Tata introduced the first crossover for the Indian market way back in 2010, the Tata Aria. A crossover for those who have no idea, is a car based on an SUV, a 4×4 with a dynamic handling of a car. It was a great effort made by Tata, but probably the market was not ready enough to conceive a crossover breed. The Aria had quality issues and was not dynamic enough to drive as well. The market now is quite different with already a few crossovers well accepted by the consumers. So it seems like a good time for the Aria to make a come back then!. Fast forward to 2016, the Aria is back in the form of Tata Hexa! built on the same platform, this time it’s back with a bang!
Wheel articulation on axle twister amazing.
Following the trend, Tata decided to show off it’s latest creation in a series of off-road events held across the country. Held at MMRDA grounds in BKC, Mumbai, the Tata Hexa experience aimed at showing off the off road capabilities of the Hexa. With 200 mm ground clearance and 4WD system, it sure did have the hardware to deal with the obstacles. There was a complete course made by the guys at Cougar motorsports everything with side incline, axle twister, approach ramp, water wading puddle, logs etc. The Hexa performed really well like a serious off-roader. For those who have missed the event, the Hexa experience will return at the Autocar Performance show coming up next week.
Tata has reworked and improvised many factors on this car to make it desirable enough to enter the war zone. I’am calling it a war zone since the market segment this Hunk stands in already is heated enough with competition. It shares the market with Mahindra XUV500, Hyundai Creta, Renault Duster, Honda BR-V etc which are already some established products in terms of sales. Priced from 12.30 lakhs to 19 odd lakhs as an introductory price, it is not so pricey enough. But the important question is, is it worth? Well we will have to see with time how it does in the market. Looks like it is prepared with all the right ingredients but still would you spend that money without hesitation on the Hexa if you were out shopping in this segment?. First impressions, as the title of the article suggests, it looks muscular and hunky. Scores high on looks. Looks impressive from all the sides. The imposing front houses the new Tata signature Hexagonal grill and those smoked projectors. Well put up DRL and fog lamp on the bumper helps to enhance the sporty intentions. Rear looks more like a utility van though. Those LED tail lamps on the back give it a premium look. Hexa badging on the rear side window, the virtually floating roof, twin exhaust tips, 19″ Alloys, chrome panels on the rear boot lid and grill, Plastic cladding all around the car are some more aesthetic features that make it look like a real deal premium crossover. After all that amount you’ve spent on a car, you do want it to make an impression at first glance. And yes! it is a car that impresses with those hunky looks at the very first glance.
The fit and finish on the inside may not be so called ‘premium’. Especially the plastics all around don’t feel up to mark. The Hexa deserves better design and quality of interior surfaces at least for the given price point. The dark black-grey interior theme doesn’t help either. It looks somewhat tacky. May be brighter colours could have helped, and a better central console dashboard. Fortunately there is a long list of features on the top end variant. A seriously long one:
- ABS, EBD, Traction control
- 6 airbags
- Hill descent control,
- Hill assist
- Cruise control
- Super drive modes (Something like Land Rover’s Terrain Response System)
- Disc brakes on all 4 wheels
- Reverse sensor and camera
- Cool glove box
- Ambient LED mood lighting
- Stereo unit AUX, USB, Bluetooth, CD compatible by Harmann
- 10 speaker JBL system including a sub-woofer
- Rear individual A/C vents
- Roll down sun blinds
- Automatic climate control A/C
- LED DRL
- smoked projector headlamps
- captain chairs in middle row (6 seat option)
- 19″ wheels
Now for some facts.
Powertrain: The Hexa comes with only a diesel option at least as of now. The 2.2 L VARICORE engine that comes in two state of tunes. 150 PS power and 320 NM of torque or a pumped up version that produces 156 PS and 400 NM of torque. Hexa comes with automatic transmission on select models as well. Unfortunately 4WD option is available only with a manual transmission and that too on the top of the line variant XT only. I drove the manual 4×4 with the super drive modes. In simple, it comes with a rotary knob on the dash with 4 driving modes: AUTO, COMFORT, DYNAMIC, ROUGH ROAD. What it basically does is alters the traction control and other settings to adapt to different driving situations.
Comfort: These products from Tata, the Aria, Safari etc were always known for their amazingly comfortable seats. The Hexa continues to carry that good part from its predecessors. The seats are large and comfy enough on which you are seated high with a commanding view all around. The driving position is also great and you won’t find struggling for a comfortable posture on long drives. The Hexa comes with 6 seat and 7 seat options. Out of the both, obviously the 6 seat version that comes with captain chairs at the back is the supremely comfortable. Even ingress and egress from the third row is quite easy with such a layout. However, if seating capacity is your requirement you can go for the 7 seat option that gets a bench in the middle row which isn’t bad either.
Driving experience: I had driven the Aria a few years ago and i remember it felt vague and uninspiring to drive. It didn’t give the confidence to drive easily. Things have improved a lot on that front. The Hexa gives immense confidence and feels very capable. The Super Drive modes actually works! The dynamic mode for example makes you feel the torque and power you can really make use of. The handling was quite nimble for the size of the Vehicle. I found myself driving with one hand most of the time while my left hand was resting on the armrest. The gear throws are a bit hard more like an SUV less like a car. The engine felt unrefined because of the vibrations from the engine protruding in to the cabin.
Summing it up: The Hexa looks aggressive and tough. Comes with features loaded up to the brim. One of the most comfortable vehicles to travel in for the price point. A dynamically capable crossover that’s also priced well. If only the quality of the interiors and NVH (Noise, Vibrations and Harshness) levels were sorted out, it would have resulted in a flawless product from a capable and deserving brand. That said, the Hexa still is a competent product and if you are looking for an SUV or luxury car in that budget, you should probably give the Hexa a look