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Tata Nexon Petrol First Drive Review

What is it?

Why will I buy the Tata Nexon petrol? 

For its sorted dynamics, long equipment list, the spacious cabin and catchy exterior design.

Why will I avoid the Nexon petrol?

Petrol motor's poor drivability and chances of niggling quality issues is high.

There has been a lot of hype around the Tata Nexon. For a car to stay in the news for three years despite not being on sale (the prototype was shown in 2014) shows the burden of expectation the model has to carry when the car will finally be launched in September this year. But going by the diesel variant review, you must have already realised that it was well worth the wait. Can we say the same about the petrol variant? Read-on to find out.

Visually there isn’t any difference between the petrol and the diesel variant, so you get the same outlandish exterior and design elements that are usually seen on prototypes rather than a production-ready vehicle. From any angle, the Nexon looks distinctive, whether it be the butch front or the mixture of coupe roofline and chunky lower portion of the profile or the interplay of surfaces at the rear.

What makes the exterior really stand-out is the distinctive white ceramic strip that highlights the lower window-line and the contrasting grey roof which went really well with the red and blue colour cars we had on the drive. Even the at the back the thick white strip that merges with the tail lamps looks different and somehow not overdone.

The Nexon is based on the Bolt’s X1 platform but Tata´s engineers have lengthened the wheelbase for better interior packaging. On the downside, this platform has always been heavy and in pursuit of better rigidity, this new Crossover has gained even more weight.

What is it like on the inside?

Tata, on all its recent cars, has worked hard on improving cabin quality and ease of use and the Nexon is no different. Ergonomically, this is the best Tata we have come across, thanks to the well laid out dash and logical placement of important elements. In terms of quality, the Nexon is definitely a step in the right direction and it feels a step-up over the Tiago or the Tigor. It not perfect however, and fit, finish and consistency is still leaves a lot to be desired. You can still spot panel gaps and sharp edges especially lower down on the dashboard.

Even bits like the air-con controls, power window buttons, control stalks and the gloss black finish around the gearbox lever (which gets easily scratched) could have been better. Yet, it feels at par with the competition as both the Vitara Brezza and the EcoSport aren´t the best in terms of quality and finish themselves. Quality control is still an issue like in most Tata products and despite being brand-new, our test vehicles developed snags like the rubber cover for the brake pedal coming off and one of the tail lamps going off.

The Nexon gets a Harman developed infotainment system and screen quality is a big step over the Tigor or even the much more expensive Hexa. Sure, it could use a faster processor and yes, it doesn´t function as smoothly as the unit installed on the Vitara Brezza.

 

The Nexon scores well in terms of practicality too and you get loads of storage options. You get large bottle holders and an umbrella recess(it can hold a small umbrella and has a drainage hole too) in the front doorpads, a massive cooled glove box with an removable tray, a deep centre storage box and the cup holders integrated into rear centre armrests. Although the storage under the centre armrest is big, it is too deep especially towards the front where the cubby gets narrow. Even the glove box lid which gets two cup holders on the inside, is useless, as it fouls with the front passenger´s knees.


The front seats are well shaped and the stiff side bolstering does a good job of keeping you in place. Driving position is not the most ideal though, as the pedals are bit off-set and the steering feels a tad too close to the driver. At the rear, the Nexon is spacious and the wide cabin makes it a genuine five-seater. The bench itself is well shaped and the backrest angle is ideal too. The addition of air vents with speed control (these aren´t AC vents) and a 12V charging socket at the rear enhance the rear seat experience. The boot at 350-litres is big enough and the 60:40 split folding rear seats can increase the space up to 690-litres if and when needed.

The Nexon in the top XZ trim comes loaded with features. Primary among them is a touchscreen infotainment system which houses Android Auto(Apple CarPlay will soon be added) and a sweet sounding 8 speaker Harman music system. Apart from this, the Nexon gets all the basics like climate control, key-less go, reverse camera with guidance and daytime running lamps. The fact that Tata will offer all variants with two airbags and ABS as standard adds to the Nexon’s feel good factor. The feature we most loved though is that the XZ variant also comes equipped with a water-proof wrist band which acts like a key. This is a great feature for people who often go running and swimming and don´t want the hassle of carrying the key fob.

How does it Drive?

We loved the diesel-powered Nexon for its strong performance and user friendly nature. The petrol shod car which on paper makes the same amount of power should be as impressive right? Unfortunately that’s not the case. As with most small capacity, turbo petrol motors, this 1.2-litre 108bhp engine has loads of turbo-lag below 2200rpm and you have to constantly work the gearbox to keep it in the meat of the powerband especially at low speeds.

The fact that the 6-speed manual gearbox isn’t the slickest, marks it down further. What makes things worse is the gearing which is on the taller side, accentuating this deficiency. It’s particularly sluggish at low revs and below 2000rpm feels all but dead. The simple fact is that the small 1.2-litre engine just doesn’t have the lung capacity to quickly propel this compact crossover when the turbo goes off boost. The Nexon’s heavy 1.2-tonne plus weight don’t help matters either. Power delivery is also quite uneven and the sharp spike once the engine wakes up makes city driving a chore.


On the flip-side, once on the move, this motor feels really strong past 2200rpm. The midrange is punchy and even past 4500rpm, this motor doesn’t feel short on grunt. This makes the petrol Nexon a good highway car and overtaking is just a downshift away. Like with the diesel, you get three drive modes in the Nexon petrol but the calibration is not as good. City and Sport mode feel the best as the difference between them is minimal. Its only when you go past 4500rpm, the torque curve fizzles out in City mode, while in Sport mode it keeps pulling strongly till the redline.

Eco mode is a bit of a miss though as the Nexon feels underpowered and even overtaking slow traffic is not that easy. Tata has done a good job as far as engine refinement is concerned and be it at idle or when worked hard, this three pot motor never feels out of its comfort zone. Yes, it does get buzzy past 4500rpm but never sounds harsh or strained.  

Thanks to the 80kg weight advantage, the petrol Nexon feels distinctly better than the diesel engine car as far as handling is concerned. The steering feels less corrupted and it is more eager to change direction too. The Nexon feels soft initially and body roll is gentle but not excessive. In fact, the suppleness doesn’t come at the expense of stability and even at high speed on an undulating surface, the Nexon feels rock solid. In terms of comfort too, the Nexon shows great composure be it at high or low high speeds and the ride quality is flat and it absorbs the worst of road conditions with aplomb. The brakes though could have been better and the pedal feel and initial bite felt a bit soggy.

Should I buy one?

The Nexon is one of the most complete products to come from Tata. It has a spacious cabin, bold exterior, loads of features and great ride and handling balance. Sure interior fit and quality isn’t top-drawer but luckily its main rival the Ford Ecosport struggles in this respect too. In terms of engine we would definitely recommend you to do for the diesel as the turbo petrol motor struggles as far as ease of use and drivability is concerned. Another reason to avoid the petrol variant is the fact that it will struggle in terms of fuel efficiency (small turbo-petrol engines are very throttle sensitive).

Where does it fit in?

The Nexon petrol’s main rival is the Ford EcoSport’s Ecoboost variant, also a turbo petrol motor which produces a healthy 124bhp. It also has rivals like the Honda WR-V and the Hyundai i20 Active but they are powered by naturally aspirated engines and makes far less power and torque. We expect Tata to price the Nexon aggressively and undercut all its rivals by a fair margin.

Photos: Kapil Angane

Tata Nexon Diesel First Drive Review

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Tata Nexon Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
Mumbai₹ 7.87 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 8.24 Lakhs onwards
New Delhi₹ 7.6 Lakhs onwards
Pune₹ 7.83 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 7.98 Lakhs onwards
Ahmedabad₹ 7.82 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 8.01 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 7.66 Lakhs onwards
Chandigarh₹ 7.38 Lakhs onwards
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