Given that Tata Motors was the one to realise ‘sub-four-metre car’ need not always mean hatchback (remember the Indigo CS compact sedan), it has taken its own sweet time to come up with a compact SUV. Sure, the carmaker had made its intent about breaking into the segment very clear with the Nexon concept of 2014, but it’s only in September 2017 that the final product will be available at a showroom near you. One look at the Nexon, though, and you’ll probably agree Tata Motors has used its time well to come up with a genuinely eye-catching rival to the likes of the Ford EcoSport and huge-selling Maruti Vitara Brezza. The Nexon is an attention magnet. Its overall design and styling are so radically different from what we’ve seen from Tata Motors, even over the past two years, that the badges are the only big giveaways of its company of manufacture. Tata’s compact SUV looks almost concept-car-like and actually makes the Maruti Brezza from 2016 look decidedly boxy and old-fashioned.
DESIGN AND STYLE ;
To begin with let us first inform you that the Nexon is based on the XO platform which is the same platform that also underpins almost all of their new generation compact cars including the Bolt, Zest and even the Tiago and Tigor.Take a look at the production variant of the Nexon, and you will instantly mistake it with the concept car which was showcased almost three years back at the 2014 Auto Expo with some practical additions. This compact SUV stands apart from the crowd because of certain factors which include its modern looking face, a sloping roofline like silhouette, big extended X like design towards the rear which has been finished in Ivory white ceramic type element that we can also find towards the side profile and also under the front fog lamps. The big 16-inch chunky alloy wheels, high ground clearance of 200 mm, projector headlamps and LED taillamps are some other highlights which make the SUV looks quite modern and well equipped and practical at the same time.
The premium looking front grille has been finished in Piano black and has the Tata logo at the centre while a chrome slat sits on the base of the grille and extends all the way towards the side headlamps edges (Tata Motors calls it a humanity line). The Nexon also gets LED DRL’s positioned below the projector headlamps units. Towards the lower front face, the round fog lamps placed slightly higher to perhaps highlighting the high ground clearance.Towards the side profile is where you will witness all the crease lines and bulges. The muscular wheel arches and the big 16 inch wheels along with black plastic claddings further add to its muscular stance. Just below the window line is where you will also find the Ivory white strip which you will also notice towards the front and rear profile of the SUV. One of the other highlights of the side profile of the SUV is its coupe like sloping roofline which is further accentuated by the Contrasting roof colour.Towards the rear profile the Nexon gets an X shaped element which is positioned just below the rear windscreen. The floating roof spoiler towards the rear also features a LED stop lamps.
CABIN AND COMFORT ;
The dashboard of the Tata Nexon is designed keeping practicality and ease-of-use in mind. The steering wheel feels good to hold and comes with controls for audio and phone. The centre console gets a floating 6.5-inch HD touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You get other features like climate control, 8-speakers for the Harman Sound System, voice commands, 2 airbags and rear AC vents. A lot of parts on the inside have been borrowed from other Tata cars. The Nexon also gets a wearable key which can be useful when you go for jogs.
The AC is excellent and even at blower speed 1, the throw of the air is extremely good. The doors open wide and the seats are set at a height, allowing easy ingress and egress. The front seats feel comfortable with good support for the lower back and under thigh. At the rear, it might get a bit difficult to fit 3 people, but nonetheless, both knee room and head space are very good. The front windows are large but the rear windows are set high up and there is no quarter panel, thus making short passengers feel claustrophobic. The cabin is also very practical with a number of storage spaces, including one in the centre console that has been inspired by premium cars. The boot is well-shaped and you can fold the rear seats flat to get a cargo capacity of 690-litres. Quality on the inside is good for most part but certain areas feel a bit cheap.
ENGINE AND GEARBOX ;
The Tata Nexon comes both in petrol and diesel. It has a 1.2-litre turbo petrol that delivers about 108bhp of power and 180Nm of maximum torque. The Tata Tiago also uses the same engine, but it gets a turbocharger in the Nexon, for better performance. The power output is also higher. It comes mated to a 6speed manual transmission. This is something unique in this segment for a petrol vehicle.
The other engine is a 1.5-litre diesel engine that churns out about 108bhp of power and it comes with best-in-class torque of 260Nm. The diesel engine is the most powerful one in the segment and this also comes with a 6speed manual transmission. This engine is a four-cylinder one, unlike the three-cylinder one found on the Tiago. Both engines get multiple driving modes which are Eco, City and Sport. The Nexon is a front-wheel drive SUV and it does not have an AWD system.The Nexon delivers good fuel efficiency. As the petrol is similar to the Tata Tiago, it should return close to 13km/l in the city and about 17km/l on the highway. At the same time, the diesel engine will return about 17km/l in the city and 20km/l on the highway at least.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
The Nexon gets McPherson struts up front and a twist beam setup at the rear. The ride is a nice compromise between hard and soft and because there’s not much body roll, it feels plush on the inside. It deals with potholes in the manner of bigger SUVs. So all you feel inside is a toned down thud and a little vertical movement that settles down pretty quick. The diesel Nexon is 68kg heavier than the petrol one, and the added weight results in keeping the cabin slightly more stable when going over a rough patch or at high speeds.The diesel Nexon pays the price of the added weight when it comes to handling, but not by a big margin. The difference lies in the fact that the diesel Nexon tends to understeer slightly when you get into a turn while the petrol Nexon feels sharper in comparison. Overall, the Nexon feels quite confident on the road, and stability at highway speeds is not a concern either.With discs at the front and drums at the rear, it feels confident when braking hard. But the brakes don’t offer instant bite, thus requiring you to vary the braking pressure according to the situation.
BRAKING AND SAFETY ;
Tata Nexon comes packed with a plethora of safety features such as dual front airbags, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Immobilizer and Seatbelt with pretensioners and load limiters as standard. The high-end variants also boast of Park Assist with Camera, Front fog lamps with cornering assistance, rear fog lamps and speed dependent auto door locks features.
The Nexon is a remarkable product from Tata; a bold crossover that combines standout form while packaging in immense practicality too, and if it weren’t for the the fit and finish issues, we would recommend it without hesitation. Especially the diesel. No kidding, the Nexon is likely to set segment benchmark on account of its very easy to drive diesel engine, and the big car levels of space in the cabin. On top of that, the Nexon is a neat and tidy handler and comfortable to be chauffeured around in too. The petrol is exciting when driven hard – but for everyday use you’d wish it offered smooth and more fluid performance. And, yes, the design is striking, and this Tata has all the features you need.