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Tata Zest- Tata guns for the upper crest

Snapshot: Bold styling, improved interiors and decent dynamics make the Tata Zest a genuine rival to the Maruti Suzuki Dzire

Progress has been made by Tata Motors and the new Zest is proof of that. There is a lot riding on this car. It is the first time that Tata has decided to do away with the Indigo badging and Tata’s latest entry midsize sedan is given a name of its own. This is also the first time that Tata Motors is offering an automatic gearbox in this price range on a diesel engine and that too an Automated Manual Transmission(AMT). Tata hopes that all this along with posh looks, feature rich cabin and much improved quality will take the Zest upmarket and help make Tata cars desirable all over again.

Exteriors
Glance at the car from a distance and you will struggle to criticize anything about its looks. Tata Motors took great care to ensure that the face is immediately recognizable as a Tata family car, but it looks very fresh and striking. The large headlamps(with projectors in the top-variant) along with the sculpted front bumper give it plenty of character. You also get LED-daytime lamps to add to the upmarket appeal. The short stubby boot gels well with the rest of the car and the tail lamps look well designed too. Overall, the design is very modern and visually appealing as well. In fact, of you were to hide the Tata badges many would mistake this for a European car; styling is that good.

Interiors
This new Zest’s cabin is nothing like any other Tata car you have seen before. The interiors are the best we’ve seen on a Tata car as yet. Tata seems to have taken a page out of rival Hyundai’s book and has worked hard on providing the crucial ‘feel-good’ factor in the cabin. The car comes loaded with kit. But more importantly, quality levels have gone up by a good bit and now match the segment leaders. The piano black finish along with the white inserts on the dashboard looks upmarket. Tata has worked on the in-car entertainment with audio giants Harman and the results are good. The seats are well contoured as well and the cushioning is very good too. This is a good car for long journeys. However, the door bins aren’t very well shaped and there is no space to hold a bottle in them, something that Tata should address soon. The 360-litre boot space is quite useful though.
 

Engine, performance and gearbox
We tried the 1.3-litre diesel with 89bhp and the 5-speed AMT first. This is the first AMT in a diesel car in this segment and should be Tata’s trump card. Tata Motors seem to have worked on improving the car’s refinement and it’s really hard to tell from inside what fuel is powering the Zest. Performance is good from the engine and the gearbox gets its own ‘Sport’ mode, which sharpens the revs and hold the gears longer. Gearshifts are effortless for the most part but the gearbox prefers to be shifted without a rush. Most owners will buy this version of the car for a hassle free experience in the city without any compromise in efficiency.

The other engine is the all-new 1.2-litre Revotron petrol. This compact engine gets a turbo to boost power to 85bhp. You can choose from three driving modes, ‘Eco’, ‘Sport’ and ‘City’. The Eco mode means the focus is on efficiency, so engine responses are a bit lazy and the engine takes a bit longer to dial up the revs when you push your right foot down. The Sport mode is the one to choose if you want sharp responses from the engine and want power to arrive early. The City mode is a fine balance between the two and is the mode that the car starts off from always. The Revotron engine offers good refinement and has a nice rev happy nature, which means it goes all the way to the red line without a fuss. Good for your long distance journeys when you want to push the car.

Ride and handling
There is little doubt that the Zest has one of the most comfortable rides in its class if not the best. The suspension soaks up the bumps without any drama and high speed stability is good too. Tata Motors seem to have worked really hard to make it an agile handler as well. Though the steering isn’t as communicative as the Maruti Dzire’s and there is some body roll present, there is some fun to be had for the keen driver in the Zest with its sure footed and predictable handling.
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Safety and equipment
The Zest is loaded to the gills with kit. You get voice activated radio controls. Bluetooth connectivity, steering mounted audio controls, rear view camera, ABS, projector headlamps and all the bells and whistles you can think of within this class.

Competition
Maruti Suzuki Dzire - The Dzire is the king of its class and still the car to beat. The Zest is clearly on top in visual appeal and features, especially the diesel with its automatic gearbox, which the Dzire doesn’t have even as an option.

Summary

The Zest is an impressive product that scores in most key areas without any major compromises. It’s everything you’d ask for in an entry midsize sedan. Tata Motors is back and how.

Tata Zest Road Test Review

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