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Tata Nexon Diesel Manual First Drive Review

Why I would buy it?

  • Option of a diesel engine in BS6 era
  • Spacious cabin compared to rivals
  • Easy to drive and live with
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Why would I avoid it?

  • Not the most refined diesel
  • Lacks bottom-end grunt
  • Interior quality could have been better

Verdict

Left Front Three Quarter

With 108bhp and 260Nm, the Tata Nexon is the second most powerful diesel sub-four metre SUV in the segment, after the Mahindra XUV300. But it doesn’t dictate the same when behind the wheel. It is also not the most refined and silent unit, especially when compared to the diesel engine offered in the Venue or the Sonet. What it does offer, however, is a strong mid-range and a sorted ride and handling combination. So, the Nexon Diesel should be the buying choice of the one who – covers long mileage every month, wants a spacious cabin with decently decked-up features, needs an SUV that rides well over our cragged roads, and also is easy to drive and live with.

Right Rear Three Quarter

Engine and Performance

Engine Shot

As mentioned earlier, the 1.5-litre Revotorq oil-burner’s output of 108bhp and 260Nm hasn’t been affected by the BS6 transition. It can still be had with an AMT or a six-speed manual which we are driving here. Although maximum torque is available from 1,500rpm, you’d need to rev the engine past 2,000rpm to get the Nexon going. Especially while getting off the mark, where diesel drivers are usually accustomed to loads of torque when moving from a standstill. Moreover, when revved past 2,000rpm mark, the engine gets noisy and feels strained, even though there’s not much momentum to show for it.

Right Side View

Brush off that unrefined hum from the engine and it’s the mid-range where the engine shines the best. Remarkably, the turbo kicks in unannounced so you get a strong push right when the turbo gets going. It’s not a high-revving engine this one, redlining just past 4,000rpm. But you won’t need to go all the way to extract the best out of the motor. You can keep the digital tachometer showing a bar or two over ‘2’, and the Nexon will amble about at city speeds all day. With strong mid-range at this point, there won’t be a need to go through the gears frequently. And when you hit the highway, there is ample amount of mid-range grunt available for triple-digit cruising. As for quick overtakes, you’d only need to put your foot down and the turbo-surge will see you through, albeit accompanied by that unrefined whirr.

Right Rear Three Quarter

Coming to the gearbox, it has that notchy and rubbery feel to it while shifting. Meanwhile, the clutch is light and fairly easy to use. However, it could do with less springy action as it will make it more user-friendly, especially in bumper-to-bumper traffic or while parking.  Tata is also offering three driving modes with the Nexon – Eco, City, and Sport. Although the changes are barely noticeable in individual modes, each mode has a different setting for throttle response with Eco being the most restrained and Sport offering a sprightly feel to the right foot. City mode is a middle-ground and we found it best of the other two modes. This doesn’t mean that the Eco is subdued to a point of no-fun. You can still get around quite normally in Eco unaware if you don’t glance at the display.

Lastly, Tata claims a fuel efficiency of 22.4kmpl under ARAI standard. This means that the oil burner is quite frugal with anything between 15-20kmpl easily attainable in real-world conditions.

Ride and Handling

Right Front Three Quarter

Since its introduction, this compact Tata SUV has remained impressive in the ride and handling department. At slower speeds, the Nexon feels solid going over bad patches of roads. It manages to absorb sharp creases and bumps without losing its composure. And as the speed increases, the ride remains flat over most of the undulations and irregularities. Only a few unexpected thuds could be felt inside the cabin in an otherwise supple ride. Overall, the Nexon offers a good balance in terms of low and high-speed ride.

Right Front Three Quarter

Combine it with the direct steering and Nexon feels confident to drive, be it in a straight line or on some twisties. Offering a good amount of grip are those 215/60 section tyres wrapped around 16-inch alloy wheels. Moreover, the body roll is present but is well under control, inspiring confidence to throw it around. Then again we feel the Nexon could do with more refinement in doing what it does best.

Left Side View

Lastly, with discs up front and drum brakes at the rear, the Nexon’s braking prowess needs a little improvement in terms of bite and feel. However, it makes up for it by offering the best in the segment ground clearance of 209mm. So you can tread over anything without any worries.

Interior Space and Quality

Dashboard

Inside the updated Nexon, there’s a new all-digital instrument cluster and the gloss panel running across the dash now has a fancy tri-pointed, décor-like finish on it. Even the steering wheel is new borrowed from the Altroz. To top it off, there are brighter coloured materials used to make the cabin feel more modern and fresher than before. That’s where the novelty ends and the rest of the Nexon’s interior is more or less unchanged from the pre-facelift model. So, like before, getting in is an easy affair thanks to its almost-90-degree-opening doors and correct seat height.

Front Row Seats

In terms of front visibility, Nexon has a good advantage over some of its new rivals. Moreover, there’s more than ample shoulder room and ample headspace in the front row. There are hard plastics present all over the cabin but we liked the use of smooth-to-touch glossy inserts as well. On the flip side, these glossy panels appear furnished under direct sun. Even the instrument cluster at some point is difficult to look at owing to the unwanted reflections. The ergonomics also is nothing to write home about. For example, the left leg is always obstructed by the protruding centre console if you intend to use the dead pedal.

Front Row Seats

In terms of usability, there’s ample storage place here with cup holders, bottle holders, and even an umbrella holder on the door. But we missed having a flat tray to keep a mobile phone – although it can be kept on the sliding flap for armrest storage, it’s still not a convenient space. As for the seats, these are soft and very comfortable upfront; and the same can be said about the rear bench. In fact, these seats are so soft we are concerned about how they will age under continues usage. As for space, the Nexon is a proper five-seater with three-people finding no trouble seating abreast in the second row.

Bootspace

Moving on to the boot, the 350litres of space on offer is at par with its rivals. It’s sufficiently large to fit bigger suitcases with room for a couple of duffle bags and backpacks too. And though you get 60:40 split seats liberating more space, the backrest doesn’t fold flat which is a slight bummer.

Features and Safety

Infotainment System

Competing in a lucrative segment, the Nexon does have enough firepower (or you may call it feature list) to keep itself in contention. Moreover, the Nexon is one of the few cars on sale in India that can boast of five-star NCAP safety rating. Justifying this recognition the feature list includes dual airbags, TPMS, ISOFIX, ESP and traction control, hill and brake assist along with various other safety warnings.

Car Roof

In this top-spec XZ+ trim you get many other features like LED DRLS with projectors, sunroof, auto AC, cruise control, digital instrument cluster, TPMS, dual airbags, ISOFIX, and rear parking sensors. It also gets something called IRA feature for all its connectivity needs.

Conclusion

Front View

With the update, the Nexon is the hunkiest looking sub-4 metre SUV currently, thanks to its flared wheel arches, sleek and aggressive looking headlamps combined with a black-chrome nose, slanting window-line, and a tall/muscular tailgate. It’s also one of the safest cars on sale.

Left Side View

Pricing for the BS6 Nexon diesel-manual commence at Rs 8.45 and goes up to Rs 12.10 lakh (ex-showroom). This means it is on par with its rivals like Hyundai Venue, Ford EcoSport, Mahindra XUV300, and the Kia Sonet, and does not undercut them anymore. For that price, the Nexon offers more space than any of the rivals and has an unmatched ride quality to go with. So if you are searching for a spacious runabout with sorted riding dynamics, which is also safe and easy to live with, then look no further.

Rear View

Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi

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Tata Nexon Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
Mumbai₹ 8.45 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 8.69 Lakhs onwards
Delhi₹ 7.99 Lakhs onwards
Pune₹ 8.36 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 8.35 Lakhs onwards
Ahmedabad₹ 8.06 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 8.21 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 7.92 Lakhs onwards
Chandigarh₹ 7.83 Lakhs onwards
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