A compact SUV, Tata Nexon adds to the rising crop of vehicles that are proving to be an aspirational alternative to mid-size cars. Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, the Nexon stands out in the company of Ford EcoSport and Maruti Suzuki Brezza. The three are roughly the same size, but it’s the Nexon which turns heads and draws attention.
Its design and styling are radically different from what has been offered by Tata Motors until now, including the Tigor fastback recently. If I could seek a distance connection with the Tata Sierra, which was quite attractive when it was launched, the Nexon hasn’t deviated from the concept.
The nose with high-mounted headlights and a mesh grille that was first seen on the Tiago present the compact SUV with bold looks and a confident stance. The big wheel arches and the silhouette also contribute to its bold stance.
The roofline at the rear is fairly conventional, but the way it tapers gives you the impression of it being sporty. Also, the contrast colour of the roof adds a modern touch.
A look at the steering wheel, and it seems to have been carried over from the Tiago and Tigor. The central console is new with its gloss black and metallic finish. The layered dash looks nice and is well finished with plenty of chrome inserts. The quality of material looks a step up from what Tata cars have been known to offer until recently. There are some panel gaps that could do with tighter fitting and consistency.
The AC switches are a part of the ‘floating’ screen at the top of the central console. The screen has been so designed that the driver need not take his eyes off the road. The 6.5-inch touchscreen is bigger than those found in the Tigor and Hexa.
The infotainment system does not get sat-nav, but it does get Android Auto. The eight-speaker Harman system offers superior sound system.
The A-pillar is a bit thick and has to be accounted for when turning. The front seats are large and supportive. To get into the rear seat, one needs to lower himself a bit to avoid making contact. The rear windows are small, and may give an impression that the cabin isn’t roomy, but it is. Thigh support is very good and AC vent at the rear has a dedicated blower control.
Diesel engine performs well
The boot of the Nexon is worth 350 litres. The 60:40 split rear seat helps increase storage space. Offering a feature-like smart activity wrist band with which the vehicle can be locked or unlocked and the engine cranked, the need to carry a fob is almost redundant.
If that’s a bit of sport there, the Nexon is powered by a 110bhp, 1.5-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine, and a 110bhp, 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine. Both engines are mated to a six-speed transmission. With front-wheel drive orientation, the Nexon with the diesel engine performs well.
Driving in traffic is easy as good tractability saves the need to downshift as much. An amount of pull is felt past 2000 rpm. There’s not much on offer past 4000 rpm.
An attempt to make it turn faster results in it sounding laboured. At times, even in the ‘Sport’ mode, the need for more power is felt. The three drive modes — Eco, City and Sport — alter the performance characteristics and have an impact on fuel efficiency. The sixth gear of the Nexon provides with an ability to cruise at good speeds on the highway with the engine turning at a relaxed pace.
Dynamically apt, the Nexon provides a pliant ride over a variety of surfaces. Irregularities are well tackled, and there is not much pitching or body roll. The steering feels direct and sincere — this aids stability. Despite the 209mm ground clearance, the Nexon rides as well as handles well. Cornering well, the vehicle inspires confidence.
Expected to be priced between Rs 6.5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh, the Nexon is capable of changing the image of Tata Motors as a car maker. It is stylish and refined, and is clever and dynamically well crafted. But it could do with more power, especially the petrol version.
Pros: Style, cleverly crafted, ride and handling
Cons: Petrol could do with more power