Wheels of Excitement: New Tata Nexon Driving Experience!

While various silent features of Tata Nexon in explained in detail in the other post here, this post shares my driving experience of Nexon and quick review. As part of the media drive, we got to spend about half a day in the car, driving from Marriott Hotel Kochi to Greenberg resort on the hills enroute to Idukki and back.


The Engines of Nexon
It won’t be fair to fit a compact SUV with sedan engines. Thus Nexon gets new set of engines- 1.2 litre petrol and 1.5 litre diesel engine both turbo charged and producing 110 PS each. The 3 pot petrol engine used in Tigor is provided with a turbo charger to produce more power while diesel engine is new. These are the most powerful engines from the Revotron and Revotorq family as well as among non SUV category in Tata (only Safari and Hexa get more powerful bigger engines). 
Our team during #ExploreWithNexon
We drove both petrol and diesel versions, about 90 kms each. Diesel while going uphill to Greenberg resort and petrol on the way back. Both have similar power at about 110 PS but petrol engine is lighter (by only about 60kg) and gets bit lesser torque.  108 BHP or 110 PS is pretty good in its class. While driving uphill on the ghats I could sustain second gear in most hairpin bends- there were many of them enroute to our half way point (lesser powered cars often need us to downshift to first in sharp uphill hairpin bends). Changing the mode between Eco, City and Sport is a breeze- can be done on the fly. A nice voice announces the new driving mode selected, display colour theme changes as per mode (Red for sports, blue for city, green for Eco). Eco mode will not let you accelerate rapidly, there by saving fuel. City mode keeps some extra torque handy for quick acceleration and speed variations, but will limit top speed. Sports is where full potential of the engine will be unleashed. I drove most of the time in sports mode (almost everyone did the same)- while it was fun, it may not be friendly on your pocket. Average fuel economy was 9.6 kmpl in petrol as per the display- this is with sports mode plus decent usage of AC, uphill drive and 4 people on board. Certified fuel economy figures are not available at this moment- will probably be twice as above, because of ‘when tested in ideal conditions’- just one person, no AC, no uphill drive, economy mode and not sure what else… Tigor petrol which gets a less powerful engine has a FE of about 16-18kmpl for petrol. Nexon petrol should give around 13-15 kmpl if driven in economy mode in a fuel efficient way, less when you drive in other modes and use air-conditioning fully. Diesel Nexon has better fuel economy at around 15-16 kmpl when we drove in sports mode, should give more if driven in Eco all the time. Official numbers could be upwards of 20-22 kmpl though.
Keyless entry with wearable wrist band is a cool feature, probably first car ever to offer this. No need to carry the key fob, just wear it like a wrist band. There's no display or any other control, but very convenient n smart. Just walkin, push the button and zoom away.

Indrani has made this 90 sec video of my driving- do watch


One of my tests for Engine response is to check if the gear range is flexible or it forces constant gear changes. Even if I slow down a bit, car should sustain in higher gear without demanding a downshift or if I speed up temporarily it shouldn’t hesitate and force an up-shift. This scenario often occurs between second and 3rd gears in city limits- for a few moments of slowness or higher speed you may not wish to change gear as you know the need is only temporary. There're 6 forward gears, with 4th, 5th and 6th being overdrive gears. Because we didn’t have a straight road to reach higher speeds, I also engaged 6th gear at slightly slower speed than it was meant for. Still the diesel motor didn’t complain. This kind of flexibility is crucial for driving convenience. Nexon diesel did well in this department. Though the gear change adviser on the dashboard kept advising a change of gear, engine showed enough responsiveness in second and third gear to deal with sudden variation in speed.

View from driver’s seat is nice, but the A pillar problem is common in all cars these days. It is not possible to avoid A pillar, so we will have to deal with the visual obstruction it causes. Had to tilt myself a bit to get better view during sharp turns. There’s height adjustment for driver’s seat, tilt adjustment for steering wheel (no telescopic adjustment). Instrument cluster is standard- two big dials for speed and RPM and a digital section in the middle. Mirrors get electronic adjustment and auto folding. Reverse camera with guiding lines is useful feature. Steering response is precise as well. Despite narrow roads of Kerala, I could overtake with confidence and precision. There were lots of hairpin bends, which could be negotiated with ease, with just a few fingers. Nexon gets an electrically assisted rack & pinion based power steering unit, perfected by Tata Motors in other cars over time. 
Some fun with Nexon, Clicked by Indrani Ghose
209 mm ground clearance and wider tyres give confidence to take on bad roads. Nexon gets 215/60 R16 tyres whereas Brezza and Ecosport get 205/60 R16. What this means is Nexon tyres are 10mm wider than its rivals. Even ground clearance is class leading- 9 mm more than Ecosport, 1 mm short of that of Duster! But be mindful that Nexon and most other compact SUVs are front wheel drive only. There’s ABS with EBD and two airbags for safety, standard across all variants- a clear improvement compared to previous models where cheaper variants missed safety features to keep cost low.
Many of my friends who drove felt hand brake is hard to reach. But since my hands are long enough I didn’t feel any discomfort. Hand brake is now positioned closer to front passenger seat, not closer to driver’s seat- this is to accommodate a storage unit with sliding tambour door.

Tigor had a small plastic clip on the windshield to hold toll receipts. Nexon misses it, but there’re other spots around the driver’s seat to keep such stuff. Umbrella holder with water draining ability is a nice value add- available only in ultra premium cars 3-4 times more expensive than Nexon.

Audio quality is top class. 4 speakers + 4 tweeters combination works brilliantly to create a nice audio experience- select speakers playing select part of the beat creates a theatre like effect. Try it with genuine audio files and with windows closed and volume at higher levels. Android carplay app support is also great- helps play/display music or map from mobile phone and several other controls. Not sure if Nexon gets the Zuke app in Tigor- to let each passenger schedule his/her own songs to the playlist.

Second row passengers get a middle arm rest with cup holders, non adjustable headrest, AC vent with blower level control. Legroom and headroom here is usually better than sedans due to longer and taller cabin of a compact SUV. The second row seat isn't flat. It is well contoured for comforting 2 people, so 3rd person will have some discomfort.

At halfway point, at Greenberg resort, we swapped cars and returned. This time I had the red coloured petrol Nexon. Reduced engine noise was instantly recognizable. But since I drove the petrol version downhill, I couldn’t ascertain if it has enough pulling power for uphill drive like the diesel or constant downshift is needed. On level roads, the engine felt very competent, refined and capable. On paper, Petrol has less torque at 170 NM compared to diesel’s 260 NM. For the driving enthusiasts, diesel option is highly recommended, despite the higher NVH. Petrol Nexon is just about 60 kgs lighter than Diesel.

Few minor issues:

The mild off-roading on grass-I took the car on the grass just off the road inside the resort. If you notice carefully, it is almost level ground but slightly sloped towards front wheel. I tried to reverse and wheels started spinning without traction. If I put in 1st gear there was traction to go forward, but reverse would slip. First gear ratio is higher than reverse gear ratio (3.667 vs 3.545)-this plus the mild downward slope (up for reverse) made reversing impossible. For a moment I thought I will have to seek support to pull out the car, but eventually managed to get out of the slippery situation by avoiding reverse and doing tricky forward motions. Diesel Nexon would have probably pulled it off in this situation, given its higher pulling power. Nexon is not made of off-road conditions, be careful before driving on slush, wet grass etc.
Ghat section brake noise during downhill drive- On our return journey from Idukki, it was downhill drive. As I negotiated hairpin bends, usually in third gear, it involved sharp turning at decent speed plus braking-repeatedly heard some noise from the front wheel assembly- two or more objects coming to contact while turning and braking simultaneously. This didn’t affect braking performance but created some annoyance. I checked with Shubham Gupta, who also confirmed experiencing the same. Something for Tata Motors to inspect and fix.

Hill Hold control missing: HHC or anti rollback control could have been a useful feature for the compact SUV, as many premium cars now offer it.

Summary:
Key strengths of Nexon:
  • Great looks and design-eye catching on all angles.
  • Lots of cool features like wrist band keyless entry
  • Powerful Engines
  • Good space management all around
  • Nice tempting package overall
Few challenges/limitations
No serious flaws, but few minor observations below
  1. 44 litre fuel tank is smaller than competition- lesser range
  2. One of the rival Ecosport offers 6 airbags, 125 PS engine, Cruise control etc not available with Nexon
  3. Nexon is carefully designed keeping in mind a family of 4. If you're planning to squeeze in 5 or 6 adults for long drives, consider alternate options.
  4. Average fuel economy we got- 9.6 kmpl for petrol- could be a concern for cost conscious buyers. But note that we weren’t driving to save fuel- numbers will be better if driven economically.
  5. While Nexon as a vehicle is great overall, many potential buyers are avoiding Tata citing poor after sales support. This area needs some focus and Tata needs to win confidence of its customers and prospects to boost sales. They are refining showroom experience and after sales support. Hopefully people abandon their earlier perceptions, give Nexon a test drive.
Tata Engineers and designers have put lots of effort to refine this compact SUV and make it as perfect as possible. Body roll is negligible, suspension is brilliant, steering is precise, engine is response and the car is loaded with features. I have a separate post planned comparing Nexon with its main rivals. Overall, if you’re in the market for compact SUVs, Nexon is a strong contender. We'll know in months to come how Nexon is faring w.r.t competition in the highly competitive and fastest growing compact SUV segment. My best wishes to Nexon. Having ticket lots of right boxes, Nexon now awaits its commercial launch and announcement of pricing. Expect Nexon price to undercut its rivals.

Here's a detailed comparison of Nexon with its main rivals- Nexon vs Ford Ecosport and Vitara Brezza

Here's what my fellow bloggers have written about the new Nexon: Vijay's opinion here, Swati's post hereUmang's review here, Danish's review here , Maitreni's review here and Atul's review here.

20 comments:

  1. Hi did that noise while braking come in one particular direction, say steering to left or right? Did you get this noise in diesel model too?

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    Replies
    1. Didn't get in diesel. But then I didn't diesel downhill in similar condition to test

      While turning the steering right.

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    2. It must be a loose suspension link rod, it happens when that suspension is loaded.

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    3. Ok. very likely, as car was loaded with 4 people and downhill right turn will put lots of load on front right suspension.

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  2. I like the looks of this one, especially from the side.
    Are those photos on waterside taken near Malankara Dam or Moolamattam?

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    Replies
    1. Somewhere enroute to Greenberg resorts- not sure of name of the place.

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  3. Superb review of Tata Nexon. Beautiful pics.
    #ExploreWithNexon

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  4. The drive to hills gave the real feel of the vehicle unlike the drives on straight and empty highways.

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  5. It is seeming that Tata is planning on something big and is hell bent on creating profits.

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    Replies
    1. of course every manufacturer wants to increase profit.. Tatas are on right track

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  6. Seems like a good experience on the hills...waiting for the pricing

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  7. Seems like a nice car...well reviewed. Waiting for the pricing now.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. Expect pricing to undercut Ecosport by 40-50k

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  8. Pretty detailed review. It was nice to meet you finally. See you again for the Wayanad Bike trip :)

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  9. Really liked the picture Shrinidhi (with you on top of the car), great shot!

    Regards,
    http://wotpost.com/

    ReplyDelete

Appreciate your efforts and interests to comment. Comments may be moderated due to increased spam. Will ideally respond to comments within few days- Shrinidhi

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