Tata Nexon facelift review: Bestseller thoroughly updated

    This might be a second facelift, but the changes inside and out make it seem like an all-new SUV.

    Published on Sep 06, 2023 04:00:00 PM

    73,161 Views

    Make : Tata
    Model : Nexon
    We Like
    • Smooth twin-clutch automatic
    • New tech-rich cabin
    We Don't Like
    • Fit and finish not as good as rivals
    • Manual gearbox could be better

    It’s not every day that you see a car get two major facelifts during its lifetime. And it isn’t everyday that along with the new look comes an all-new interior and a new twin-clutch gearbox. However, not every car is a Nexon – the bestselling SUV in the country for two years running – and one that, of course, has the weight of expectation sat squat on its shoulders.

    Launched in 2017, the Nexon was the first Indian car to get a 5-star crash test rating – in 2018 – from Global NCAP. It got its first refresh in 2020, and has been so successful over the years that Tata has sold upwards of 5,00,000 Nexons to date. This has made it India’s bestselling SUV for two years in a row; no mean feat considering that it has the Maruti Brezza, Hyundai Venue and the Kia Sonet as rivals. Where it has always succeeded is that unlike many of its rivals, it has always delivered more car for relatively less money.

    New Nexon gets a radical Curvv concept-like nose. 

    But can the new 2023 Nexon help Tata maintain its class-leading position? How well will buyers connect with the new exteriors, the all-new interiors and updated mechanical bits? And has Tata done enough to keep the Nexon ahead of its rivals? 

    2023 Tata Nexon facelift exterior design 

    The new 2023 Tata Nexon is thoroughly updated. There’s an all new nose or cowl, including a new bonnet and fenders. The bonnet is placed higher up and the tall ridges on either side make it look bigger. High up on the bonnet sit the new Daytime Running Lamps (DRLs) that get interesting slat-like details. A high-mounted faux grille connects the DRLs, and lower down, placed inside wide brackets that look like air intakes, sit the main projector headlamp and fog lights. What adds a nice finishing touch is the angular bumper that appears to push air towards the air curtains, which in turn divert airflow around the wheels.   

    V-shaped tail-light signature swipes when you lock/unlock the car.

    Around the side, the Nexon’s curved coupe roof and steeply raked windscreens remain the same. It gets new 16-inch alloy wheels with inserts, and the Nexon’s decorative band or ‘hockey stick’ that runs along the windows is no longer in a contrasting colour. The rear, like the nose, is also thoroughly refreshed. There’s a larger spoiler on top, which, interestingly, conceals the rear wiper; the ‘V’ shaped rear signature lights of the Nexon have evolved, and it now gets a connecting band that swipes when you lock or unlock the car; and the Tata logo now sort of ‘floats’ in three dimensions. However, the fit and finish around the tail-lights and in a few other places isn’t very impressive. Suspension aggregates and ground clearance, at a class-leading 208mm, remain unaltered.

    2023 Tata Nexon facelift interior and features 

    The insides of the 2023 Tata Nexon are all-new, attractively designed, well equipped and a pleasure to spend time in. The dash has a clean design with layers and straight lines lending much sophistication. A long slender ledge finished in ‘metal’ is supported by a wider ‘soft’ section that sits below the vents, and the ‘terraced’ look of the dash is further enhanced by a faux carbon-fibre finish on the band where the vents are sat. Tata’s new steering wheel, also with straight lines across the boss and flat piano black surfaces, adds a new design element. What completes the ‘high-tech’ look is that the logo on the steering is illuminated.

    Illuminated logo is cool, but piano black surface attracts fingerprints.

    The new Nexon also gets twin high-resolution 10.25-inch screens. The central screen is particularly impressive. Sharp, clear and quick to respond, it is a big upgrade. Wireless Apple CarPlay functions beautifully, and what comes as a pleasant surprise is the pin-sharp resolution of the 360-degree camera and the slick functionality of the 3D animation and graphics. The new Nexon also gets turn signal-activated rear view left and right cameras (that irritatingly overlay Google Maps on the centre screen, so you can’t see where exactly to turn).

    New 10.25-inch screen sharp and slick; 360-deg camera resolution is good.

    Tata has also included a fully digital instrument panel, which, unlike in the Hyundai Venue, is a real screen. This screen can also be used to view a full-sized map, à la Audi’s Virtual Cockpit.

    Below the vents you get useful ‘paddles’ for fan and temperature control, and Tata has chosen to use Porsche-like capacitive touch buttons mounted on a gloss black ‘glass’ surface. Even more impressive is that these buttons function in a slick manner and gel beautifully with the high-tech dash.

    Capacitive touch buttons on piano black panel function well, look slick.

    The seats up front are sufficiently large and get good bolstering. The backrest isn’t as soft and comfortable as rivals, however, and the driver’s seat feels like it is not perfectly aligned. Rear seat comfort and space are very impressive. The low roof means tall passengers may have to watch their head while getting in, but legroom, seat comfort and even headroom is very good. The seat base is particularly long and very comfortable, and you get vents and USB charging ports. The Nexon is also wide at the rear, so you can seat three abreast in relative comfort. And boot space is 382 litres due to the re-profiled rear hatch.

    Rear seat comfort and thigh support is excellent.

    The new Nexon also gets body-coloured seats (on some models), interior and screen graphics for some cool uniformity; a fantastic sounding 9-speaker JBL audio system with a subwoofer; “Hello Tata” activated voice assistant (that can of course open the sunroof); Alexa; an in-built Air Quality Index monitor; tyre pressure monitoring system; IRA connected car tech for remote start/stop; over the air updates and vehicle diagnostics. Top-spec Nexons also get auto headlights and wipers, emergency call buttons on the roof, knitted roof liners and cruise control. In addition, six airbags and ESP come as standard across the range, which is great.

    Instrument panel is a real screen; can be configured to display a big map.

    There are a few important things missing. There’s no built-in navigation, the new Nexon still gets no proper cup holders, the conductive wireless charging can’t be switched off (it can negatively affect phone battery life and there’s no alternate place to put your phone), the seats aren’t powered like some rivals and the button for the cooled seats is all but hidden out of view on the seat base. Additionally, the oversized drive mode selector knob, one of the few carried over bits, doesn’t appear to be in sync with the rest of the cabin. The myriad piano black surfaces easily soil with fingerprints and build quality on the new illuminated steering isn’t great. In fact build quality in general, though much improved on the new bits, still isn’t great on the bits that are carried over.   

    2023 Tata Nexon facelift petrol-DCT performance 

    Tata’s three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine makes 120hp and is carried over from the earlier Nexon with only a few small tweaks. What’s new, however, is the twin clutch automatic that for greater durability and greater protection comes with a wet or oil filled clutch. 

    There is some small amount of vibration from the three-cylinder engine off idle, initial acceleration isn’t strong off the bat and there’s even a hint of judder at low revs if you are heavy on the throttle. This is partly because the seven speed gearbox takes off in second when you are not in City or Eco mode to save fuel. As you build speed, however, the gearbox smoothens up nicely, upshifts are executed in a smooth and jerk free manner and what helps progress is that torque from the engine comes in nicely once you are past 1,800rpm. Power delivery isn’t very strong and there’s no big gratifying spike in power, but the big plus here is that the jerky and inconsistent throttle response this engine earlier struggled with, seem to be a thing of the past. I say seem to because we haven’t driven the manual version yet.

    The new twin-clutch gearbox is smooth and jerk-free, but not very quick to shift.

    The engine doesn’t rev very high, and it’s best work is done by 5,500rpm, so this isn’t a very sporty performer. Sport mode does give you an additional kick, and yes, responses are better here, but the difference is only marginal. Rivals clearly offer a lot more punch and performance from even their smaller capacity turbo engines. And what also serves as a limiting factor is that the gearbox isn’t lightning quick on either upshifts, like a VW or Skoda DSG is, especially on downshifts. So while this engine and gearbox are smooth and easy going at low engine speeds, strong performance isn’t one of its strengths. 

    2023 Tata Nexon facelift diesel-manual performance 

    The diesel engine is carried over from the recently updated BS6.2 version launched earlier this year. It gets 115hp, a strong 260Nm of torque from 1,500rpm and Tata’s smart, passive SCR emissions control system that make do without a lot of expensive emissions hardware like a Urea tank, independent ad blue injection system and dedicated electronic control systems.

    Idle on the four-cylinder 1.5-litre engine is relatively smooth, but as you rev it, the note gets gravelly. There’s also some small amount of lag below 1,500rpm, but pass 2,000rpm and the engine pulls with more grunt and resolve. This is the sweet spot for the engine, and keeping it spinning between 2,000-4,000rpm results in a good amount of torque. So progress when the engine is operated in this band is good, and the healthy amount of torque makes it feel relatively effortless. Spin the engine harder and the laws of diminishing returns kick in. There’s not much performance past around 4,200rpm, and there’s a distinct slope off after 4,500rpm with the din from the diesel also increasing.

    The diesel engine has a fair amount of grunt in the mid-range.

    While the clutch is relatively light for everyday operations, driving it in traffic, where you are doing many reps on the left pedal, can cause some amount of muscle fatigue. In addition, the gearbox with its long throws and somewhat vague gate needs your attention. It is light in operation, which is good in traffic, but it also baulks irritatingly at times, especially when you are in a hurry.  

    2023 Tata Nexon facelift ride and handling 

    If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, says the adage and that’s exactly what Tata has done with the suspension and driving manners of the new Nexon. There’s a hint of stiffness when it comes to low speed ride due to the setup and tall springs, but go faster and the ride immediately smoothes out, with the suspension putting its best foot forward. The ride is flat despite the 208mm ground clearance, and body control and bump absorption over really bad sections is very impressive. What really endears you to the Nexon on a bad stretch of road is that you can carry on without slowing down too much.

    The new Nexon continues to be right at home on all types of roads.

    The steering is also light at low speeds, direct enough when you go faster and accurate enough to not have you making corrections all the time at higher speeds. So long highway drives behind the wheel of the Nexon are something to look forward to. It is also competent if not particularly sporty in corners, keeps things neat and tidy, body roll is in check and you can even enjoy an interesting or fun road.

    2023 Tata Nexon facelift verdict 

    At an estimated price of Rs 8 lakh-14 lakh, the new Nexon is sure to appeal to a broad swathe of buyers. Tata’s segment leader is fresh and new on the outside – the design appears to have been well received – and what is likely to appeal even more to buyers is the more upmarket cabin. The new screens are larger and of high quality, the capacitive touch centre console is slick to operate and it also comes with loads more kit.

    The Nexon facelift ticks all the right boxes, delivers plenty of attractive new kit.

    The Nexon has always been one of the most comfortable cars in its class, and the addition of the new smooth twin-clutch automatic and recently updated diesel mean the new Nexon is nicer to drive too. It even rides well, drives with plenty of confidence and has a practical and hardy SUV feel. It remains to be seen if it's as efficient in the real world as rivals – especially the petrol; it doesn’t feel as mechanically sophisticated or robust as others; and the fit and finish needs to be improved in places as well. Still, put everything together and the Nexon delivers an overall package and will likely still be great bang for your buck. And looking at its track record, that’s exactly what Indian car buyers seem to want. So, if you liked the Nexon earlier, you’ll really love this one.

    Also See:

    2023 Tata Nexon facelift video review

    Tech Specs

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    The Mahindra XUV 300 facelift will be called the XUV 3XO. Should more brands rename models for facelifts?

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