After our 170 km+ drive, we had an off-road session with the Hexa. During this 20 minute drive, we were taken on an off-road track that demonstrated various abilities of the mighty new SUV from Tata Motors. This drive was conducted by Cougar Motorsports folks, who are experts in off road adventures. Unfortunately we bloggers couldn't drive (for safety reasons I guess) but we could sit in the car and experience being driven off-road. This post explains the off-road abilities of the new Tata Hexa. Detailed review of Hexa's remaining features is covered in this post.
Before we proceed, note that the mode is called Rough Road mode, not Off Road Mode. I think there is a reason for it. We'll talk about this towards the end.
Once in Rough Road mode, Hexa's electronically controlled All Wheel Drive system kick in. This 4x4 system is designed by US based Borg Warner. (They supply these to JLR too)
1. ESP and Torque on Demand to deal with Cross Axle situationHexa can stand on 2 wheels. That is, even if two diagonal wheels are not having any traction (i.e. they are in the air or on loose gravel), remaining two wheels can keep the car steady. This feature seems straight from Land Rover family. Many ordinary SUVs supply say 60% power to front 2 wheels and remaining 40 to rear two wheels. Imagine a cross axle situation in which front left and rear right wheels are in the air- SUVs that don't have torque on demand feature (or ability to feed specific power to each 4 wheels) will supply 30% to front right and 20% rear left wheel (another 30+20% power sent to wheels in the air will go waste), making it tough to come out of cross axle situation. Hexa can supply 50% power each to the two wheels that have traction and thus the car can recover from cross axle situation very easily.
We also drove on ICE Cubes on one side, to simulate driving on snow. When the left two wheels didn't get enough traction because of ice, Hexa's LSD (Limited Slip Differential) transfers all power to right two wheels, which had traction, to enable coming out of the tricky situation.
2. Water wading depth of 450 mm:
I am told Hexa has a water wading depth of 450 meters (as told to me by the Caugar Motorsports staff performing off-road driving). If true, that is very impressive (Landrover Discovery Sport has 600 mm, Tata Safari has 300 mm)
With cities getting flooded every monsoon, higher water wading depth lets you negotiate more deeper water without water entering inside the vehicle. Most rivals of Hexa have water wading depth in the range of 300 to 350 mm.
Unlike the Landrover experience, our Hexa offroad track didn't have a large pond to swim the Hexa through.
3. Hill Descent Control (HDC)
Hill descent control, when engaged, ensures that vehicle doesn’t go faster than a pre-set speed- say 8 kmph. If you are negotiating steep descent, you don’t have to keep pressing the brake to prevent over-speeding- Hill Descent control will do it for you. Note that HDC should be engaged manually (HHC is automatic)
4. Hill Hold Control. (HHC)
If you are on steep ascent, hill hold control will prevent the vehicle from rolling backwards.
Hexa has smart sensors that can detect if driver is in a panic mode. If you are going at high speed and remove your leg off the accelerator abruptly, vehicle will sense that something could be wrong and it will "prepare" the brakes to engage, even before you press the brake lever. This way, even before you move your leg from accelerator to brake pedal, braking system is ready to deploy and is waiting for your command. Moment you press the pedal, braking is applied at its full potential-minimizing the reaction time and enabling much faster stopping.
Watch a video below (or click here to watch on YouTube)
Hexa is pretty stable in hard braking conditions. There is zero to minimum fishtail effect (car swinging to the side on its rear part)
Hexa can tilt up to 22 degrees without toppling over. Approach and departure angles are slightly less than that of Safari Storme. ESP with rollover mitigation keeps the car stable.
Tata Hexa is a great SUV with decent off road ability but note that Hexa is not positioned as a hard core off-road vehicle. Few shortfalls I can list are
- Ability to select 4H/4L or 2H modes (not available in Hexa, but available in Safari Storme)
- A provision to replace stock tyres with larger and thicker off-road tyres (In Hexa you can only go for same diameter tyres with different thread profile. If you had larger/thicker tyres, it will hit the wheel arc and suspension will have no room to play. Whereas Tata Safari, Fortuner or Pajero can take bigger tyres as they have larger wheel arc.
- More ground clearance (200 mm is good but hard core SUVs have little more ground clearance.
Update: As per a story in ZigWheels, Hexa 4x4 with AT will be launched in late 2017, this is to prevent higher price ticket during the launch time.
Similar: Land Rover Off-road Experience * Merc LuxeDrive * Offroad with Terratigers * Hexa Manual vs Automatic *