When the Tata HBX concept made its debut at Auto Expo 2020, we were told that this was a close-to-production version of the mini-SUV. In fact, Pratap Bose, vice president, Global Design at Tata Motors, said, “The concept is about 95 percent of the production-spec model.” New spy images of the production-spec model on test confirm that the final model retains nearly everything the concept had, both inside and outside alike.
How different is its exterior?
Tata’s Impact 2.0 design language is evident in the images despite the heavy camouflage, as are the split-headlight setup borrowed from the larger Tata Harrier. Like the concept, the production-spec HBX has a flat bonnet, a stand-up ‘A’ pillar, some plastic cladding on the doors, and a prominent belt-line – all of which lend it an SUV-like stance when viewed from the side.
However, unlike the concept, its grille and front bumper design are slightly more conventional – the latter gets circular fog lights, mounted low – and the exaggerated silver faux bash plate seen on the Auto Expo version seems to be gone too. Indicators are now mounted on the outside rear-view mirrors (ORVMs).
The raked rear windscreen on both, the concept and the production car, means that the HBX won’t be as SUV-like at the back. There is also a small roof-mounted spoiler, a neat-looking tailgate, and compact tail-lights; the production car carries over LED elements in a tri-arrow pattern from the concept. Although the show car sat on chunky, off-road tyres and had a roof-mounted carrier with a spare wheel and jerry cans, the HBX that goes on sale will get standard rubber (about 185mm thick) and what seem to be 15-inch alloy wheels.
What about its dimensions?
Taking into account the concept and production-spec HBX are the same size (the height might change though) and that the Tata is slightly larger on nearly every metric than either of its expected rivals, this bodes well for the interior room that’s expected to be on offer. The table below has the details:
|Tata HBX concept vs rivals: Dimensions|
|Tata HBX||Maruti Suzuki Ignis||Mahindra KUV100 NXT|
How different are its interiors?
As with the exterior, HBX interior images show that the differences on the inside amount to a dial-down of some of its more extravagant details – the gold highlights for instance. The steering unit is the same (this flat-bottom steering is also seen in the Tata Altroz, Nexon, Tiago and Tigor), the squared-out central AC vents have been retained and the dashboard layout and design also seem to be identical.
When we had a peek at the cabin of the show car at Auto Expo 2020, it showed that the HBX has a much higher ‘H’ (hip point) than its sister car, the Altroz hatchback – Tata’s mini-SUV and premium hatchback are based on the same ALFA platform. This means more effective legroom, space and more comfort. The front seats seem large and supportive, while the rear seats appear to have enough space to occupy three adults in decent comfort. Furthermore, the relatively flat floor should give the rear-centre passenger a bit more space. Like the Altroz, the production-spec HBX will also have doors that open 90 degrees for easy ingress and egress.
What about features?
Spy shots of the Tata SUV on test show that it has the same equipment seen on the HBX concept, and that this is a higher-spec version. The part-digital, 7.0-inch instrument cluster, the steering-mounted audio controls, automatic climate-control system and free-standing infotainment system, all seem to be shared with the Altroz, which is not a bad thing.
What about the powertrain?
Nothing in these images show anything about the engine that is powering the test mule, though we expect the HBX will borrow the Tata Altroz, Tiago and Tigor’s 86hp, 1.2-litre petrol engine. However, the image does show a clutch being operated and a gear being shifted, indicating a manual gearbox – 5-speed manual and 5-speed AMT gearbox options are expected for the mini-SUV.
An all-electric version of the HBX – potentially the third model to be powered by Tata’s Ziptron EV tech after the Nexon EV and Altroz EV – is in the pipeline, but a launch will happen by 2022.
When is the launch and what will prices be?
Tata Motors’ SUV line-up will expand with the production-spec HBX by Diwali this year. Tata HBX prices are expected to be in the Rs 4.5-7.5 lakh (ex-showroom) range. This means it will be in a position to take on the Maruti Suzuki Ignis (Rs 4.89-7.20 lakh) and Mahindra KUV100 NXT petrol (Rs 4.88-7.01 lakh) rather head-on the Indian automotive market.
Image courtesy: Afreen Shaikh & Aameer Almel