It has been a long time coming. Endless spy shots, reveal at the Auto Expo, launch date speculations, and of course, many a stories on what the Tata Hexa could be specced like from engines to features to tech. Now, we are happy to announce, we have all the facts. Officially. And here's what the Tata Hexa is all about...
Tata Hexa is a Mahindra XUV500 rival. One could also consider it as a Toyota Innova Crysta competitor given the Hexa's size, seating arrangement, and outlook. But, Tata will undercut the Innova and its communication will steer away from the Innova’s roots of being a practical people’s mover as well.
So, the Hexa is targeted at the youth and at buyers who need 7 seats but want something that's stylish, packed with features and looks more expensive than it is. The idea is also to add a bit more luxury and snob value, which is currently missing in the segment.
No surprises here. The Tata Hexa is powered by the same 2.2-litre, 4-cylinder engine, which we have already seen on the Safari Storme. But, Tata has worked on the NVH and has recalibrated the power and torque delivery compared to the Storme. The engine is called Varicor 400 - yes, the same as the slow selling Storme 400 - and it has similar outputs too.
The engine makes 156bhp and 400Nm of peak torque. What's new though, are the gearboxes. The Tata Hexa comes with both manual and automatic options with both 'boxes using 6-speeds. Now, given the Hexa weighs in at over 2-tons, we don't expect blistering 0-100kmph times. But, it should have a strong, potent mid range. And that should make the Hexa feel light and agile especially within city confines and at low three digit speeds.
Additionally, Hexa also comes with four driving modes. But, these modes are only for the manual transmission version. The automatic on the other hand gets what Tata calls a race car function which in the simplest terms can be defined as a gearbox that learns from driver’s inputs and reacts accordingly.
The SUV character
Okay, the Hexa doesn't look like your traditional SUV, something the XUV500 has in spades. But, it could give the Mahindra a run for its money off-road. But, before that it does check the quintessential SUV boxes. It has high seating, a clear view up ahead, loads of street presence, and the sense of space and safety that only a large SUV can offer.
Now, to the off-road story. The Hexa gets 200mm ground clearance. But, the more crucial bit is the Rough Road driving mode. The Hexa comes with four driving modes - Auto, Comfort and Dynamic, which are self-explanatory - and then there's Rough Road. In this mode, the Borg Warner all-wheel-drive system - which can shift 25 to 40 per cent of the torque to the front wheels - along with a suite of electronics should be able to adopt well to inclines, slush and gravel. There is also more wheel articulation on the Hexa compared to the Aria. What's more, the Bosch's new ABS system, claims Tata, alters the ABS response on slippery surfaces for more efficient braking.
And now to the differentiating aspect of the Hexa. Features. We know the Mahindra XUV500 is extremely well loaded when it comes to equipment and the Hexa, thankfully, has it covered.
On the safety front, it gets six airbags, ESP with traction control, the latest four channel ABS with EBD, and automatic headlamps and wipers. In terms of comfort, there's central locking, climate control, a multifunctional steering wheel, reversing camera and a cooled glovebox among others. What should also be a big differentiator for the Hexa is its infotainment system. 10 speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, smartphone navigation and voice commands all combined with a five-inch touchscreen system.
Now, this will be crucial. And honestly, we don't have any indication from the company about the Hexa's pricing. But, for Hexa's sake, especially given Aria's sales history and Tata Motors' performance over the last couple of years, the Hexa must undercut the XUV500 spec-for-spec. We are also not sure about the number of variants - the XUV500 has 17 versions – but the top of the line Hexa with all-wheel-drive and the 6-speed auto should retail for under Rs 18 lakh.