Belonging to an era when UVs lurked behind hatchbacks despite their large size and off-road capabilities, Tata Motors rose to fame with the Safari brand that seems to slowly fade away amid fierce competition. From then to now, there have been many ups and downs, nevertheless Tata is ready with its fleet of new cars to rebuild its image. This isn’t the first attempt in this direction though, the company had high expectations from Zest and Bolt and on the contrary it had to face disappointment yet again. But every lesson failed gives inkling to a better path and in Tata’s case it was the IMPACT design that came for its rescue.
In January 2016, Tata Motors publicly announced the new IMPACT design tenet for its upcoming passenger vehicles. Tiago was the first product to roll out under it and the second car to be built on the new tenet is Hexa SUV. Now before we talk about the aforementioned vehicles, let us first understand what defines Tata Motors’ newly formed IMPACT design. The key elements of the IMPACT design are contemporary exterior with exciting architecture, expressive surface & extraordinary details and tastefully styled interior built on the following parameters-inviting architecture & proportions, intelligent cabin layout and feature packed cabin.
Tiago made a bold statement and found a place in the crowded entry level B segment. Built on the modified XO platform, Tiago’s success is attributed to the refreshing exterior and radically improved interior packed with advanced in-cabin tech. Having claimed a spot in the hatchback segment, Tata has now set its eyes on the SUV space. This indeed is a crucial product for the Pune-based carmaker, considering that demand for SUVs is on the rise.
Let us take an example here, upon Renault’s re-entry in India, it brought a good mix of products, but the only vehicle that could churn volumes was the Duster SUV. Kwid came into light much later and started chipping in to the monthly sales. This implies that one good product in the line-up can turn fortune for a carmaker and although Tiago has broken the ice for Tata, the Hexa crossover could take it to another level. Launched today, the SUV grabbed eyeballs at the 2016 Auto Expo, where it was revealed as the Hexa Tuff concept. Now that it has hit production, let us find out why it could be a game changing model for Tata Motors.
Sharing underpinnings with Aria, Tata Hexa is a replacement for ageing model in Tata’s product line-up. Now despite being a crossover, Tata Motors is marketing it as a ‘lifestyle vehicle’, probably because its large proportions, positioning and pricing bring it on par with the likes of Mahindra XUV500 and Toyota Innova Crysta. Hence, Tata Motors do not want to limit its competence to the crossovers or SUVs.
The two vehicles are put on cross hairs largely because they have almost similar proportions, or to be precise, the Hexa leads significantly. Talking in terms of dimensions, Tata Hexa is 45mm longer and 65mm wider compared to Toyota Innova. Although, the Innova is taller by 5mm but that is a trivial difference. Out of two, Hexa has a longer wheelbase it outnumbers Innova by 100mm.
Considering the dimensions, the two UVs stand face to face, withering away the categorical differences. Moving forward, Tata’s designers in Pune, UK and Italy have worked meticulously on the design, based on the IMPACT philosophy. The large stance is accredited to the boastful dimensions and the attention paid to the details further bolsters the visual appearance. This saves Hexa from looking humongous and box-like. The face is attractive with honeycomb mesh grille and projector headlamp cluster with LED DRLs adding to the aggression.
Faux skid plate, air-dams and the fog lamps lower down on the bumper complete the assertive look. What gives more prominence to the face is the square-like bonnet, drawing attention to the front apron. View from the side is equally good, the flared wheel arches, body cladding and 19-inch alloy wheels accentuate the SUV-ish characters. The rear sports dual-tone bumper with dual exhausts and reflectors. In addition, it gets wrap-around LED tail lamps, mounted spoiler atop and thick chrome garnish on the lid.
Understanding the significance of visual appearance, Tata Motors built the IMPACT design wherein it gave prominence to the exterior styling, but one aspect where new Tata cars have undergone complete transformation is the interior design. Crafted on the similar lines, Tata Hexa has a spacious cabin that comes with an option between six and seven seating arrangements. Apart from space, there has been a total overturn in terms of styling, quality of material and finishing.
Equipment wise, the crossover is rich as it benefits from connectivity features including ‘Juke Car’ app that enables connecting to 10 smartphones simultaneously and use mobile hotspot at the same time. Yet another impressive feature is the JBL system with 10 speakers that Tata claims to have tested for 1000 hours. Additionally, it comes with the first-in-segment racecar mapping system claimed to aide performance. Among the safety provisions it gets six-airbags, ABS, new-generation ESP, EBD, traction controls and brake assist.
The mechanical set up comprises 2.2 litre oil burner in VARICOR 400 and VARICOR 320 versions. These are available with a choice between five and six-speed manual unit with an auto box on select variants. What’s impressive is the power figure, the VARICOR 400 makes 154bhp and the VARICOR 320 is good for 148bhp (Please note the numerals in the engine denominate the torque). There is a 4WD drivetrain that is available with the manuals and can be driven in four different modes-Comfort, Dynamic, Rough Road and Auto. As for the mileage, as per our road test report, the manual Hexa returned 13.2kmpl as opposed to the 11.3kmpl by the automatic version.
After going through the nitty-gritty of the Tata Hexa crossover, now comes the pricing, a vital aspect while making a buying decision. Tata Motors has priced the car cautiously and this can give it an ideal start. The base XE starts at Rs 11.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) and goes on to Rs 17.49 lakh for the top-spec XT 4x4MT variant. Compared to rivals Mahindra XUV500 and Toyota Innova Crysta, it is a killer pricing and Tata Hexa stands a fair chance to chip in volumes for the company.