Tata Nexon Comprehensive Test
- Published On: 13 September 2017
- 6 min read
Is there more to the Tata Nexon than just designer looks? Our road test reveals all.
The Nexon was first shown in concept form at the 2014 Auto Expo and then, the final production was shown at the 2016 edition of the motor show. The Nexon is not only Tata Motors’ first compact SUV but sees the debut of the carmaker’s 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine, new 1.5-litre, four-cylinder diesel and new six-speed manual gearbox. We took both versions of the Nexon for a road test.
Get inside and you’ll notice the high-set 6.5-inch touchscreen instantly. It is easy to read but touch responses aren’t slick and the system also operates with a bit of lag. You can use voice commands to adjust temperature and set radio stations, while Android Auto is part of the package and Apple CarPlay will be offered soon too. Tata also offers phone apps for navigation, remote control and jukebox to enhance the functionality of the infotainment system.
The knitted roof lining and rich upholstery give the cabin a premium feel. The dash uses high-grade plastics of multiple texture and is finished well but there are some panel fit inconsistencies here and there. The large seat is comfy but could do with a bit more lumbar support, the steering and gear lever are good to hold and there’s ample room for the driver to be seated comfortably. Behind the wheel, you sit at a good height, but the thick A-pillars do obstruct visibility. The small rear windscreen also limits the view out the back. The car has a low-res rear-view camera even when the car is moving forward, which comes in handy.
There’s lots of place to store knick-knacks in this cabin. There’s an umbrella holder, with channels to drain out water, built into the front doors and each of the doors also gets a large bottle holder. The huge (and cooled) glovebox with a removable tray to keep your tablet/laptop on, and a lid with recesses for cups are all certain to appeal to buyers. At the back, even taller occupants will find headroom adequate. While the seat is set a little low and the backrest is a touch too reclined, it’s more than comfortable, even with a fifth passenger. The seats offer terrific support and there’s loads of legroom as well. The rear also has cupholders, a 12V charging socket and first-in-segment rear air con vents with blower control. The boot is a class-leading 350 litres, and loading and unloading luggage is fairly easy
Top-spec XZ+ Nexons come without cruise control, auto headlights and rain-sensing wipers, which the Brezza offers, or leather seats and side airbags that the EcoSport comes with. You do get a Jaguar F-Pace-like smart activity band though, which you can use to lock/unlock the vehicle and even start the engine, effectively doing away with the need to carry a clunky key.
Ground clearance is a class-leading 209mm and the Nexon measures just under 4m in length to avail of tax benefits. But look at the car in profile and it looks like a big and tough SUV. The wide grille, the effective use of chrome and the muscular arches make the car look wider than it is. Overall, the Nexon looks part-SUV, part-coupé and fully distinctive. At 1,237kg, the petrol Nexon is lighter than the petrol EcoSport, but the 1,305kg Nexon diesel is the heaviest of the three diesels in the segment. The Nexon is fitted with dual airbags, anti-lock brakes and Isofix child-seat mounts, and the company claims that it meets India’s upcoming crash test regulations.
First, the petrol version. The Nexon’s Revotron petrol motor is essentially the turbocharged version of the unit that powers the Tigor. The unit makes a healthy 110hp and 170Nm. The motor isn’t particularly exciting, even in Sport mode. In everyday city driving, you’ll need to keep working through the gears to keep the engine in its optimum zone. The engine feels strangulated in Eco mode at anything more than average speeds, and has more to give in City mode but feels its best in ‘Sport’. On the highway though, this car is pretty good. Overtaking is quite effortless and it’s possible to cover long distances at high speeds in relative comfort.
The diesel Nexon feels far better to drive. Its 110hp power and 260Nm are the best-in-class. The car takes 13.68sec to hit 100kph, which isn’t too bad for a car in this category. The engine’s smooth power delivery makes the diesel version easy to drive. Gearshifts are nice as well and this car cruises on the highway, like the petrol version, with relative ease. The diesel version, in fact, feels more stable on the highway. In the diesel car, you can use ‘Eco’ on a daily basis but you will feel the urge to switch to City or Sport modes every now and then. The suspension feels absorbent and dispatches bumps really well.
The steering is light and effortless to twirl at low speeds and weights up well at high speeds. The brakes offer good feel at the pedal and strong stopping power. We tested both cars in Eco modes for fuel efficiency. The petrol delivered a mediocre 9kpl and this figure goes up to 13kpl on the highway. The diesel Nexon returned city and highway fuel economy figures of 14kpl and 18kpl.
The Nexon is a desirable car to own – it certainly stands out in a parking lot. The cabin is a great place to be sat, even on long journeys, and the impressive levels of refinement of both petrol and diesel engines mean you’ll enjoy driving for the most part. Handling is quite entertaining too and the car comes loaded with tech as well. While the petrol engine has its weaknesses the diesel Nexon is definitely worth considering.