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  • Front seats are comfortable, with plenty of adjustment an...
    Front seats are comfortable, with plenty of adjustment and support on offer.
  • 350-litre boot is large; additionally, the seats fold dow...
    350-litre boot is large; additionally, the seats fold down flat in a 60:40 ratio.
  • The only charging provision for rear passengers
is at an ...
    The only charging provision for rear passengers is at an odd location; it’s near the rear parcel shelf.
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Rating 9 9

Tata Nexon EV review, road test

22nd Jan 2021 2:00 pm

The Nexon EV is India’s best-selling electric car and has recently been enhanced by a comprehensive software update. Is this the EV you should put your money on?

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  • Make : Tata
  • Model : Nexon EV
We Like
Smooth and zippy performance
Ride and handling
Comfy interiors
Value for money
We Don't Like
Range not as good as advertised
Display screens lack sufficient EV data
Restricted top speed

India might still be warming up to the concept of electric vehicles, but Tata Motors has already got a head start, with the Nexon EV having already captured 74 percent of EV sales. This made-in-India, all-electric SUV has caught the fancy of over 2,200 eco-conscious buyers across the country. What has worked in its favour, besides its SUV appeal, are its sorted fundamentals and a value-for-money price tag that undercuts other EVs by over Rs 7 lakh.

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Over the past few months, Tata Motors has tweaked certain aspects of the vehicle after analysing the driving behavior of several EV users, and incorporated relevant customer feedback in its latest software update to make the Nexon EV’s drive experience smoother and the car more user friendly. We put the current iteration of the Nexon EV through its paces, and here’s how it held up.

Tata Nexon EV
Tata Nexon EV

Rs 16.47 lakh * on road price (New Delhi)

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The Nexon facelift made its debut with the EV, which was followed by the ICE versions. The SUV’s funky front-end styling has been replaced by a more mature design, and while its profile remains distinct, there’s a lot going on to make it look fresh. The bonnet area, especially, has been restyled, and is more raised and flatter than before. This not only adds character to the Nexon, but also helps it meet pedestrian protection norms. The headlamps are classier now, with Y-shaped DRLs that double up as turn indicators. Curiously, the multi-coloured tri-arrow design elements scattered on the front air dam (which resemble the Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star) have been changed to a bi-arrow design, so only two out of the three spokes are now coloured blue. Its new 16-inch wheels don’t just look smarter, they are about a kilogram lighter as well. The ceramic-like window highlight has been replaced by a light blue-coloured strip. And, like the headlamps, the tail-lamps too feature Y-shaped LED elements, connected by a light blue band running the breadth of the boot.

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Halogen projector headlamps with LED DRLs doubling up as indicators.
 

Built on the older X1 platform, as is the standard Nexon, the EV receives some crucial structural modifications to accommodate the 30.2kWh battery pack beneath the cabin floor and the permanent magnet synchronous motor under its bonnet. Interestingly, all the suspension components, including the springs, dampers and even the brakes, are shared with the ICE version. That the Nexon is built on the same platform that has secured a solid five-star rating in Global NCAP crash tests is reassuring, and even though the EV hasn’t been crash tested yet, the company is pretty confident of clearing all tests.

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Now only two out of the three Mercedes-like spokes are blue coloured.
 

What’s even more reassuring is that the battery pack has been certified with an AIS 48 rating – the most stringent safety test in India, which includes nail penetration up to the cell level, a crush test, a fire test, and more. It also conforms to IP67 standards, which means it has passed the test of being submerged under one metre of water for 30 minutes without any ill effects. To further boost buyer confidence, Tata offers an eight-year or 1,60,000km warranty on the battery pack and motor, in addition to the three-year or 1,25,000km standard warranty.

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Battery clears the most stringent Indian safety and damage tests.

 

In an attempt to up the Nexon’s premium quotient, Tata has worked on improving the perceived quality of the cabin. The seats and the section around the elbow rest on the door pad now don off-white leatherette upholstery, featuring blue stitching and the tri-arrow (now bi-arrow) pattern in line with this EV’s theme; as do the blue trim highlights spread across the cabin. While the classy roof liner, free-standing touchscreen, coloured MID, textured plastics and tastefully executed piano black trim lift the ambience, what really ups its appeal is the inclusion of a sunroof.

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Tata’s attempt to lift the cabin’s appeal has paid off. Light colours add to the sense of space.
 

Being based on an older platform, the Nexon EV does not have the ability to gather and display a host of usage-related information like discharge rates, regeneration status and more. It also lacks a conventional gear lever, and the rotary drive selector is not the most responsive. Plus, it is a task to figure out the selected state of drive without consulting the MID screen.

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Basic MID doesn’t display adequate battery usage-related data.
 

Seat comfort is just as impressive as the standard car, and despite the battery being placed beneath the cabin floor, passengers at the rear don’t sit in a knees-up position. The bench is exceptional and the leatherette upholstery has made it even more comfortable. So the cabin experience is still very pleasant and the light colours and generous glass area contribute to the sense of space on offer. At 350 litres, its boot space is quite respectable, and you can even fold the seats completely flat by folding the rear bench squab forward to haul more cargo.

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Exceptional seat comfort. Floor isn’t raised to carry the battery underneath.

 

The range-topping XZ+ Lux variant gets features such as sunroof, 16-inch diamond-cut alloys, automatic projector headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, leatherette seats, a cooled glovebox, keyless entry, push-button start, power-adjusted and folding mirrors, a colour-screen instrument cluster, an eight-speaker Harman sound system, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Tata has also introduced SIM-based connected-car features with the ‘Tata ZConnect’ mobile application, which helps owners check their vehicle status, lock and unlock the car, set a geo-fence and track the vehicle. Rear AC blower controls, available on the earlier ICE version, are not present in the current iteration of the Nexon EV, but the SUV still features rear AC vents.

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The inclusion of a sunroof ups the Nexon EV’s premium quotient.
 

What this EV also misses out on are crucial safety features like ESP and traction control, which are available on the ICE version. The Nexon EV doesn’t get hill-start assist, usually paired with the ESP on other cars, either, but the good news is that the EV barely rolls back on inclines, as the motor takes control and makes it creep forward.

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The rear-view camera’s quality is average, so smaller objects can easily be missed.
 

Infotainment

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The Nexon’s 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system by Harman has an easy user interface, but the dull display leaves a lot to be desired, especially in direct sunlight. Touch sensitivity seems to have improved, but it still doesn’t feel as slick as rival units. Sound quality from the eight speakers is excellent, with outstanding clarity even at higher volumes. An onboard SIM card helps communicate with the ZConnect application, which can remotely control, locate and even track the car, as well as scan the vehicle to monitor the its health.

Generating power from a 30.2kWh liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery, the Nexon EV’s permanent magnet synchronous motor churns out 129hp and 245Nm of torque. Power is transmitted to the front wheels via a single-speed automatic transmission. Tata has equipped the Nexon EV with two drive modes, namely ‘D’ and ’S’, with the latter representing Sport Mode.

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It accelerates to 120kph in ‘S’ mode in the same time it takes to reach 100kph in ‘D’.
 

In ‘D’, the motor is working at merely 60 percent of its full potential, generating around 150Nm of torque. On-tap responses are instantaneous and power flows in a beautifully linear manner. With a mere flex of your right foot, the Nexon EV effortlessly scoots forward to take advantage of gaps in traffic, or execute quick overtakes. Interestingly, since our first drive in January 2020, Tata has dulled the throttle responsiveness with its latest software update. That also explains why it takes 16.14 seconds to reach 100kph from rest in ‘D’ mode, which is 2.39 seconds slower than the car we tested earlier in 2020 in the same mode.

The intensity of regeneration (or the energy recuperation while decelerating) isn’t adjustable like in the MG ZS EV or Hyundai Kona Electric, and just like the responsiveness, Tata has also reduced the intensity of regeneration. What’s nice is that it feels quite natural in its behavior and is very easy to get accustomed to. The reduction in speed when you lift off the accelerator isn’t overly aggressive, and instead it is comparable to an ICE car’s behavior while engine braking.

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The rotary drive selector is a bit fiddly to use and slow to respond.
 

Rotate the drive selector knob clockwise to engage ‘Sport’ mode and the performance improvement is so noticeable that the Nexon EV feels like it has been freed from its shackles at the simple flick of a dial. This car pulls in an extremely strong manner. Under full throttle, the front wheels often struggle for grip, and since there is no traction control or ESP, firm hands are needed to keep a check on its line. In Sport mode, the Nexon EV sprints from 0-100kph in 9.30 seconds, and will hit its limited top speed of 120kph in just 16.12 seconds. The regeneration function is noticeably weaker in this mode, resulting in a steeper reduction of driving range.

Tata Nexon EV performance and range (as tested)
0-10kph0.80s (Sport), 1.13s(D)
0-20kph1.51s (Sport), 2.28s (D)
0-30kph2.19s (Sport), 3.45s (D)
0-40kph2.87s (Sport), 4.68s (D)
0-50kph3.55s (Sport), 5.95s (D)
0-60kph4.36s (Sport), 7.32s (D)
0-70kph5.33s (Sport), 8.95s (D)
0-80kph6.47s (Sport), 10.89s (D)
0-90kph7.80s (Sport), 13.23s (D)
0-100kph9.30s (Sport), 16.14s (D)
0-110kph11.04s (Sport), 19.62s (D)
0-120kph16.12s (Sport), ---
Range (City)216km per charge
Range (Highway)201km per charge

While it is based on the standard Nexon, the SUV’s dynamics have been completely re-engineered to accommodate several modifications to its structure and account for the heavy battery pack beneath the cabin floor. So, while the Nexon EV tips the scales at 1,400kg, the good news is there’s a lot to like about its handling. Tata engineers have managed to achieve a 50:50 weight distribution, resulting in a good sense of balance from behind the wheel. Its centre of gravity is low due to the battery placement, and the stiffened suspension and wide 215mm tyres get credit for negligible body roll and impressive grip levels. What adds to its overall engaging feel is a sharp, precise steering, making this Nexon positively sporty to drive.

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Stiffer suspension than ICE version, but the EV’s ride still very nice and absorbent.
 

While the suspension has been stiffened, ride quality hasn’t suffered to a great extent. Sure, it feels a bit stiffer than the ICE Nexon, especially at low speeds, but this EV still flattens rough sections of the road and absorbs shocks from the sharper potholes very competently. Even at cruising speeds, the EV offers a planted, secure feel.

The Nexon EV’s brakes are strong and these perform in a fuss-free manner under panic braking too. However, because of the added weight, in a panic braking test from 80kph, the EV came to a full halt in 27.34 metres, over 2 metres more than the ICE version, which is pretty significant.

The Tata Nexon EV’s ARAI-certified range stands at 312km on a single charge, which is calculated using fixed parameters under urban driving conditions. In our tests, it achieved 208km in a mixed city-highway driving cycle. A higher degree of regeneration while driving in the city resulted in an urban range of 216km, whereas on freer roads with the motor constantly working with less regeneration, the highway range stood at 201km on a full charge.

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Graph represents the real-time driving pattern – the flatter the graph, the more efficient the drive.
 

It must be noted that there is no regeneration between 100-95 percent charge levels, so the fall in range will be the quickest here, and once the charge falls below 15 percent, the motor’s torque diminishes and the air-con stops functioning in an effort to maximise range.

To quickly adapt to an EV-friendly driving style, users would do well to keep an eye on the MID, which features a graphical representation of the driving pattern based on acceleration and deceleration. The objective is to achieve a smooth graph, and what this eventually does is encourage you to drive in a more measured, range-enhancing manner.

Tata provides a 3.3kWh portable charger with every Nexon EV. This charger can be used with any 15 ampere AC charging socket and it will replenish the battery’s charge from 20 to100 percent in around nine hours, roughly 10 percent every hour. Using one of the few DC fast chargers, its battery can be recharged up to 80 percent in approximately one hour. As is the case with any lithium-ion battery, the last 10 percent, irrespective of whether you’re using an AC or DC charger, is the slowest to recharge, in an attempt to preserve the battery’s life.

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It supports, both, regular AC charging as well as DC fast charging.
 

As an introductory offer, Nexon EV users can avail of charging facilities (including fast charging) at all the Tata Power locations listed in the ‘Tata Power EZ Charge’ mobile application, free of charge.

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Its battery can be charged up to 80 percent in about 60 minutes using a DC fast charger.

 

Several state governments are incentivising electric cars with a 100 percent waiver of road tax, and some states are also providing additional monetary subsidies. Delhi provides a subsidy of Rs 1.50 lakh to EV buyers, whereas Maharashtra is offering a Rs 1 lakh rebate to the first 10,000 EV buyers. In addition, owners can also avail of a Rs 1.50 lakh benefit on the interest on a loan taken for the purchase of EVs under Income Tax section 80EEB. FAME subsidies, however, aren’t applicable on the Nexon EV as those are for commercial vehicles only, and Tata has restricted the sale of the Nexon EV to private users for the time being.

The second aspect is the running costs. While the per-unit cost of electricity differs across service providers and household consumption slabs, even at a fairly high Rs 8 per unit, it takes roughly 30 units to charge the EV’s 30.2kWh battery using a 15-ampere wall socket. So a charge from 0-100 percent will cost approximately Rs 240, resulting in a cost of roughly Rs 1.2-1.5 per km, which is nearly a fourth of what diesel compact SUV owners would spend on fuel.

Tata has hit the ball out of the park with the Nexon EV. This one is undeniably the smoothest and most refined car to wear a Tata badge. It is zippy and very user friendly, and those who enjoy driving will love its sprinting abilities and its sporty driving manners. It has other strengths too, like a mature ride, and it aces space, comfort and practicality. While this electric vehicle commands a hefty premium over the ICE versions, factor in the government subsidies and its extremely low running costs and it will begin to make financial sense. With an ability to travel approximately 216km on a full charge in the city, this EV’s range is pretty respectable, but nowhere close to its advertised 312km. As an urban runabout, the Nexon EV is as good as it gets, and if your usage is restricted to intra-city commutes and you can arrange for a charging provision, the Nexon EV could be right up your alley.

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PRICE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Price Range Ex-showroom - Delhi Rs 13.99-16.25 lakh (ex-showroom, India)
Ex-showroom - Delhi Rs 16.25 lakh (ex-showroom, India)
Warranty 3 years or 1,25,000km + 8 years or 1,60,000km on b
ENGINE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Fuel Type / Propulsion Electric
Electric motor power (hp) 129hp
Electric motor torque (Nm) 245Nm
Motor Permanent magnet synchronous motor
Battery capacity 30.2kWh
Battery type Lithium-ion
Battery Voltage 320V
TRANSMISSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Gearbox Type Automatic
No of Gears Single-speed
BRAKING Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
80 - 0 kph (mts, sec) 27.34m, 2.44s
ACCELERATION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
0 - 10 kph (sec) 0.80s (Sport), 1.13s(D)
0 - 20 kph (sec) 1.51s (Sport), 2.28s (D)
0 - 30 kph (sec) 2.19s (Sport), 3.45s (D)
0 - 40 kph (sec) 2.87s (Sport), 4.68s (D)
0 - 50 kph (sec) 3.55s (Sport), 5.95s (D)
0 - 60 kph (sec) 4.36s (Sport), 7.32s (D)
0 - 70 kph (sec) 5.33s (Sport), 8.95s (D)
0 - 80 kph (sec) 6.47s (Sport), 10.89s (D)
0 - 90 kph (sec) 7.80s (Sport), 13.23s (D)
0 - 100 kph (sec) 9.30s (Sport), 16.14s (D)
0 - 110 kph (sec) 11.04s (Sport), 19.62s (D)
0 - 120 kph (sec) 16.12s (Sport), ---
NOISE LEVEL Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Idle (dB) 33.8dB
Idle with AC blower at half (dB) 58.1dB
50 kph AC off (dB) 61.7dB
80 kph AC off (dB) 67.5dB
BODY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Construction Five-door, monocoque SUV
Weight (kg) 1400kg
Front Tyre 215/60 R16
Rear Tyre 215/60 R16
Spare Tyre 215/60 R16
SUSPENSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Front Independent, MacPherson strut with coil springs
Rear Torsion beam with hydraulic shock absorbers, coil
STEERING Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Type Rack and pinion
Type of power assist Electric
Turning Circle Diameter (mts) 10.2m
BRAKES Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Front Disc
Rear Drum
Dimensions Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Length 3994mm
Width (mm) 1811mm
Height 1607mm
Wheel base 2498mm
Front Track (mm) 1540mm
Rear Track (mm) 1530mm
Ground Clearance (mm) 205mm (unladen)
Boot Capacity (Lts) 350 litres
Range Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
City 216km per charge
Highway 201km per charge
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