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I was a bit reluctant about penning down my two-year-long experience with the petrol-powered Nexon, as the feeling of not being able to portray the good and bad aspects properly was playing at the back of my mind. But the other part of my brain pushed me hard, “Hey buddy! A car is not just about technical aspects and neither are all the people who love cars technically sound. Some people just love to hold the steering wheel and drive along.”
Official reviews are mainly done by experts and they try to portray a complete picture of a newly-launched car. These guys talk about almost all the aspects of a car, be it technical, mechanical and many more. But an ownership review is different, because an owner may not always have the sound technical knowledge to judge the performance of a car in terms of torque and power ratio, gear throw or throttle response. To be honest, many owners may not be aware of the term “understeer”, but still, their reviews can’t be underestimated as they live with the car every day. I am one such enthusiast trying my best to share my experience with a petrol-powered Tata Nexon, which I proudly named “FALCON”.
- Tata Nexon XZ+ Dual Tone, Petrol
- The month of manufacture: February 2018
- Date of Purchase: 12th April 2018
- Purchased at: Dulichand Motors, Kolkata
- Fun to drive car
- Nice acceleration in city mode, which I normally use. Sports mode takes it to another level
- The AC cools the cabin very fast
- Good visibility of road from the driver seat
- The car has a light steering. Manoeuvrability is easy and simple
- Good ground clearance of 209 mm
- Exceptional build quality
- Brakes are superb. There is no panic during sudden braking manoeuvres
- Spacious cabin with very good seats. The front row seats have nice under-thigh support, which doesn’t allow long drives to be tiresome and boring
- Eight speaker HARMANN music system is awesome! The sound is clear and crisp with adequate bass
Dual airbags with ABD and ISOFIX child seat anchorage system. 4-star adult (Now it’s 5 Star rated) occupant and a 3-star child occupant rating in the Global NCAP, a first in the segment for any CSUV at that point of time.
Not so positive points
- The position of 12V socket, USB and AUX point could have been placed in a better position.
- Thick ‘A’ Pillar, which at times, obstructs the vision
- The touch screen feels sluggish in response
- The light throw of stock headlights is not very good and reduces confidence during at night, especially in the hills
- Below 1,500 RPM, the car struggles for power
- The IRVM feel cheap in comparison to the other materials
- The quality of plastic around the 6.5-inch, floating touch screen is not up to the mark
Scope for improvement
- The spare wheel should have been an alloy in XZ+
- An auto-dimming IRVM
I first came to know about the Nexon when the concept version was unveiled during the Auto Expo 2014. Until that time, I had the experience of being in the co-driver seat of a couple of Tata cars but never thought about buying one for myself. During that period, the CSUV segment was still growing and monopolised by the likes of the Renault Duster, Ford Ecosport and the Vitara Brezza. Buying a CSUV was not at all my plan. I was happily spending time with my Chevy Beat. Still, I liked the concept version of the Nexon; it was kind of unconventional (not a conventional boxy squared-off SUV design like the Maruti Brezza), yet, attractive.
Then came the production version at the 2016 Auto Expo and I got hooked. I fell in love with it at first sight. It was very close to the concept’s original look and design. If I’m not wrong then the last time that happened was when Jaguar launched the F-Pace! The feeling was like, “Oh Man! This should be my next car.” By then I was not at all sure about how would I convince my wife to buy the Nexon when we were very happy with our Chevy Beat. But I just wanted this car in my garage. I even visited a couple of dealerships in Kolkata and asked about the launch date but they could not give me any encouraging response. I kept on tracking the developments through various websites. Meanwhile, a couple of youtube channels started posting their first drive reviews about it and a few more turned out to be helpful to me. It was already decided that I would be going for a petrol-powered variant.
Alternatives Considered Before Buying This Car
As I have already mentioned that I was interested in a sub 4 meter SUV, hence Renault Duster was out of the equation. Further, Maruti Vitara Brezza was struck off the list as it did not have a petrol engine to offer at that point of time. Moreover, I never liked the age-old simple design of Brezza and Maruti’s dismal safety record has always made sure that I don’t like their cars. Purely my personal preference though. So I zeroed in on the Ford Ecosport 1.5 L Titanium Manual and Honda WRV IVTEC.
Ford Ecosport 1.5 L Titanium MT
After test driving the car, I was impressed. The car had a great pickup, engine refinement was good and NVHwas satisfactory. Good brakes and excellent handling. I liked the car and a bit of hesitation started playing into my mind. Whether to go for the Ecosport or the Nexon, the car which I’ve been dreaming about. I didn’t like the rear seat of the Ecosport. In my view, a third adult couldn’t find space in the rear seat.
The car was big in appearance but looked like a hatchback to me. The interior was spacious and airy and visibility was excellent. Also, Honda’s reliable engine was doing duty under the bonnet but somehow I could not connect myself with the car. Hence WRV was out of the competition. So now, the competition was narrowed down between Nexon and Ecosport.
Test Driving the Nexon
It was the last week of February 2018. One day, I walked into Dulichand Motors, Kolkata, which is just opposite to my office, to have a first-hand look at the Nexon. All these days I had only seen the car in photos and videos, and now, I was face to face with it. I could touch and feel the car. The showroom guys were very co-operative. I asked for a test drive and a car was offered promptly. I drove the car on the tarmac as well as on bumpy roads. The moment I got inside the car, it felt like the car is awesome. The drive was excellent. The petrol engine was peppy but could not match the refinement levels of the Ecosport. The ergonomics were spot on. The rear seats were spacious which could accommodate three adults comfortably. The overall experience was satisfactory. I was still undecided about which car to choose from. Though my heart was all in favour of the Nexon, my mind asked me to have patience and tread cautiously. Here are a few points which impressed me after the test drive:
- The Funky and unconventional styling is such that some may like it and some may not, but you just can’t keep your eyes off the car. I was impressed by the side profile of the car. The white ceramic line running from the “A” pillar to the tailgate. Many didn’t like this but it looked very attractive to me
- I was thoroughly impressed with the headlight assembly along with the DRL setup and the smiling humanity line. I don’t like much chrome on the car and minimal use of chrome at the front impressed me a lot
- The 16” black and silver machine cut alloy wheels made quite a style statement. Black plastic cladding runs along the wheel arches and on the doors, providing a muscular look
The radical exteriors have been complemented by a stylish and practical cabin. The interior looked a lot futuristic to me with elements like the floating 6.5-inch touch screen, the drive select dial, the classy sliding shutter covering the storage place, the armrest. Everything just looks perfect in its place. And yes, I forgot to mention the umbrella slot. That was sweet. Now, it was time to decide which car to buy? Both the cars were excellent. Then I started consulting a couple of friends and most of them suggested to go for the Ecosport as they were sceptical about the following:
- 1.2-litre Revotron engine was new and reliability was not proven
- Tata had a pathetic after-sales service record
- They were still not convinced that Tata can make good passenger cars
I had to take the final call and my heart was tilted towards the Nexon. Then, I decided that I would be going for the Nexon!
“When you want something badly enough, you will develop the confidence and ability to overcome any obstacle in your war.” Tata officially launched the Nexon in July 2017 and General Motors had announced that it would stop selling Chevrolet brand cars in India at the end of 2017. My Beat was 7 years old at that time and still going strong. Gradually, I shared the idea of buying a new Nexon with my wife and it took me a couple of months to convince her that Tata has started making really good cars now. By the time I fully convinced her, it was early 2018, and now, it was time to look after the money angle.
I visited the showroom and negotiated about discounts and exchange price of my Beat. The session with the showroom guys was quite fruitful. As the Nexon was doing well in the market so the discount was straightway denied by them and they offered 30K against exchanging my Beat which I readily accepted. I was so eager to bring the car home. The total payment I was supposed to make for the Petrol XZ+ Nexon was 9.89 Lakh, which included the registration fee and Insurance. I paid the token amount for booking and consulted with finance department representative about sanctioning of car loans and interest rates on offer. After evaluating a couple of Banks, I decided to apply for a car loan from YES Bank Ltd as they offered attractive interest rates. Next, I was to decide how much loan to avail.
The decision to buy the car was taken all of a sudden and I was not in a position to arrange the huge amount from my saving element. So now, the most important aspect was to arrange cash from my side so that the loan amount can be minimized. I could arrange 2.7 Lac from my savings and rest 7 Lakh was sanctioned by YES Bank. Everything sorted out, all the formalities were completed by mid-march. It was decided to take the delivery in April and two dates were shortlisted – April 15th, for being the auspicious Bengali New Year (Poila Baisakh) or April 23rd, our marriage anniversary. Later we settled down for 15th April.
On the 7th of April, I received a call from the showroom that the car has arrived and I can do the PDI. I was very eager to see my new car and immediately reached the showroom and from there, to the yard. Followed the PDI guidelines and matched the VIN that was given to me by then showroom with that of the car. Started the car and drove it a bit. Checked the paint thoroughly and looked for any mismatch in fit and finish. After being satisfied, I gave them the go-ahead and requested them if possible then try to deliver the car before 15th April as I was in no mood to wait any further.
On the 11th of April, I received a call from the showroom that the car was ready for delivery and if I would be interested to take delivery on the 12th? I readily agreed. I was happy as well as sad. Sad because I would be bidding adieu to my Chevy Beat the next day. The Beat has been a fantastic car and I’ve enjoyed every moment of my association with it. I was feeling guilty as I would be saying her Goodbye permanently. That night I was confused whether did I make the right decision of exchanging my Beat. I still feel I could have kept it along with my Falcon.
On the 12th morning, I left for work, one last time with my Beat. I had decided to take delivery in the afternoon and accordingly asked my wife, mother and brother to come to my office and from there we would be visiting the showroom. By 2 P.M we reached the showroom and saw falcon being readied for delivery. Next 2 hours were spent in finishing formalities. By 4.30 pm, Falcon was officially handed over to me. No, I didn’t get any free goodies with the car. I only opted for the carpets on payment. Didn’t like the seat covers so decided to get them from outside.
Driving Experience To Date
Till date, I’ve driven 17,944 Kms. The ODO could’ve easily crossed the 18K mark had the current situation been normal. Initially, it took me a few days to get adjusted with the three driving modes (Eco, City & Sport) and toggle between them but once I got accustomed, it was really fun driving this car. The car is on the heavier side but grips the road well and that provides the added amount of confidence. My daily commute is roughly around 25Km since my office is very close to my nest and apart from commuting to the office, I use Falcon while dropping my kid at her school. Less driving during weekdays is compensated by long drives over the weekend. Since I have taken Falcon out of town many times and made a couple of road trips with, my driving experience is categorized three parts:
- City driving in B2B traffic
- Long drives over the Weekend
- Planned Road trips
Driving In The City
Kolkata traffic being congested most of the time, the car has to be driven either in second or third gear. Fourth gear comes into business for very less amount of time. City Mode is the most preferred option in this type of traffic. I don’t mind being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic.Thanks to the generous seats, good entertainment package and most importantly, the fairly light clutch.Mostly, I drive the car between 2000 to 2500 rpm and never push the throttle harder. Throttle response becomes a bit sluggish when the car is driven with AC. The smoothness of power delivery comes down by a few notches. In city traffic, on an average, the car returns anything between 11-12 kmpl.
Most of the times, the driving distance covered ranges between 75 to 100 Kms and the car is mostly driven through city roads and the rest, on highways. The driving experience is better than my daily commute as traffic congestion is less but the fun on driving through long, congestion-free roads is not felt. FE is slightly better during these drives and settles between 14 – 15 kmpl.
Now, this is the time when I enjoy driving and spending a long time behind the steering wheel. These trips have helped me judge the performance of my Nexon and evaluate it. So far, I have made three road trips. The first one was to Bhutan, covering a distance of around 2000 Km altogether. Then, a trip to Agra covering 2700 Kms and the last one being a trip to Mandarmani where the trip meter read 400 Kms. The longest period I’ve spent behind the steering wheel is 14 hrs, during my journey from Kolkata to Varanasi through NH-19.
IMHO, during all my road trips, I never really felt tired after driving for such long hours at a stretch.A compliment to the lovely front row seats of Nexon. Even the rear seats are comfortable and people sitting at the back have never complained of fatigue. The car feels awesome to drive on highways. This is the place where I can push the needle up to the three-figure mark. My most preferred mode to drive on highways is the Eco mode. Just a gentle push on the pedal and the car cruises nicely on the highway. During my drive on the Lucknow Agra E-way, I have driven constantly at a speed of 100 Kmph in Eco mode, where the rpm needle was kept within 1500 to 2000 mark. Here I missed cruise control.
During my Bhutan trip, most of the drive was made through the mountain roads. Many have said the car lacks in power while climbing up inclined roads but I never felt the car was struggling for power while climbing up. It has negotiated the climbs to Chele La pass situated at 13,085 ft., the highest motorable peak of Bhutan. The two drive modes used here were Sport during the uphill drive and Eco during the downhill drive. After the trip, the car returned an FE figure of 18-19 kmpl, which includes 40% of total distance covered with the AC. Not a bad figure for a petrol engine I guess.
My Observations Based On Everything Mentioned Above
This 1.2-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine is a reworked version of the Tigor’s naturally aspirated engine and produces 108 BHP and 170 Nm of torque. The torque range is the same as the 1.0 Ecoboost engine (Now discontinued) of the Ford Ecosport but it lags when it comes to the power aspect, where the Ecoboost scores high with its extra 15 horses. Nevertheless, this engine is a gem and delivers a strong performance.
Performance During City Driving
The engine is fairly quiet and I don’t experience the vibrations that are expected from a 3-cylinder, small-capacity engine. On being pushed hard, the engine tends to sound a bit gruff, which makes it not noisy, but audible. Each of the driving modes has its power and torque ratings and they do have an impact on the overall driving experience. Performance is downright dull in Eco mode and the economy enhancing measures just take away from the driving experience. 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 once it is past 4500 rpm but never sounds harsh or strained. The City mode comes out as a better compromise with smoother fueling and better access to power. In general, it’s more than sufficient for average general city driving.
Performance On Highways
On the move, this motor feels strong once it’s past 2000 rpm. The midrange is punchy and even past 4500rpm, this motor doesn’t feel short on grunt. This makes the petrol-powered Nexon a good highway car and overtaking is just a downshift away. City and Sport mode feels the best as the difference between them is minimal. It’s only beyond 4500 rpm where the torque curve fizzles out in City mode, while in Sport mode, it keeps pulling strongly till 6000 rpm. On the highways, the car drives maturely. The steering weighs up very nicely at high speeds and body control is excellent. The small capacity turbo petrol engine has loads of turbo-lag below 2000 rpm and it requires constant work with the gearbox to keep it in the meat of the power band, especially at low speeds.
Overall Performance Of The Engine
It’s particularly sluggish at low revs and below 2000 rpm, 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 car when the turbo goes off boost. The Nexon’s 1.2-tonne plus weight don’t help matters either.
Gear shift and Clutch
The fact is that the 6-speed manual gearbox isn’t the slickest. Gearing is on the taller side and accentuates this deficiency. Many times, the shifter gets stuck in-between shifts. The reverse gear shift is a bit tricky and not very smooth. The clutch is very light and fares better in comparison and to some extent compensates the slack in the gearbox. I would have preferred a little less effort in operating the long-throw gear lever. It would have made the all-new six-speed manual near perfect.
It has excellent sound damping and there is minimal tyre noise and hardly any wind noise. Overall, NVH levels of the Nexon are the best and it scores higher than its closest rivals – Ecosport and the Vitara Brezza.
Suspension And Ride Quality
The Nexon is equipped with independent McPherson Strut suspension with coil springs at the front and semi-independent, twist beam with dual-path struts at the rear. The ride feels a touch stiff at low speeds but it smoothens sharp edges and broken roads brilliantly. Up the pace and the ride only gets better. The suspension is simply spot-on for our road conditions. My car has been delivered with 215/60 R16 Goodyear Excellence tyres. It provides a fairly good amount of grip but sounds a bit noisy. The car’s height makes the body roll felt especially at the rear during fast cornering and on hilly roads with frequent twists and turns. But it never becomes too annoying at any point in time. The Nexon feels soft initially and body roll is gentle but not excessive. The suppleness doesn’t come at the expense of stability and even at high speeds 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 absorbs the worst of road conditions with aplomb. Overall, Nexon’s ride quality is spot on and probably the best among the lot.
Steering & Brakes
The three-spoke electric power steering feels excellent to hold and its smoothness is impressive. It is very convenient for daily City drive & manoeuvrability is very good. The steering is light at city speeds and weighs up sufficiently as the car gains speed. The brakes are equipped with ABS + EBD, although, could have been better as the pedal feel and initial bite felt a bit soggy. The car stops in a straight line from when braking at high speeds though. The throw of the light of stock headlight and fog light is not upto the mark. It reduces confidence while driving on highways and hilly terrains during night time. The 209 mm GC is a blessing for off-roading. During my Bhutan trip I had to take Nexon through some uneven, less-travelled terrains, but kudos to the Ground Clearance, I never felt nervous while driving through those conditions.
Service Experience and Maintenance
Tata wasn’t the go-to brand in the passenger car segment when it comes to after-sales service. But after the introduction of Bolt and Zest, it has improved a lot in this field. Since taking delivery of my car, I have not faced any maintenance related issue. I service my car from Dulichand Motors workshop where earlier, they used to service Chevrolet Cars and I regularly visited them with my Beat. On that term, a healthy relationship has grown between me and the service centre. So my car gets some extra attention whenever I visit their workshop. TATA Motors has also launched an android app named TMSC (Tata Motors Service Connect). All the important features and information related to the car, servicing, warranty, insurance have been brought under one single umbrella and those can be accessed with just touch of a finger. Quite impressive!
I must say the maintenance cost for Nexon is quite less. Within these two years, I’ve made five visits to the service centre for scheduled maintenance and one forced visit due to an accident. I shall come to that issue later. The entire visit to SC was according to the laid down guideline by the service manual. The first year was all about three free services, which were nothing but related to general check-up and rectification of problems depending upon the customer feedback. Luckily I did not face any such issue barring just a rattling noise from the driver side window and that was promptly rectified by the SC during my first free service visit. Engine Oil change has been done according to the schedule. Other than scheduled maintenance, I had opted for the underbody and Exhaust anti-rust coating from the SC.
In January 2020, my car was hit from the back by a Maruti SX4. Although damage to my car was minimum compared to the SX4, I had to leave it at the SC for repairs. The repair job was completed and few parts were changed. The car was insured with TATA AIG and claim-related formalities were superbly handled by the SC. I just had to leave my car and wait for the call from SC to pick it up after the repair. For complete peace of mind, I have extended my warranty by two more years and purchased the promise to protect (P2P) plan for 4 years or 60K Km, whichever is earlier.
I strictly follow the idling rule for my turbocharged Falcon. Every time I start the car, I make sure to keep it in idle for at least 1 minute. Once the car is started, the engine revs up to 1500 rpm and then gradually settles down at 1000 rpm. Once the RPM needle comes down to 1000 rpm level, then I gently push the throttle. I repeat the same procedure while switching off the engine.
I like to retain the originality of the car. Hence, didn’t go for any modification or aftermarket fitment. Just installed Xiaomi 70mai dash cam pro, sourced from Aliexpress and an idol on the dashboard. The emergency kit in my car includes Goodyear Digital tyre Inflator, Jumpstart cable, Car towing rope, Seatbelt Cutter an adjustable spanner.
The Tata Nexon is still the best value for money package available to buyers, even when the C-SUV segment is full of options and buyers are pampered for choices. By becoming the first Indian made C-SUV achieve 5 Star rating in Global NCAP, it has not only set the benchmark in safety standard but also compelled others to follow.