When Tata introduced its BS6 Nexon facelift back in January 2020, the updates included refreshed styling (both in and out), a longer list of features, and better breathing versions of the same engines. It couldn’t have come at a more apt time as the car had started to show its age (originally launched in 2017). As for the BS6 turbocharged powertrains, it’s the 1.2-litre petrol and the 1.5-litre diesel; both available with either a six-speed manual gearbox or an AMT unit. We were able to get our hands on the diesel variant with a manual gearbox. Here’s what you need to know if you were looking to splurge on one.
The updated Nexon takes the already contemporary styling to the next level. For one, you can easily binge-watch on the refreshed nose that’s got sleeker headlamps with them scintillating tri-arrow internals as the DRLs, and sharp alloys. Admittedly, the flush use of silver trim to highlight the fog lamp section plus those cutesy wind-mill designs lend it tonnes of appeal; even at the rear. What’s more, the Nexon stands out due to the unique white-band streak that flows on to the boot-lid and is complemented by the raked roofline that’s adorned in the same shade.
On the inside, one can spot the all-new digital instrumentation cluster, a lively textured finish on the dash with brighter coloured trim, and the new attractive steering from the Tiago/Altroz, all of which make the cabin feel exceedingly refreshing. Everything else is similar to the earlier car, so you continue to get superior visibility and facile ingress thanks to its doors swinging almost 90-degrees.
As for the cabin, some soft-touch materials would have tremendously improved the feel, however, hard plastic is what you get. Also, the glossy inserts may look swell but they reflect harshly under the sun. Even ergonomics in some areas aren’t up to the mark, like the upright stalks and the protruding centre console that makes using the dead pedal (intended for comfort) more uncomfortable.
In terms of practicality, it’s up there with the best, thanks to numerous stowage areas. Moreover, owing to its spaciousness, there’s ample shoulder- and head-room in the front row which is further complemented by the comfy seat-cushioning all over. Even seating three passengers at the rear doesn’t break a sweat. Lastly, what augments the 350-litre boot is the 60:40 split-folding rear bench that’s otherwise great for big suitcases and some soft bags.
Features-wise, this XZ+ variant gets projector headlamps with LED DRLS, sunroof, auto AC, cruise control, digital instrument cluster, rear parking sensors, and also the ‘IRA’ feature for its connectivity needs. In terms of safety, the Nexon boasts of a five-star NCAP safety rating, dual airbags, tyre pressure monitoring, ISOFIX fasteners, ESP and traction control, hill and brake assist, and more.
To start with, power remains unchanged with a similar 108bhp/260Nm from the BS6 1.5-litre Revotorq diesel motor that’s offered with either a six-speed manual or an AMT gearbox. We have the manual variant for this review. Now, unlike most diesels, this one needs some extra initial revving to get it off the mark, which is surprising because the paperwork mentions that maximum torque supposedly flows in from 1,500rpm.
In reality, the true momentum only happens once past 2,000rpm. At which point, the engine gets noisy and feels strained, which shouldn’t be the case. But if you can put the unrefined nature and slow-speed flexibility aside, there’s a rather abundant and strong mid-range in store. As the turbo kicks in, the strong power delivery mildly pins the occupants into their seats.
With so much mid-range grunt, there’s never a driving need that requires one to drag the motor to its 4,000rpm redline. Plus, on highways, frequent downshifts won’t be required to keep the momentum up and a quick overtake is as simple as flooring the throttle so that the turbo-boost takes care of the rest. The key here is to keep the revs just over 2,000rpm for optimum responses.
As for the gearbox, although notchy, the reasonably light clutch diffuses the effort substantially, for instance, in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Besides that, there are three driving modes - Eco, City, and Sport. Granted that the changes are barely noticeable, while ‘Eco’ is the least responsive due to its undivided focus on frugality, ‘Sport’ makes this engine the most alive and noisy. Overall, ‘Comfort’ is the best bet for most relaxed driving chores.
The ride and handling department is where the Nexon shines the most. It’s impressive because it not only absorbs bumps splendidly at slower speeds but also offers its occupants a flat ride as the velocity increases. Plus, it manages to retain its composure while trampling upon broken stretches at highway speeds; the assurance from the 209mm clearance being evident here.
Similarly, the steering has got the right amount of heft, feels fairly direct, and more importantly, offers great progression around the dead centre. Armed with these, the wide track and grip from the 215mm-section tyres, attacking corners is nothing short of thrilling by compact SUV standards. And, this is despite the substantial body roll. Conversely, we’d have loved some more bite from its brakes for a more reassuring drive.
The refreshed Nexon is one of the best-looking compact SUVs our roads have ever seen. It also gets some added features to make the package more attractive. To add to it, even the diesel-manual prices that range from Rs 10.14 - Rs 15.61 lakh (OTR Mumbai) is bang-on-target when compared to the Hyundai Venue, Kia’s Sonet, the Mahindra XUV300, and the Ford EcoSport. That said, if you’re hunting for a looker that has supreme safety standards, unmatched highway driving dynamics along with a spacious cabin, we suggest you take a look at the Tata Nexon.
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi