Over the weekend I tested Tata’s new compact SUV, the Nexon and was pleasantly surprised by how far Tata has come from its gaudy Indica.
As a kid, thanks to my family’s outgoing nature, I was frequently a part of long, never-ending road trips all around Uttarakhand.
In the beginning, it seemed like Tata SUVs were their only trusted choice. But as time passed, newer offerings from Toyota and Mitsubishi, with their much superior build quality, efficiency, and reliability erased any sign of a Tata SUV from my household.
With the number of Toyota Innova MPVs occupying our country’s urban landscape today, I could safely assume that my family wasn’t the only family who left behind their loyalty towards Tata.
A decade later, in 2012, Ford launched the EcoSport in the Indian car market and suddenly people discovered that they could have the efficiency of a hatchback with the advantages of an SUV. The launch of the EcoSport sent everybody into a compact SUV buying frenzy.
I like to think that maybe the concept took off because it made the typical Indian buyer feels the fulfilment of getting much more for much less. Thanks to this feeling, the sub-four-metre compact SUV segment grew exponentially.
The Renault Dusters, Hyundai Cretas, and Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezzas have become a common sight on our roads today.
I personally ‘was’ completely against these small, bloated and jacked up hatchbacks, pretending to be SUVs. I am more conservative that ways. But all of that changed when I took the wheel of the all-new Tata Nexon.
The three-layer interior layout with the 6.5-inch touchscreen were the first things I noticed as I climbed inside. The modern design language felt a bit out of place as I was used to the boxy interiors of previous Tata offerings. Clearly, it did not look or feel like a Tata product.
I was expecting a flimsy glove box hatch, uneven panel gaps and the use of straight out bad plastic all around a Tata, but that wasn’t the case with the Nexon.
The textured matt-black top layer and matt-grey at the bottom makes the shiny middle layer in gun metal silver stand out and gives you the feeling of sitting in a premium vehicle.
I connected my phone to the car’s Bluetooth audio system and began my journey towards Noida. As I took off, the first thing I noticed was how light the steering and the clutch were. The high setup of the centre console gave me the feeling of sitting in a cockpit but the ample headroom inside confused that thought. In no way did the interiors of the Nexon feel cramped.
All the switches and dials inside the Nexon had a very purposeful white illumination. I was glad to not come across any geeky blue or orange backlights. I was having some trouble believing that I am sitting in a car that starts with a price tag of just Rs 5.85 lakh and ends at Rs 9.45 lakh.
The car hesitated to respond. For a second I thought something had gone wrong but as I glanced around, I quickly realised that the car was running in the City drive mode. I turned the swanky looking knob two clicks to the right and the car said “sport drive mode on!” in a female voice, with the volume turned up so high that I almost jumped out of my seat.
After that moving experience, I gave the gas pedal another try and this time I could feel the turbo giving me the torque surge from about 1800 rpm. Straight out, I could sense that it is a small turbo as the surge wasn’t overwhelming but it was getting the job done.
During the rest of the two days, I felt that the 6-speed gearbox is a bit rubbery but the gear ratios seemed well sorted for city driving conditions.
Being a three-cylinder unit, the Nexon petrol did jerk and jump a bit in the first two gears, but beyond that, I could smoothly drive around the city using the third and fourth gear effortlessly without any frequent gear changes.
The steering could have delivered a more precise feedback but it isn’t bad enough to be a deal breaker in any way. The next day, I showed the car to a few other enthusiastic millennials for “research purposes” and this is what they had to say:
“I don’t believe this is a Tata”
“I feel like we are sitting in a much more expensive car” and
“It is spacious and comfortable back here”.
Later, on my way back, I crossed Lajpat Nagar where the car manoeuvred swiftly between a rickshaw and cattle on the road.
The side view mirrors are big enough to give you a good view of whats going on behind you. It’s then that I started to understand why people are crazy about these small SUVs.
Parking the Nexon in tight spots is also a hassle-free affair. The rear parking camera with the guiding lines and proximity sensors also makes things easier.
On the third day before filming the review of Tata Nexon, I took a couple of minutes to look at it and tried to visualise what the designers had in mind. There were a few things like the wide wheel arches with the 215/60 section Goodyear tyres that fit well on the machine cut, 16-inch alloy wheels that came with the top trim XZ+. Taking a look at it from the side, I realised that it is actually a pretty well-rounded design; from no angle did the Nexon seem to be a patch job.
The rear design though is definitely polarising, either you will love it or you won’t. But you won’t hate it because it does look like it’s supposed to be there. The big wide front and the projector headlamps and 200 mm of ground clearance surely give the Nexon a good road presence.
Thinking from a millennial’s standpoint, growing up in a world which is all about efficiency and smart executions, I realised it is a good idea to not have the third row that is used only a dozen times the whole year.
To not have a bulky 2.2-litre turbocharged fuel guzzler, to not worry about where to fit a three-row elephant between all the small hatchbacks in my apartment building’s compound. Why do it?
So, by the time I was done looking at it and evaluating my experience of the past two days, just before going ahead to shoot the video review I said to myself, “I get it. Maybe I don’t need to wait 10 years to buy my own full-sized SUV, maybe getting much more for much less isn’t such a bad idea after all!”
Published Date: Dec 08, 2017 04:36 pm | Updated Date: Dec 08, 2017 04:39 pm