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TATA NEXON: ON TO THE NEXT LEVEL

It has been quite a while since a new Tata product has seen such hype and buzz in the market. Initially seen as a concept vehicle in the 2014 Indian Auto Expo, the Tata Nexon has finally entered our Nepali market. Tata is embarking on a new aggressive attack plan consisting of cost control, comprehensive supply chain management and filling of the product gaps. While the Tiago hatchback, Tigor sedan and Hexa SUV have helped Tata grow in the aforementioned segments, the Nexon is all set to storm the highly popular compact SUV sector.The compact SUV segment seems to be the most popular segment for manufacturers right now and nearly every company has a contender seeking to be the top dog in this segment. However, Tata has taken its sweet time to introduce its contender in the fighting pit. Tata needed all that time as it was rigorously testing and fine-tuning what would be its first compact SUV and also it’s all new set of engines that it comes equipped with. Now that it has officially launched here, we got an opportunity to spend a day with the diesel XZ + variant of the Nexon and here are our thoughts on it.EXTERIOR

The Nexon utilizes Tata’s “Impact design language”. It is built on the company’s X1 platform which is the same to that of the Bolt or the Zest. It is last of the Tata vehicles that utilizes this platform after which a new generation of vehicles will use the new Advanced Modular Platform and L550 platform which is shared with its Land Rover subsidiary. To differentiate it from the crowd, the Nexon uses an unconventional and futuristic design which looks years ahead of its time.Out goes the traditional boxy squared off SUV design and in comes the curvaceous sweeping lines. The front features a sloping hood, sweptback headlamps and a wide black honeycomb grille complete with daytime running lights. On the side, the Nexon features a high waistline with bulging wheel arches and has 16 inch alloy wheels.The window sill gets a unique cladding finished in white for a “ceramic-like” finish. This white cladding is also present in the rear which while looking interesting can look a bit overdone. There is a gloss black stripe supporting the ceramic white stripe cladding for a tri-color look and a brake light is also provided under the spoiler. The car also gets a rear wiper and one will hardly get an empty space on the tailgate, especially on the upper half. The LED tail lamps are interesting and support the over-styling. Otherwise, the tail-shape is also perfect and flows well with the other design lines. The “ceramic-like “white cladding is either a love it or hate it design element of the Nexon.On the dimension front, the Nexon just squeezes in the sub 4 meter segment with a length of 3994mm. With a width of 1,811 mm, it is wider than its rivals like the Vitara Brezza and the Ecosport. Its height of 1,607 mm puts it behind them however, the ground clearance of 209 mm is class leading. Overall, the Nexon looks part SUV, part coupe and fully unique.

INTERIOR

When it comes to interiors, the Nexon has a black and beige color scheme with silver, piano black and chrome inserts at various places on the dashboard, center fascia and door pads. The dual tone gives the Nexon a touch of elegance. Another elegant touch they have borrowed from the more expensive cars is the umbrella holder in the front doors which will come in handy in the upcoming rainy season. The dashboard of the Nexon has been modernized with a 6 inch touchscreen infotainment system powered by Harman. The infotainment system compatible with Android Auto takes care of navigation, music, radio and a display for the rear camera.If you prefer physical buttons, the system can also be controlled by using the switches below the air-conditioner vents. The 8 speakers housed inside also delivers great music experience. The steering wheel is a direct lift from the Zest. Small in diameter, nice to hold and welcoming contours where you’d grip it but sadly, no leather wrapping here. The steering wheel features controls to your audio system, as well as phone call accept and reject. It also has button to start Voice Command system. The instrument cluster is also the same one which we have seen in other new Tata cars. It features two analogue pods for showing speed and engine rpm. In between the two pods is the multi-info display screen. It shows your engaged gear, when to change gear, distance to empty, range, average fuel efficiency, fuel level, etc.The Nexon’s interior space is not cramped for the passengers. Seats are comfortable especially at the rear with enough cushioning and back support and in spite of the sloping roof at the rear one doesn’t feel claustrophobic inside. Rear passengers get their own AC vents with blower speed control knob. They also get foldable arm rest along with cup holders. The doors are large and feel solid. These large doors allows for making getting inside or out an easy task. The boot space is 350 liters which is best in class and can be further extended to 690 liters by folding the rear seats. Sadly, the seats when folded, do not make the storage area a flat bed.

ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE

On the engine front, there are two new engine options. There’s a 1.2l Turbocharged Revotron Engine and for diesel, there is a bigger 4 cylinder 1.5-litre for the Revotorq range that also makes 108bhp but more potent 260Nm of torque which suits much better for this car. The Nexon we tested had the diesel engine. The Nexon diesel’s power and torque figures put it right at the top of the charts in the sub-4 meter SUV segment. It comes with three selectable driving modes – City, Eco and Sport.The diesel engine has been tuned well and it delivers linear power akin to a petrol engine. It’s noisy on the outside, yet sufficiently insulated on the inside. Switching to ‘Eco’ mode makes the throttle response a lot duller. This mode limits the power output and the engine uses less fuel as compared to the other modes. Even so, the low-endtorque makes Eco mode usable in the city. As the name suggests switching to Sport mode makes the car more responsive to throttle inputs. That said, this mode is not very suitable to use in urban conditions as we felt the car gets just a little too jerky for regular city commuting. The improved throttle response is always welcome when you want to cruise fast or overtake.With class leading ground clearance of 209mm and equipped with an independent McPherson strut front suspension and a twist beam rear suspension, Nexon has all the ingredients to tackle the Nepali roads. The suspension is still stiff enough to provide a planted feel at high speeds and cornering. The steering wheel was a bit small for liking, but the input was always precisely transferred to the wheels, making us want to push harder around tight corners.

SAFETY AND FEATURES

Talking about safety, the Nexon provides dual front airbags and ABS with EBD. There are ISOFIX top anchors and tethers at the rear seats as the standard safety kit on offer, and the body shell of the crossover has been designed to absorb maximum impact in a situation of a crash. Other safety features on offer are engine immobilizer, central locking, three point seatbelt, speed sensing auto lock, day/night inside rear view mirror, etc.

VERDICT

In the past if you asked anyone who belonged to the younger demographic which brand of car they would like, Tata wouldn’t be one that was high on their priority list. Tata aims to change all that with the Nexon. The distinctive exterior design and bevy of features is what they are betting would appeal to the younger crowd and looking at the numbers they have sold in India they seem to have a hit in their hands. The Tata Nexon is a game changer for the company and a trump card for them in the crowded segment where it is becoming increasing difficult to differentiate themselves. They have introduced a head turner that is sure to appease the buyers and disrupt the market.

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