SUVs and electric cars, both these have become corner stones to success for most of the carmakers around the world. And Tata Motors with the Nexon EV is stepping on both these stone. Now it's precariously poised to win or lose but the fact remains that with this car it announces that it's ready for the EV space. It's not the company's first outing in the electric car business but with the Nexon EV, but with it, it plans to kill that big bird of success with these two corner stones.
The first step then is to make it look the part. It is essentially the facelift of the Nexon, so you get new headlamps, new grille design, a new teal blue colour and then there are these blue accents which are spread all across the car that are unique to the electric version. But there are more practical changes too like the bonnet has been raised and there are other modifications to make it compliant with the pedestrian protection norms which are likely to kick in in October 2020. Also thanks to the battery pack, the Nexon has gained weight, so the company had to think of not making it obese.
The Nexon EV weighs close to 100 kilograms more than its petrol or diesel cousin
The petrol/diesel Nexon weighs between 1188 kg - 1305 kg, but the EV weighs in at 1400 kg. So, the Nexon EV had to shed weight and the alloy wheels then are lighter than the ones on the regular car by 1 kilogram at each corner. Adding to the appeal of the electric car are the EV badges. The blue touches all over the car and there's the tri-arrow design almost all across the car right from the headlamps, tailgate, even on the sides, in fact, it's even inside the cabin.
The tri-arrow theme is replicated on the seats as well and the blue accents are spread across the dashboard. The cabin is updated with a new steering wheel, straight from the Altroz, and there's the 7-inch infotainment system which gets Apple Carplay, Android Auto, Navigation via smartphone, ear parking camera and more. There's a 7-inch digital instrument cluster as well which provides you with all the details on the way you drive. So, there's a graph which tells you if you are in eco mode, if your using up too much power or how much you have managed to regenerate and send back to the battery.
The battery itself is under the floor and you'd expect it to eat into the space at the rear. But that does not happen. The floor is flat and you get a similar amount of space as in the Nexons petrol or diesel cousin. There's good headroom too and yes decent knee room as well. You get rear AC vents but do not get a USB charging point here. However there's a 12-volt socket on the parcel tray.
Now the trim we are driving is not the top end. It's the XZ+ and misses out on leather upholstery, rain sensing wipers, auto headlamps and an electric sunroof but it gets the connectivity features but sadly our car wasn't connected but we got a short demo of what it was.
The Nexon comes with an embedded sim with 35 connected car features, right from vehicle statistics, remote access, along with safety and security options. So yes Tata Motors has jumped into the connected car space. In fact, the company says that all its electric offerings from here on will have connected features. Details like the data operator, and even the subscription plans will be known at the time of launch.
But let's get into what it's like to drive. I know you've been eagerly waiting for it. There's 127 bhp on offer and 245 Nm of torque which are offered instantly. There's no doubt it's fun to drive and in sports mode gets even better because there's 60 per cent torque that is pushed to the motor upfront to push the car and that's fun. The suspension too is an improvement compared to the ICE model and soaks in all the road throws at you. There's another issue that the rotary gear takes it time to shift to Drive mode and even Reverse. You have to get used to the way it changes, but yes, it's neither quick nor smooth.
Now, we've been driving this on the highway and the charge has come down at the rate of 1% per kilometre but thanks to regeneration I have gained a couple of percents I think. Wish I knew. So, yes range anxiety is a concern and though the company has got an ARAI certified mileage of 312 km on a single charge our short drive did not really provide us with that. As you can see with 85% and a range of 217, just 34 km later the range falls to 55%. Furthermore just 46 km later the charge dropped to 34% and range was just 71 km. In total then that drop is significant though some of it can be attributed to my heavy right foot, but still.
As far as charging the car goes, you can do it via a fast charger or a home charger. Using a fast charger can give you 80% charge in just 1 hour while the home charger will take 8 hours to power up to 100 per cent.
It's really interesting though Tata Motors is putting itself out there to make a product which in India has no case supporting its guaranteed win, especially when the charging infrastructure is yet to be settled upon. It is afterall the first subcompact electric SUV in the country and will be the most affordable too because the company plans to price it between ₹ 15 lakh to ₹ 17 lakh.
The electric game is a gamble of sorts then in India atleast and with the Nexon EV Tata Motors might not have won the jackpot, but it certainly has some good cards to dent the winnings of players who are already in the game.