With capabilities of an SUV and comfort of an MPV, the Tata Hexa can be a great option for people looking for a 6/7-seater family car.
Pumped up with the success of its Tata Tiago, Tata Motors is now geared up to bring in the Hexa which had created quite a buzz at its unveiling at the Delhi Auto Expo early this year. The Tiago was no doubt a very crucial product for the company, but I think the Tata Hexa is an even more important vehicle. The reason I say this is because of the fact that Tata Motors was once a significant player in the utility vehicle space, but things haven’t been good for the last half a decade.
The fall of the legendary brands like Sumo and Safari, and a dud market response for the Aria have certainly upset the Pune based carmaker. So the company is betting big on the Hexa, which is also the company’s flagship product now. But can the Hexa be the vehicle that Tata Motors needs to revive its lost ground in the utility vehicle space, let’s find out in our detailed review.
In all its communication, Tata Motors hasn’t used either of these three terms. During our product brief, I had asked them the same question to which they said that they don’t want to classify it in the aforementioned categories. Instead they would like to call it a ‘lifestyle vehicle’ that can handle all sorts of terrains while offering utmost level of comfort to its passengers. Though the company might not like to categorise it, but its attributes make it a crossover.
The first thing you will notice is the looks. And it’s more stunning in the flesh than in pictures. Despite sharing its platform with the Aria, the Hexa stands out with its neat detailing and SUV-ish dynamics. All credit goes to Tata’s design teams – based in Pune, UK and Italy. The Hexa is the second Tata product based on the IMPACT design philosophy, the Tiago was the first one.
Upfront, the honeycomb mesh grille is adorned with a signature badge and faux skid plates. There is a pair of projector headlamp clusters with LED DRLs. Masculine curves back from the nose along the car’s flanks towards the rear complete the look.
In between the flanks, there are pronounced wheel arches with large 19-inch alloys and body cladding enhancing its commanding SUV appeal. The attention of details continues towards the rear that has a dual-tone bumper with dual exhaust tips, new reflectors, new wraparound LED tail-lamps and a roof mounted spoiler.
Having said that, the Hexa still retains some of the elements of the Aria especially the side profile. When you look at its blacked B, C and D-pillars, door handles, wing mirrors with integrated turn indicators and wipers, they look quite identical to the Aria.
Inside, the Hexa is quite pleasant. The SUV carries a combination of materials and controls of higher quality than most of its rivals. The wide centre console houses an instrument cluster display and rotary knob control for ambient lighting along with 10 speaker audio system. The upper part of the cabin has soft-feel materials, and slightly harder on the lower side. Though, there is nothing to complain about its fit and finish. The car has a simple cabin layout, so there isn’t enough of flair as in the Tiago. For the high-end connectivity, Tata provides the “Juke Car” application that connects 10 smartphones at a time and utilize mobile hotspot.
Moreover, the Hexa stands apart with the new racecar mapping system (first-in-segment) that is claimed to offer driving experience similar to performance cars. For the record, Tata claims that the Hexa has the longest wheelbase in its league, thus making it the most spacious. The 6-seats arrangement, with two rows of leather-covered captain seats and integrated arm rests, offers enough space for adult occupants. Though the third row has flexi seats, which allows you to either use it as a two seater or three seater. But honestly it’s good for only two passengers and that too if they are not really tall. Upfront, there is plenty of lateral support and decent amount of adjustment. The Hexa offers a high driving position with a clear all-round visibility.
The ingress/egress is an ease, thanks to its well-designed door apertures. Its boot capacity stands at 128–litres that can be extended to 671-litres with the second and third seats folded. This makes pretty good use of its large dimensions. The diesel engine’s rattle doesn’t bother you inside the cabin. Even the wind and tyre noise doesn’t penetrate the cabin insulation. As far as safety goes, the Hexa makes you feel secure with features such as six airbags, anti-lock braking system (ABS), new-generation electronic stability programme (ESP), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), traction control system and brake assist.
What’s also impressive is the 10 speaker JBL system that the company claims to have tested for over 1000 hours. The sound quality is crystal clear and soothing at even the highest volume mark, and it actually gives you the feel of a high-end home theater.
The Tata Hexa features a 2.2-litre Varicor 400 diesel engine, and is available with a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic transmission options. Capable of churning out a max power output of 154bhp and a peak torque of 400Nm, this is the same engine that does duty in the Safari Storme. While the automatic gearbox gets only rear-wheel drive, the manual version is available in both two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive options. The manual version also gets super drive modes – Comfort, Dynamic, Rough Road and Auto.
I first drove the automatic version of the car, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The automatic version feels quite refined unlike other automatic transmission-equipped cars in the segment. There is barely any delay in the response, as the shifts are smooth and quick. And it becomes even more exciting in the ‘sports’ mode as there’s sudden surge in power and torque. As against the regular mode’s 150bhp and 320Nm, the Sports mode offers you 156bhp and 400Nm.
Impressed with the performance of the Hexa automatic, I had high expectations from the manual too. But honestly, the manual wasn’t as fun as the automatic despite the fact that the former gets four drive modes and a 4×4. Since the torque kicks in only at 1750rpm, the engine feels out of breath before that due to which I had to constantly shift gears at low speeds. In case you are doing about 20-25kmph in the second gear or about 40kmph in the fourth gear and need to gain pace it would take its own time to speed up no matter how hard you try. But as soon as you cross the 1750rpm mark, the car pulls impressively well, an the power delivery is linear across the mid-range.
Thanks to its very well tuned suspension, the Hexa can handle all sorts of terrains with no problems at all. With new dampers, its ability to absorb undulations is far better than its rivals. For regular rough patches on open roads when you are doing over 120-130kmph, you’ll not even have to slow down as it takes care of them really well without making its passengers feel uncomfortable. And even if you are plying on challenging terrains with steep incline/decline, muddy patches and pits, just slow down and put it on off-road mode and this thing will take care of that as well. What also helps it handle bad roads so well is its 200mm ground clearance and meaty 19-inch wheels.
The manual version of the car gave us an average fuel efficiency of 13.2kmpl, while the automatic returned around 11.3kmpl. I think these numbers are quite impressive considering the fact that we also took it to proper off-roading terrains where a car usually returns low mileage.
Solely on product attributes, the Tata Hexa has what it takes to become a strong contender in its category. But the pricing will play a pivotal role in deciding its fate. With capabilities of an SUV and comfort of an MPV, this can be a great option for people looking for a 6/7-seater family car.