What is it?
Why I would buy it?
Addictive performance, silent driving experience and well-rounded suspension
Why I would avoid it?
Range anxiety, charging infrastructure, battery replacement costs
This is the Nexon EV, Tata's first electric SUV for the masses. It essentially debuts the new styling that the petrol/diesel Nexon facelift will carry. So, let's take a look at it and find out if the Nexon EV is worth considering.
The boxy fascia now looks butch and is a departure from the angular design of the older model. Based on the IMPACT 2.0 design philosophy, the Nexon EV features an upright stance that includes new sweptback projector headlamps with twin-LED DRLs, a revised grille that is much flatter and a large air-dam with a tri-arrow signature. What sets the Nexon EV apart are the blue chrome highlights on the bumpers, the rising beltline and the EV badges. What's more, it also gets a set of neat-looking 16-inch machined alloys and new LED inserts in the taillights. Overall, the Nexon EV comes across as a hip SUV in the compact SUV segment with an identity of its own.
How is it on the inside?
The interiors of the Nexon EV are largely similar to the IC version but get some EV-specific updates. So, the dual-tone grey and white cabin continues to be ergonomically designed, and features chrome blue accents at various places. It gets an Altroz-sourced flat-bottom steering wheel, but more on that later. This top-spec XZ+ trim comes with a seven-inch digital instrument cluster, which displays the charge level, remaining driving range, battery consumption, turn-by-turn navigation and more.
The front seats, with a height-adjustable driver seat, continue to offer good lateral and under-thigh support. That said, it would've been a boon had they provided lumber support for additional comfort. What's also good is that it is easy to get in and out of the SUV. The rear seats are quite accommodating and the wide cabin allows three average-sized adults to sit in comfort, with the large seat base offering good support to your thighs. What's more, it also gets rear AC vents and a 12V power socket, which further elevates the rear-seat experience. Still, if I had to nit-pick, I would say that the sloping roofline eats into the headroom at the back for taller occupants, and the quality of the piano black inserts isn’t up to the mark as it gets scratched easily.
Nevertheless, this top-spec XZ+ trim comes loaded with features like a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system and an eight-speaker Harman music system that sounds great. Then, it also gets features such as a climate control system, push button start/stop, keyless entry, and a cooled glove box, which further elevates the comfort and convenience of the car. What's more, it also comes with connected car tech via the ZConnect app suite with 35 connectivity features. So, it allows the user to set a Geo fence, remotely switch on/off the AC, and send SOS alerts and more. And being an EV, you can also remotely monitor the current charge levels and the available range, check the charging history and find the nearest charging stations among others. What's more, the Nexon EV is also the safest made-in-India electric SUV with a five-star safety rating at GNCAP crash tests.
How does it drive?
If you aren't familiar with an electric vehicle, you'll be astounded by how silent an EV can be, and the Nexon EV is no different. The electric motor is rated at 127bhp/245Nm of torque and comes paired to a single-speed automatic transmission. It gets two modes - Drive and Sport. Slotting into the S mode, the Nexon EV will leave you startled with the way it sets off the mark, thanks to a relentless surge of torque right from the word ‘go’. The throttle response is extremely quick here, and you are pushed back into the seats with force. Tata Motors’ claim of a 0-100kmph sprint in 9.9 seconds is believable as the Nexon EV lurches ahead with gusto.
In D mode, the throttle response is subdued but it doesn't feel dull or ungainly. In fact, it is more than sufficient to putter-around in town or cruise on the highways. It is easy to keep up with the traffic or overtake, and is ideal to extract more range from the car. Tata Motors claims that the overall range takes a hit by 20-25 per cent when driven in S mode. It should be noted that Tata Motors has electronically limited the top-speed to 120kmph in both the modes. It comes with brake-energy regeneration, which is set at medium, and kicks-in the moment you lift your foot off the throttle. On the Nexon EV, it isn't intrusive but it takes a bit getting used to. You need to anticipate the vehicular traffic and the stop lights, and if done properly, the re-gen also helps in extending the range by a few kilometres.
As a part of the Ziptron tech, the electric motor is paired to a 30.2kWh liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery pack that delivers an ARAI-certified range of 312km. The battery pack comes with an IP67 rating, which is dust and water resistant under one meter of water. Tata Motors arranged a water-wadding test to take the Nexon EV through 300mm of water, and even after stopping the SUV midway through the reservoir, it came out without any issues. Tata claims a real-world range of 250-260km and in our time with the SUV, which involved some city driving and also gunning the car on the expressway in S mode, it did 190-odd km with 40km of range still remaining.
In terms of handling, the steering is quick with less than three turns lock-to-lock, and the SUV feels nimble on its feet’s when you dial the inputs. The steering is light at low speeds and weighs up nicely as the speeds increase, which inspires confidence to take long corners. However, if you floor the throttle on switchbacks, it tends to understeer as all the torque is instantly fed to the front wheels. As for the ride, the Nexon EV's suspension has a well-rounded edge to it. Because of the added mass of around 100kg (1400kg kerb), the springs have been stiffened. So, the low-speed ride feels a bit firm, but as you build pace, the suspension flattens out most road undulations and section joints. You'll barely notice any pitching or wallowing, and the body-roll is well contained too.
Should I buy one?
Tata Motors has made their best effort to support the government's idea of green mobility with the Nexon EV. It packs distinctive styling, is feature-rich, and the instantaneous availability of torque is addictive. And, it drives well too. And although the 312km range may feel adequate for day-to-day city needs, the lack of sufficient charging infrastructure means you cannot plan long-distance trips with the Nexon EV.
Meanwhile, the car will also come bundled with a 3.3kW wall-mount charger that charges the battery from 20-100 per cent in eight hours, while a 25kW DC fast charger will charge the battery pack from 0-80 percent in 60 minutes. However, these chargers will be installed at select dealerships across 22 cities in India. So, the Tata Nexon EV may appeal to those buyers who'd want to buy it as a second car, but as things stand today, it cannot be your only car. So, if you are planning to buy one, the Nexon EV will be launched on 28 January in India.
Where does it fit in?
The Nexon EV doesn't have a direct competitor, not now at least. But with an expected price of Rs 15-17 lakhs (ex-showroom), the Tata Nexon EV will rival the top-end variants of the Kia Seltos, Hyundai Creta, MG Hector and the Tata Harrier.
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi