Tata Motors is going through phenomenal change. Every new product from the brand indicates that Tata is working relentlessly to change the perception buyers have about it. Tata Motors’ next launch will be the much awaited compact SUV, the Nexon. Even though Tata’s entry is a little late in the segment, the company has put quite some effort to catch up with the competition. We have driven the Nexon briefly and here is what you need to know about the vehicle.
A definite yes. Tata Nexon was first showcased as a concept model during the 2014 Auto Expo. The concept gained a lot of attention due to its SUV-ish stance and coupe-inspired roofline. Fast forward to 2017, and the Tata Nexon looks almost like a carbon copy of the concept model that was showcased during the Auto Expo. With subtle changes, the Tata Nexon maintains the curves and edges on the production model.
The compact SUV follows Tata’s Impact design philosophy and has a few design elements that catch the eye. Tata has not smeared chrome on the face of the Nexon, rather, it comes with a strip of chrome underlining the honeycomb black gloss grille.
The car gets projector headlamps that shaped to go with the flow of the grille. The Nexon gets its identity from the bright, angular DRLs in the headlamp and similar design element in the tail lamp. The car will get the DRLs, and the rear LED as standard across all the variants.
The fog lamps get fancy looking housings with thick white underlining and black brows. The lower part of the bumper gets a black diffuser that could have been a little wider to give it an intimidating look.
From the side, the coupe inspired design makes the Nexon look very different from what the other manufacturers offer in the segment. Tata will also offer a dual tone paint scheme on the top-end variants of the model. Starting from A-Pillar, the top-end variant gets a different, dark grey paint that covers the whole roof and ends at the C-Pillar of the vehicle. The floating effect on the roof looks quite cool. The Nexon gets machined alloys in the top-end variant, making them look quite interesting and a nice fit in the contoured wheel arches. Interestingly, the 16-inch wheel size with the 215 mm profile tyre will remain standard across the variants.
The Nexon also gets a strong shoulder line which is augmented with a thick white stripe that underlines the window line from the A-Pillar to the C-Pillar. The ceramic inspired white strip continues to the rear of the vehicle and forms an ‘X’, which gives it a unique identity and street presence. The split tail lamps are placed at the end of the “X”. There is a roof spoiler, and the rear glass is steeply raked, giving it a sporty look. Apart from that, the rear gets an electric boot opening button.
The Nexon is wider than the Vitara Brezza and the Ford EcoSport, but it is significantly lower than both of them, which makes it look smaller. It looks smart but does not get that intimidating look that the SUVs are known for.
What about the interiors?
The Nexon gets impressive interiors. The first thing that you will notice on the inside is a 6.5-inch floating screen, something that we get to see on high-end vehicles only. The high-definition infotainment system is placed at the same level as the speedometer console, which makes it easier for the driver to check the infotainment while driving. It gets Android Auto connectivity alongside Tata’s ConnectNext app. Tata will add the Apple CarPlay function in coming months. The top-end version will come with brilliant 8-speaker set-up from Harman, which is one of the best in the segment.
The dashboard gets dual tone finish with a prominent partition in between. The interiors are very simple yet have a classy finish. The central console on the dash gets audio control, and climate control knobs finished in gloss black.
The vehicle comes with a central armrest, which can be used by driver and co-driver simultaneously. Under the armrest, there is space for keeping the phone among other things. This space is a part of 31 smart spaces in the Nexon. Just in front of the armrest is a sliding panel that has more storage space. There is a pocket in front that gets the 12 V charging socket and USB socket. Surprisingly, there is no cup holder in the central console. However, Nexon gets space inside the doors to keep big bottles, and the front two doors also get a small space to keep the umbrella. The driving mode dial and the handbrake are nicely integrated into the central console too.
The glove box is quite deep and opens with a push button. It gets its light and is also cooled. Tata has added a few design elements like a removable partition and cup holder inside the glove box that can be used when the glove box is open, and the car is stationary.
At the rear, there is an AC blower that gets 2-speeds. The blower, however, makes a lot of noise. There is a 12V socket mounted above the left-hand side shoulder of the rear seat. The unique location of the charging point makes sure that the passenger who sits in the middle does not have to take care of the foot hitting the phone charger, which is a common thing.
The driver console is similar to the Tiago. It has a clean look with an LCD information display in between the two analogue dials. It shows various information like average fuel efficiency, instant fuel efficiency, distance to empty, trip meter, and odometer. The steering can be adjusted for tilt, but the reach is fixed. The driver’s seat can be adjusted for height.
The Nexon will come with a lot of standard safety equipment like dual airbags and ABS + EBD across the variants. The car gets ISOFIX hooks for child seats and height adjustable front seat belts. Tata has put a lot of things to attract the young audience like a wrist band based key that looks like a fitness band.
Space and ergonomics
The Nexon has a lot of space inside. Even with the coupe styling, the headroom in the rear seat is surprisingly good. The seats are carved out to make sure that there is enough knee room too. However, getting in and out can be a problem for tall people because of the low height of the vehicle. The seats are well designed, and the front two seat get side bolsters that keep you in place even during high-speed corners. There is no leather offered, but the quality of the foam and the fabric are decent.
The boot comes with a full-size space wheel and 350 litres of space with all the seats up. The 60:40 split rear seats can be folded flat, which needs some tricks but it increases the space to 690 litres. One of the things that you need to get used to is the position of the handbrake. It is positioned quite high and towards to the co-driver side. The high position takes some to get used to it but you may touch the co-driver quite a few times while operating the hand brake.
Drives any good?
Tata Motors has introduced two new engines with the Nexon. The petrol engine is a 1.2-litre turbocharged unit while the diesel engine is a 1.5-litre unit. We drove both of them briefly, but because of the narrow roads in Kerala, we could not push either car.
The diesel engine is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine that develops a maximum power of 108 Bhp and massive torque of 260 Nm. The engine is little rough, and vibrations filter through the cabin. The engine has a strong low and mid range output that makes it’s quite quick.
The Nexon is quite heavy. The petrol variant of the vehicle weights 1237 kg, the specification for the diesel is not mentioned, but it is heavier the petrol variant. Even with the weight it carries, the low-end torque makes sure that car feels quick. Even with four people on board, and climbing uphill, Nexon diesel did not gasp for power. The car started without any problem from even standstill during the uphill climbs.
Turbo lag is minimal. The diesel engine starts showing its power from as low as 1,400 rpm. There is no need of constantly downshifting due to the wide spread of the torque at all rpms. Just before 4,000 rpm, the engine runs out of breath. Diesel engines are most enjoyed in the lower range of rpm anyway.
The petrol engine is based on the 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine that powers the Tiago. However, Tata has extensively made the engine stronger to handle the extra power that comes from a turbocharger. The 1.2-litre engine gets a water-cooled turbocharger. The engine produces similar 108 Bhp of maximum power and torque peaks at 170 Nm from 1,750 rpm to 4,000 rpm.
The petrol engine feels quite enthusiastic and peppy. The petrol engine has a smooth and silent idling, and the engine does not make much noise while being driven around too. However, at lower RPMs, the time before turbocharger kicks in completely, the engine feels bit sluggish. Especially in traffic. Also, when in sports mode, the petrol engine power delivery is quite abrupt and jerky. Lift off your foot off the throttle, and the car gets a good jostle.
Both the engines get 6-speed manual gearbox which is smooth to shift. We did not get to spend more than a minute in the 6th gear due to heavy traffic till 5th gear, the vehicle gets a good balance between performance and efficiency. The gears snap into the slots quite effortlessly. Both come with a self-adjusting clutch that makes sure that the clutch pedal remains light throughout the life of the clutch.
The Nexon gets a stiff suspension that can take on the corners at good speed without throwing the occupants around. However, over the potholes, the car does not feel very comfortable. This was more evident in the diesel variant than the petrol one, maybe due to different suspension tuning for the heavier vehicle.
The power steering borrowed from the Zest has decent feedback, and it becomes heavy with the speed that makes you confident on the highways. It is probably one of the best steerings in the segment and is quite precise. The Nexon gets unladen ground clearance of 209 mm, which can take it to rough patches without scraping the underbody.
The Nexon comes with three driving modes – Eco, City and Sport. The modes can be changed from a dial on the central console on the fly. The modes change the engine behaviour drastically. It becomes quite tamed in the Eco and the City mode. The power output changes with the modes. For example, in diesel, the power output in Eco is around 85 Bhp, City is 95 Bhp and Sport is 108 Bhp. The fuelling and throttle response changes quite effectively between the modes. It is a first in the segment feature which we found quite useful.
Should you wait for one?
Tata has always been known for its value for money strategy. With the Nexon, the company will play the similar cards and may price it around Rs. 7 lakh. Even the base version of the Nexon will be quite loaded with features like touch-screen infotainment, dual airbags, ABS+EBD, LED DRLs and rear AC vent. Tata has designed a phenomenal product here and will win a lot of customers, but there were a few quality issues like tacky plastic and rough patches on the paint that we found to be unattractive. However, Tata says that these cars were not production cars and these issues will not be there in the production version of the Nexon.
The Nexon sure has a lot of firsts in the segment. If priced right, it can be a winning product for Tata. Even with the late entrance, Tata may able to pull out good numbers with the Nexon. While the launch date hasn’t been confirmed officially, a late August is said to be on the cards.