Tata Nexon EV First-Drive Review: A Cost-Effective Electric SUV
The Tata Nexon EV is surprisingly well-built for a home-grown EV with a claimed range of 312 Km on a single charge.
Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia
Slowly, but surely electric vehicles are becoming a little more mainstream. They still have limited range, they still won't find charging spots conveniently, but they have improved considerably.
The new Tata Nexon EV is one such. This all-electric SUV is powered by Tata's home-grown Ziptron technology, sporting a front-wheel-drive electric drivetrain.
The Quint recently drove the Tata Nexon EV in and around Pune at Tata's invitation for this review.
What We Like
- Sporty torque from the EV drivetrain makes it fun to drive
- Good build quality, high safety rating should translate to the EV variant also
- Good handling, ideal as a city runabout
What We Don't
- Range of 312 Km (ARAI), limits its practicality as an only vehicle
- Long charging times at home, few & far between fast chargers is a limiting factor
- Top speed capped at 120 Km in interest of range conservation, limits its use cases.
Driving the Tata Nexon EV
I'm straight away going to get into how the Tata Nexon EV drives.
The Tata Nexon electric is powered by a 30.2 kWh battery that is liquid-cooled. It gives it an ARAI certified range of 312 Km. It puts out 129 PS of power and a smile-inducing 245 Nm of torque.
The thing about electric motors is the instant torque that you get. The Nexon EV has two drive modes - Drive & Sport. Torque comes on instantly and linear in drive mode, which makes it a pleasure to drive in city conditions. It has a creep function and hill assist, which prevents it from rolling back and it pulls away without having to use the pedal.
But it's when you shift to sport mode that things get interesting. There's 40 percent more useable torque. And it comes on with a bang. So much so, if you pin the pedal, you get a huge dose of wheel-spin and the screeching can scare fellow motorists. It’s totally fun!
You have to fight the steering because the torque steer can make it pull to a side if you aren't careful.
What's interesting is the Nexon doesn't have selectable regenerative braking levels, but instead the on-board computer decides the level of regeneration needed while decelerating. It also acts as an effective Hill Descent control system, slowing the vehicle to a controlled pace downhill.
The regen-levels are quite strong, which means in city traffic you can almost drive without having to use the brakes.
The Tata Nexon has an IP67 rated battery placed under the vehicle, which can withstand up to 300 mm of water wading easily. Ground clearance is lower by only 4 mm at 205 mm overall, which is more than enough.
Tata Nexon EV Design
There are very subtle things that Tata has done to the Nexon compared to the internal combustion engine variant. It has got even more sound insulation in this because it’s not that you hear the motor noise, but it’s that you hear more road noise in this car. So Tata has had to work on that because after a while it can get a little annoying.
Tata has refreshed the looks of the Nexon. It gets new projector headlamps with LED DRLs. The blue accents on the grille and the cladding on the shoulder line distinguish the EV. It gets refreshed tail-lamps and the Ziptron electric technology badging on the boot.
In terms of features it has Android Auto, Apple Car Play, touch-screen infotainment system with reverse camera and rear AC vents. It now gets a Z-Connect app which tells you status of the car and also controls some functions.
When you buy the Tata Nexon EV, Tata is going to give you a 15-amp plug that can be plugged into your home socket and it can charge the battery from 20 percent to 100 percent in 8 hours or overnight.
You also get fast-chargers that will be set up at dealerships and elsewhere that can give you an 80 percent charge in less than an hour.
What We Think
With its price tag of between Rs 15 lakh to Rs 17 lakh and coming in three variants, the Tata Nexon EV may be the most cost-effective EV yet. Tata is offering an 8-year, 160,000 Km warranty on the battery and it promises to set up far more chargers in seven cities in the country.
When you look at the overall running cost over a period of years, I think it makes sense. It is still early days for electric vehicles in the country and it’s good to see companies like this taking a bold step, even though it won’t be high volumes initially. Someone has to be the early bird, right?
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