Tata’s ambitious new car is phenomenally impressive both inside and out, although there are few rough edges still around. With endearing prices, the Hexa won’t be a disappointment for sure.
Tata Motors has finally launched its much-awaited, flagship model ‘Hexa’ crossover in the domestic market, with a starting price tag of INR 11.99 lakhs. The car broke the covers at the 2016 Auto Expo, to much of my surprise as the production-model was pretty much close to the Hexa concept that debuted in 2015 Geneva Motor Show. It is modern-looking, well-equipped, qualitatively built, and relatively premium than its predecessor. To a wider car-buying people, what does that mean? Is the Hexa live up to its first impression, or fall back to the hapless perception of the Tata brand?
Although the brand image of Tata is not that first-rated among the Indian buyers, things have certainly improved after the advent of the Tiago hatchback. Sales have increased in the recent times, and the waiting period of the new hatch is long as well. Therefore, what we understand is that a good product that strike the right chord among the buyers definitely helps. The Hexa isn’t any different from Tiago in this regard, it is more than an Aria-facelift, though it still uses the same X2 Hydroformed ladder-frame chassis. It is refreshingly new inside the skin too, with the company reworking on every major components including the body panels. The new styling bring butch look of an SUV, in spite of the car’s vast body and MPV-ish glasshouse.
But the high point is where the size meets quality. That’s pretty much evident when you step inside, there is a crucial standard of quality maintained in every materials used – cabin plastics, roof lining, floor carpeting, leather seats, dashboard buttons, etc. That is quite appreciable, considering the track-record of Tata cars. The cabin is also well-laid out with essential functions, like superior cushioning seats, foldable armrests, adjustable lumbar support, high driving position, colourful 3.5-inch multi-info display for driver, and great-to-hold steering and switchgear. The cabin does offer ample amount of space, even in the third row. The second-row captain seats are lovely, while the luggage space is a bit restricted with all seats up (as in any 7-seater of this segment). Access to third row and the loading lip of the rear door is a bit tricky.
Driving the new Hexa is comfortable and surprisingly easy. Quite recently, I test-drove the top-end model with Varicor400 engine – a 2.2-litre unit generating 156 hp and 400 Nm of torque (available in XM and XT trims), paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine was quite responsive and the power delivery was linear, while the gearshifts are smooth. It wasn’t sporty and performance falls short of its rivals, yet gave a more involving driving feel, which matter more for buyers of this kind of car. The 6-speed manual gearbox, on the other hand, is a bit dull, has long throws, and clutch is not friendly either. The Hexa XE trim features the same engine, but with a lower output rating at 150 PS power and 320 Nm of torque.
The AWD system optional in the Hexa XT offers four driving modes to for the driver to choose. However, the automatic variant don’t even have the AWD as an option. The hydraulic steering is quite responsive, best suited for long drives on highway. Ride quality is largely impressive, easily wins over its rivals, while the handling is decent with some body-roll, considering the sheer dimension of the crossover. What is even more surprising its its off-road capabilities, hidden in a serene MPV garb! With large 19-inch wheels, 200mm ground clearance, and 4×4 (XT-manual), the top-end variants additional get Traction Control System, and Hill Hold and Descent Contros.
Also Read: 2017 Tata Hexa TUFF Edition – 2016 Auto Expo
The new Hexa display’s the best ability of Tata in every respect. It is attractive, both inside and out, performs relatively well than its predecessor as a premium 7-seater, and is equipped fairly with essential safety and off-road hardware. The Hexa’s only direct rival can be the Mahindra XUV500, as the Toyota Innova Crysta is way more pricey and upmarket. Tata has priced the car so competitively that it substantially enjoys a price advantage over the XUV500, making it a value-for-money car for all the goodies you get. Plus, the option of further personalisation is there as well, with the Luxe, Tuff and Expedition packages.
In a nutshell, if you can live with a ‘Tata’ for this price, the Hexa will hardly disappoint you! The best buy would be the automatic variant (either XMA or XTA), as it is more engaging and fun to drive.