Tata Hexa Facelift Review & First Drive

Tata Hexa Overview

Tata Motors wanted to make sure the Hexa AT experience was a good one. Hence, they went to Belgian transmission specialist Punch Powertrain for the Hexa’s 6-speed torque convertor automatic. During the media first drive event, we were all praises for this powertrain and how smooth it was. However, given that those conditions were more of a highway trundle, we decided to take the Hexa AT out for an extensive road test through the busy roads as well as highways to see what the deal was all about.

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The drubbing that Tata’s large MPV, the Aria, suffered in the market place can be attributed to two shortcomings, both of which were amply highlighted by two of its rivals. Firstly, the Aria wasn’t appealing enough. Its MPV-like form paled in comparison to the distinctly SUV design of Mahindra’s XUV500 that followed into the market shortly after. Secondly, Tata and the Aria couldn’t pull off the price premium like Toyota’s Innova did, and continues to do so. Now over five years after the Aria hit the market, Tata is aiming to shake things up with an SUV, so they say, derived from the Aria, the Tata Hexa. On our first drive, we find out just how much of an SUV the Hexa really is and just how different it is from the Aria before it. View branded Cars from Tata dealers in Mumbai at Autozhop.

Tata Hexa Exteriors

Let’s start with the design though. The Hexa is the second car after the Tiago that gets what Tata Motors calls the ‘Impact’ design language. And if impact is what the Tata design team was going for, I think they have pretty much nailed it. The sheer stance and road presence of the Hexa is immense – far greater than what the Safari Storme pulls off.

The large gloss black front grille gets two distinct border slats, the bottom in chrome and the top in black that connects the two swept back projector headlamps. The lower half of the bumper gets a large central grille that has a wraparound accent painted in shade of matte grey. The fog lamp and daytime running lights on the bumper too get their own little grilles and on the whole I think that although there is just a hint of crossover-ness that the Hexa has, this is about as butch as a crossover can ever get.

A plastic cladding dominates the lower portions of the Hexa and combined with the wider wheel arches and the door trims, it makes the car look a lot more aggressive than it would have otherwise. The side profile is also dominated by the sloping roofline that travels up right at the very end. There’s also the chrome accent piece that carries the Hexa badge right behind the C-pillar. The rear end of the car has two large horizontally placed LED tail lamps with a really cool lighting and a large chrome accent piece that runs across the tail gate. Similar to the front, the rear too gets a matte grey scuff plate and two trapezoidal exhaust tips.

And then we come to my favourite part of the design – the 19-inch wheels! I am so glad that Tata has decided to choose something classic and simple like these 5-spoke wheels in a two-tone black and polished shade instead of choosing something unnecessarily ultra-modern and ruining the design package. Not only do they look great standing still but the polished wheels look even better in motion.

Tata Hexa Interiors

Let’s take this from the back. Lift open the tail gate, even with the third row up, you have 129 litres of luggage space in the Hexa. That is good enough for a short weekend trip. However, if you flip the third row down (they won’t fold flat), you probably get enough space to pack for a round-the-world voyage. But the biggest benefit of the size is for the passengers. Tata offers a bench seat version of the Hexa, however it is the six-seater that is the one in focus.

Pratap Bose, Head of Design, Tata Motors, shared that it was the captain seat equipped six-seater version that gave rise to the Hexa name. Sitting on those seats, the sense of space is evident, as you can slide them to liberate enough room for even the tallest passengers. Passengers will be able to spend long hours in these seats without complaint as they are well contoured, although larger passengers would have preferred a bit more width. As before, there are B-pillar-mounted air-con vents aside from a floor-mounted console and there are manually operated sun-blinds, too.

The surprise though has to be the third row, which is genuinely usable even for full-grown adults. Tata Motors say they have made changes to the floor pan to help improve the usability of the third row. While you still sit a little knees up and the roof not too far off, this would be one of the most usable third row seats we have sat in.

Jump straight into the front and you are greeted by a whole load of technology and design, but there is a sense of familiarity. The dashboard top design is the same as the Aria and it packs two gloveboxes as well. However, the centre console is completely redesigned. It wears a handsome look and the way the 5-inch infotainment system sits recessed reminds us of the Hexa’s English cousins. The system offers new features that allow passengers to collaborate to create playlists, or to use their mobile phones as remote controls for the infotainment system.

The Hexa is loaded with equipment, and the 10-speaker JBL system is a highlight. It has been fine-tuned to suit the Aria’s cabin over 1000 hours! Another nice touch is the colour screen that sits nestled between the driver’s instruments. While we didn’t get a chance to try it, the Hexa has 8-colour mood lighting. More importantly, the Hexa packs six airbags, ABS, ESP and traction control. In terms of quality, the Hexa still uses many hard and tough plastics, but the real grouse is that there are still a few niggles, like ill-fitting plastics that detract from the in-cabin For Tata Hexa  check iftr2015hyd.

Tata Hexa Gearbox

The Hexa will be available with a sole diesel engine, in two states of tune. The 2.2-litre, four-cylinder engine is the same powerplant we’ve seen do duties under the bonnet of the Safari, the Safari Storme and the Aria. The base XE variant of the Hexa gets a 150PS / 320Nm tune, whereas the mid XM and the top-spec XT variant gets 156PS / 400Nm to play around with. The other notable difference happens to be the gearbox. While the lower tune is available exclusively with a 5-speed manual, the latter gets a choice of a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed torque converter automatic.

The engine comes to life with a shake and stir, just like we’re used to with big Tata vehicles. That said, it isn’t audible isn’t the cabin unless you decide to drive somewhere in a hurry. NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels are well within control and the cabin feels isolated from most of the fuss outside. The motor isn’t a particularly fun to drive unit, and feels more at ease at cruising speeds. Torque spread is even, and there isn’t a sudden gush of shove that will pin you to your seat. What you get instead is linear power delivery, with perceptible turbo lag under 1500rpm.

On the manual variants, the clutch is relatively light, but isn’t progressive at all. In fact, the first time you drive the Hexa, there’s a high chance you would stall it. The bite point is vague, which keeps you guessing. The other fly in the ointment, is the fact that the gears aren’t sure slotting – especially into fifth and sixth. But, get going and you get used to it pretty quickly.

You also get ‘Super Drive’ modes, that can be toggled on the fly. The effective modes are the result of varying calibrations of the engine and throttle map, the ESP and the ABS module that lets you set up the Hexa for intended usage. The modes on offer include Auto, Comfort, Dynamic and Rough-Road. While it functions as a rear-wheel drive in Comfort and Dynamic, it transmits power to the front wheels in the other two modes. The modes work without a hiccup – but we preferred to leave it in Auto for most of the time we drove it.

The other big talking point about the Hexa is the 6-speed automatic transmission. This engine-transmission is easily one of the best in the segment. Certainly superior to the XUV500 AT. It is our pick out of the two since it makes driving so much easier. Shifts are smooth and quick and there’s barely any head-nod associated with automatics. It’s also reasonably fuel efficient, delivering a tested 11kmpl in city and 14.50kmpl on the highway. The gearbox selects ratios very well and responds to the varying weight of your right foot quickly. For a spot of spirited driving, you can always slot the gearbox into Sports mode, or into Manual altogether, to take charge. The transmission holds the revs in the meaty mid-range, giving you a healthy amount of torque in reserve for those roll-on accelerations. The 20-80kmph (kickdown) took a tested 7.68 seconds, while 0-100kmph takes about 12.3 seconds, which is on par with rivals like the Mahindra XUV500.

Tata Hexa Driving

The standout in the Hexa experience is the ride quality. The big wheels wrapped in chunky rubber shrug off bad roads without a fuss. The ride remains planted when at triple digit speeds too, and there’s next to no vertical bobbing.What isn’t confidence inspiring, is the steering. It feels lacklustre at highway speeds and vague when tracking straight. It also needs a lot of input to keep it going in a straight line, and cornering requires a fair bit of guess work too. There’s a fair bit of body roll too, that will force you to back off when the roads get twisty. It is, however, quick to stop, with the all-wheel disc brakes getting it down from 100-0kmph in 42.39 metres. Apply car loan for Tata Hexa at Fincarz.

Tata Hexa Safety

In terms of safety tech, the Hexa is loaded to the brim with goodies such as 6 airbag, electronic stability program, traction control, hill ascent and descent control and anti-lock brakes.

Tata Hexa Cost in Chennai

Tata Hexa On-Road Price in Chennai ranges from 14,28,958 to 20,70,619 for variants Hexa XE and Hexa XT 4X4 respectively. Tata Hexa is available in 7 variants and 5 colours. Below are details of Tata Hexa variants price in Chennai. Check for Hexa price in Chennai at Carzprice.

Tata Hexa Round Up

The Aria’s quite a capable machine and Tata has done well to build on its strengths while making up for its shortcomings. The Hexa’s spacious cabin with three rows of seats, its ability to shrug off bad roads, commanding driving position and easy driving manners make for a great machine to cover long distances in. Yes, it will be a bit cumbersome to steer in the city and fit-finish of the interiors could be better. Nonetheless Tata look to tackle the Mahindra XUV500 head on with the Hexa and if priced right, the Hexa has not just the manners, but the look and the appeal to make it happen this time around. Quite simply, the Hexa is SUV enough, rich enough and fresh enough to deliver an overall experience that feels quite welcome for those looking for a rugged three-row SUV.

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