Tata Nexon guns for a big slice of the compact SUV market

Oozing oomph, laden to the gills with features, and armed with both petrol and diesel engines, the Nexon could be the first to take the battle to the game-changing Maruti Vitara Brezza.

By Sumantra B Barooah calendar 28 Jul 2017 Views icon14150 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

In terms of products that marked the start of Tata Motors' new market comeback journey, the Tiago hatchback, launched in April 2016, was the first but in terms of commercial (market performance and profitability) impact, the Nexon could lead Tata’s pack of passenger vehicles. Also, this compact SUV could be the strongest challenger to segment leader, Maruti Suzuki Brezza.

Why is the Tata Nexon a very crucial product for its maker? Most importantly because it is the first Tata product in the compact SUV segment which has been in the driver's seat of the Indian PV market for some time now. The compact SUV segment more than doubled in size during the last financial year. With the entry into the segment, Tata Motors will expand its presence in the passenger vehicle market from 59 percent, to 71 percent.

New Impact
The Tata Nexon is the latest to speak the 'Impact' design language. Its design can attract at least one more-than-casual glance from someone who may not be even interested in cars. Unlike a typical boxy SUV design, the Tata Nexon designers have made good use of lines to give it a trendy look. Parts like a swooping-down roof and window lines, a broad chunky face with a chrome line running across, and a line running along the waist of the Nexon catch the eye. The design element of the 'waist line' has been patented by Tata Motors. Then, there are the big wheel arches housing 16-inch tyres and an unladen ground clearance of 209mm which tells that the Nexon is an SUV. In terms of looks, the Nexon makes a stronger statement than existing compact SUVs.   

Petrol power too
In a segment which derives a large part of sales from diesel vehicles, Tata Motors will offer a petrol option too for Nexon buyers. That could also help enhance the SUV's prospects as both the Maruti Suzuki Brezza and the Mahindra TUV300 do not offer a petrol variant yet. The Ford EcoSport gets 40 percent of its sales from the petrol variant. The Tata Nexon's turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol engine develops 110 PS of power and 170Nm of torque. It is a silent engine but the turbo lag and lack of power surge will disappoint driving enthusiasts. 

A 1.5-litre diesel engine debuts in the Tata Nexon. It is a four-cylinder unit and a more powerful derivative of the Tiago's 1.05-litre engine. This engine is happy to be revved. The 110 PS turbocharged engine delivers peak torque of 260Nm from a low of 1500rpm which is much appreciated especially in city traffic. An aluminium oil sump is used in this engine to reduce weight and NVH levels. However, the Tata Nexon is heavier by over 100kg than the Maruti Suzuki Brezza.

The six-speed gearbox in the Tata Nexon will give it an advantage over its competitors, as the extra gear aids in easy cruising at 100kph or above. The NVH levels in the SUV are quite low. The suspension setup of the Tata Nexon takes up all the bumps in its stride and offers occupants a good ride.

The Tata Nexon's interiors carry forward the story started by the Tiago, in terms of materials, fit and finish. A key highlight of its interiors is the 6.5-inch 'floating' infotainment touch-screen which will be a good selling point for the vehicle. However, during the drive we found that on multiple times it momentarily went off. The system doesn't have integrated navigation, but has Android Auto for navigation (Apple CarPlay to be added soon). The Harman infotainment system is entertains occupants with music through eight speakers. HD video playback is also possible while the vehicle is stationary (for safety). 

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An interesting piece of the connectivity story in the Tata Nexon is a wearable device that allows access into the car. It is the first example of a wearable device that allows the user to also start the car and drive off without the key fob. 

Interior space in the Tata Nexon has been well optimised for passengers and utility. The SUV offers over 30 utility spaces in the cabin and luggage space of 350 litres (690 with rear seat folded).

Overall, the Tata Nexon is a package that redefines a compact SUV. The design, led by Tata Motors' UK design centre, is ‘bold’. Many may strongly love it and many may not. Almost all departments reflect increased efforts by the concerned teams to make the Tata Nexon a product that could boost Tata Motors' turnaround story. Now, the Tata Nexon's pricing strategy will determine how strong a cost:value equation it will offer to customers. The compact SUV will be launched in September.

 

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