GivenWith the rise in demand for cars with an automatic transmission, it was only a matter ofjust about time beforethat an automatic transmission found its way into the Tata Nexon. Especially after it was showcased by Tata Motors at the 2018 Auto Expo. More than 28,000 Nexonshave hit the road since its launch, and it is one of the most sought-after and competitive crossovers in its segment. Furthermore, since the Nexon’s sales break-up between petrol and diesel mills is exactly 50 per cent, they’ve decided to offer the AMT gearbox on both engine options.
While enthusiasts wait for this iteration to show up in showrooms, we got a chance to drive the Nexon AMT from Pune to Panchgani, and back. Here’s what you need to know.
While there have been no updates to the exteriors of the Nexon, the unique design continues to attract fans. So you still get the striking butch stance with a sweeping roof-line, a pronounced crease along the profile, and the flared wheel arches that hold those large alloys with fat rubber.
The unique bit is that Tata Motors offers consumers an opportunity to go online and use their ‘Imaginator’ feature to customise their Nexon. It comes with loads loads ofof options that can be selected, plus there’s alsobesides the added convenience of paying and tracking the delivery of your favouriteNexononline.
The Nexon’scabin and interior detailing remains unchanged, other than the AMT gear lever of course! Ergonomics are spot-on, and since the touchscreen is placed so high on the dash, you really don’t have to take your eyes off the road for long. Although the Nexon is one of Tata’s better products when it comes to quality, you’ll still come across panel gaps lower down on the dashboard, and the control stalks and power window buttons could have been better finished. Plus, the glossy piano black finish around the centre console is prone to scratches.
There are lots of storage spaces (31 to be exact) where occupants can store their belongings. But we noticed that the narrow opening to the enclosure under the centre armrest constantly scratches your hands. When it comes to the Nexon’s seats, the front ones are quite large with lots of lateral support and plenty of legroom too. At the rear, the 60:40 contoured bench is spacious with good cushioning and an appropriate backrest angle. This, coupled with ample knee-room and wide proportions to seatthreecomfortably, makes for a rather relaxed journey.
The Nexon’sboot has the capacity to hold 350-litres of luggage, and when the need arises, it can swell to about 690-litres by dropping the rear seats.Although the Nexon AMT’s feature list remains largely the same as the XZ with a manual transmission, you now get Hill Assist. The XZA+ that we drove was equipped with the three drive modes Eco/City/Sport with tip-tronic transmission, a touchscreen system with Android Auto, wearable peps key, climate control, rear air-con vents and reverse camera with dynamic guide-lines, to name a few.
We got to drive both the petrol and diesel version of the Tata Nexon with the six-speed AMT gearbox, and we’ll start off with the diesel version first. Since we’ve already driven the diesel manual version earlier, the idea was to gauge how well the AMT gearbox fares. The 1.5-litre diesel motor’s 108bhp and 260Nm of torque just allows it to quickly get off the mark and gather speed with absolutely no fuss. There is some shift lag, like with all AMTs, especially when you’re gaining pace in a hurry. But essentially, the key is to hold revs when the shift is actuating and get on the throttle in a steady manner.
Just like its manual sibling, drivability is a strong point and there’s a meaty surge of power all the way to the 4500rpm redline,making overtaking a breeze. Most importantly, you can control the power output through the Eco, City and Sport drive modes, depending on your choice. It goes without saying that the Eco mode shunts the power output in the interest of extracting more fuel efficiency. On a personal note, I found myself driving in the manual tip-tronic mode where I could shift gears as per my driving style and situation.
But by all meansAll the same, it was the Nexon with the 1.2-litre petrol AMT which raised our eyebrows. We clearly remembered the manual version to have lots of turbo-lag below 2000rpm. This lag, along with its tall gears, meant that you had to work the manual gearbox constantly to keep it in the powerband for any sort of go at low speeds - a pain to drive in traffic. However, that’s changed for the better in the Nexon petrol AMT. Although it doesn’t get off the mark as strongly as the diesel version, the six-speed AMT has been programmed to hold gears and offer better response at lower speeds. This thankfully translates into adequate grunt in bumper-to-bumper traffic situations.
Of course, this motor originally didn’t have any concerns after the turbo spooled up, so performance post 2200rpm is more than sufficient. So whether it is keeping up with other cars at highway speeds, or that much needed overtake, this petrol AMT suffices. And to add to its list of repertoires, the three drive modes and the tip-tronic manual shifting feature is available here too. Just so that you can customise that driving experience.
In the ride and handling front, not much has changed despite being slightly heavier by about 20-40kg. On the whole, the petrol and diesel Nexon with AMT gearboxes behave similarly to manual transmission versions. Ride quality continues to be a strong point since it drives over the majority of our roads with a relatively flat ride overall. But that said, the petrol versions still benefit from better handling when compared to the diesels, owing to the lighter weight it has to haul around.
What works for the Nexon AMT is that it hits the nail with the convenience factor, especially for somebody who wants to own a trendy crossover in a city that’s clogged with traffic. Then, there are the added benefits of the good ride quality, the comfortable seats, spacious interiors with seating for five, isfeature-rich and is customisable to the teeth. On the flipside, some interior bits could have been better finished, and there’s a strong chance that niggling quality issues could crop up later.
However, the final call will essentially be madeafter Tata Motors announces the prices of the AMT versions, which we feel should hover between Rs 30,000-50,000 over the corresponding manual versions. For now, the Nexon AMT will lock horns with other AMTs such as the Ford EcoSport, Mahindra TUV300, Renault’s Duster and the MarutiErtiga.
Pictures by Kapil Angane