It’s 36,000km and counting. That’s the number on the odometer of the Tata Hexa, which I never fail to glance at every time I haul myself into the driver’s seat. If you are of my vintage and have driven early Tata SUVs, you will understand my fascination for the Hexa’s odo. Remember the Tata Sierra and Estate? Probably not. The quality of these pickup-truck-derived cars was so dismal – 35,000-40,000km was the effective life of these so-called ‘bridge’ products that were made during Tata Motors’ difficult transition from truck- to carmaker.
And now, 36,000 clicks on, the Hexa still feels like new. The body is taut and tight with not a rattle or a squeak. Okay, Innova owners may not consider this a big feat but it speaks volumes for the great strides Tata Motors has made in build quality. And it’s not that the Hexa has been treated with kid gloves by us – it’s made multiple trips to Mahabaleshwar, waded through Mumbai floods and been drafted in as a backup vehicle for countless shoots.
SMOOTHIE: Six-speed auto is responsive and jerk-free.
Given such a pounding, I expected something to give way, but the Hexa has held up superbly. The rubber beading surrounding the door frames are still tightly fit and show no signs of coming undone like in older Tata cars. Everything is well screwed together and there’s not a bit that’s shaken itself loose. If anything, the interior plastics have aged a bit and are looking a touch dull, but I am sure a good wipe with some dashboard polish will bring back the gloss.
HIGH ON POT: Beefy chassis and it eats potholes for breakfast.
While the build quality has amazed me, the Hexa auto, unlike the manual version, drives superbly as well. In fact, the smooth and quick-shifting six-speed auto takes the agony out of city driving. The torque converter-driven gearbox is perfectly calibrated and it lets you ease the big SUV into traffic without the low-speed jerkiness you get in other autos. Power, too, builds up progressively and there’s enough grunt for city use. In the pothole capital that is Mumbai, the Hexa’s heavy, ladder-frame chassis gobbles craters for breakfast. Floods? No sweat; the lofty Hexa parts water like it’s Moses.
TAKE A HIKE: Step up into cabin too high for elderly passengers.
I know I’m waxing eloquent about the Hexa, but it would be unfair not to. It’s far exceeded our expectations in most ways and mainly because I didn’t expect Tata to get a Rs 20 lakh car so right. Quibbles? There are a few but you’ll experience the biggest one every time you get in and out of the SUV. The step-up height into the cabin is just too high (there’s no sidestep provided), you have to be a mountaineer to climb in. My mother-in-law is certainly no mountaineer and she needs a small stool to step into the elevated cabin, which is all too embarrassing, so when I’m out with the in-laws, it’s easier to take a lower slung car.
The Hexa also has a drinking problem. It guzzles fuel at an alarming rate and the average we achieved in this last stint was a rather inefficient 7.48kpl. The good thing is that it’s diesel and it hurts your wallet less, but, nevertheless, the frequent trips to fill up the 60-litre tank is annoying.
DRINKING PROBLEM: Guzzles diesel at an alarming rate.
The fact that we’ve not had a single problem with the Hexa gives me the confidence to recommend it wholeheartedly to customers on the lookout for a big family car. I’m an unabashed fan now, and it’s how well it has lasted that’s, well, made the most lasting impression.
2017 Tata Hexa long term review, third report
2017 Tata Hexa long term review, second report
2017 Tata Hexa automatic long term review, first report