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TATA Zest: The New Contender

Zest6Tata Motors has forever had strong after-sales customer services, functionality and spare parts availability as its strengths against its competitors in the local market. However, the game wasn’t all fair when it came to aesthetic appeal and feature heavy offerings. But, now they are shedding their traditional persona and are aiming to appeal to the more style conscious audience. With that notion in mind, their newest offering is in the fore front of the wave of change: the Tata Zest.

Tata Motors was in need of some major changes to keep up with the market demand, and the Zest is their first car to commence the resurrection. It might also be the first step in becoming the choice for the new generation.

Zest8However, the compact sedan market is extremely competitive, and that’s putting it lightly. Any new entrant has its work cut out for it. It has to be able to stand its ground in terms of styling, performance and above all, the price tag has to be spot on. However, there is also a lot of potential and opportunity in the segment if things are done right. We test the Tata Zest to see if it is up to mark to compete in the compact sedan segment.

EXTERIOR

Nailing the styling aspect in the compact sedan segment seems to be an eluding task for manufacturers. However, the Zest has done a pretty convincing job. The Tata Zest is refreshingly different from anything with a Tata logo on the bonnet and it commands a fair deal of attention.Zest4

The well sculpted front end has wraparound projector headlights on either side of a piano black honeycomb like grille. The top variant that we featured also has day light running lights in the driving light cavities which give it a lot of character.Zest5

Thick shoulder lines run through the side profile giving the Zest an edgy styling as well as a smooth transition to the rear. Contrasting to the long and sharp front end, the rear is slightly stumpy. However, that always seems to be the case with cars in this segment. In actuality, Tata does a pretty decent job of it. The back houses a wraparound tail lamp linked with a thick chrome bar. It also has a beefy rear bumper.Zest7

INTERIOR

Of all the offerings that Tata has presented, the cabin of the Tata Zest is the best and you come to the conclusion as soon as you step in. The two-tone color scheme makes it feel really airy, and the piano-black and gunmetal grey plastic trims do liven up the dashboard. The fit and finish have also improved significantly in quality.

The steering wheel is smaller than the Vista’s and feels snug when driving. It also has audio controls and telephony controls mounted on it. The speedo and rev counter dials are also very attractive, with a chunky-looking 3D jeweled effect, and a detailed fuel and trip computer nestled between them. The dashboard also has an exclusively designed 5” ConnectNext touchscreen infotainment by Harman which controls the audio system (which you can enjoy in surround sound with 8 speakers) and AC. The screen also displays the ultra-sonic rear parking sensor feed. It even has voice control, although it still isn’t completely refined.Zest1

The boot is as accommodating as a sub 4 meter compact sedans can be. There is a decent amount of space for the driver and the passengers. Automatic climate control in the top spec we drove made sure we were comfortable in every way possible.
There isn’t for instance an armrest, neither at the front nor at the back, which could have also doubled up as a storage area for small things. And there is only one cup holder behind the gear shift lever.Zest9

PERFORMANCE

There are both petrol and diesel engine options- XE, XM, XMS, XT and XMA, the last of which is specific to the diesel range and has been mated to the five-speed AMT. We tested the Zest XT. The petrol is an all-new turbocharged unit, displacing 1,193cc. The turbo kicks in around 1,200rpm and that provides torque pretty early in the rev band. You get 90PS of max power at 5,000rpm and 140Nm of torque between 1,750 and 3,500rpm which is par for the segment.Zest10

The 1.2 liter Revotron engine is well powered and balanced and makes the Zest a fun car to drive. Even when the pedal is floored, the onboard traction control system cuts the fuel to prevent wheel-spin. The Zest also boasts of three driving modes: Eco, City and Sport. Switching to Sport mode gives the car a little extra oomph while the eco mode takes it all away. There isn’t a hugely significant difference, but it still is a first in its segment.Zest11

Maneuvering the vehicle is enjoyable. The electrically assisted power steering developed in association with ZF Lenksysteme who also worked on the Tata Nano is quite impressive. The brakes are a disc and drum combination which does a better job than other Tata cars when it comes to braking. Well-designed dynamics ensure that cornering is on par with controllable body roll.Zest2

VERDICT

Tata has improved leaps and bounds with the Zest. First and foremost, it falls amongst the few cars in the compact sedan segment that manages to look good. And it is most definitely the best styled vehicle to come out of the Tata roster. Inside, which is also equally good, is stuffed to the brim with features. When it comes to driving capabilities, the compact sedan is right there with the competitors in the segment.Zest3

If there was any doubt as to whether offerings from Tata could come up to par with other consumer focused manufacturers’ products, there isn’t any more. Despite the slump that Tata have been in for the past few years, the Tata Zest catapults the Indian company back into the game. Not only is this a good Tata product, it is a good product overall.

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