Tata Hexa Facelift Review & Test Drive

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Tata Hexa Overview

The drubbing that Tata’s large MPV, the Aria, suffered in the market place can be attributed to two shortcomings, both of which were amply highlighted by two of its rivals. Firstly, the Aria wasn’t appealing enough. Its MPV-like form paled in comparison to the distinctly SUV design of Mahindra’s XUV500 that followed into the market shortly after. Secondly, Tata and the Aria couldn’t pull off the price premium like Toyota’s Innova did, and continues to do so. Now over five years after the Aria hit the market, Tata is aiming to shake things up with an SUV, so they say, derived from the Aria, the Tata Hexa. On our first drive, we find out just how much of an SUV the Hexa really is and just how different it is from the Aria before it.

Tata Hexa Look

That’s not entirely wrong — nestled in the thoroughly restyled exterior is a similar headlamp shape and side profile to the erstwhile Tata Aria. A glance at the spec sheet shows that it shares the same wheelbase, which reminds that the Hexa is based on an upgraded Aria chassis. Why? Tata needed to get a fresh product out quickly, and developing a new platform from ground up would simply take too much time. Thus, the Hexa. Check for Tata Hexa price in Mumbai at Tryaldrive.

Despite the familiar silhouette, the Hexa is a handsome machine. The new upright bonnet line above the grille is a concept taken from the Land/Range Rovers and adds a lot of character as do the flat surfaces on the top of the new projector headlamps. Big air dams in the bumper housing both daytime running lamps and fog lamps add to the butch theme. Tata has tastefully injected some character into the side profile with a couple of kinks in the rear window line, and I really like the new tail lamps with those cool LED accent lights. Going with the new design are a set of giant 19-inch wheels, the biggest ever seen on an India-made car! The wheels are wrapped in MRF Wanderer S/L tyres that have been specifically made for the Hexa. While they look great, bear in mind that such large tyres will probably be quite expensive to replace.

Tata Hexa Comfort

Let’s first talk about what’s changed the least on the inside – the space. It’s a big car so it has a big room, right? Well, not quite. Its beefy body-on-frame construction eats up a lot of space when compared to a similarly-sized SUV with a monocoque chassis. Still, there’s more than ample room for five; it’s just that the last row is best for two people only. Boot space is surprisingly good with all the seats in place; you could get a mid-size suitcase in here, although you will have to haul it high up over the tall sill.

Similarly, access to the cabin is quite a climb up and across the wide door sills. On to the seats, and at the front, you’ll be impressed at how well Tata has crafted the big chairs. The contrast-stitched faux leather feels suitably rich. The cushioning, which uses multi-density foam, is a touch too firm but has the bolstering just where you need it. Our only small grouse is the ‘lump’ around the H-point of the seat which, rather than adding to the support, feels like you’ve sat on your mobile phone. The thick A-pillar can initially cause a blind spot but you learn to look around it. The car’s size and the high driving position can be a little overwhelming until you get used to it.To know more info on Tata Hexa check Thebigtrak

If you want to replicate the comfort of the front seats in the middle row, you can do so on the top-spec XT trims of the Hexa with its two individual chairs. The only downside of these, apart from reducing the seating capacity to six, is that they don’t tumble forward and this limits maximum boot space; also, it’s easier to just walk between them to access the back row. A conventional split-folding bench comes as standard, but even here, accessing the third row isn’t easy. It has to be slid all the way back to tumble forward properly, and then too its immense weight makes it quite a task. Moreover, the Hexa’s huge rear wheel arches make access tricky, to begin with. Still, when in place, even the bench seat is really comfortable, supportive and spacious, although the middle passenger has a large central AC console to deal with. What does give you that ‘executive’ feeling in the middle row is the window shade that can be raised to keep the heat out quite effectively.

Finally, the third row – it’s quite a comfy place for two. The high floor chassis means you sit a bit knees-up of course, but it’s not as bad as some other ladder-frame SUVs. The advantage of the MPV-like squared-off rear is that head and shoulder room isn’t compromised in the third row. In fact, you can even recline the backrest, and there are also adjustable headrests. There are, of course, air-con vents for all three rows, but the blower is really quite loud, and when fully cranked up it, can overpower even the engine noise.

So, space and comfort are a highlight in the Hexa but you’ll agree that what really wows you about the interior is the quality of materials. It’s on a level thus far unseen from Tata Motors, and for once has a design to match. The dashboard isn’t a dull collection of flat surfaces anymore. The central stack has a variety of colours, textures and surfaces; here too, like with the exterior, excessive chrome has been substituted with other finishes, like piano black and dull grey plastics. Panel gaps are impressively few and even so, the dark colour scheme helps conceal them. The quality of the switchgear is also rather good (there are even knurled knobs and door locks), apart from a few places like the steering control buttons which feel tiny and fiddly to use. The upper glove box also has a terribly tricky-to-use unlock button for its latch.

What is quite an annoyance, though, is the prioritisation of storage spaces in the cabin. Sure, there are generous pockets with bottle holders in every door, and though individually not very big, the dual glove boxes together provide sufficient storage; if you’re in the driver’s seat, you’ll be left wanting. There is just one cup holder and a recess under the central armrest that’s much smaller than you think. So your phone, iPod, wallet, toll tickets and a cup of coffee are all vying for the same tiny spot. Also, there’s no room for a dead pedal in the manual version, so you have no place to rest your clutch foot.

Tata Hexa Transmission

While the Hexa’s engine has been derived from the 2.2-litre unit seen in the Aria, in its Varicor 400 guise it has been extensively revamped. Girish Wagh, Sr Vice President, Product Planning at Tata Motors, explained that the block, head, intake and turbo systems have been revamped to deliver higher power and torque density and greater levels of refinement. The four-cylinder engine makes 156hp and 400Nm of torque which is channelised through a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic. Upon start up, the engine feels reasonably quiet; although, getting going smoothly from standstill requires some getting used to as the light clutch has a very sudden bite. Also, considerable effort is required to change gears and slotting into fifth required plenty of guess work, too.

Easy drivability is a strength of this engine, with the turbo spooling up nice and early, letting you amble along in one gear. On the move you can haul the rev needle to the 4600rpm limiter if need be. The performance through that rev range is adequate, not exciting; no doubt, weighed down by the Hexa’s considerable 2280kg kerb weight. On the move the engine remains reasonably quiet till around 3200rpm.

Using Bosch’s ESP 9.0, the Hexa packs traction control, hill hold control and hill descent control. This combined with engine modes and on-demand all-wheel drive has allowed Tata Motors to offer drive modes – Auto, Dynamic, Comfort and Off-Road. For instance in Comfort, the sudden spike in torque is softened for a smoother drive experience, and the gentle responses are also used to help improve fuel efficiency. In Dynamic mode, the performance of the engine is unhindered and the ESP intervention is also delayed. While in other modes the all-wheel drive mode is engaged only when required with as much as 45 per cent of the torque being sent to the front wheels, in Off-road mode all four wheels get drive consistently. The ESP is also recalibrated in this mode to suit loose surfaces.

The combination that really impressed on our first drive was the one equipped with the automatic. The 6-speed gearbox, originally a GM design, makes the best of the engine character, shifting before the 3000rpm mark to make the experience all the more easy going. The shifts from the ‘box aren’t lightning quick, but in normal driving conditions it always seems to know what you want and hence feels natural to drive. In Sport mode the gearbox shifts down aggressively to keep the engine rpm in the 3-4000rpm range for maximum punch. You could even control the gear shifts by tapping the gear lever forward or back.

Tata Hexa Riding

On the face of it, the Hexa has a number of things that could work against it on the dynamics front – its immense weight, ladder-frame chassis, long wheelbase, robust 4×4 system, 19-inch wheels – and those things considered, it really pulls off something impressive. The ride quality first; it is really good. You will get quite a bit of steering shock (although not the worst we’ve seen in this sort of car) that’s typical of ladder-frame SUVs when you hit a sharp bump. There’s an underlying firmness that you’re constantly aware of, but at very few points could you call it harsh or uncomfortable. The truth is, the Hexa’s variable-rate dampers do a phenomenal job of tackling various road conditions and keep things comfy in the cabin no matter what. It’s at its best out on the highway, with a supremely flat ride and very little movement. What you’ll also be impressed by is how silently it goes about its business; very little suspension, tyre and road noise makes it to the cabin.

Handling expectedly is not in the same league as an SUV with a monocoque chassis. The Hexa rolls around a lot, although, it has to be said that there is a lot of grip, especially in the 4×4 version. The bigger issue, however, is that it just feels too large and heavy for you to ever dream of pushing it even remotely hard around a corner. The hydraulic steering has a bit of slack at the centre position, and is really heavy at low speeds, making parking this big hulk quite a task. This is slightly less pronounced in the 4×2 version, likely because of the lack of front driveshafts. Also, the lack of reach adjustment for the steering is a bit annoying, and you do feel like the wheel is canted slightly forward on the whole.

Tata Hexa Safety

Absolutely. We can’t speak for how well the entry models will be specced just yet, but the top models have a comprehensive safety net. ABS with EBD is standard and the brakes also have a prefill feature – lift off the accelerator suddenly and the hydraulic pressure in the brake lines will be increased to provide stronger braking performance if the driver depresses the brake. This provides harder braking in emergency situations with less pedal effort. Six airbags, ESP with traction control, hill hold and height adjustable seat belts round off the safety package.

Tata Hexa Price in Mumbai

Tata Hexa On Road Price is 15,84,719/- and Ex-showroom Price is 12,99,000/- in Mumbai. Tata Hexa comes in 5 colours, namely Arizone Blue,Platinum Silver,Pearl White,Tungsten Silver,Sky Grey. Tata Hexa comes with RWD with 2179 CC Displacement and 4 Cylinders with Maximum Power 148 bhp@4000 rpm and Peak Torque 320 Nm@1700-2700 rpm DRIVE TRAIN RWD and reaches 100 KMPH at N/A . Tata Hexa comes with Manual Transmission with RWD .

Tata Hexa Final Word

The Hexa is a big improvement over the Aria, big enough to justify Tata’s claims of it being a brand-new car. Despite some grey areas (sorry, couldn’t help myself there!), build quality is at a new height for the brand, and the maturing design direction shows great promise for how Tata’s next-generation vehicles will appear. The features list is comprehensive and the driving experience is quite nice as well. In that sense, while not a revolutionary new product, it is now better equipped to take on competition like the Mahindra XUV500. The big question, of course, is whether it can stand up to the Innova Crysta, which is an absolute beast of a rival. The highly priced Crysta is already a big success, partly as it’s an impressive vehicle, but mainly because it was birthed on its predecessor’s incredibly strong image for quality, durability and resale value.

The Tata Hexa ironically carries the brand’s baggage for quite opposite qualities. Good pricing at the Jan 2017 launch will be the first step in the Hexa’s fortunes. We expect it to be priced between Rs 12-18 lakh, perhaps with a lower entry point if Tata launches a stripped-down model. If Tata nails the pricing, the Hexa then has to prove its long-term quality and reliability. This is something the Tiago is already attempting to do, but as with the smaller Tata, only time will tell.

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