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Tata Nexon- Small SUV, big bet

Tata Nexon- Small SUV, big bet

Snapshot: Tata is aiming squarely at the Maruti Vitara Brezza and Ford Ecosport with its latest compact SUV. Should rivals be worried?

The Tata Nexon has taken a long time coming. Officially showcased way back in 2014 as a concept, the company showed a production ready version at the Auto Expo in February 2016 as well. But while you may accuse Tata to take its own sweet time in terms of rolling out a car no one can blame the company for offering a dull looking car. The Nexon will turn heads wherever it goes. But more on that later. Is beauty more than skin deep? That’s what we will figure by the end of this review.

Exteriors

If you love bold, striking, young designs you will simply love the Nexon. However, if you are of conservative taste than the Nexon with its sharp creases won’t appeal to you much.  But that said, love it or hate it, the Nexon is a design that you simply can’t ignore. The front end will remind you of the Bolt hatchback, with similarly styled lamps. The bumper is much more sculpted though. Tata has given it muscular looking wheel arches as well. But the single biggest talking point has to be the sloping roof at the back which gives it a coupe-like look. The rear is very unique and makes the car stand out not only in this segment but across any segment. All said and done, the Nexon has its own unique personality that is hard to miss.

Interiors

The cabin is at par with rivals when it comes to overall build quality. One of our biggest grouses with most other Tata cars, a lack of utility places has finally been answered. There are plenty of places in the cabin to hold your bottles and the glovebox is huge too. An added bonus is that the glovebox is cooled. You also get a huge swivel wheel in the middle of the centre console, which can be turned around to choose between the eco, city and sports modes for the engine. There’s also a touch screen for the infotainment which is at par with Maruti’s touch screen on the Brezza. What stands out though are the class leading seats which are simply the best for cushioning and support. A special mention must be made of the Harman stereo which belts out music in a very crystal clear manner.

The rears seats are generous for room as well. You get your own AC vents at the back which also have 2-speeds to regulate the throw of air. The only issue at the back is that the raising waistline at the back makes you feel hemmed in and the thick ‘C’ pillar also makes the cabin feel claustrophobic.

Engine, gearbox and performance

You can choose between two engines. There’s a 1.2-litre petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel. Both engines are turbocharged units and make an identical 108bhp. What’s more, you also get a six-speed manual gearbox on both.

In terms of performance and driveability, it’s the diesel which feels more eager to deliver. The petrol motor suffers from loads of lag and feels hesitant to respond to throttle inputs below 2,000 rpm. Performance is good in the mid-range but once you extend it all the way to the redline, it feels out of breath and also becomes noisy in the city. The extra sixth gear helps to extend the car’s flexibility on the highway. If you are doing speeds of around 100kph in the petrol then the engine is spinning at around 1,400 rpm making the cabin a quiet place to be in.

Talking about quiet places, the diesel engine is very impressive in terms of refinement. The cabin is well isolated from all the road and wind noises too. Though there is a hint of lag at lower rpms, it tends to die down as the revs rise above 1,700-1,800. There is plenty of poke available all the way upto 4,500rpm. The engine also remains largely quiet when the revs mount making the cabin a nice place to be in. Just like the petrol, the diesel also gets a six speed manual so driving on the highway is a nice and pleasant affair. Performance though is more than satisfactory and at par with its main rivals.

The gearbox is decent to operate but nothing exceptional. Both its rivals offer slicker and sportier gearboxes though.

Ride and handling

The steering wheel on the petrol car is light and easy to operate though it does tend to feel a bit vague when you go around faster corners. The diesel has more feel to it and feels a lot more confidence inspiring on the highway as well. The ride comfort is exemplary, especially at higher speeds, where the Nexon simply annihilates all surfaces with complete aplomb. It's only at slower city speeds that the car allows some sharp crevices to filter through. Overall, it is better than both the Ford Ecosport and Maruti Brezza in ride comfort as well as stability on the highway.

Summary

The biggest hurdle for the Nexon is two well-established rivals both of which have a keen fan following. That said, if you are in the market for a bold looking, comfortable car which offers loads of unique features then the Nexon is worth a good look at a Tata dealership near you.    

Photography: Mohd. Nasir.

 

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