The Tata Nexon has been a runaway hit for the Indian carmaker, and now comes the much anticipated and awaited Tata Nexon AMT or Hyprdrive. Call it a crucial piece in the turnaround strategy at the brand and you won't be wrong. What began with the Tiago in good measure in 2016, was partially carried on by the Hexa and Tigor, has been thrust in the right direction by the Tata Nexon. The subcompact SUV has sold over 25,000 units in its first 6 month since launch. And so it's only natural Tata wants to expand on that. So as was always expected, the Nexon now goes automatic with an AMT or automated manual transmission. Or as Tata likes to call it - Hyprdrive! So let's dive right into it. The Nexon gets a 6-speed AMT gearbox. And like its manual counterpart the AMT also has the three driving modes, namely Sport, City and Eco - which you can switch on the fly using a rotary dial placed between the front seats.
Watch Tata Nexon AMT Review
I am driving the diesel, while Kingshuk is driving the petrol today. So let me get to the diesel first. Now typically on an AMT you lose that sense of power or that alacrity that you want, especially when you overtake someone. You want to be able to downshift and get a nice burst of power. Tata says its engineers have put in something called a 'kickdown' feature in this car to provide you exactly that. Does it work? Well the response is typically AMT-like, but if I put it into Sport mode things get a tad better. So it's not an absolutely instant sharp response, but it's certainly better in Sport mode than on Eco or City. So if you are driving on the highway, I suggest you stick to the Sport mode. But even then, you have to plan your overtaking manoeuvres properly, so that you are not left wanting for the surge of power when you need it most. But that's not a flaw on this car in particular. It's an impediment of AMTs in general.
Now let's take a look at the specs of the car I am driving. Nothing has changed from the manual and the numbers remain the same. 108 bhp of max power and 260 Nm of peak torque on this 1.5 litre Revotorq unit. The 6-speed gearbox allows for a Tiptronic function in Sport mode. The Nexon AMT retains its good on-road manners and we are happy to report that the ride quality remains as good as the manual variants that first came six months ago. We had some twisties on our test drive route and never did the car feel out of breath or out of depth negotiating them. That is until you get used to the AMT's delayed response of course. Interestingly, the 1.2 litre Revotron petrol engine and the 1.5 litre diesel make the same amount of power, but the petrol naturally has less torque at 170 Nm. But like on the manual, the petrol engine feels a touch more engaging to drive. So when you mash the throttle, it feels more responsive, and the gears do shift quicker. So looks like Kingshuk lucked out with the more fun twin then!
But luckily they both look exactly the same. The car's unique stance and roofline do give it a hatchback look in traffic, rather than an SUV, but it still works. The Nexon is a good looking car to begin with - winning its first of many awards at the NDTV Car and Bike Awards 2018 for Design of the Year. The contrast roof and body colour had a white element that runs around the windowsills and to the back of the car below the rear windscreen. Not everybody liked that, and so on the AMT you find the contrast roof colour also used here too. So, on our test cars we had the silver grey with the new Etna Orange paintjob. And it looked smashing. It also makes the car seem a bit bigger, more sophisticated and mature. The Etna Orange by the way is only being offered with the Hyprdrive variants for starters. Cool idea, because the colour rocks!
Tata Motors will also be offering customisation options on the Nexon AMT. There will be two body kits on offer, which are the Aktiv and the Aero. In fact, Tata had showcased the Nexon with the aero body and has already launched it as well. Apart from that, customers will be able to choose the colour of the body and the roof on Tata's online imaginator platform. What takes it to the next level or (levelnex in Tata speak!), is the PEPS wearable key. Designed to be worn on the wrist like a fitness band or a watch, the PEPS smart key is waterproof and simply does away with the need for a regular key. It can be used to lock/unlock and even start the car. The PEPS key is available only with Nexon variants, which have a start-stop button. But it is pretty cool, isn't it! In fact, the PEPS key was first introduced in Jaguar and Land Rover models and thanks to the synergies between the companies, the PEPS key technology has sort of trickled down to Tata's regular models as well.
Now, we have known Tata to be aggressive with its pricing, and it is quite likely it will stay the course with the Nexon AMT too. I expect it to launch from the mid trims upwards, so should stay between ₹ 7 and 11 lakhs for the petrol and diesel AMT variants. It is a great game plan for Tata to offer petrol and diesel AMTs at once, and add in great pricing and you may have an absolute winner. The subcompact SUV segment is only going to get bigger, and with the likes of Maruti delaying the launch of the Vitara Brezza automatic and its petrol engine option, it could prove to be a great opportunity for Tata to notch up even more sales for this bestseller.
Photo Credit: Kingshuk Dutta