Tata Zest AMT Long Term Report - I
Tata has been making several segment first vehicles and it still continues to do so. The latest entrant to this is the Zest AMT, a compact sedan with a diesel AMT (automated manual transmission). This is the new vehicle in our long termer fleet, the AMT variant that has been the transmission in the highest demand in the Zest range. So, how does the Tata Zest perform? We put it through a long term test and find out how well does it perform. What makes this compact sedan special? We find out.
I have been one of the guys who has been driving automatics for a very long time and for city driving have always preferred automatics. From the Tata fleet, I have previously driven the Vista and Manza for a long time. Then we drove the Bolt for a while after that. These all have the same 1.3-litre multijet engine but with a five-speed manual transmission. This is the first time we get our hands on the AMT (automated manual transmission).
The AMT comes with three modes, the first being automatic, this is where it shifts gears at its own pace. The second in the Sport mode, which is for more like spirited driving. The third is manual, which gives the driver the liberty to shift when required. AMT doesn’t get Park mode, else there are the reverse and neutral modes too.
Enough with the description, now when you get behind the wheel, you shall notice the following changes over older Tata products:
- Smaller and gripper steering wheel
- Easy to use steering controls
- The driving position is more convenient
The complaints that most of the people had with Tata cars when it comes to driving position and comfort is solved. The ergonomics issue has been solved. Tata engineers have listened to all the inputs and these issues have been addressed. The Zest is at par with competition when it comes to build quality and fit and finish. Let's be honest, some are wee bit better, but the difference isn’t much.
When you get behind the wheel, you need to press brake before cranking the ignition. Else it won't start. This is added as a safety measure on the Zest. Press the brake pedal and the car will start moving. In the initial phase, you need to learn how the car shifts and when. This takes a while to settle in, but once you know that. The Zest is certainly very easy to drive in city traffic and it is majorly good for intercity highway too. The shift time isn’t lightning quick and this also needs some getting used to. But for those quick overtakes it just takes a while to get used to driving this compact sedan. For the price the Zest AMT comes, it is the perfect sedan for city driving. For someone like me who is used to dual-clutch transmission, I see this as a perfect opportunity to save money and still get a comfortable drive. The only complaint being no creep crawl function, which is likely to be seen on all new Tata AMTs after the Nano was introduced.
The engine response, drivability, power and fuel efficiency of the Zest AMT is bang-on. The efficiency I get on this compact sedan is about 15km/l majorly in city driving. On the highway, the number rises to about 17. For a clutch-free driving experience, this is the perfect economy. I drive to work daily in Mumbai’s city centre traffic and it is absolutely trouble free. This was a detailed report on the engine of the Zest AMT, in the next session we shall speak about the interior quality, seat comfort, music system and ride and handling.
- Getting used to takes a while