Tata Nexon review: Compelling package, can it deliver on price?
Tata Nexon’s coupe-like design stands out and makes rivals like the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza look decidedly old-fashioned
Compact SUVs are quite the rage, and this is the segment that Tata Motors will take a crack at with the Tata Nexon. Expected to be priced in the Rs6-9.5 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) range, it will rival the Maruti Vitara Brezza.
The Nexon’s coupe-like design stands out and makes rivals like the Maruti Brezza look decidedly old-fashioned. Its big wheel arches, chunky tyres and high ground clearance enhance its bold look.
Ever since the Tata Tiago, the interiors of Tata’s new cars have become their unique selling point. It shares some parts, like the instrumentation and steering wheel, with the Tiago, but the layered dashboard layout and gloss-black centre console are unique to the Nexon. The cabin features good quality materials all around. Fit and finish, however, aren’t impressive, and you will notice inconsistent panel gaps and shut-lines, while the air-con buttons are a bit fiddly.
The 6.5-inch touchscreen could have had a higher resolution. While it gets Android Auto (Apple CarPlay will be added soon), it misses out on inbuilt navigation. The eight-speaker Harman audio system easily offers best-in-class sound, though.
Other smart touches in the cabin include slots for umbrellas in the front doors and the elbow-box that gets a magnetic lid, like a Jaguar luxury sedan. There’s even a smart activity wristband, wearing which you can lock/unlock the car and start the engine.
The front seats in the Nexon are comfortable. However, the fat A-pillar can impede vision at a crossroad, and the steering is adjustable for angle in accordance with the driver’s position, but not reach.
The small rear windows give you the impression that the back seat may have been compromised but the legroom and headroom are quite good. It is most comfortable for two people but at a pinch you can seat three abreast.
There is a surprising amount of boot space on offer. The sloping roof at the rear hasn’t really impinged on the space, and at 350 litres, the Nexon’s boot is good for a couple of large bags.
Tata will offer a 1.2-litre turbo-petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engine on the Nexon. Both will produce 110hp and will be paired with six-speed manual gearboxes. The Eco, City and Sport driving modes will alter performance and fuel efficiency. While Sport is the nicest for driving, the City mode is adequate for everyday driving. In Eco, the Nexon feels sluggish, but this mode is, as expected, the most fuel-efficient.
The petrol engine is impressively refined and quiet, but it isn’t very responsive, especially in slow traffic. Progress is smooth but overall driveability could be much better. What’s nice, though, is that the clutch is light; that will be handy since you will have to shift gears constantly—this petrol engine feels weak under pressure.
The diesel motor comes to life but settles down into a relaxed idle. It’s refined when compared with the Brezza’s noisy 1.3-litre diesel but what really impresses is how easy it is to drive in traffic. It runs out of breath, however, and you are left wanting for power, even in the Sport mode. The car’s portly kerb weight of 1,305kg is partly to blame.
Where the Nexon really shines is in the ride and handling department. While not pillow-soft, the ride is pliant enough, rounding off bumps and conquering potholes with ease. For a tall car such as this, the Nexon feels nicely tied down, which is reassuring at highway speeds. Also, thanks to the 209mm ground clearance, the Nexon isn’t scared of speed-breakers either.
The Nexon is a very compelling package. It drives well, is spacious and practical. What remains to be seen, however, is whether Tata Motors can now deliver on price. We expect a very competitive starting price of Rs6 lakh, given that the Brezza starts at Rs7.2 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).