The Nexon’s Revotron petrol engine is essentially the turbocharged version of the unit that powers the Tigor. In addition to turbocharging, the all-aluminium engine gets variable valve timing on the exhaust side too and sees the inclusion of an integrated exhaust manifold. The engine’s internals have also been strengthened for the higher pressures and temperatures that are a result of the turbocharging, and fuelling has been recalibrated as well. Peak power and torque figures are a healthy 110hp and 170Nm. For reference, the EcoSport’s 1.0 direct injection, turbocharged EcoBoost petrol motor makes 125hp and 140Nm of torque.
But before you get your hopes up, know that the Nexon’s turbo-petrol engine is not one to excite, even in the sportiest of its three drive modes. Drive with verve and you’ll find that the build-up of power is quite flat and there’s no surge anywhere in the rev range. You’ll need to be above 3,000rpm to get the most out of the engine, but with the limiter cutting in at 5,900rpm in ‘Sport’ (5,500rpm in Eco and City modes), the powerband is quite small. What’s a further dampener is that the gearing is too tall for the engine’s power characteristics. Third gear tops off at a high 133kph while gears four, five and six hold at the 150kph limited top speed. The net result is that, despite a brisk 12.33sec 0-100kph time in Sport mode (an EcoSport 1.0 takes a longer 12.54sec), real-world performance is quite subdued. In-gear acceleration times are way off what the EcoSport 1.0 achieved. The gap in performance just widens in City and Eco modes (see table).
In average city driving, you’ll have to work your way around the inconsistent low-speed power delivery and meek bottom-end by keeping revs above 1,600rpm. You can tell the fuel ‘tip-out’ is snappy (most so in ‘Eco’), as lifting off the throttle at low speeds is invariably accompanied by a jerk. The engine feels strangulated in Eco mode, at anything more than average speeds, and has more to give in City mode but feels its best in ‘Sport’. On the highway, the Nexon petrol cruises really well and it is in this environment that the tall gearing works in its favour. You are never wanting in more power, especially when you’re in the meat of the powerband. Overtaking is quite effortless and it’s possible to hold a brisk pace, which makes light work of long-distance driving.
What is also nice is that this turbo-petrol runs largely vibration-free, idle is silent and even the typical three-cylinder thrum at high engine speeds is fairly well contained, making this an impressively refined powertrain. The gearshift is fairly light and so is the clutch but it’s not particularly progressive and has a snappy action.
In general, the diesel Nexon comes across as far more accomplished. This cast-iron block engine may have its roots in the original Indica’s 1.4-litre diesel, but for all practical purposes, this is a whole new unit. Its 110hp power and 260Nm torque outputs are best-in-class figures and its 0-100kph time (achieved in Sport mode) is a none too shabby 13.68sec too.
But what is more telling of the diesel engine’s characteristics are its timings through the gears. The Nexon is quicker than a Vitara Brezza in gears three, four and five and across a range of speeds. It’s down to how this engine makes its power. It pulls well enough from the word go and fully gets into its rhythm at as low as 1,400rpm. There’s no step up in power thereon, just a relaxed push towards 4,000rpm. That engine noise levels remain relatively low, making the Nexon diesel all the more likeable. Note, cruising in sixth gear at 100kph has the engine spin at a fairly calm 2,100rpm.
The engine’s smooth power delivery makes the diesel version easy to drive, though at times you do wish the mid-range was a bit meatier. There’s not much of a top-end either, but, for a typical user, that’s hardly a concern. What is, is that you can amble along in a higher gear without any protest – the Nexon pulls cleanly forward from as little as 1,000rpm. Gearshifts are nice, so long as you are not gunning it, and the clutch is well-weighted too.
The three drive modes also seem better calibrated on the diesel. You can get by using ‘Eco’ on a daily basis but you will feel the urge to switch to City or Sport modes every now and then.
|Petrol Eco||Petrol City||Petrol Sport||Diesel Eco||Diesel City||Diesel Sport|
|20-80kph in 3rd gear||21.74s||16.01s||14.62s||14.07s||12.07s||11.02s|
|40-100kph in 4th gear||35.51s||21.27s||19.89s||18.33s||14.46s||12.95s|
|60-100kph in 5th gear||37.08s||18.94s||16.50s||16.40s||12.30s||11.38s|
|80-100kph in 6th gear||-||-||21.18s||17.48s||15.08s||12.63s|