Tata Nexon Petrol AMT Review

Posted on Mon ,27 Aug 2018 8:50 pm
Vaibhav Yedavi
Rating by CG: 
    
Tata Nexon Petrol AMT Review

Stress free driving?

 

Since it was first showcased as a concept at the 2014 Auto Expo, the Nexon has generated a lot of buzz. The production model launched last year looked like Tata Motors just picked up the concept model and put it directly on the showroom floor. Today nearly a year after its launch, the Nexon is the most visible new Tata model on the roads after the Tiago hatchback.

 

Tata Nexon petrol AMT review - rear perspective view

 

It was not just the styling which attracted customers to what is Tata’s first foray into the compact SUV segment, but the spacious cabin, a long list of features and the new powertrains also tilted the scene in favour of the Nexon. The only option missing was a two-pedal setup for a stress free commute but Tata filled that gap too by introducing an automatic transmission option on both the petrol and diesel models of the Nexon.

 

I drove the Nexon petrol automatic to find out how much stress free it really made the commute.

 

 

What hardware does the automatic in the Nexon use?

 

The Nexon uses the mainstream AMT (automated manual transmission) technology which piggybanks on the existing 6-speed manual gearbox. Tata Motors calls its version of the AMT as ‘HyprDrive Self-Shift Gears (SSG)’. As with the manual transmission model, the Nexon AMT can be driven in three modes (Eco, City or Sport) which alter the characteristics of the engine and transmission according to the selection. There is a manual tip-tronic mode too when you feel like taking control over from the AMT.

 

Tata Nexon petrol AMT review - AMT shifter knob

 

Functions available on the Nexon AMT include ‘Creep’ which lets the vehicle crawl without any throttle input, ‘Hill-Assist’ to prevent vehicle roll-back on an incline and ‘Fast-off’ for quick downshifting during spirited driving.

 

 

So how does the Nexon Petrol AMT perform in the city?

 

The low speed power delivery has been an Achilles heel for the Nexon’s turbo petrol engine, and on the AMT with the computer taking over, the effects are more pronounced. What happens is when you quickly accelerate from a standstill and the vehicle starts moving, the AMT holds onto the first gear till a very high rpm. It then suddenly drops the rpm and shifts into second gear. This sudden drop of rpm and upshifting causes the vehicle to nose-dive abruptly and causes great discomfort especially in traffic. This is a typical trait of an AMT box but in the Nexon petrol it is magnified due to the short gear ratios (1st and 2nd gears) which provide very little torque low in the rpm range. This jerky behaviour can be minimised by being gentle on the throttle and shifting to City mode which provides a linear power delivery. Once on the move though the Nexon petrol’s AMT box provides seamless upshifts and downshifts and is a joy when pottering around in town.

 

Tata Nexon petrol AMT review - side view

 

The ‘creep’ functions performs nicely in slow moving traffic but needs to be reined in with the brakes sometimes when it gets a little aggressive with the speed. There is a ‘hill-assist’ feature too which should prevent the Nexon from rolling back on an incline and should be a boon in the bumper-to-bumper commute on Mumbai’s many flyovers. But it relies on the torque of the creep function to perform and hence on steep inclines it is not effective at all due to the little torque available low in the rev range of the petrol engine. So use of the handbrake is advised.

 

 

Is it better on the highways then?

 

Yes it is. The rev happy nature of the Nexon petrol AMT shines on the highways. On the open roads the tall gearing (3rd to 6th gears) means the compact SUV is happy cruising all day long at triple digit speeds while the engine is spinning lazily. At 100 km/h the engine is spinning at somewhere around the 1,900rpm mark while at 120 km/h it is doing around 2,300 rpm. Overtaking manoeuvres need to be planned though as the AMT doesn’t like aggressive downshifting. In Sport mode in the right rev-band there is sufficient power available to keep most of the drivers smiling. There is no kick from the turbo though if you are expecting some adrenaline as the power delivery is mostly linear.

 

Manual tip-tronic mode is available when you feel like taking control from the computer to shift gears on your own. But even in manual mode the AMT box thinks for a moment before executing your command. It is best to leave the box in Sport mode for highway drives but if fuel economy is on your mind then shifting to Eco mode at cruising speed will deliver amazing results. (Mileage figures in specifications below).

 

 

Is it comfortable?

 

The big 16-inch wheels wrapped in tall 60-profile tyres provide some of the best cushioning seen in this segment. When the recent rains in Mumbai created crater sized potholes and most of the vehicles had to slow down or find a way around them, the Nexon just buzzed over without any inconvenience to the passengers. The suspension setup is a little on the stiffer side but never unsettling and when the speed goes up it helps the Nexon ride flat and corner with very little roll. The suspension also does its job in a quiet way.

 

Tata Nexon petrol AMT review - dashboard and front seat view

 

The cabin of the Nexon is well insulated and even at 100 km/h the road and wind noise don’t find their way inside. The quiet cabin allows passengers to have a conversation without shouting on top of their voices.

 

The driver’s seat is adjustable for height and though I could find a decent driving position I never felt comfortable due to the lack of under-thigh and lumbar support. The steering is adjustable for tilt but at the most optimum angle for me it blocked the top part of the instrument cluster. There is plenty of space in the foot-well to keep your left foot rested comfortably. The rear seats are comfortable and there is enough legroom for even tall passengers. Despite the all-black interiors and a rising window line, plenty of light enters the cabin and it never feels claustrophobic at the back.

 

Tata Nexon petrol AMT review - rear seats

 

All the controls are comfortably within reach and no stretching of the hands or body is required for operating any buttons or knobs. The infotainment system (Android Auto & Apple CarPlay compatible) is also intuitive and the touchscreen is placed within the line-of-sight.

 

The AC cools the cabin quickly even on the hottest of days and there is a 2-speed blower for the rear seats too. Even the glovebox is cooled so you can keep you water and beverages chilled on the long journeys.

 

 

So how do I identify the Nexon AMT?

 

Actually there aren’t many hints which will let you recognise the Nexon AMT from its manual siblings besides this orange body and greyish silver roof paint combination which is exclusive to the top AMT variant. This variant also gets the same greyish silver paint on the fog-lamp bezel, belt-line and X-shaped tailgate motif trim compared to the ivory white trim on the other variants. I do prefer this greyish silver trim as it makes the design look more mature.

 

 

Conclusion

 

The throttle of the Nexon petrol AMT is a little tricky to modulate in urban crawling traffic, but with a little bit of patience and practise it can be accomplished. It is fairly capable on the highways with a linear power delivery. The Nexon petrol also manages an average of 11.6 km/l (city + highway) which is a decent figure.

 

If you are looking or an exciting turbo petrol automatic then you have to look elsewhere, but if cruising along at a sedate speed and stress free driving is your idea of having fun the Nexon petrol AMT will suit you just fine.

 

 

Tata Nexon Petrol AMT Specifications

 

Engine – 1.2-litre, inline-3 cylinder turbo petrol; 108-bhp @ 5000 rpm & 170-Nm @ 1750-4000 rpm

Drivetrain – Transversely mounted front engine, front-wheel drive

Transmission – 6-speed AMT

Mileage – 9.3 km/l (City), 18.6 km/l (Highway), 11.6 km/l (50% highway & 50% city)

Dimensions – 3994 x 1811 x 1607 (length x width x height in mm)

Wheelbase – 2498mm

Ground Clearance – 209mm

Boot Space – 350 litres

Turning radius – 5.1 metres

Price of XZA+ Petrol on-road in Mumbai (approximately) – ₹ 11.23 lakh

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