata's new IMPACT design philosophy, are a mix of design elements from coupes and traditional SUVs that help the new Tata Nexon stand out in a world of boxy vehicles.

Up front, the high set headlamps feature integrated feline-eye shaped LED daytime running lights and a blister on top hosts the turn signals.

The headlamps flank a black honeycomb grille. Underneath the grille runs a Tata signature design element, the chromed-out humanity line which now extends underneath the headlamps as well.

The front air dam is quite large as well and on either side of it sit fog lamps which feature a ceramic white surround.

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

Viewed from the side, the Nexon sports a swoopy roofline. The floating roof design itself features a dark grey paint job which contrasts with the Nexon's bright paint job.

Accentuating the sporty coupe-like design is the beltline which is done up in the same ceramic white paintjob found on the fog lamp surrounds.

The Nexon features flared wheel arches which play host to 16-inch machine-cut dual-tone alloy wheels shod with fat 215/60 R16 tyres.

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

The rear end of the Nexon is what Tata calls the 'X Factor' of the Nexon's design, and it's not hard to see why.

The rear windscreen is sharply raked, and the white ceramic plastic makes another appearance in the form of an elongated X which plays host to the Tata badge.

The X also connects the two triangular tail lamps which feature LED lighting elements as well.

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

The boot is large at 350-litres, and while the loading lip is slightly high, the amount of space on offer is more than enough for five large bags.

For those who require more space, folding the rear seats down expands the boot's capacity to massive 690-litres.


Fit and finish though isn't quite perfect which can be seen in the bonnet shut lines, rear door and the C-Pillar which looks a tad too busy thanks to three different elements lining up in the same area.

Interior & Features

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

The Nexon's interior is a huge step-up regarding both quality and design. The dashboard has a layered look to with the top layer done up in a dark grey and the bottom layer in beige.

The middle layer runs across from one end of the dash to the other and features a metallic grey finish and can be seen on the door handles as well.

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

The front seats of the Nexon feature heavy bolstering to keep the driver and front passenger in comfort even on long journeys.

The driver's seat sports height adjustment which along with the adjustable steering allows drivers to get a commanding view of the road ahead.

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

The rear seats of the Nexon are spacious enough to squeeze in three adults though the seat's design and the fold-out arm rest point to a two-seater. Head and knee room are generous, though the reclined seat could make longer journeys uncomfortable.

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

Visibility up front is hampered by the thick A-Pillars especially while making turns with the minuscule rear windscreen.

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

The Nexon features a 6.5-inch HD touchscreen infotainment which sits upright on top of the dashboard next to the instrument binnacle (taken from the Tigor) and the steering wheel (borrowed from the Zest). The display is easy to use and operate and doesn't distract drivers while on the move and is used by rear parking camera while reversing.

The infotainment system features Android Auto which allows users to make calls, read and dictate messages, change the music and take advantage of turn-by-turn navigation via Google Maps. Tata has promised Apple CarPlay will make its way into the system shortly as well.

The 8-speaker Harman tuned audiosystem is pleasing to the ear and is probably the best setup in the segment for audiophiles.

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

The centre console itself is done-up in a glossy piano black finish which looks tasteful and plays host to the controls for the infotainment system and the air-conditioning system.

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

Tata has packed the Nexon's interiors with 31 different utility spaces with the large chilled glovebox playing host to two cup holders along with a tray for tablets.

The doors play host to storage spaces for umbrellas which in a country where it rains for a third of the year is much appreciated.

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

Other storage tricks include a deep storage space next to the off-set hand brake along with nine storage hooks - four in the boot and five inside the cabin.

There are also two 12V charging points on offer (one at the bottom of the dash, the other next to the parcel tray in the rear) along with rear A/C vents with blower controls.

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

Tata also offers the Nexon with a wearable device that can be used to unlock the SUV's doors and boot lid and can also allow it to start up which means drivers don't have to worry about having the key fob on them always.

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

The Nexon's interiors aren't without fault, with a some of the buttons on the dash are too small while some don't have any function at all.

The rotary drive mode selector also seems a bit oversized compared to the rest of the instrumentation and access to the front 12 Volt port along with USB and AUX inputs is slightly blocked off by the gear stick.

The A/C vents near the steering wheel also can't be shut off totally and can freeze the driver's hands off, which isn't pleasant while driving.

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

Safety

Tata has fitted all variants of the new Nexon with the two airbags up front along with anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution as standard. Also present are a day/night inside rear-view mirror and an immobilizer.

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

Tata Nexon Engines & Performance

While the Nexon's design may grab all the headlines, Tata Motors has slotted two new engines under the bonnet of its newest SUV both of which are mated to a first in class 6-speed manual gearbox.

Both engines feature three driving modes - Economy, City and Sport - with City offering the best balance between economy and performance.

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

The 1.2-litre petrol engine is an evolution of the one found in the Tiago and the Tigor. Tata has turbocharged the three-cylinder engine for the new Nexon and it kicks out 108.5bhp @ 5,000rpm and 170Nm of torque @ 1,750 - 4,000rpm.

The petrol engine feels laggy at lower rpms (under 1,800) as the turbo spools up but offers good mid-range grunt thanks to the torque which in turn makes drivers want to mash the pedal down. The engine redlines at 6,000rpm in Sports mode and drivers will have to keep the revs up and overtaking manoeuvres usually require a downshift. Tata has managed to keep NVH levels down and has kept the buzzy three-cylinder under control.

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

The diesel engine on the other hand is an all-new powerplant. The 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine produces 108.5bhp @ 3,750rpm and 260Nm of torque @ 1,500 - 2,750rpm. The diesel engine pulls easily from low rpms and power delivery is linear. However, past 3,500rpm to its red-line of 4,500rpm there is a noticeable drop in power.

The low and mid-end grunt makes the diesel the perfect car for the city though, in sixth gear at highway cruising speeds, the engine barely seems to break into a swat, which should do the mileage figures no harm. The diesel engine is extremely refined for the segment and noise and vibes are kept low

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

The steering wheel on the Tata Nexon is light which is perfect for city streets where most Nexons will find themselves. At high speeds, it does weigh up though the feedback isn't the best especially when you fling the Nexon into a corner at speed. The clutch is exceptionally light though the gear shifter isn't the best around and shifting through the gears can be notchy at times.

The suspension setup on the new Tata Nexon smothers bumps and potholes on the road with ease which makes for an exceptionally smooth ride. However, despite the softer setup along with the best in class ground clearance of 209mm (unladen), body roll is kept under control.

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

Factsheet

Tested Tata Nexon
Price (estimated) Rs 6–9.5 lakh
Engine (petrol) 1,198cc three-cylinder turbo petrol/ 1,497cc four-cylinder turbo diesel
Gearbox 6-speed manual
Power/Torque (petrol)

108.5bhp @ 5,000rpm/ 170Nm @ 1750-4,000rpm

Power/Torque (diesel) 108.5bhp @ 3,750rpm/ 260Nm @ 1,500-2,700rpm
Fuel Tank Capacity 44 litres
Ground Clearance (unladen) 209mm
Weight 1237kg (petrol)/ 1305kg (diesel)
Tyres Goodyear 215/60 R16
First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

Verdict

The Nexon's brings with it a rebellious and youthful design which when combined with the new engines, and space on offer both in the cabin and the boot make it a compelling package for the Indian car buyer looking to get into the SUV game.

If Tata continues with its aggressive pricing strategy (prices are expected to start at Rs 6 lakh for the base petrol variant with the top spec diesel expected to retail for around Rs 10 lakhs ex-showroom), it could well have another success story on its hands considering how well the nation's car buyers reacted to the Tiago and the Tigor.

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

Dennis James Thinks!

The Tata Nexon is proof that no matter how different a concept may look, making it into a production with minimal changes in design is just a matter of a company keeping its word. The Tata Nexon looks different and it provides a welcome relief to the boxy world of SUVs currently on sale in India.

The Nexon had me with its design, but combine the good looks with the compelling features and space on the inside and the engines on offer and Tata has a compact SUV that will be very hard to ignore in an aggressive compact SUV market like India, especially with that new diesel engine.

First Drive: Tata Nexon Review

Did You Know?

  • Tata Motors was founded in 1945 as a locomotive manufacturer.
  • Tata Motors manufactured its first commercial vehicle in 1954 in a collaboration with Daimler-Benz AG (what is now the parent company of Mercedes-Benz).
  • The first passenger vehicle from Tata Motors was an SUV called the Sierra which was in production from1991-2000.
Read more on: #review #tata motors
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