The subcompact SUV space has turned into a large magnet lately. Last year, Maruti Suzuki India tapped into this space and now Tata Motors is gearing up for its debut in the niche segment. Tata recently conducted the media drives for Nexon and we got a chance to drive it in Kochi, also known as the ‘Queen of Arabian Sea’. The ‘NEXT-ON’ (read Nex-On) as Tata calls it, signifies the next level of things, and we find out if it is good enough to compete with arch rivals Ford EcoSport and Maruti Vitara Brezza.
What’s on the outside
The company got the short end of the stick due to the overdose of its dated design tenet. With the contemporary ‘IMPACT’ theme, Tata has been able to reverse the situation. The next spin-off under the IMPACT philosophy, ‘Nexon’ gets elements like Tata’s signature Humanity line, abroad honeycomb grille with piano black finish, sharp headlamps with chrome elements and integrated D-cut LED units.
The projector headlamps merge seamlessly into the grille, appearing as a single unit. The large air-dams match with its broad profile and the dual shade fog-lamps with ceramic white strip enhance the front look. Read Comparison – Tata Nexon Vs Maruti Vitara Brezza
Unlike rivals, the side profile looks proportioned, the prominent wheel arches with 16-inch diamond cut alloys wrapped around the large profile tyres look good on the SUV. Elements such as thick ceramic strip on side and coupe-like roof make it stand apart in the segment.
While the rear gets a unique design, use of multiple elements make it appear a bit busy, which may not appeal to everyone. There is a ceramic band around the windscreen followed by a black plastic in gloss finish and body coloured bumper, which give it a triple tone kind of look. Read: Tata Nexon Vs Honda WRV – Which one is better?
What’s on the inside
Step inside to be greeted by a plush cabin with the best-in-class material quality. In fact, we feel no other model in the segment can match up with the material quality used in Nexon. The quality of plastic used on the dashboard is tough and has no rough edges, while the contrast plastic with gloss finish used on the lower dashboard and doors give it a premium look. Subtle chrome elements on the inside door handles, air con vents and some buttons further enhance the visual appeal. The sporty steering wheel borrowed from Tata Tiago is good to hold and what really impresses us is the 6.5-inch floating infotainment system with segment first HD touchscreen and smartphone connectivity features including Apple CarPlay & Android Auto. Sourced from HAMAN, the infotainment system comes with 8 speakers and is very easy to operate. Check out: Tata Nexon Vs Ford EcoSport – A Spec-based Comparison
Interestingly, it is the only model in the segment to offer both Apple CarPlay & Android Auto. The centre console unit with a slider is another stand out feature usually found in premium cars. Combining comfort with practicality, the interior comes with smartly designed storage points including a cubby hole on floor console, a large glove box with a removable tray which is probably bigger than some models positioned above Nexon.
The front seats offer good comfort with generous legroom, kneeroom and side support that holds the occupants well. There is ample headroom to accommodate people with 6-feet and above height, however we are not impressed by the thigh support. The view from inside is commanding and the steering wheel can be adjusted according to the height, though it lacks telescopic function.
Contrary to the front seats, the rear offers good thigh support and knee room. The rear seats can comfortably accommodate two adults along with a kid and it gets a centre arm rest with integrated cup-holders.
Packed with a raft of features, it gets air-flow feature with rear ac vents, power-operated & retractable wing mirrors, engine start-stop button, reverse parking sensors, automatic climate control, steering mounted audio controls, two 12-V power sockets, driver armrest and a duplicate key resembling a fitness band that allows locking and unlocking the car. Safety brigade comprises standard dual front airbags, ABS, ISOFIX child restraint system and corner stability control. Despite being a subcompact SUV, it offers best-in-segment luggage compartment with 350-litre of space that can be expanded to 690-litre by folding the rear seats.
Engine Specifications and Performance
Nexon carline comes with turbocharged petrol & diesel engines with a standard 6-speed manual gearbox and 110PS of peak power which makes it the most powerful car in the segment. In terms of performance, slight lag can be experienced in the 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder Revotron petrol engine with 170Nm of torque. Until about 2000rpm, it feels under powered, which requires frequent gear shifting within city, though an abrupt power surge can be felt post this mark on flat roads, and one needs to constantly accelerate around hills to keep the momentum.
Mid-range is impressive, and it offers uninterrupted power until the 4500rpm mark across all gears, while the 3rd and 4th gear are tall and 120kmph mark can easily be touched in third gear. Out of the three driving modes-Eco, City & Sport, the Sport mode offers peppy performance.
The 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder Revotorq oil burner with 260Nm of torque is superior than its petrol counterpart. It is peppy and there is no lag, refinement level is impressive, moreover it offers better power delivery and the gear ratios are good. The strength of diesel engine is its mid-range, and it offers great performance in low rpms and you don’t need to change gears frequently while driving within city.
Steering is impressive and suspension mechanism takes all the undulations and rough patches with ease. Body roll may be felt as the ground clearance has been increased, especially in petrol unit. If we must pick, it will be hands down the diesel version.
Attributed to unique design, good looks and several first-in-segment features, we can safely say that this is the best car in Tata’s current line-up. As for performance, there is still some room for improvement in petrol engine, whereas the diesel engine is impressive.