The Nexon has been a runaway success, single-handedly responsible for turning the tables around for Tata and our collective consciousness with its EV variant. Crucially, the design language set in motion by the previous Head of Design saw a change of guard in the interim and this, the 2023 Nexon is much more than a mere facelift. It’s almost a re-interpretation of the popular crossover with the only commonality being the door panels and a vaguely similar side profile. Things do take a very interesting turn…
Tata Nexon review
Back with more bite
Sequentially speaking, of course. All LED and with animation to welcome you or say goodbye, both the new face and rear end get a complete overhaul of lighting elements that look decidedly futuristic. Even with its compact stance, it manages to look butch without looking unwieldy, giving it enough SUV credentials with a generous 208mm ground clearance, high bonnet line and strong fenders. The light bar connecting the tail lights brings the rear end to 2023 trends with some neat touches like a concealed rear wash/wipe under the roof spoiler. Squint and you might even see some easter eggs strewn around the Nexon.
Inside the cabin is where the designers have really earned their bonus, starting with the all-new corporate steering wheel design. It’s a two-spoke, floating design with the ‘T’ logo now illuminated, but cleverly, the illumination is linked to the headlights so it won’t be staring back at you when you’re parked by the kerbside. Banks on either side of the centre boss, cruise control and media/voice assistant buttons do the job as expected. It’s a great feeling steering but the fit could’ve been a bit better in terms of alignment of the centre boss with the side buttons. Also, a small purple colour swatch on the flat bottomed end is common to all exterior colours, regardless of what colour the car is.
Gaze upwards and you get a brilliant new full digital instrument cluster mated to a similar-sized 10.2in Harman infotainment touchscreen, running on the new iRA 2.0 platform. It gets more connectivity and six languages of voice assistant support, besides having Amazon Alexa baked into the system. As long as you don’t speak Amatakka, you’re covered. The infotainment display itself is super crisp, bright and high on contrast with ultra-thin bezels that instantly give it a modern look and feel. The touch response is slick without lag but the OS itself could’ve been a bit more logical.
There are plenty of things to like though, like the wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto implementation along with Apple Maps or Google Maps displayed in the instrument cluster, in the driver’s line of sight. Yes, finally! Mind you though, due to Apple’s firewall, only Apple Maps will be shown on the cluster display if you’re using an iPhone. It will display Google Maps on an iPhone of course, but you’ll have to resort to the main infotainment display in that case, like on a conventional CarPlay screen. A cooled wireless charging pad is conveniently located on the center console too, so you can let it stay hydrated while wirelessly accessing all your apps via the two displays
But Tata has taken out time to improve on the essentials like the rear-view camera with high resolution and throws in a blind spot assist view and a 360-degree cam too. Not that the Nexon needs four eyes to park, but it’s always a nice convenience to have in our sardine can-like environments. Even the 9-speaker JBL sound system now comes with DSP sound modes that can widen the soundstage, enhance the bass, focus on vocal clarity or interestingly, even quieten the back of the cabin if you have tender-eared passengers or sleeping kids. It’s literally called “Kids Sleeping in Back” mode and deactivates the rear speakers and only lets the mid and high frequencies through the front channels for a music fill as opposed to the full attack with the subwoofer engaged. In terms of sound, it’s not as refined as the Bose option available in the Korean competition, but it does get plenty loud and with mindful setting of the tone controls and presets, can provide hours of fatigue-free entertainment.
Around the sunroof controls, SOS and emergency breakdown service hotkeys have been added too, making one-touch assistance possible in times of need. Elsewhere, buttons have been deleted to make room for a capacitive climate control module lower down but what works in its favour is the retention of toggle controls for the all-important fan speed and temperature control, the two most often used settings. If only they had also retained a physical volume control knob.
Helping immensely on long journeys will also be the newly profiled seats and no, it’s not the purple that makes them more comfortable. The enhanced bolstering provides excellent lateral support and they also get height adjustment and ventilation on both front seats. The rear bench is plush too, with generous underthigh support and a height that allows for clean views outside the glasshouse.
Nothing much has changed mechanically on the new Nexon, except the mating of the petrol engine with their DCA (Dual Clutch Automatic) transmission in addition to the less-sophisticated AMT. The 120hp petrol motor is smoother than the diesel but does suffer from turbo lag like all small capacity turbo 3-pots, but the Sport drive mode helps mask it to a degree and now you also get paddle shifters to keep things in the powerband. The DCA works well for the most part, offering a much more comfortable and seamless shifting experience than the AMT ever could or will. But more than performance, it’s the ride quality that sets it apart from the competition around the B-roads of Jaipur which also led me through narrow fields and villages with no tarmac, the Nexon never ruffled my feathers or its own. It manages to plough through the bad or the worse, emphasising its heightened cabin insulation now. The newly designed 16in aero wheels not only look good but offer a quieter drive too. It’s a quiet and pleasant place to be in, as long as you don’t get too boy racer about things.
On the other hand, the diesel feels gruff in comparison with a manual gearbox that has a light clutch to work with, but not the slickest shifts. It makes me wait for the Nexon EV all the more, which would be a born winner given the updates Tata has made to this platform in terms of tech and cabin quality. There are a few hard plastics and sharp edges here and there, but overall, with the purple hue on the Fearless variant of the petrol Nexon, Tata has boldly gone where no brand has gone before and I hope it pays off. It’s a far cry from the boring beige and sullen blacks but it works with the bright purple exterior paint option on the top-end variants. It’s daring, fresh and most importantly, shows Tata’s intent to have fun with this platform. Expect constant special editions through this Nexon’s life cycle.
The price points will see an upward tick no doubt, thanks to the DCA transmissions and the slew of new tech-based features. But how big a dent will that be on your wallet? We’ll be finding out next week when Tata announces the prices for all three powertrains.
If the Nexon EV that launches next week is too much of a stretch, the petrol variant is the one that best distils the values of the all-new Nexon. Futuristic, connected and just plain gorgeous to look at, it’s a car that is bound to appeal to different people at different levels and sure enough, the diesel will have its fair share of interested long-distance commuters too, but if you must reap the benefits of the Tata team’s work, the petrol should be your choice.
The new Nexon only highlights how stunning the EV package will be, but until then, the petrol variant is the one that gets our vote.
|3cyl turbo petrol / 4cyl turbo diesel
|120hp, 170Nm / 115hp, 260Nm
|215/60 R16 / 195/65 R16