You never know when it’s going to rain especially when it comes to the Mumbai monsoons and you don’t stand a chance when the downpour begins. It was about that time of the year again and after the horrendous summer, I was elated having the Zest to save me from the first rains. As the showers tried to cool down the baked crust in vain, I was happily weaving through the city traffic in the compact sedan from my home in a Mumbai suburb to the new Bombay, ohhh, Navi Mumbai!
During my first few days with the Zest, it rested in my parking lot as I was busy spending time with its elder sibling - the Tata Safari Storme. Hot on the heels of testing the big burly SUV, I came back home to drive the Zest and I was happy to notice that the Zest has inspired a lot of changes in the Storme’s interior. So after a crawling start, the Zest had to start stretching its legs and I needed a respite from the usual regime. This is when I planned an outing to Bhuigaon and surrounding beaches on the outskirts of Mumbai. It was time to switch from the eco mode to the sport mode of the Zest.
The sport mode makes a difference, the throttle maps changes and the Zest moves forward early, not that it can take on a Lamborghini, but I even managed to do that! I don't really recommend street racing, but when you are trying to chase down a raging bull and the owner of the Aventador does not even know about your existence, technically it is not a race. If you haven’t guessed the result already, you should not be surprised to know that the Zest won. We managed to overtake the Aventador and also find time to ogle at the Italian beauty. This came courtesy of the splendid roads (not!) in Vasai, but also lot of credit goes to the ground clearance of the Zest that made it really easy for me to go through almost everything on the way.
The heat from road rose and conditions were mostly damp rather than full wet. The tyres of the Zest gripped well in these tricky conditions and never gave me a feel of losing control. The handling and dynamics of the car coupled with the firm seats and good ergonomics made my drive experience pleasant.
The Harman speakers surprised me with the crisp and clear sound. The new music system is convenient and easy to handle, but I prefer the normal buttons to the touchscreen system while being behind the wheel. The Zest has got most of the ingredients right but there are a couple of flaws. For a car this big, it does not have bottle holders or any place to keep your smart phone when it is charging. No one in the car was too happy about that, but the effective climate control system kept us from losing our ‘cool’.
A little bit of off-roading didn’t pose much challenge to the Zest and we took it on the beach for a few stunts, as the sand managed to hold together after the rains. The second leg of the trip was easy, and I would like to highlight the advantage of having projector headlamps. The visibility is so much better and I think Tata made a smart decision by opting for this feature over button start/stop button and rear AC vents.
For the rest of the days the Zest kept me company on my daily commute of 65-70km to the office and that meant tackling Mumbai traffic in the peak hours. The highway efficiency of 13kmpl crashed to 9.8kmpl and not once in the remaining days did we manage to cross the 10kmpl mark. No points for guessing that the Eco mode was on for most of the time, but this is best that I could manage.
The Tata Zest XT, built in Pune, priced at 6.28 lakh (ex-showroom) offers good value especially considering the space and features. The Zest has served all my needs and within a week I clocked around 700kms. It is a surprisingly good package for the highways, though the efficiency in the city is a bit of a dampener. It is a comfortable sedan and one of the better products that represents Tata Motors new philosophy.