It was good to see the blokes at Tata Motors brimming with new enthusiasm and passion at the pre-drive presentation event during the Zest’s media drive. More important than anything else is the fact that the top honchos at Tata Motors finally realize the need for adopting a new, more comprehensive approach towards the business of car making and are actively working towards transforming the brand into a savvier and more proficient entity. There is more to the Zest than what meets the eye. A lot has gone into the development of this fresh new compact sedan, symbolizing a fresh new outlook for Tata Motors.
Let’s have a detailed look at the Zest in this exhaustive review, and try to understand why it’s such an important product for not just Tata Motors, but from an industry perspective as well.
Design and appearance
Unlike what one may tend to believe, the Zest is not an improvement over the Vista. Although it shares its platform with the Vista, everything, from the exterior design, interior, powertrain and underpinnings on the Zest have been engineered exhaustively – making it, in effect, a brand new product.
The overall proportions and shell of the car is reminiscent of the Vista – but that’s not because the car is using the Vista’s chassis. We had a good discussion about the design of the car with Tata’s design team led by Mr. Pratap Bose. According to them, the similarities of the Zest with the Vista are to ensure that the strengths of the Tata DNA – space and comfort, which people identify and appreciate the brand for, are duly translated to the new product. Retaining the shape, according to the design team helped a great deal to retain the strengths of the Vista’s spacious cabin.
Take a closer look at the Zest, and you will realize that every single panel on the compact sedan is brand new. Starting from the front end, the trademark Tata ‘Smiley Grille’ has metamorphosed into the ‘Humanity Line’ and ‘Trust Line’ above and below the radiator grille. The new philosophy behind the Tata Zest’s face is represented by the two chrome lines above and below the honeycomb mesh radiator grille which extends itself into the Headlamps by making use of chrome elements. The Tata emblem is situated in the middle of the black honeycomb mesh grille. The bonnet on the new car also features a mild ‘power bulge’.
The elongated, swept back headlamps are quite detailed too. We haven’t really seen this level of detail on the headlamps of any car in this segment. The headlamps on the Zest feature LED rings around the projector lenses. The glow rings are reminiscent of the Corona Rings characteristic of BMW cars. Democratization of technology is increasingly bringing hitherto exclusive elements into mainstream cars and the Zest’s LED rings are a good example of the trickling down of modern tech to everyday cars.
The projector lamps on the Zest are a segment highlight and should lend the sedan with good illuminating power in the dark. The headlamps also have the pilot lamps and turn indicators integrated on the inner side.
Further below, the bumper houses a large central air dam with twin horizontal slats helping add some visual width to the car. You can see the car’s radiator behind those slats. The trapezoidal central air dam with rounded upper corners extends itself into black under-claddings below the bumper. Flanking the central air dam are fog lamp housings finished in black plastic. The fog lamp units housed in a barrel have boomerang shaped LED daytime lights below them. Turned on, the new LED lights lend the Zest’s fascia a unique character, especially on a dim, overcast day – like the one we shot the car in Goa on.
The Zest’s profile is defined by the strong beltline emanating from the front fender and traversing its mildly curved route through the door handles into the tail-lamps. This beltline is extremely pronounced at start, and softens towards the end as it culminates into the tail lamps.
One cannot miss the prominent second character line spanning the lower portion of the doors and adding some more athleticism to the car’s profile. What most eyes would miss, however, is the soft and subtle shoulder line, sitting right below the window sills. The mother of all inconspicuous creases, this line emanates a little after the headlamps, and traverses its way under the window sills (with a constantly reducing gap) and disappears like magic above the tail-lamps. You will have to have a hard look at the images of the car to find this one.
Window sills are lined by chrome, while the rest of the window frame is blacked out with the quarter panel of the front window being clad completely in black plastic. Sharply styled ORVMs feature a two-tone treatment with upper portion being body coloured and lower part done in black. The ORVMs on top spec Zest also feature turn signals.
Wheel arches are mildly flared with a slashed out, straight surface aligned vertically in the same plane as tyres for a chiseled effect. In conjunction with the 185 / 60 tyres shod on 15 inch 8 spoke alloys, the wheel area looks nice.
The Zest is at its zestiest at the rear in our humble opinion. He designers at Tata Motors have gone great lengths to bring those LED tail-lamps to life. LED light sources were made to emit light in the opposite direction, and then the light was uniformly scattered using reflectors to give the LED lamps their unique, homogenous, unbroken effect. They could have done it the easier and not so beautiful way, but easy is not the way forward anymore – we are told by the team at Tata Motors.
The brake light is lit by a normal bulb. The upper and lower portions of the tail-lamp are divided by the reverse light which is somewhat reminiscent of the Evoque’s headlamps. The tail-lamps are joined by a wide chrome garnish above the registration plate recess. The chrome slat has the Zest badging, Tata Motors Emblem, and XT variant (from L to R) badging above it, with the Revotron label below, on the right hand side.
The bumper has been designed to aid the apparent width of the car with a prominent crease below the boot lip, sweeping upwards towards the flanks and ending at the edge of the tail-lamps. The black under-cladding below the bumper seen at the front end can be witnessed at the rear as well.
With the Zest, Tata Motors are putting forth a new template for the design of the cars rolling out of their stable. While the Humanity and Trust Lines, the glowing rings in the headlamps, the strong beltline and the beautifully done LED tail-lamps are unique and excellent elements when looked at in isolation, the overall design still has some distance to go before its manages to evoke a coherent ‘wow’ factor. The Zest, as a whole still has the imprint of the current gen Tata cars. The Zest, then, is more evolutionary in pure design terms than revolutionary, and lays the foundation to more distinctive, more exhilarating products in the future.
We are told that Tata Motors is committed to launch two new products every year here-on, and the product plan is in place till 2020. That’s some real exciting news for us. In design terms, we anticipate that the Humanity and Trust Lines, which form the new face of Tata Motors, will take bolder, more fascinating forms to adorn the grilles of some really enchanting products. We cannot wait to see where this bristling new intent in design takes the Indian car brand.
In the meantime, the Zest comes across as an earnest effort from Tata Motors, which has its own strong points as regards design. A pleasant looking form overall, the Zest, in our humble opinion would have looked even better with a sharply raked shoulder line, lower placed boot and bonnet lines along and more horizontally aligned details to highlight its liberal width.