Tata Nexon EV review: All powered up

The Nexon EV works superbly as a city car. It is quick off the mark and effortless to drive

The Nexon EV is Tata’s second attempt at an all-electric vehicle after the Tigor EV. While the latter was developed with a focus on commercial markets, the Nexon EV is squarely targeted at private individuals.

Styling is in-line with the Nexon facelift, with new projector headlamps with LED DRLs, a new grille, a new bumper, and a flatter bonnet to meet the upcoming pedestrian crash safety norms. The new 16-inch alloys are lighter at each corner by almost a kilo. The tail-lamps get revised LED elements, and the bumpers feature some styling tweaks. Completing the EV’s look are blue highlights and tri-arrow design elements across the exteriors.

Tata Nexon EV review: All powered up

Inside, there are few changes to the dashboard aside from the blue highlights. The steering is new, and the instrument cluster is now part-digital, with a coloured display showcasing information related to battery charge, drive mode, range etc. There is a new rotary ‘gear’ selector too. However, it isn’t the most convenient to use, as it is slow to respond and illegible in direct sunlight, which means you have to rely on the instrument panel to see the mode you are in. The seats and space on offer remain unchanged from the regular Nexon; so these are as comfortable as before, with a good amount of support, and well-judged cushioning.

Tata Nexon EV review: All powered up

Tata has equipped the entire EV range with its latest ZConnect eSIM-based connectivity, that gets 35 features for remote commands, as well as location-based and security services, among others.

Powering the EV is a permanent magnet motor putting out 129hp and 245Nm of torque, drawing power from a 30.2kWh under-floor battery pack. This EV’s ARAI-certified range is 312km.

Tata claims a charge time of 60 minutes for an 80 percent charge using a DC fast charger, and an eight-hour charge (20-100 percent) time using the 15A charger provided with the car.

Tata Nexon EV review: All powered up

The battery pack conforms to the IP67 standard of protection, and also has an AIS 48 rating; which means that this EV is likely to easily sail through flooded roads, switch off automatically if trapped underwater, and even take the regular abuse of our road conditions throughout its lifespan.

Initial impressions of the powertrain are very good. Just as you’d expect from an electric vehicle, a tap on the accelerator delivers an immediate corresponding response; though power doesn’t flow in a big unregulated rush, but in a wonderfully linear manner, allowing for smooth progress in urban driving conditions. Even darting into traffic gaps feels effortless, as there is more than enough surge for daily usage. Performance, however, flattens out the harder you press on the throttle, and as speed builds.

Switch to ‘S’ and the EV feels a lot more aggressive. Responses are much stronger, but aren’t as well measured, as the front wheels often struggle for traction when you stomp on the accelerator, especially on winding sections of road. In ‘S’, the car continues to run on or accelerate for a second or so even after you’ve lifted off the throttle, which is a bit disconcerting; but performance is strong. Our testing equipment showed a 0-100kph acceleration time of just 9.64sec in ‘S’, whereas, in ‘D’, it took 13.75sec. Flat out, the Nexon EV will max out at 120kph.

There is a bit of a learning curve for those transitioning to this EV from conventional internal combustion cars. The car never coasts; instead, it decelerates the moment you lift-off. This regeneration function uses the car’s momentum to recharge its battery; but this feature is not adjustable.

Furthermore, despite the hill-start assist, the car rolls back a foot or more on an incline before setting off, which can be a bit disconcerting. The hill-descent control holds the car’s speed at around 20kph while driving down a slope, but it isn’t the configurable crawl function seen in standard SUVs paired to their ESP systems.

Moving to the ride, the suspension has been tweaked to accommodate the car’s additional weight, so the ride is a bit firmer at lower speeds. It is also busier over broken sections, with large potholes registering with a harder thump. Up the speed, however, and it comfortably rounds off the bumps and road imperfections.

Handling is sharp and well-balanced, and in combination with the SUV’s low centre of gravity — thanks to the under-floor battery pack — makes direction changes quick and fun. The tight body control and superbly calibrated brakes only load you up on confidence.

Tata Nexon EV review: All powered up

The Nexon EV works superbly as a city car. It is quick off the mark, effortless to drive and feels so familiar to ICE cars, most drivers will be happy to swap. The S mode will appeal to those looking for bursts of performance with strong brakes and tidy handling to make it fun-to-drive as well. Then there is the comfortable cabin, and kit like connected car tech, a sunroof and auto lights and wipers; so there is plenty to get excited about here.

A lot, however, depends on driving range in the real world. Despite the ARAI figure of 312km, real-world range is likely to be around 180-220km, depending on the driving style; only just about enough.

Tata has priced the Nexon EV at ₹13.99 lakh for the entry-level XM variant and at ₹15.99 lakh for the top-spec Nexon EV XZ+ LUX (ex-showroom, pan-India). This means that the base EV costs ₹1.29 lakh more than the most expensive diesel-automatic version of the Nexon facelift. Also, don’t forget the ₹4-6 per kilometre or so you are likely to save on running costs, and the warranty on the electric motor and battery pack.

Those of you looking for a more definitive verdict will have to wait for some more time for a detailed road test, where real-world range is not an unknown factor. One thing is for sure, the Nexon EV is clearly one of the most promising electric vehicles to go on sale yet.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 10:59:56 AM |

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