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Tata Nexon Automatic: First drive

Tata Nexon Automatic: First drive

Snapshot: Tata Motors has just gone ahead and added 6-speed automatic AMT gearbox to its Nexon compact SUV. This adds more ease and value to this already great car.

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The strategy that Tata Motors is pursuing right now can be defined as offensive at best. Last couple of years have seen a slew of great products along with noticeable network expansion and improvement throughout servicing customers. Great products are essential as our market too evolving at an exceptional pace. Customers now just do not look for mere fuel efficiency or comfort parameters, but the scales have tipped towards convenience and connected features. Automatic transmissions are in steady demand and have become a critical element while choosing a car. So far compact SUVs have been somewhat devoid of that element. But guess what Tata has in store for those discerning customers, yes a 6-speed AMT Nexon available both in petrol and diesel engine options, here to make your driving way easier and efficient.

Design

We’ve all quite established that Nexon is one of the coolest looking cars in its segment, even beyond.  The design is both muscular and pretty curvy at the same time making it exude considerable presence on the road. However this new Hyprdrive is completely identical as before apart from this Etna orange with Sonic silver roof combination only available in the top spec XZA+ avatar. This orange though is a fantastic colour with excellent finish on the silver roof. Apart from this Tata Motors now has something called an ‘Imaginator’ platform for customising your Nexon online before you buy one! It’s a fun tool to imagine and select colour schemes and seat upholstery to create your own personalized Nexon. This tool will offer you two body kits, Aktiv and Aero, corresponding to the lifestyle you prefer. Also the PEPS wearable key fob too will be available with this Nexon Hyprdrive too with push button start/stop variants.

Interior

Getting inside Nexon has been a breeze as it sits higher off the ground and you don’t have to slouch your way inside, either front or rear. Then you’re greeted with good quality plastics, decent fit and finish and lots of features to keep you entertained. But before you start playing with the 6.5inch floating dash touch-screen infotainment system, an 8-speaker Harman Kardon music system and that perfectly sized steering wheel, you’ll note how supportive yet comfortable the seats are in Nexon. And adjustable height lets you get comfortable in whichever setting suits your body dimensions. Even the view towards the front and sides of the car is excellent letting you choose your lines carefully. The only issue is the massive C-pillar which creates an annoying blind spot for the driver. Also somebody at Tata Motors has to fix that passenger side wiper which for some reason feels like a squint in Nexon’s eye.

Engine and transmission

Nexon has an option of a 1.2l petrol and 1.5l diesel engine both of which are now offered with a 6-speed AMT transmission. So no clutch pedal and a simple accelerator brake action is most of your driving. Nexon Hyprdrive has a creep function too which as the name suggests lets you inch ahead in traffic without pressing on the accelerator pedal. This same creep function also assists you while driving off an incline by supporting the car during your brake to accelerator transition. The one we are driving here, 1.5l diesel, puts out 108.5bhp of maximum power backed by a bucket load of 260Nm peak torque. Power delivery is smooth and progressive from this engine, and gear shift ferocity can be changed via a rotary knob besides the gear lever. This dial is split into 3 settings, ‘City’ which is the default setting, ‘Eco’ which is tuned for softer driving and finally ‘Sport’ which extracts most performance. Settings are set to default City mode when you start the car. This is for urban use when you get smooth shifts while driving through congested city roads. You can choose Sport when you wish to drive enthusiastically. Sport will hold gears and delay shifts making you dart through overtaking manoeuvres and enjoy crisper response while curvy mountain roads. This was the most fun setting and even in Sport the Nexon was indicating not less than 20kmpl on the MID. You have to be awfully careful as breaking speed limits is very easy on the Nexon Hyprdrive. Lastly select Eco when you want softest and laziest response from the engine making it tad more efficient. The petrol version too is decent to drive through traffic and eases off the tedium by clutch-less driving. It is quieter too against the diesel which transmits some noise in the cabin through mid and high rpm. Exact fuel efficiency numbers are something that we’ll reserve for a proper road test in Delhi.

Ride and handling

Ride quality is something Nexon has already won praises for, and similar is the Hyprdrive as it is the exact setup. On the highway it is planted and lets you relax whilst you gobble kilometres, it also holds its lines well when you push it through fast bends and rough patches are dealt with relative ease too. Since it has a commendable 209mm ground clearance, driving off the beaten track is doable too within the limits of front wheel drive hardware. Because it is an AMT gearbox you will experience slight jerks while shifting, but thankfully these are kept mostly under check, noticeable but not annoying. These 16-inch alloys wear 215section Goodyear tyres which have loads of grip for sure-footed braking. And since they have a fat 60mm profile, they’re good at soaking road undulations well.

Verdict

Considering customer sentiment is slowly but steadily rowing towards automatic boxes, Nexon has gained one right on time. No doubt others will soon be following suit in competitive compact SUVs but it still looks hard to beat Nexon’s value-for-money ratio. Expect a price hike of Rs 50-60K for the automatic variants of both diesel and petrol variants, which surely will be launching very soon. So if you want a tall-riding compact SUV with a charming character, convenient driving and overall comfort without burning a massive hole in your wallet every day, Nexon is right on point.

Photography: Mohd Nasir

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