Tata Hexa Review
Car Tested: 2016 Tata Hexa; Road Test No. 751
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 14.27 – 20.68 lakhs
The Hexa is the most sophisticated Tata yet, offers a ton of features and high quality interiors
The Tata Hexa was one of the biggest showstoppers of the 2016 Auto Expo. The attractive looks and the amount of features Tata Motors promised in the new SUV lured the audience at the biennial event. The Indian automaker is all set to launch their new flagship SUV in January which will be replacing the Aria in their lineup. The Hexa will compete directly with the Mahindra XUV500 and we went to Hyderabad to test the Cheetah’s new rival.
Motor Quest: The Tata Aria was launched in 2010 that didn’t do well in the Indian market as it wasn’t marketed well and was discontinued eventually. The Tata Hexa is based on the same platform but comes with a whole new direction in terms of styling, interiors, features and mechanicals. In short, you can call it the next generation of Aria.
Exteriors – Even though it replaces an MPV, the Hexa doesn’t look like one. Tata has given it a muscular and aggressive styling. The bonnet is heavily sculpted, there are smoked out projector headlamps, the grille is wide & highlighted with chrome and the bumper integrates LED daytime running lights. You will notice flared wheel arches on the side profile along with the neat looking 19-inch alloy wheels. These are the biggest wheels available in this segment. The black cladding adds to the rugged appeal of the Hexa.
The Hexa comes with a bold new styling from Tata with some premium touches and aggressive SUV appearance
The side profile might remind you of the Aria with its silhouette but Tata has cleverly reworked some details to cover the MPV proportions. The rear profile gets a heavy dose of chrome on the tail gate with LED tail lights while the bumper gets a skid plate and dual exhaust setup. The tail section might look a tad simple compared to the rest of the styling but it will grow on you with time.
Interiors – The Indian automaker has spent a lot of time in making the cabin of the Hexa comfortable, convenient, premium and appealing. You need to climb into the cabin since it has a healthy 208 mm of ground clearance. Surprisingly the interiors feel very plush in this Tata. The instrument cluster gets a big multi-information display. The height adjustable and leather wrapped steering wheel integrates controls for the infotainment system and cruise control system. It doesn’t offer push button start/stop feature but there are automatic headlamps and rain sensing wipers. The overall quality, fit and finish feels great and there is good attention to detail inside the cabin.
The interiors are loaded with features you won’t expect in a Tata, quality is excellent
The centre console comes with a neatly integrated ConnectNext infotainment system which is designed by Harman. It offers a 10-speaker JBL audio system including a sub-woofer and power amplifier. The sound quality is super rich and unrealistic for this segment. There is a 5-inch touch screen display that offers good touch quality but is a tad small in size. It comes with extensive smartphone integration with ConnectNext Apps. These apps let you access navigation, create a mobile hotspot for sharing music, change the mood lighting of the car with 8 colour options and access the digital manual of the car. However, these apps are only available for Android devices for now. Other features of the infotainment include USB, AUX, Bluetooth connectivity along with voice recognition, navigation, on-screen SMS display, SMS readout and rear view camera display with parking guidelines.
The Tata Hexa comes with automatic climate control and dual air conditioning for the front and rear passengers. For quick cooling in all three rows, it gets rear AC vents on the floor console and on the B and C pillars. The seats are very comfortable and supportive having ideal cushioning for your back and under-thigh support. There is an option of captain and bench seats for the second row. The legroom and headroom is excellent even for the tall passengers. You get window blinds in the second row that adds to the comfort in bright sunlight. The third row of seats are practical as well but on long drives it might get a bit tight for adults. You get power sockets for all three rows. There is ample amount of storage spaces in the car to keep the cabin neat and tidy. All three rows get bottle holders while the last row gets an additional cooled compartment. The seats are very flexible so you can fold down the third and second row of seats to enhance the luggage space.
Performance – The Tata Hexa is powered by the 2.2-litre Varicor 400 diesel engine that we have seen recently with the Safari Storme. However, the Hexa’s engine has been tuned to produce the same amount of torque at lower RPMs which offers better drivability. The oil burner churns out 156 PS at 4000 RPM and 400 Nm at 1700-2700 RPM. There is a mild turbo lag under 2000 RPM but it picks up good pace in the mid-range, which is an ocean full of torque. Despite being heavier than the Storme, the Hexa feels responsive with this engine. The NVH of this engine has been improved and it isn’t noisy when driven sedately but it gets loud near the redline.
The automatic gearbox is surprisingly quick to respond and offers smooth shifts
The Hexa is being offered with both 6-speed manual and automatic transmissions. The manual feels quite notchy specially while shifting to the 5th gear. However, the clutch is light and the ratios are well stacked for both city and highway drivability. The manual version comes with Super Drive modes – Auto, Comfort, Dynamic and Rough Road. The Auto senses the driving style and adjusts the throttle and AWD system accordingly while the Comfort caps the power and torque delivery for optimum efficiency. Dynamic provides better throttle response while Rough Road is used for off-roading with full time AWD.
The 6-speed automatic transmission is a pleasant surprise from Tata. The auto box offers smooth shifts and is clever enough to respond quickly to your throttle inputs. Push the throttle a bit hard and it immediately downshifts a gear or two sensing the amount of throttle applied. There are no jerks as well between the shifts, which was very pleasing while driving in city. Switch it to the S mode and the gears are held longer for better acceleration. In this mode there is a Race Car functionality that maintains the RPM between 3000 – 4000 mark for situations like overtaking or climbing up the ghats. And if you want to control the cogs yourself, you can do so by flicking the gearknob up and down to shift when you want. We expect Hexa to deliver a real world fuel efficiency of around 12 km/l.
Driving Dynamics – Tata Motors is known to offer fantastic ride quality right from the Tiago hatchback up to the Safari Storme. Same is the case with the Hexa, it just glides over the bumps and potholes. Be it low speeds or highway speeds, the cabin gets minimal vertical movement and thanks to the excellent damping, the thuds are not loud and clunky. The Hexa is a heavy car and it has some body roll when you push it around the curves but the roll is not as pronounced as the Safari because it isn’t as top heavy. The steering is lighter than the Storme and feels predictive. The Hexa is a capable off-roader too, comes with AWD torque on demand system that offers great traction on slippery conditions and the 208 mm ground clearance further helps it clear the obstacles easily. There is Hill Hold Assist and Hill Descent Control to take care of the rest. The Hexa comes with all-wheel discs along with ABS as standard that offers fantastic stopping power with tactile pedal bite.
Safety and After Sales Service – Tata Motors haven’t compromised on safety this time and the Hexa is loaded with safety equipment. It comes with 6 airbags including dual front, curtain and side airbags. There is a 4 channel, 4 sensor ABS offered as standard along with Cornering Stability Control function. Other safety features include Traction Control System, Electronic Stability Program, Hill Hold Control and Hill Descent Control. The Hexa’s long term durability and cost of ownership is yet to be seen and Tata Motors needs to ensure stress-free ownership of the Hexa considering the unreliable nature of the Safari faced by some owners in the past.
Verdict – Tata Motors have left no stone unturned with the Hexa as they have worked well on almost all the aspects of this new MPV turned SUV. The Indian audience might accept the Hexa well in the market considering the amount of features on offer and the practical nature of the car along with the convenience of a great auto box. However, to compete aggressively with the Mahindra XUV500, they need to market and price the Hexa well to make it a desirable SUV to own. The Hexa will be launched in January 2017 and it might be the next big hit by Tata Motors.
* The interiors offer good styling, quality, space and practicality
* The 10 speaker JBL audio system is the best in the business
* Varicor 400 engine offers strong performance
* New 6-speed automatic gearbox is a gem, offers quick shifts
* Sublime ride quality offers good comfort on long journeys
* Tata is offering top notch safety features with the Hexa
What’s Not So Cool
* 6-speed manual gearbox is notchy and doesn’t offer tactile shifts
* No sunroof, electrically adjustable seats, push button start/stop on offer
* 5-inch screen size is small and the ConnectNext apps are not iOS compatible yet
Alternatives: Mahindra XUV500, Toyota Innova Crysta
Tata Hexa Specifications
* Engine: 2179cc, DOHC, 4-cylinder, 16V, Varicor 400
* Power: 154 BHP @ 4000 RPM
* Torque: 400 Nm @ 1700-2700 RPM
* Transmission: 6-speed automatic, 6-speed manual
* 0-100 km/hr: 12.68 seconds (AT)
* Fuel Consumption: 12 km/l
* Fuel Type: Diesel
* Suspension: Double Wishbone (Front), 5-link coil springs (Rear)
* Tyres: 235/55/19
* Brakes: Disc brakes, ABS
* Safety: 6 Airbags, ABS, EBD, ESC, TCS, Hill Hold Control, Hill Descent Control
Tata Hexa Dimensions
* Overall Length x Width x Height: 4788 mm X 1903 mm X 1791 mm
* Wheelbase: 2850 mm
* Ground Clearance: 208 mm
* Turning Radius: 5.6-metres
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 60-litres
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