Once in a while there are companies that spring a pleasant surprise and Tata Motors just did that. Not synonymous with aspirational vehicles (well, leaving JLR aside), they are trying hard to change perception of customers, reinventing & reforming themselves – one car at a time. Tiago was the first – and it’s a huge hit. Presenting the second such offering – TATA HEXA. A lifestyle vehicle par excellence
SUVs (or the slightly smaller MUVs) is one of the fastest growing segments and sales are skyrocketing across India. Tata had the Safari’s and Aria’s but never really made a dent in the market because of poor finish quality and issues with engines. Everything has changed with the HEXA and boy, have they arrived in style. Ever since TATA unveiled it at the Delhi Auto Show 2016, people have been waiting for it anxiously.
At the launch event for Bloggers in Hyderabad last weekend organised by Tata Motors in collaboration with IndiBloggers, the very first glimpse of the HEXAs took our breath away.
Two HEXA, each accessorized with Rhino Racks and other items, were jaw dropping good looking — rugged, tough, masculine, premium!
The first official session started off with the Tata Motors team sharing the thought process on launching a new SUV and what really mattered to the customers. Richard, the Design Head had everyone mesmerized while sharing the design philosophy and how the new product came about from scratch. All the innovations and features of the SUV were explained in details and if they intended to impress all of us – they succeeded! The importance of technology and mobility was made evident from the fact that the team announced 5 new Apps all catered to give the HEXA owner full control of the lighting, music navigation etc., not to mention a smart owners manual and service connect. The emphasis was clearly on differentiated & premium experience for HEXA buyer – before and after purchase.
Summing it all up was the punchy catch line: POWER PACKED drive in a FEATURE LOADED machine for an ADRENALINE PUMPED experience!!
The 2nd day plan had everyone jumping off the seats. A 170 km test drive on both AT & MT starting 6 am the next day!! We couldn’t wait to get our hands on the beasts now. A short Q&A session saw the gathering breaking off for a night of fun & food in the lovely Hyderabad evening.
Sunday morning, a record of sorts – 100% attendance on time, at 6 am after breakfast & check-out. You can gauge our excitement.We were greeted with 20 gleaming HEXAs in AT & MT configurations – lined up like beauty contest contestants. Wow!!
Every team of 3 members was given a AT / MT for the first phase, with navigation system configured for the route. Couple of Tata Motors team members and a support car with every team showed the planning and sincerity of the organizers to ensure a flawless and safe experience. Each car was flagged off by their senior management and off we went to the expressway > NH > SH for a ride of our life.
Everybody was dying to get their hands dirty so the 30 km stretch for each person went off in a zippy. Photo shoot stopover in between had to happen and almost all cars stopped by a lovely meadow for taking snaps. We finally reached a Resort for changeover of cars and refreshments.
The amazing planning of the Tata / Wizcraft team was evident at every turn – right from direction signboards, to members standing next to the Toll booth for payment, to the large 10+ member cleaning squad at the resort for a thorough cleanup of the cars before handover (MT to AT drivers and vice versa). The professionalism and eye for details was top notch – kudos to the Organizers.
We had first driven the AT and now zoomed off with the MT version at all earnest. It was zipping through the roads and we finished the 85 Kms non-stop in less than an hour flat. There was more to come and it was time for ‘ADRENALINE PUMPED’ experience on the 4×4 model with expert drivers. We were all zipped up and reached the specially designed course. The first one was to demonstrate the stability and suspension in a potholed stretch that reminded me of Mumbai roads after monsoons. The stretch was dug up seriously deep and filled with water. The HEXA just went straight in and while most of us were thinking that there was no way it can come up … lo & behold, with minimal effort – of the driver and car, we were up and away. Trust me it was not a joke and the pics below will show the same.
Then was a test of stability at some 45° angle and the car was in full control, with no loss of engine functionality in the full stretch. The third test was the ice block slope to show how the EPS worked in icy conditions to prevent skidding and transferred power to the right wheels to ensure a smooth crossing. We were stunned, not to mention salivating for more (and requests of re-runs of-course !!).
The next phase to show the handling in jungle / mountain terrains (it brought back memories of our trip to Masai Mara a year back where we roamed around in Land Rovers). Here the Hill Hold Control and Hill Descent Control came live. It was up and down a dusty slope of 45° and again the car was in full control even going down-slope on neutral with no feet on the brakes, the speed automatically being controlled at 8 kmph at a very steep incline. It was brilliant. The difference between Dynamic (max acceleration and power) and Rough Road was explained on a sandy stretch with full speed acceleration and braking. The huge 2.2T beast stopped within a few feet, no skidding or loss of stability. It was Wow! This is one Beauty and a Beast that can handle everything that’s thrown at it – without taking even a gulp. Impressive will be an understatement.
The two days ended with a bang and not a single participant was left with any doubt that we were looking at history in the making. This should change the perception and brand imagery of Tata Motors for sure and no question that with HEXA, they have a sure winner. Only questions left unanswered were Mileage and Pricing that will be shared around mid- January ’17.
The effort made by Tata Motors & IndiBlogger team, along with Wizcraft, their media agency etc. was absolutely flawless and nothing was left to chance. We couldn’t have asked for more. Thank you all for the lovely experience and we cannot wait to see HEXA hit the market and succeed.
For all those who are interested in every feature and details – here’s the same with my observations.
Design & Features: The Global design team spread across India, Italy & UK have tried to get the best of all worlds. The new IMPACT design philosophy is brilliant and while people find ‘inspirations’ taken from the Land Rovers – the overall result is fantastic.
Exterior: The slightly sloping roof and the side profile makes the car look robust and stylish at the same time. At 4788 mm length, 1751 mm height and 1903 mm wide, its longer than its obvious competitor (the XUV 500) but a wee bit shorter. It doesn’t look as bulky and the sleeker design really works well. Liberal use of Chrome – right from the ‘Humanity’ Line in the signature grill, handles, side view mirrors, exhausts, step plates etc., gives the right premium feel to the overall look. Dual colored Bumpers looks great.
With 200 mm ground clearance and the best in class 235/55 R 19 Tyres with 19” Alloy Wheels – it made the whole off road experience a delight, other than giving the SUV a really tough look. The other stand out feature was the striking DRL integrated with the stylized fog lamps. It has rain sensing wipers and automatic headlamps as default.
Interior: This was always a trouble area for Tata Motors and they have done a brilliant job here. The all black sporty interior not only looks but feels great. Loved the sculpted seats with ‘Benecke-Kaliko’ leather feel upholstery. It’s very comfortable in long rides – both for driver and passengers.
Did not sit in the last row but from the looks, it can be a little cramped up there. It has an 8 way adjustable driver seat and flexible seating configurations in 2nd and 3rd rows. Seating options – 6 seater Captain Seats (excellent) and 7 seater Fold & Tumble
The rear seat Sunblind’s are a very useful addition.
CONS: Have to mention these two.
- Lack of driver armrest is a MAJOR drawback and makes it very uncomfortable in long drives. In the AT model, did not know what to do with my left hand that was dangling all the way
- The cheap black plasticy appearance of the side panels in the last row. Looked bad especially as the feel in the first two rows in excellent. They need to improve this somehow
Instrument Panel: Loved the digital Gear indicator with RPM limit indicator (green turns to red if it goes beyond 3500 rpm). It shows the driving mode in different colors when you select the same, time, temperature, fuel and distance all in a small but clearly visible display.
Central Fascia Display: This one is completely revamped with a programmable Multi Information Display taking the centre stage. The brilliant 5” ‘Connectnext’ Infotainment System from Harman is easy to use. It changes seamlessly to reverse camera and parking sensor and back and has smartphone integration.
Below it is a small panel (selective buttons available as per model for activating Hill Descent etc,) followed by the AC control panel. It has Automatic Temperature control with rear vents for all three rows
The USB and 12V points lie below, just above the gear shift. Same panel is there in the floor console in the 2nd row above some retractable glass holders. The MT model has the Driver Mode knob there as well for easy shift while driving
Storage: The Glove compartment is slightly small. There are some 29 utility spaces overall and more than enough space for keeping bottles etc. in the sides, papers etc. under the armrest etc. Boot space at 120L (all seats up) looks small but with the last row folded, you can fit in everything you need. It boasts of some 617 litres of boot space in certain configurations.
Steering: Adjustable. Very comfortable grip and feel with volume, lights & cruise controls
ORVM: Electronically adjustable and fold-able with demister
Music System: Deserves a separate mention. The 10 JBL branded music speaker system frankly blew us away. We listened from everything from Hotel California and Chikni Kalaiyaan and the clarity, rich bass was simply brilliant
Engine: This is a big one. At 2280 Kgs, the car is a whopping 500 Kgs heavier than the XUV 500 but the new 2.2L VARICOR 400 Diesel engine generating 156PS @4000 rpm makes the drive a breeze. It simple glides over all terrains effortlessly across all modes. It offers class defining 400 Nm Torque at 1700-2700 rpm … not to mention that the AWD Model has an adaptive system by Borg Warner with ‘Torque on Demand’ feature. 60L Fuel Tank capacity seems a little less sadly
Drive Modes: This is another effort by the Tata team to offer some amazing driving comfort & stability across terrains at a twist of a knob. The MT version has ‘Super Drive Modes – AUTO, COMFORT, DYNAMIC AND ROUGH ROAD’ which changes the ESP, Engine Performance and responsiveness, Torque on demand and other features. We saw the change in acceleration and breaking distance immediately in the 4×4 when we tried the last two options. Its significant and not just for show
Transmission: We first drove the AT and it took a few minutes to get used to. The responsiveness is really good and the drive was smooth … too smooth sometimes and I had no idea what to do with my left hand and feet 😉 There was a little lag at low gears when overtaking which is expected. 6 Speed AT with straight line shift (P/R/N/D functions) with Sports and Manual mode
The MT was brilliant and the spacing and responsiveness was amazing. 6 Speed Synchromesh with perfect ratios – we zipped across the highways at 5th and 6th gear and the shift was smooth and effortless. The display on dashboard helped as the drive is so smooth you will be lost sometime as to which gear you are on.
Special Mention: Hill Hold Control (HHC) and Hill Descent Control (HDC) feature is just amazing and so useful. The HDC, enabled by a button in the central console, controls descent on inclined surfaces and even on a 45° slope
Safety & Stability: 6 Airbags in all models, not even seen in some top end SUVs. ABS with EBD and Traction Control System.
I loved the new ESP (Electronic Stability System) which came into play especially in the AWD off-road demo. It adapts to the different driving models seamlessly for a safe and comfortable driving experience
Smartphone Applications: The last, not the least … 5 new applications to give you complete control – on-demand mobility service. These include ConnectNext, NAVIMAPs, Juke-Car, Tata Smart Remote and Tata Smart Manual Applications
Ambient Mood Lighting: Eight colors for in cabin lighting as per your mood
Additional details available at: http://hexa.tatamotors.com/