Tata introduced the Nexon as a concept in 2014, gauging public and media reactions at the Auto Expo that year. What was an obvious response at the time was the fact that although funky-looking, the production design may be vastly different. Thankfully and much to the surprise of journalist present at the drive event, the Nexon looks just as the concept car from nearly three-and-a-half years back.
The face of the car represents the new line of Tata SUVs like the Hexa. Highlighted by the broad grille, massive wheel arches and class-leading 209mm of ground clearance, the car definitely pulls off the compact SUV look flawlessly. Raked-windshield, sloping roof-line from the side draws the silhouette of a hatchback while moving to the rear then reaffirms the SUV theme.
Interior:Interior stuns further as the layout is new with marked improvement in plastic quality. The top of the dashboard is textured with use of softer plastics while below it is a broad, glossy silver band that continues from the door trims onto the dashboard. Similar trims feature on the centre console while the air-con vents, rotary drive mode knob and metre console get chrome highlights. The cabin utilises space extremely well with thoughtful additions as an umbrella holder in the door panels, centre console that can hold two cup and is deep enough for bigger phones too. A tambour cover for the centre console adds a premium touch, making that area look cleaner while also acting as a place to keep a phone.
Ergonomics have improved with the height adjustable driver seat better suited to the adjustable range of the steering. In our stint of 120km with the car, occupants in both front and rear seats never complained of fatigue. There is enough lumbar and under-thigh support and generous shoulder room both in the front and back seats. The sloping roof doesn’t hinder headroom at the rear with taller passengers still having a little space to spare. Fitting in a third passenger in the rear may be a squeeze though unless they’re children.
Engines are touted as all-new with a 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine from the Revotron family and a 1.5-litre turbo-diesel Revotorq engine. We drove the petrol first. With bore and stroke length similar to the 1.2-litre engine in the Tiago, this engine adds 25bhp with a turbo charger, subsequent bump in compression ratio and 56Nm of torque. Producing 110bhp at a 1,000 revs lowers than the naturally aspirated version of the engine, the Nexon feels adequately powered off the line. The higher torque output offers a wider powerband with linear power delivery as you progress through the six-speed gearbox. The engine also allows to hang onto a higher gear, picking it up from lower revs at slower speeds without hesitation. The only grouse in performance was iffy fuelling which results in jerky on-off throttle transitions.
The handling of the Nexon is another one of its strong-points. The electronic power steering doesn’t feel vague in the centre, is well weighted and direct. The suspension absorbs undulations and potholes with ease with the petrol version feeling slightly stiffer while the added weight of the diesel engine making for a more pliant ride quality. A set of twisties that included 12 hairpins revealed more about the car’s dynamic abilities. Body-roll was well controlled and the Nexon holds its line in corners with no hint of understeer unless pushed hard.
Clearly, Tata is aiming to place the Nexon bang in the middle of the competition offering a plethora of utility features, upped quality levels and powerful engine options. Fit and finish, although improved, could’ve been better still but the overall package is going to attract a lot of buyers provided they price it just as right.