Tata Hexa - Whatever it takes
Bringing out a flagship is a challenging task for any automaker. Tata has always been known for their budget cars and utilitarian vehicles. They tried wading into the premium segment with the Aria and it royally bombed. Tata is all set to make a comeback into the premium UV segment, this time with the Hexa. Can the Hexa do IT for Tata this time? IBB checks the Hexa’s mettle here:
Tata calls it the ‘impact design language’ and the car still wears the basic MPV framework of the Aria. However, a lot of work has gone into the drawing board to chisel out a bold and brawny looking SUV out of the Aria. The large piano black grille, double barrel headlights, large air dam and clamshell bonnet gives a bold looking face to the Hexa.
Also Read: Tata Hexa Launch Alert
Take a look at the side profile and the Hexa’s MPV origins becomes pretty evident. The flared wheel arches, the large 19-inch alloys and the plastic cladding does a good job in camouflaging the same to quite an extent. The B, C and D pillar are blackened to give a floating roof feel.
The rear gets a wrap-around LED rear lamps, loads of chrome and chrome tipped twin exhaust pipes as well. Also, don’t miss the chrome on the loading bay!
The Hexa gets an all-black theme for the interior; brushed aluminium and smoked chrome join the jet black theme to create an air of premium-ness inside. The doors open wide to make the ingress and egress effortless. The dashboard is finished in all black and the only gripe here is the puny 5-inch touchscreen infotainment system carry forwarded from the Zest.
The driver gets a commanding view and the steering wheel, being leather wrapped has a premium feel to it. The instrumental console is stylish and clear and also houses a 3.5-inch MID in addition to the speedo and revv counter dials.
The MID displays a whole host of information:
- Digital fuel gauge
- Two trip meters
- Average and instant fuel economy figures
- Distance to empty
- Time display
- Ambient temperature
- Door ajar warning
Also, the MID changes its colour when the car is in different driving modes:
- Red- Dynamic mode
- Yellow-Rough road
One thing that caught our attention was the European style rotary headlamp control switch.
The front seats are wide and will easily accommodate even XL frames in supreme comfort. The seats offer more than sufficient under-thigh and lower back support. The driver seat is 8-ways manually adjustable and the rear captain seats on the 6-seater version offers class-leading ride quality (more on it in the ride handling section), which makes the back seat travel a supremely comfortable affair. Hexa offers generous leg and shoulder room for the front and rear passengers. The car gets AC vents on the B, C pillars and as well in the center for the mid row occupants. The third row is surprisingly spacious and comfortable for two full-size adults. The seven-seater version gets a bench seat at the center and is not as comfortable as the captain seat version for the mid row passengers. However, that’s a compromise you will have to make if you want to accommodate an extra passenger. With all the seats up, the Hexa gets a good boot space of 128-litre as compared to Mahindra’s XUV 500 which offers almost negligible boot space with all the seats up. Tumble down the third row to generate an impressive 671 litres of storage space at the rear.
The car gets six airbags on the top-trim variant.
The safety kit also includes:
- ESP with rollover mitigation
- Hill hold assist
- 298 mm front and 206 mm disc brakes at the front and rear respectively
- Four-channel ABS + EBD
- Cornering stability control
Engine and Performance
The Hexa is powered by the same 2.2-Litre Varicor 400 that powers the latest Tata Safari Storme as well. The engine generates a peak power of 154 hp and as the name indicates, a maximum torque of 400 Nm.
This engine houses 16 valves and a variable geometry turbo and is mated to a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed torque converter auto transmission box. The Hexa tips the weighing scale at 2280 kg and for a quick comparison is a whole 495 kg heavier than an XUV 500 and 425 kg heavier than the Innova Crysta!
Despite being a heavy car, the Varicor 400 makes the Hexa an effortless cruiser on the Indian highways. However, you need to work thru the gearbox for making quick progress. The car gets four driving modes: Auto, Comfort, Dynamic and Rough road. The driving modes can be selected via a rotary knob.
- Auto: It’s partly an AWD mode; the car runs on the RWD mode and the power is sent to the front wheel only when necessary.
- Comfort: Pure RWD mode – best suitable for a sedated drive. You get maximum fuel efficiency in this mode.
- Dynamic: Similar to Comfort mode, the car engine delivers power only to the rear wheel. However, the ECU sends signals to make the engine aggressive and the throttle response is sharp, making the car quickest in this mode.
- Rough Road: This is for tackling the rough and challenging terrain; the grip levels are highest in this mode.
The car has good sound insulation and the engine sounds refined even in higher revvs. The auto gearbox is sourced from the French maker Punch Powerglide; the auto box has a Sport, Tiptronic, and Race car mode. The auto box is a simple but reliable torque converter and has surprisingly smooth shifts. Only the top of the line MT gets All Wheel Drive (AWD).
Ride Comfort and Handling
19-inch wheels and ride comfort? Clear your doubts by driving the Hexa – the car surprised us with its superior ride quality. Undoubtedly, the new benchmark in ride comfort in any segment in this price bracket and way up. Thanks to the hardworking double wishbone suspension at the front and five-link rigid axle with coil springs at the rear for the superior ride quality of the Hexa. The car has a great straight line stability even when the speedo hovers at triple digits and the heavy Hexa is very much planted while going over undulating surfaces. The car has a fair amount of body roll and reminds you that it’s a body on frame UV and not a low-slung race car while negotiating tight corners and switchbacks.
Tata will never agree, the more we get to know about the Hexa, it reminds us of the Tata Aria. However, the fact remains that Aria failed not because of the product but because of the suicidal pricing by Tata. Ironically, pricing has always been Tata’s forte or maybe, Tata tried to push their luck or aspiration a little hard by attaching a premium tag to the Aria. However, it is really a commendable job the way Tata picked up where they unceremoniously exited with the Aria. Hexa, without a speck of doubt is one heck of a value-for-money premium UV. Hexa not only betters Aria in all aspects but creates a new standard in the UV segment. Hail the Hexa, the new Tata flagship.