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Tata Hexa – Upwardly mobile

Snapshot: The Hexa is more than just a reskinned version of the Aria, it’s a very worthy rival to the Mahindra XUV 500.

Tata Motors is in a hurry. After years of being in slumber, the company wants to catch up with its main rivals across segments and wants to do it sooner than most would expect. After the sales success with the Tiago hatchback, Tata now wants to move upmarket. And the new Hexa is the car that they hope would do that for them.



Exterior
This is the second car to get the companies ‘Impact’ design theme. According to Pratap Bose, head of design, Tata Motors, the exterior design of the car should be exciting and have a solid impact to ensure that people talk about it. This also translates into showroom visits, which ultimately means greater sales success.

The Hexa looks mean and very aggressive from the face. The bullhorn shaped grille gets a solid dose of chrome garnish. The projector headlamps add pizzazz as well. But the overtly sculpted bumper with the air dam as well as asymmetrically shaped foglamps look like anoverkill. That said, the flat surfaced 19-inch alloy wheels look cool and give this SUV plenty of road presence as well. The rear end isn’t as dramatic though but with the wraparound tail lights the Hexa has a neat silhouette. Still, when viewed from side on, you can easily tell this car is based on the Aria and the Hexa also looks like a MPV rather than an SUV.

Interior
One glance at the cabin and you will immediately notice how good the quality really is. The top of the ashboard as well as the door panels now get soft touch plastics. The indicator stalks as well as all the switchgear on the car offers a nice tactile feel to it. In fact there isn’t a single piece of bad quality plastic inside the cabin. The Hexa has the best quality of interiors when compared to its main rivals the Mahindra XUV 500 as well as the Toyota Innova Crysta.

Seat comfort is excellent as well in the front two row of seats and the captain arm chairs feel like they are in their own league when it comes to support and cushioning. The last row though could do with extra head and leg room. The last row of seats is good enough only for people who are under 5 feet and 6 inches. Anyone taller will struggle for comfort over long journeys.



Engine, performance and gearbox
The same 2.2-litre engine that also does duty on the Safari is found under the Hexa’s bonnet. This engine makes 156bhp of power and 400Nm of torque. The torque figures are the best in class. Start off from cold and the engine has a bit of clatter but once it warms up the cabin is well insulated. In fact when cruising on the highway the engine’s stress free nature really makes the cabin a very quiet place to be in. The six speed manual gearbox adds to the flexibility of the engine as well. Tata Motors have used a self-adjusting clutch on the new Hexa. This clutch offers a linear feel and is very light in operation. Tata claims it will have the same feel for many years and thousands of kilometres of usage.

The gearbox though could have been better. The throws are long and it needs a heavy hand to shift as well. The automatic which also offers a six speed gearbox is the better choice. It remains jerk free for the most part and works well with this car’s engine.
The engine takes a little while to get going. Like most diesel engines it suffers from turbo lag below 2000rpm. Once past that mark, performance is brilliant. There is a huge surge of torque that simply pushes you to the back of your seat. You have to be careful with the throttle, because this car can build up some serious speeds without you knowing it.



Ride and handling
The ride comfort on the big Hexa is simply phenomenal. The car simply glides over the worst roads with complete aplomb. The ride is supreme for comfort no matter what speeds you are doing. The high speed ride is brilliant with the Hexa offering sure footedness as well as plenty of grip.

The steering on the Hexa has decent amounts of feel. And even though it isn’t the best SUV in town for keen drivers, the steering wheel offers decent communication. Body roll is present when pushing into corners though.
Summary
The Tata Hexa is definitely a more rounded package than its main rival, the Mahindra XUV 500. The Hexa offers more useable features, a better cabin in both quality and comfort and also has the better ride. The captain chairs simply add to the sense of comfort inside the cabin as well.

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