Tata Hexa : Official Review
The Tata Hexa has been launched in India at a price of between Rs. 11.99 - 17.49 lakhs (ex-Delhi).
What you'll like:
• Smart styling & substantial presence. Solid build & paint quality too
• Spacious, high quality and comfortable interiors. Even 3rd row is rather useable
• 6-speed AT is smooth & competent. Perfectly mated to the 2.2L diesel
• Excellent ride quality. Comfortable over any kind of road
• Features such as selectable driving modes, auto headlamps & wipers, ORVM demister...
• Awesome 10-speaker JBL audio system. Sound quality is fantastic!
• Topnotch safety kit includes 6 airbags, ESP, TC, ABS, EBD, hill hold / descent control etc.
• AWD with electronic wizardry & 200 mm of ground clearance
What you won't:
• Automatic variant unavailable with AWD, ESP & super drive modes
• Missing essentials (steering reach adjustment, smartkey entry & go, auto-dimming IRVM...)
• Access to the 3rd row is flawed in the captain seat (6-seater) version
• Heavy steering (low speeds), long travel MT shifter, big size & wide turning radius are annoying in the city
• Fat 2,280 kg kerb weight blunts performance & efficiency. Competition is 400 kilos lighter!
• Concerns over niggling issues & long-term reliability
• Tata's after-sales service remains a hit or miss
This review has been jointly compiled with Vid6639. Thanks to him for the expert observations & photography!
Re: Tata Hexa : Official Review
Tata Aria, Take 2
Yup, that's exactly what the Hexa is. For its time, the Aria was a brilliant MPV, but the less said about its pricing, the better. The car bombed on launch and never quite recovered. Come 2016 and the Aria is back...with significant improvements. It is now better looking, has nicer interiors, comes with more kit, boasts improved road manners & even has a new name.
The market has changed from how things were in 2010 when the Aria was launched. Tata would definitely have been encouraged by the success of the XUV500 & Innova (despite its ever increasing price!). Nothing was wrong with the Aria as a product; this, everyone knew. Thus, what was needed for 'Take 2' was smarter positioning, a distinct identity and bringing the car up to date with current customer expectations. We can't comment on the pricing just yet, but Tata has definitely succeeded in the latter 2 points.
In March 2015 @ the Geneva Motor Show, the company displayed the Hexa concept. Tata then went on to showcase the Hexa at the 2016 Auto Expo. The car universally received positive feedback & the interest around it has been unbelievable. That Auto Expo thread has already crossed 10 lakh views on Team-BHP!
The Hexa uses the same hydroformed X2 platform as the Aria (& updated Safari Storme), but its cosmetically enhanced exterior and tweaked interior makes it significantly more visually appealing than the original car. Under the hood is the same 2.2L VARICOR 400 turbo-diesel as the Storme 400 VARICOR. Like the Storme, the Hexa gets a 6-speed manual transmission; what's new is the optional 6-speed AT. Additionally, the vehicle is equipped with features such as automatic headlights, automatic wipers, 4 driving modes and a JBL 10-speaker touchscreen infotainment system, among other things. On the safety front, the Hexa gets 6 airbags (front, side and curtain), ESP, ABS with EBD, hill hold control and hill descent control.
We only hope that Tata keeps the price real (once bitten, twice shy?). At the media drive in Hyderabad, me & Vid6639 emphatically told Tata to keep the XUV500's positioning in mind, and NOT the Innova Crysta's.
The name 'Hexa' means 6 - a reflection of the number of seats in this UV. Those looking for seven chairs shouldn't fret, there's a 7-seater version as well. The crossover is 4,788 mm long, 1,903 mm wide and 1,791 mm tall. This makes it 8 mm longer + wider and 11 mm taller than the Aria. However, its wheelbase and ground clearance remain identical to the old car at 2,850 mm and 200 mm respectively.
The new styling makes the Hexa look more SUV'ish than the van-like Aria. It uses the company's 'Impact design language' and all over, the rounded look of the old car is gone. Still, from certain angles (especially the side), there's no escaping the Aria / van origins. The bonnet is flatter, there is a roof-mounted rear spoiler and a plastic cladding running along the wheel arches + sides giving the Hexa a rugged look. The twin-barrel smoked headlights are new, while the Christmas tree tail-lamps have (thankfully) made way for more modern wraparound LED units. Other changes include a contemporary mesh grille with a large air dam, new bumpers, LED daytime running lights and huge 19-inch alloy wheels.
Coming to the paint job and fit & finish, it is the best we have seen on a Tata vehicle till date. This car feels premium, and it feels substantial. The panel gaps are consistent overall. Yes, around the clamshell bonnet, they are rather wide, but still consistent edge to edge. Even the plastic cladding looks like a part of the car's body (and not like something added later on). The Hexa is well built and solidly put together. The cost of this solidity is the massive 2,280 kg kerb weight! Holy cow....as we all know, weight penalises performance & fuel efficiency.
Surely a mature face. The Hexa looks a lot more SUV'ish from the front than the Aria. A piano black grille, big air dam, LED DRLs and its size bring loads of road presence. Clamshell bonnet looks neat & the wide tyres give it a planted stance:
Rear end sees a lot of changes, making it far more interesting than the Aria's bland derrière (reference image). Thank goodness those x'mas tree-style tail-lights are gone. LED tail-lamps, lots of chrome & meaty tail-pipes:
Viewed from the side, the resemblance to the Aria is apparent. Still, the larger wheels and body cladding help in making it look more butch. The design is proportionate, while the front & rear overhangs aren't too long:
This is indisputably the best angle to view the Hexa in. It measures 4,788 mm in length (longer than XUV500 & Innova), 1,903 mm in width and 1,791 mm in height (wheelbase = 2,850 mm):
From the rear 3-quarter however, the Hexa is van-like:
Smart twin-barrel projector headlamp cluster with a smoked effect. Damn classy:
So you can see all the lights in action. Low beam + high beam are both regular halogens (Innova offers LED low beam). Headlights have a follow-me-home feature, which allows them to be turned on by pressing a button on the keyfob:
Foglamps with a DRL strip above (link to image with DRLs on). Don't miss the hexagonal pattern on the plastic bezel, and how this part of the bumper is black to match the body cladding. Small touches like these greatly enhance the visual appeal:
Headlamps bulge out from the side of the bonnet. See how the piano black strip of the grille continues on top of the headlamp:
Piano black grille sports a new 3D "T" logo, hexagonal design pattern and chrome-accented "humanity line" below. We don't usually like chrome, yet we'll agree with its tasteful application here. In this image, you can clearly see the subtle hump on the center of the bonnet:
A closer look at the detailing on the badge:
Bumper houses a large air dam! On this body shade, the scuff plate looks almost like the body colour (a little darker). On the blue car however, it stands out (reference image):
Clamshell bonnet has an understated hump in the middle. Grille is separate now and doesn't go up with the bonnet (unlike the Aria):
Black beading around the windshield in the Aria was loose. Here, it has the same design, but is tight-fitting with no gaps. Sits flush with the windshield:
Butterfly windshield wiper style carried over from the Aria. No attempt has been made to conceal the wiper spindles or washer units:
Two windshield washers shoot out two jets of water each:
Wide gap around the bonnet inherited from the Aria:
Lettering on the right fender denotes the engine used and its state of tune:
AWD variants get a 4x4 badge on the left fender (2WD variants don't get any badging). 4x4 sounds cooler, but 'AWD' badging would be more accurate:
Wing mirrors are carried over from the Aria. They come with integrated blinkers and are electrically foldable. Sadly, no auto-folding on locking & unlocking the car (how could Tata miss out on such a useful feature?). Their design is 'sedan-like'; we usually see taller ORVMs on UVs:
Body-coloured door handle with a classy chrome insert. Both front doors get keyholes. No request sensors / smartkey entry though. Am shocked that passive keyless entry is missing on such a premium vehicle!!
Someone at Tata loves 5 spoke-inspired designs (we do too!) - see Aria rims here. 19-inch alloys wheels (sourced from Indonesia) carried over from the demo shown at the 2016 Auto Expo. 235/55 section Wanderer tyres are designed by MRF specifically for the Hexa. We're extremely unhappy with the 19" rim size though. Other than aesthetics, there's no real advantage for a UV. Large wheels + shorter sidewall tyres are prone to damage on our pothole-ridden roads (Innova Crysta owners are already experiencing issues with 17s!). Plus, the ride quality suffers & 19" tyres will be a lot more expensive to replace as well. IMHO, UVs should have a maximum wheel size of 16 inches, matched with a tall sidewall tyre. In this image, you can see the 206 mm rear brake disc:
Flared wheel arches get black plastic cladding, lending the Hexa a rugged appearance. The cladding should've had a perfect half circle over the wheel arch; that rectangular protrusion on the upper edge sticks out like a sore thumb (it's there on the rear wheel arch too):
Chunky body cladding on the side:
The B, C & D-pillars are blackened to give a "floating roof" effect. Large glass area allows a lot of light into the cabin. Thin chrome strip runs along the window line:
D-pillar gets a matt black finish (others are shiny). 3rd row window is the same as the Aria, but has different panelling around it (see Aria here):
Chrome "HEXA" lettering at the base of the C-pillar. We think it's too loud:
Roof is ribbed for better rigidity (from the B-pillar backwards). Roof rails are a new addition (weren't there on the Aria). They are firmly attached & feel robust. In a car with premium aspirations, a sunroof is conspicuous by its absence (XUV500 has it):
Stubby antenna sits at the rear:
Rear washer is housed in the roof-mounted spoiler. Integration could have been better (aesthetically). It shoots out two jets of water:
LED wraparound tail-lamps from South Korea. Red strip on top comes on when the pilot lights are started (as shown in this pic):
Indicator and brake light in action. The clear-lens section (next to the turn indicator) is a dummy:
"T" logo on the tail-gate. Nowhere on the car will you find the name of its maker "Tata":
Unlike the tasteful chrome application at the front, we find this thick chrome garnish to be awfully gawdy. It's excessive. Should've been left as a dealer accessory so that those of us who like it subtle don't have to live with the garishness:
Reversing camera is placed here. Badly integrated though, we've seen better. Don't understand why its housing has to be so big! Sure looks like an afterthought:
Rear bumper has a prominent skidplate and houses 4 parking sensors. Along with the reversing camera, these are essential as the Hexa is a long vehicle. Exhaust tips look very meaty. Better still, you get one on either side (just the way we love it!):
Single rear foglamp on the right…
…and single reversing light on the left. Notice the tow hook peeping out (next to the exhaust pipe):
The chrome nightmare continues at the rear. As if that gawdy garnish weren't enough, here's more chrome on top of the rear bumper. Too flashy, too tasteless:
Eek! The exhaust tip is meaty, but the actual pipe is terribly puny:
Spare is an alloy wheel - carried below the body. 5-link rigid axle + coil spring rear. 200 mm of ground clearance is excellent:
Interior - Front
The front doors of the Hexa open and close in a triple-stage action. While they aren't very heavy, they do feel solid enough. The doors require some force to shut, but they don't have that 'European thud'. Getting in or out of the car isn't difficult like tall body-on-frame SUVs (e.g. Fortuner). It is not a low vehicle, yet it is not very high either (elderly will have to make an effort though). The high roof helps matters too.
The Hexa gets all-black interiors; we feel beige should've been an option for those who like it bright. On the other hand, this dark shade will help the interiors age well and keep them from looking soiled or mucky over the years. The pillars and roof liner are whitish grey, and the large glass area ensures that a healthy amount of light enters the cabin. The cabin's width ensures that front seat occupants don't feel too close to each other.
The interior design is a lot different from the Aria’s. It’s genuinely the best seen yet in a Tata car. There are smoked chrome, brushed aluminium and piano black inserts at various places on the dashboard, center fascia and doorpads; this helps to add some character. Ambient lighting has also been provided to improve cabin feel.
The dashboard is functional and very well put together with good fit & finish in general. Soft touch materials are used on the front surface. The switches feel durable as well. If you look hard, there are some rough edges below the dashboard, but one is not likely to touch or see these parts.
All-black dashboard with smoked chrome and brushed aluminium inserts looks good and is well laid out. Controls are easy to reach. The high-perched driving position gives you a commanding view of the road ahead:
Meaty leather steering with thumb contours and silver inserts. Styling is very similar to the Zest's (reference image). Buttons on the spokes are finished in piano black. Big hornpad is not difficult to reach either, and is easy to press. The only problem here is that the steering is placed too far from the driver’s seat. This will especially affect those who sit with the seat pushed back or prefer a laidback driving position (like Vid6639):
Audio & call reject buttons mounted on the left. Nifty mute button provided (so many manufacturers miss out on this):
Cruise control, call accept & voice commands on the right:
In a car as well-equipped, this is a big mistake from Tata. Steering is only adjustable for height! Considering how difficult it is to reach the steering, telescopic adjustment will be missed:
Rubber is used to cover the gap when the steering adjustment lever is locked in place:
Slick instrument cluster with a smoked chrome border and colour MID. So much better than the Aria's (reference image). Happy to see that there are no ugly stalks sticking out of it:
It's backlit in white, with classy fonts. Numbers (especially on the speedometer) should have been a size larger:
Nice graphics! 3.5" MID has a digital fuel gauge, digital engine temperature gauge, two trip meters, average & instant fuel economy, distance to empty, time, outside temperature and door ajar warning (specific door is shown):
Other features of the MID include a gear indicator & recommendation, service reminder (distance / time) and colour-coded drive mode display. Regular 'automatic' mode is shown in white, 'sport' mode in red (with sprinting man at the bottom :)) and 'manual' mode in blue (with gear number). Standing still, one can shift the automatic into second gear (useful when starting off on a slippery surface). 'Driver control shift denied' is displayed whenever the car won't carry out your upshift / downshift command. This is preferred over nearly every other car which silently ignores your command. Last image is showing the prominent seatbelt warning:
In the MT AWD variant, the MID shows the drive mode that is engaged. Each mode has a colour code – white for Auto, blue for Comfort, red for Dynamic and yellow for Rough Road. A shift indicator is also present:
MID will display if a particular door or the tail gate is open on the full screen. If one of the doors and the tail gate are open together, the door is shown opened, with the tail gate highlighted in red. Attention-to-detail; not only is a Hexa drawn here, but even the rim design is similar to the actual car:
Stalks are lightly textured & quality of plastics is excellent (barely visible mold lines). The light stalk is used for browsing through the MID functions. Indicator beeps are low volume and you can actually forget that the blinker is on. Triple-flash lane change indicator has been provided. Don't miss the 'auto' wipers with speed adjustment (can handle rains of varying intensity):
Button on the tip of the indicator stalk is to access the MID's different options. Vid6639 noticed that the “i” sign's orientation was wrong (Tata was shocked when we pointed this out):
Ugh, wires are visible through the gaps!
Standard illuminated keyhole. We're disappointed with the lack of an engine start button:
Side air-con vents have brushed aluminium surrounds (from a German company) and a smoked chrome border. There’s a dash of chrome on the adjuster as well. Yep, you can control the air volume. Horizontal vents would lead to a better spread of air though (vis a vis vertical ones):
Euro-style headlamp controls, headlamp leveller and backlight dimmer are carried over from the Aria. "Auto" headlamps are part of the feature list:
Doorpads have soft touch plastics (sourced from a USA supplier) at the top and on the armrest. There is a leather insert too, above the armrest. Quality of materials used is good and there are no rough edges:
Window & ORVM controls here. All windows get one-touch down functionality. All buttons are backlit in white. The topmost button is to fold the wing mirrors:
Chrome door handles are robust. Driver’s door can be unlocked by pulling the door handle. To unlock the other doors, one has to pull the unlock knob (on top of the doorpad) or use the central locking button on the center fascia:
Pull-up style door locks are draped in darkened chrome and have grips to ensure your fingers don’t slip off. The fitting isn't good though, and the knobs feel loose:
Classy brushed aluminium strip on the side of the armrest. Above it is perforated leather:
Door pockets are accommodating...
...even three 1L bottles are an easy fit:
All doors get puddle cum warning lamps at the bottom:
The running board is wide, but it does not hamper ingress & egress much. Hexa branded scuff plates are standard on all variants:
The seats are brilliant to sit on and offer very good lower back & under-thigh support. They are wide enough to accommodate larger users. Tata says the Hexa has variable density foam seats. Whatever it is, it just works! Headroom is healthy - in the passenger seat, I had ~4 inches to spare:
Driver’s seat is 8-way adjustable. Lever to adjust the height is robust. Even with the seat in its highest position, I had 2 inches of extra headroom:
Check out the lumbar adjustment lever - very useful support provided. Driver’s seat has a healthy travel range. Here in full forward position and all the way behind. Tall drivers will comfortably fit in:
A closer look at the perforated leather upholstery and white stitching of the seats. This is leather-feel upholstery (i.e. fake leather) from Benecke-Kaliko:
Non-adjustable center armrest is weirdly shaped as the handbrake would be impossible to operate otherwise – a design flaw. This makes the armrest inconvenient for some drivers (co-driver will be able to use it better). The Aria had individual armrests that were waaaay more comfortable (reference image):
Seatbelts are height-adjustable. They are soft and easy to pull:
ABC pedals are properly spaced out, but...
...there's no dead pedal & no room to rest your left foot either! Another design failure:
Thankfully, the AT variant gets a useful resting pedal. We love the practicality offered by black carpeting + mats (as opposed to dirt-friendly light colours):
ORVMs are wide, but could have been taller (again, they're more sedan-like than MPV). That said, the mirrors offer a satisfactory view of the happenings behind. They have a demister (helpful in the monsoon):
IRVM is wide. However, like most other UVs, the thick D-pillars restrict visibility:
Reverse parking view for the driver. While the A & D-pillars are thick, overall visibility is satisfactory. No major complaints here:
Logically laid out center fascia. Looks elegant, thanks to the piano black & chrome inserts. What's seriously missing is a big rectangular storage spot for your phone! There's literally no place to park your smartphone! If you have a smaller phone, it might fit in the single front cup-holder; those with larger pieces will have to keep it in their pocket or the storage under the armrest. This will inconvenience Hexa owners on a daily basis:
The automatic wiper sensor is mounted on the windscreen's base:
JBL center speaker sits on top of the dashboard. Could have been better fitted (gaps from the dashboard were uneven):
Air-con vents get a smoked chrome border. Rotating the air-volume controllers all the way to the side shuts them off completely...with a click:
5" touchscreen is way too small for such a big crossover. It's covered in detail in a separate post:
Buttons for the reverse parking sensor, hill descent control and central locking system are located below the infotainment system. These are of good quality & the chrome border between them looks fab. What doesn't look nice are the blanks! The parking sensor button switches off both - the sensors as well as the camera. When its orange light comes on, both are on. Normally, the orange light comes on when you engage reverse gear. If you press the button while the car is in any other gear, the camera shows the view at the back:
Powerful climate control system has an adjustment range of 16 - 30 before hitting Lo and Hi at either end. Increments are in 0.5 degree levels. The blower is okay at levels 1 and 2, gets loud at levels 3 and 4 (surprisingly), very loud at levels 5 and 6 and at level 7, the noise is not going to be tolerable for long. Tata should have worked on making the blower operation quieter. The climate control buttons are rather low grade. System has an 'economy' mode button (marked ECON) which reduces the usage of the compressor, thereby increasing fuel-economy. 12V power, Aux and USB sockets are placed at the bottom of the center fascia:
AWD variants get a rotary knob to switch between the “Super Drive” modes. These are explained later in the driving post:
A view of the weirdly shaped leather-wrapped armrest from top:
Inside is a storage box with a rubber base. Notice the cupholder located just ahead:
Soft touch surface with Hexa branding on the passenger side of the dashboard. Chic execution!
This continues on the other side of the dash, all the way to the right (beyond the steering wheel):
Lower part of the dashboard is covered with a plastic panel. Looks like an after-thought?
Could have been better cut & fitted:
Superb! Even the passenger seat gets lumbar adjustment. Many cars costing twice as much don't offer this feature. Wife will be pleased. Airbag panel means no seat covers for this one:
A look at the passenger footwell - narrower than you'd expect in such a large vehicle. Intrusion from the floor hump restricts foot space:
Twin glovebox system like the Aria. The top one has a light as well as…
…a cooling vent:
The lower glovebox, which is…
…lockable! Notice the brushed aluminium insert above it:
Sunglass holder located above the driver’s window:
It has a spring-loaded closing action. The inner surface gets a soft lining to protect your shades from scratches:
Both sunvisors get extenders (use them on the window):
Passenger’s sunvisor gets an illuminated vanity mirror (driver's has nothing, not even a ticket holder):
Roof console has two spotlights:
Bluetooth mic is located towards the occupants (rather than being incorporated in the roof console like most cars):
6 airbags in total. 2 in the front…
…2 on the front seats…
…and curtain airbags with markings on the A-pillars…
Front passenger’s airbag can be turned off from the left side of the dashboard:
Interior - Rear
Wide gap between the B-pillar and seat means moving your legs in & out is easy. The doors open wide in a two-stage action, while the seat is placed at a moderate height. Most people will find ingress & egress to be easy (elderly will have to make an effort though):
Hexa-branded scuff plates. Door sill is wide - the only small hindrance in ingress & egress:
Like the front, the rear doorpad gets a brushed aluminium insert in the armrest and perforated leather above it. Yes, where you rest your hand, that surface is soft-touch plastic (again like the front):
Both windows get retractable sunblinds - very, very useful as sunfilms are banned. These are smooth to operate & sourced from a Korean company (same supplier as Jaguar). However, its hooks could've been smaller / less prominent:
Rear door houses a tweeter and rear speaker (below):
Ambient mood lighting is available on the mid & top variants. Lamps are located below the armrests on each doorpad. There are eight colours to choose from - white, orange, red, purple, blue, cyan, bluish green and fluorescent green:
Useful door pocket can hold a 1L bottle and the odd items:
6-seater Hexa comes with captain seats in the middle row. They are extremely comfortable with excellent all-round support. Fore & aft and seatback angle adjustments have been provided. These seats might accommodate one passenger less, but they blow the bench seat out of the water in terms of comfort:
Legroom is generous:
While there is more than enough knee room & headroom for a six-footer, the rear seatbelt is located too far behind the seat. Even a taller occupant will find it a bit of a stretch to reach. The seatbelt height isn't very comfortable either:
With the front seat adjusted to Vid's seating position, he had ~6 inches of knee room left:
Even if the front seat is in full back position, he had ~3 inches of knee room to spare!
6-footer chauffeur-driven owners can push the front seat ahead and s-t-r-e-t-c-h:
There is enough space to slide your feet under the front seat. The area where your shin would meet the seat is soft:
Wicked! Even the middle-row captain seats get adjustable lumbar support:
Individual armrests are comfortable...way more so than the single unit seen in the front. They can be folded upwards when required:
7-seater version gets a 60:40 splitting seat. Legroom is impressive and a 6-footer can easily sit behind another one in the front:
Soft headrests & 3-point seatbelts for those on the side. Seat is wide and can accommodate three adults:
Bench seat is lower than the captain seats and doesn't offer the same level of support. It has a flat base and flat backrest as well. Headroom is good though:
To recline or fold the seatback forward, one has to pull this strap. This will be particularly difficult for a person sitting on the seat, looking to recline it. A conventional adjustment lever on the side would've been preferred:
You can set it up to a totally relaxed angle if you so wish. Viddy is chilling here:
Both second row seats (in the 60:40 split) have fore & aft adjustment, although the travel range is terribly limited. The difference shown here is the max adjustment range:
With the second row seat in full back position and the seatback reclined, space is impressive. Bade saheb can even sit with his legs crossed:
When not in use, the seatbelt buckles & lap belt can be tucked away into cut-outs:
Center armrest is wide and has sufficient cushioning:
Lifting the top reveals two cupholders and a rectangular storage box. Both are shallow:
Remember the weird storage compartments on the Aria's roof (link to image)? Thank God Tata hasn't carried them over to the Hexa:
Placed above the middle row is a console with two map lights, main lamp and 3-speed blower control (for the rear air-con vents). All interior lights go out with a theatre dimming effect:
Both spring-loaded grab handles get coat hooks:
Curtain airbag on the C-pillar to protect rear passengers:
Air-con vents on the B-pillars (over & above vents in the center):
Rubber beading on the doors was ill-finished & loose:
Rear windows roll down almost all the way. They are large and let a lot of sunlight into the cabin. Even with black interiors, no one will feel claustrophobic inside the Hexa:
Front seats get scooped out seatbacks and nifty storage pockets:
Air-con vents on the center console get individual direction adjusters, but a common air volume control knob. Don't miss the piano-black surround:
Rear passengers get a 12V power socket as well as a USB fast-charging port for their smartphones:
Center console also houses two foldout cup / bottle holders:
Big floor hump can get intrusive; inconvenient for the middle passenger. With the cupholders on the center console opened, things get worse. It's best for the 5th passenger to place his feet on either side of the floor hump:
Interior - 3rd Row
In the 6-seater version, the best way to access the third row of seats is to walk into the second row and move from 'between' the captain seats to the last row. Even Tata engineers told us the same :)! Why? While the captain seats flip forward, they don't do so far enough and the space to get into the third row (from the sides) is limited. That said, walking into the second row and then to the third row has its own set of problems. People will have to bend down quite a bit, while the high transmission tunnel makes matters more difficult. Easy for kids, doable for fit adults, not so for the unfit / elderly:
In the 7-seater version, the only way to access the third row is by folding the seatback of the second row forward and tumbling the seat via this lever located below the seats:
The 60:40 splitting seats are fully tumbled in this image. Ingress & egress are far easier than in the captain seat version. Still not effortless, yet like most other 7-seater UVs:
While it's easy to flip the left seat forward, it isn't so with the larger right seat, where the top of the seat hits the air-con console. Aria had the same problem (link to image) - couldn't Tata have solved it in so many years?
Like in most 7-seaters, the third row of seats are the least comfortable in the Hexa. However, they are better than any of the UVs I've experienced in the recent past. While they are placed rather low and under-thigh support is poor, I was able to sit here for an hour without complaining as Vid6639 drove through some pretty rough roads. The 3rd row is definitely useable.
Coming to protection, while the seats have three-point seatbelts, the curtain airbags only stretch to the C-pillars, meaning that third row occupants aren't protected by them.
Third row seats are split in a 50:50 ratio. They are on the thinner side and offer less support than the other seats of the car. Cushioning is good by 'third row standards' and they get soft & adjustable headrests too, but there's no reclining function. The safety triangle is stored just below them - notice the blue cover. A black cover would be preferred as it would blend in (this one stands out):
See what I mean? Even a six-footer has enough headroom & legroom. Middle-row passengers anyway have excessive legroom, hence they won't hesitate before moving their seat forward. The generous glass area allows a lot of light in:
In the 6-seater, the seatbacks (of the second row) are scooped out, thereby releasing some more knee room for the third row dudes. Additionally, one can stretch out a leg between the captain seats:
In the 7-seater, the third row isn't as nice as the 6-seater. For one, the bench's seatback is not scooped out (it's flat). And the surface is hard too (refer to the next picture). You have to push the second row forward to be able to sit comfortably in the third row. Even then, because it's a bench seat, you feel boxed in:
It's best to move the second row forward - if you don’t, your knees will touch the seatback. The surface is hard, making it uncomfortable for your knees:
One has to be careful while putting the seat back into place from its tumbled position, so that it doesn't land on your feet. Warning sticker on the underside:
Similar sticker on the captain seat as well:
A better view of the underside of the bench seat. The two grooves allow third row occupants to slide their feet under the seat…
…however, the space is severely limited:
Passengers in the third row can use this lever to tumble the captain seat forward. No help needed from others to get out:
On the other hand, getting out of the third row in the 7-seater is a tedious process. Fold and tumble the second row seat forward by pulling this strap on the side:
This strap should then be used to pull the seatbase up:
Ensure that they are fully down - there are no straps to secure them in position:
Move both your legs out of the gap:
Slide your body out slowly, and place a foot on the ground for balance:
Raise your body and slowly step out:
Conquered! This is the only time the Hexa feels a lot off the ground. Not a task for the unfit or a saree-clad lady:
Spring-loaded grab handles on both sides:
Third row occupants get their own cabin light (no individual map lights though):
Very stylish placement for the air-con vents on the C-pillar. Cooling is effective & the air volume is adjustable:
Unlike the front rows, no soft touch plastics where last row occupants would rest their arms:
Covered storage can be used to place items or cups. This is present on the left side as well:
Even with all seats up, the Hexa can accommodate a couple of soft travel bags. 128 liters of luggage in a situation where the XUV500 gives you nothing (reference image):
With the 3rd row folded, luggage space increases drastically (not a flat floor though). Remember, this seat has a 50:50 split for added flexibility. In the case of the 7-seater, with the second row tumbled, there is even more room. Max capacity is 671 liters:
12v power socket (3rd row passengers can use it too) & boot light (with switch) located on the left:
A JBL 320 watt amplifier sits behind a plastic grille on the left side of the luggage area:
Soft Hexa-branded carpet covers the boot floor:
Tools are packed in a styrofoam case underneath:
Tail gate is held up by two pneumatic struts:
8" subwoofer housed here. Delivers good punch:
As always, last row occupants get the short end of the stick, while 1st row occupants get the longest:
The Hexa gets a Harman-developed ConnectNext infotainment system with a 5-inch touchscreen. It features voice recognition, the usual music inputs (USB, AUX, Bluetooth), SD card (for media), navigation, on-screen SMS display & readout, reversing camera display & video playback (from USB / SD card). Piano-black panel with a chrome outline looks lovely:
A 320W amplifier (located in the boot) channels music to 10 JBL speakers – a central dashboard speaker, two tweeters on the A-pillars (shown here), a speaker on each door, a tweeter on each of the rear doors and a subwoofer in the tail gate. Tata claims that the ICE has undergone more than 1,000 hours of engineering, which considered the interior volume, sound reflection and absorption. Audio quality is absolutely fantastic. Whatever Tata did in the entry-level segment with the Tiago, it's done the same thing among 7-seaters now! Since the ICE package has been given so much importance, we wish it had Android Auto & Apple CarPlay support - Hexa owners would love it:
While the touchscreen is responsive and good to use, it is too small for the center fascia of such a big car! Identical to the Zest (with more features, of course). On the other hand, the buttons are adequately sized. Those who despise touchscreens (link to poll) will be pleased with the fact that physical buttons & knobs are provided for frequently-used functions. On the top left, notice the 'display off' button that you can use while driving at night. Also cool are the 'home' & 'back' physical buttons that help with quick navigation:
No CD/DVD playback (who uses them anyway?). Only new-age media accepted:
Browsing through the interface is an easy affair. Fonts are easy to read:
Even at volume level 30 (max), there is no distortion or vibration. You can choose between equaliser presets…
…or adjust the sound manually to your liking. Basic settings, but they work!
The infotainment system can be used to adjust various vehicle settings:
How the door locks behave:
Setting the sensitivity for the speed-dependent volume control…
…park assist volume & tone, and whether it should mix with the music…
…timeout for the approach lights…
…volume adjustment even for the SMS readout & voice commands:
Mood lighting with 8 colour options! You can set their brightness level and how you want them to kick in (permanently on / off or auto). Manual transmission options shown here:
The system also provides information on the various driving modes. You can't select them from here (only information). Language used leaves a lot to be desired (e.g. 4th image, they meant 'drift' or 'drive'?):
How the hill descent control functions:
The ConnectNext App suite includes NaviMaps – a 3D navigation app with offline maps via smartphone screen mirroring. From MapMyIndia:
The smartphone is to be connected via USB and must have the navigation app installed. This sucks honestly - an integrated standalone solution should've been provided. This approach is okay in economy hatchbacks, but not in a premium crossover:
Like most GPS systems, a list of POIs is available:
Touchscreen doubles up as a reversing camera display. Together with the parking sensors, this proves to be useful while reversing the Hexa, considering its huge size. Yep, those are very friendly adaptive guidelines which move with steering input:
The 'Tata Smart Manual App' is a part of the ConnectNext suite and provides a digital user manual of the car on your smartphone's display:
Through the 'Service Connect App' of the ConnectNext suite, you can access the service records, make service bookings, check maintenance costs and lodge complaints (among other things). Bad language again ("service histroy"). Doesn't a multi-billion dollar company like Tata have proof-readers?
The 'Tata Smart Remote App' can be used for playing media & some settings (including mood lighting). No physical remote control needed. The ConnectNext App suite also includes a Juke-Car App - a first-in-segment app that uses a mobile hotspot to build a common playlist from the phones of occupants:
Driving the 2.2L Diesel MT
2.2L Varicor diesel with 154 BHP & 400 Nm of torque. Longitudinally-mounted engine is a tight fit under the short Hexa bonnet. There's almost no space to access anything behind the engine cover. The firewall is actually cut out to accommodate some parts:
The Hexa gets the same 2.2L Varicor 400 diesel engine that does duty in the Safari Storme. This is a 16-valve motor with a variable geometry turbocharger. It develops 154 BHP (@ 4,000 rpm) and as the name suggests, 400 Nm of torque (@ 1,700 - 2,700 rpm...slightly different from the Storme Varicor). Compared to the earlier 2.2L used in the ol' Safari & Aria, the cylinder block, cylinder head, injectors, pistons, main bearings and turbocharger have been reworked / upgraded. The timing belt system has an enhanced service life of 150,000 km.
While the BHP and torque figures are impressive for a car in this segment, the sheer 2,280 kilo kerb weight means that power & torque-to-weight ratios are below chief competitors like the Innova Crysta and Mahindra XUV500. In fact, the Hexa’s power-to-weight ratio is even lesser than the Aria’s! Tata seriously needs to go on a diet. The Hexa comes with a 6-speed MT or AT. Only the manual version gets an optional AWD (Borg Warner torque-on-demand transfer case) for rough roads.
On what is a premium car, Tata Motors has made a shocking omission. The Hexa does not get a starter button! Instead, there is a flippy key. Turn the key and the car starts with a shake typical of body-on-chassis UVs. There is also clatter from the diesel engine, but the noise is adequately controlled inside the cabin. Little vibration is felt on the steering, pedals and gear lever - the latter also moves around when the vehicle is idling.
Release the long-travel yet light clutch and the Hexa moves forward easily. There is some turbo lag, but it isn't excessive & won't bog you down. The lag is liveable. For instance, under 1,700 rpm, the engine cannot be termed as 'dead' and there is enough grunt available to haul the UV ahead. Cross 1,700 rpm, the turbo is alive and progress is quicker. Thereon, power is delivered in a linear fashion (slight surge, but there is none of that sudden turbo whoosh). For most of the time, the Hexa's engine is very manageable in the city and frequent gear changes aren't necessary. You can potter around town in 3rd gear at 40 km/h without the engine feeling lugged. However, if you need to close a gap quickly, the engine is found wanting; best to downshift in such situations. The Varicor 400 isn't an urgent performer. On the open road, the Hexa can be a competent long distance cruiser. This Tata revvs quite freely for a diesel UV and she can cruise at 100 km/h @ 1,900 rpm & 120 km/h @ 2,300 rpm (both in 6th gear) all day. While cruising like this, the turbo is singing and you don’t need to downshift to pass slower traffic (you will need to for quick overtaking though). For those interested, the engine revvs to ~4,800 rpm. That said, beyond 4,100 rpm, progress is slow & the engine isn't happy. It's best to upshift below that level. The Hexa's overall performance & overtaking capability can be termed as adequate. It is certainly no highway scorcher due to the penalty of its fat kerb weight. The XUV500, as an example, will leave it in the dust. Still, we don't see any owners complaining in this area as the power on tap is sufficient.
The 2.2L engine comes with four 'Super Drive' modes - Auto, Comfort, Dynamic and Rough Road - selectable via a rotary knob located on the center fascia. The engine maps change to alter the performance of the vehicle.
Auto – This is a part-time AWD mode in which the car adapts itself according to the road surface. It drives primarily in RWD, sending torque to the front only when required. This mode focuses on stability and traction more than outright on-road performance. It can be used on the road as well as off it. For most drivers, 'Auto' works best - in the city as well as the highway. There is enough power available for regular driving & overtaking slower moving traffic. The additional grip from the AWD will certainly help on slippery surfaces too.
Comfort – This is a pure RWD mode, which Tata claims is focused on a comfortable drive. The engine feels the least powerful and the throttle is at its dullest. This mode is likely to see the Hexa return its best fuel economy figures. If you are a sedate driver, 'comfort' is for you. It works well when you want to amble along on an expressway at regular speeds, and is quite useable in slow moving city traffic as well. However, for those who want to get a move on, 'comfort' is not suitable. For quick overtaking on the highway, particularly on single carriageways, it is best to shift to 'Auto' or 'Dynamic'.
Dynamic – This is also a RWD mode, with the engine map in its most aggressive state. Throttle response is at its sharpest and the Hexa feels noticeably more sprightly compared to the other modes. Enthusiastic drivers will enjoy 'Dynamic' as it offers superior acceleration. Driving on undivided highways? This is the mode to use. Tata says that, in Dynamic mode, the Hexa’s ESP kicks in later. I even noticed the brakes reacting more sharply (Tata engineer confirmed it is so). On the flipside, fuel economy will take a bit of a hit & and it won't be as smooth as 'Comfort' mode due to the latter's dulled throttle responses.
Rough Road – This is your offroad / bad road mode. Performance on slippery and loose surfaces is enhanced, while braking is also tuned for such conditions. ESP will permit some slippage from the tyres. After switching from 'Auto' to 'Rough Road' mode, we saw that offroad acceleration improved, and the stopping distances reduced significantly.
Shorter drivers will find the gear lever to be located a little too far away for their liking. The 6-speed gearbox has a rubbery feel, along with long throws. This definitely isn't a slick gearbox! What's more, the gearshift requires some effort to operate. Engaging reverse is a problem - one has to pull the shifter to the right (beyond the 6th gear) and it does require considerable strength to do so. Those upgrading from contemporary sedans will be disappointed. On the other hand, if you've driven other big UVs (e.g. Scorpio or XUV500), you won't have much of an issue with the shifter. Just to clarify - the gearshift quality isn't a deal breaker, but it's just not an experience one will enjoy either.
The clutch is light, albeit the pedal has a long travel range and it is low on feel.
Sound insulation within the cabin is very impressive. Engine and wind noises are kept well under control (which in fact accentuates engine sound). The diesel is always audible inside the cabin, yet the sound level is in control under normal driving conditions. It's only above 3,000 rpm that it starts getting loud, but even then, the engine note is likeable. A bit of road noise from the 235/55 R19 MRF SL tyres creeps in as the speedometer rises past 100 km/h. While cruising though, NVH is so good that you can speak at a regular volume with your fellow occupants. Vibrations can be felt through the steering wheel, gear lever and floor pedals, although they aren't excessive. Like most body-on-frame UVs, you can feel the gear lever shake as you press / release the accelerator.
Notice how close the fan is to the auxiliary belt. It's tight in here:
Air intake is via the front right fender. The Hexa is rated for 450 mm of water wading. Firewall gets silver insulating sheet:
Bonnet is heavy, thus gas struts to hold it are welcome. Even the recently launched Fortuner doesn't get these!
Insulation sheet under the bonnet:
Gap to access the bonnet release lever is tight. Those with thick fingers - beware! The lever isn't easy to locate either. Security personnel at hotels will keep fumbling:
6-speed MT from the updated Storme. Surprisingly, the gear knob is styled like the old Storme’s (not the Storme Varicor). Shiny black finish with a chrome outline looks nice. Leather boot below:
Driving the 2.2L Diesel AT
The automatic gearbox is sourced from Punch Powerglide, France. It is used in a number of American cars (was in the earlier Cadillac ATS & CTS too). Apart from the quintessential 'sport' and 'tiptronic' modes, the AT has a unique driving mode which is amusingly called 'race car' mode :). More on that later on.
The gearbox doesn't come with fancy dual-clutch technology or even paddle shifters. It's a simple torque converter unit that gets the job done...and done well. The AT is smooth-shifting and very likeable. We can tell you this - the automatic is the transmission of choice in the Hexa. Sole disappointment = the automatic doesn't get the AWD system. We hope that Tata is keeping the AT + AWD combination for later. Like other manufacturers, they might have wanted to avoid 'sticker shock' at the time of launch (the AWD will add at least a lakh to the price). For now, if you want to tour the unexplored parts of India (example), the AT isn't for you.
On start-up, some vibrations are transmitted through the pedals and steering wheel (no, they aren't excessive). However, unlike the manual, there are no vibrations on the gear shifter.
Slot the shifter into the “D” position and the Hexa moves off smoothly. The gearbox has a creep function which allows the car to crawl at 7 km/h without accelerator input. This is a helpful feature in bumper-to-bumper traffic as the driver can use only the brake pedal. The torque converter does a good job of masking any lag and the Hexa AT pulls away without hesitation. Throttle response is satisfactory and when driven with a light foot, the transmission shifts up at ~1,800 rpm. The shifts are smooth and no jerk is felt inside the cabin. It is only that change of pitch in the engine note which lets occupants know about gear shifts. Add to this, the 2.2L's power delivery is linear. This, along with low noise levels and smooth shifts, makes riding in the Hexa a pleasant experience. Downshift times? Not the quickest to respond, but not the slowest either. It's par for the course & no one will be complaining.
On the highway, the Hexa AT is an effortless mile muncher. It can amble along on open roads at 100 km/h with the engine ticking over @ 1,900 rpm and 120 km/h @ 2,300 rpm. Shifts are performed in a smooth, relaxed manner (no jerks). "D" mode is very useable on expressways and divided highways. The torque on tap ensures that you keep moving at a decent pace; passing slower moving vehicles is easy for an AT. However, when it comes to undivided highways or situations where quicker shifts are required, "D" mode can feel slow. It's best to shift to "Sport" mode.
Sport mode is engaged by shifting the gear lever to the left (we would have preferred the RHS as is usually the case). In this mode, the transmission map is changed. The gearshifts become noticeably more aggressive. Play with the accelerator and you'll experience its eagerness to downshift. Keep the pedal floored and the revv needle climbs to ~4,250 rpm before shifting up. What's more, under braking, the revvs are held at ~2,000 rpm (instead of falling below, like in D mode), thus giving you more engine braking. Get this - if you brake hard, it will blip the throttle! Because the revvs are kept at a higher level, power is instantly accessible. This is definitely the mode to use when you need more muscle. No, it doesn't turn the Hexa into a Porsche Cayenne, yet the difference is perceptible.
'Race car' mode works only in sports mode. There is no button to activate it - simply use the accelerator pedal very aggressively. The transmission's ECU detects this and switches the logic to a state even more dynamic. In race car mode, the engine will hit the redline in every gear! It even downshifts harder. We saw the gearbox downshifting at 3,400 rpm, which translated to a resultant 4,000 rpm in the lower gear! When have you seen a diesel AT doing that?! Race car mode will stay engaged as long as your right foot is heavy. Ease off the accelerator pedal and it gets deactivated after a few seconds, with the Hexa returning to regular sport mode. This was by far the most fun we had in the Hexa.
The gearbox also features a tiptronic mode, which allows you to manually shift gears. To engage tiptronic, you have to shift the gear lever to the same position as sport mode. Then, move it up for an upshift & down for a downshift (just the orientation we prefer). Even in this manual mode, the gearshift quality is very smooth. It's not lightning-quick though and there can be some delay in executing your command. E.g. if you keep your foot on the accelerator & command an upshift, it'll take a moment or two. Keep the pedal floored and it will have the engine revv to 4,250 rpm before upshifting. This mode can be useful when you desire 2nd gear starts (on slippery surfaces), engine braking or want to downshift before an overtaking manouveur. Frankly though, we'd just prefer to engage 'sport' or 'race car' modes and let the electronics do all the work. Speaking of which, race car mode doesn't activate while you're in manual mode.
Solid gear lever is identical to those found in older Land Rovers. Check out the 'HEXA' branding in the background (in place of the AWD's drive mode selector):
Unlock button to shift between the different gear positions:
Gearknob has leather on the sides & a silver insert with 'TATA' engraving:
All gear positions are colour-coded & backlit (e.g. P in red and D in green):
Ride & Handling
Ride quality is one of the Hexa's strongest points. Rather, let me rephrase that = the Hexa's ride quality is AWESOME. Forget the Innova Crysta, there's no comparison with it. The Hexa easily meets or beats our ride comfort benchmark, the Renault Duster!! The Hexa uses a double wishbone suspension at the front and a 5-link rigid axle with coil springs at the rear. Tata says they have deployed 'multivalve dampers'. Even with those massive 19" wheels, the suspension provides a comfortable ride. We can only imagine how it would behave with 16 - 17" rims & taller sidewalls. Tata has engineered this suspension in the UK and there's no doubt that Jaguar-Land Rover expertise is at work here. Over bad patches of road, bumps are ironed out very well. Even at higher speeds - on undulations and bad roads alike - it remains impressive. Passengers won't get thrown around as they do in some competitors. There were broken roads that Volvo buses were slowing down for, but we didn't feel the need to! This car can seriously flatten whatever kind of road you drive on. Rough roads are dispatched with arrogance and the ride remains composed at all times. Vid6639 gives the ride quality a full 10/10 rating. Equally impressive is the fact that the hardware does its work silently - no loud thuds are heard in the cabin. The 200 mm of ground clearance ensures that you remain worry-free on bad tarmac.
The Hexa's straight line stability at high speeds is solid and the vehicle feels planted at all times. Expressway joints & rough patches don't seem to faze it. However, like most body-on-frame UVs, the Hexa exhibits body roll while cornering. It's not unnerving, but you should always keep its height & heavy weight in mind. The 235 mm tyres provide a healthy amount of grip, allowing you to carry good speed through sweeping curves. It's no corner carver, yet is well behaved for a 7-seater UV. While the ride and handling are satisfactory, the steering fails to impress. At 380 mm, the steering wheel is decently sized. However, the hydraulic unit feels heavy at parking / slow speeds (not as heavy as the Innova Crysta's). This means that operating it within the city requires effort. After experiencing the superlight EPS systems of modern vehicles, this old-school steering feels rather cumbersome to use. It's just bad tuning from Tata and we hope they solve this soon (should be a simple fix to increase the assistance level). The steering is much better to use at highway speeds, where it offers sufficient weight. However, the steering can feel vague. It's not your typically connected & 'direct' unit.
Owners of the higher-end MT variants will be pleased with the safety kit. ESP (with rollover mitigation) can be a life-saving tool in an emergency manouveur. There's also 'hill hold' which prevents rollback while you move your foot from the brake to the accelerator pedal (it holds the car for 3 seconds). On the flip side, we fail to understand why the Hexa Automatic doesn't get the electronic stability program & traction control. This is horrible product planning by Tata Motors! Automatic owners will anyway pay a stiff premium over the MT and it's illogical to not give them such crucial safety features.
The Hexa has a huge 5.75 meter turning radius, which is wider than that of the Innova and XUV500. With such a wide turning circle, 3-point turns will be a common affair in the city. This, coupled with the heavy steering and sheer length of the vehicle, means the Hexa is not an ideal vehicle to drive in crowded / narrow localities. The problem gets worse in the manual variant, whose gearbox requires some effort to operate.
The Hexa is equipped with 298 mm discs at the front and 206 mm discs at the rear. While they provide adequate power to stop the car from high speeds, we must remember that the Hexa weighs 2.3 tons and bringing it to a standstill does take some time. Additionally, pedal feel was poor in both our test cars (including the MT with hydraulic brake assist), and it travels about an inch before the brakes actually bite. 4-channel ABS & EBD are a part of standard equipment and the vehicle has no trouble stopping in a straight line. The system also has the 'Cornering Stability Control' feature, which stabilizes the vehicle during partial braking in curves by reducing pressure at the (required) inner wheel. This helps to reduce the odds of oversteer.
4x4 & Offroading
The Hexa MT (top variant only) is available with an electronically-controlled AWD system from Borg Warner. Just to be clear = this isn't a hardcore mud plugger & it won't even match a Fortuner / Pajero in the mountains. Instead, think of the Hexa as a 7-seater that can do low-medium level offroading when you need it to & take you touring through the broken / inexistent roads of India. This is a need-based AWD system, not a purpose-built offroader. Its massive kerb weight, size and long wheelbase are penalties. Additionally, there's no proper low ratio transfer case, while the approach & departure angles are average.
Still, there's no doubt that Tata has learned from Land Rover on how to cleverly use electronics to make her perform better off the road than its hardware would suggest. Let's take a look at key features:
• 200 mm of ground clearance means it'll clear almost anything that you throw at it.
• Torque-on-demand AWD that checks the road conditions by using various sensors & distributes torque to front <-> rear wheels. Between 5 - 35% torque will be sent to the front wheels (it'll always be rear biased).
• Limited slip differentials on both axles & anti-roll bars at the front and rear.
• In cross-axle situations, when two diagonally opposite wheels are in the air, the torque-on-demand feature sends power to the wheels that have maximum traction.
• The Hexa has approach & departure angles of 21 / 25 degrees (respectively). It has a gradeability rating of 31.5 degrees; side incline gradeability? 23 degrees.
• Water wading rating of 450 mm to cross streams, ponds and (more likely) flooded roads!
• The 'hill descent control' allows the car to be driven down a slope at a slow & steady pace, without the driver using the brake pedal. The descending speed can be controlled via the cruise control buttons. The system applies the brake to each wheel individually, and brakes the wheels with the most traction more. It doesn’t apply the same brake pressure on all of the wheels together – something that isn't possible with the brake pedal. If you do press the brake pedal, it'll override the hill descent control.
• The ESP system helps in preventing the vehicle from fishtailing, thereby keeping it stable on descents.
• The ESP will permit necessary slippage from the tyres in 'rough road' mode.
• If you are starting off on loose gravel on a medium incline, the torque on demand and traction control will work collaboratively to keep the wheels from slipping.
• On slippery surfaces like ice, the traction control system applies the brake to the wheels that are slipping without locking them, and redistributes the torque to the wheels that have grip to pull you ahead.
We were taken on a small offroad demonstration track. After accelerating hard for a 100 yards and slamming on the brakes, it became clear that the Hexa gathers speed + stops much quicker in 'rough road' mode. In 'Auto', the car had stopped close to the cone marking the 30 yard limit, whereas in rough road mode, it stopped a long way before that! The difference is significant indeed. Must say, the MRF Wanderer S/L tyres weren't too bad either for the kind of stuff Hexa owners will put them through.
The awesome ride quality of the Hexa is a bonus when roughing it out. Even while offroading, you will be more comfortable than in other stiff-riding SUVs. Further, the Hexa doesn't nosedive much under braking, nor does it lurch around excessively as it tackles dips in the road.
• The name 'Aria' wasn't once mentioned at the press drive. We're serious, not even once. That's how badly Tata wants to distance the Hexa from its predecessor.
• GTO finds the ergonomics to be terribly messed up for taller drivers - link to post.
• A flagship product defines the brand & we can tell you that Tata has gone all out with the Hexa. We had a similar feeling after driving the XUV500 in 2011. These two Indian companies are putting their absolute best foot forward with such all-rounded cars.
• The internal codename for the Hexa project was 'Eagle'.
• As competent as the Hexa is, for its time, even the Aria was awesome. But Tata murdered it with the pricing. Let's hope things are kept real with the Hexa. We think it will be - Tata cannot afford another failure (it has only one product that sells - the Tiago).
• With the surprise (and very welcome) note ban, it's good that Tata didn't launch the Hexa in November. For once, their slow pace has actually worked for them (reasons here). Things would have settled down by the time that the Hexa arrives in January 2017.
• As is the case with most Tata, Mahindra & now even Toyota cars (related thread), if you can wait a bit, it's better to. All the initial niggles reported by early Hexa owners will be sorted out by 2017 or 2018. Yes, the mechanically-similar Aria has been around for a while, but the Hexa gets a load of new mechanical & electronic bits.
• 5 colour options - Arizona Blue, Tungsten Silver, Pearl White, Platinum Silver and Sky Grey.
• Apple fan? Dream on. Smartphone Apps will be available only for Android. At least initially.
• Tata claims to have put the Hexa through 8 lakh km of road testing (cumulative). The Hexa was tested across three continents - Asia, Australia and Europe, in temperatures ranging from - 20 C to 50 C.
• The 19-inch wheel size is the largest we've seen on an Indian car. Such large rims are usually offered only on high-end luxury cars. We reiterate, it's a bad idea.
• Available in 3 trim levels - XE, XM and XT. Lowest XE variant gets the 2.2L diesel with 148 BHP (4,000 rpm) & 320 Nm (@ 1,700 - 2,700 rpm), a 5-speed MT and 16" wheels. This is the Aria's engine tune (with a wider peak torque range). The XE - due to its taller tyre sidewalls - will have unbelievably cushy ride quality.
• Bookings started on November 1, 2016. Launch is scheduled for January 2017.
• The doors auto-lock at 15 km/h.
• Service interval = 6 months / 10,000 km. Oil change interval = 12 months / 20,000 km.
• Standard warranty of 3 years / 100,000 km. Same as what Toyota offers.
• No details on extended warranty packages yet, but they'll surely come. On a Tata with so many electronics, we strongly recommend extended coverage to you.
• The Hexa makes the Safari Storme look ancient (which it is). Simply no reason to buy a Safari Storme over the Hexa.
• Has 'engine drag-torque control' which prevents the wheel from locking on slippery surfaces if you downshift or suddenly release the accelerator.
• Power windows can be operated for 3 minutes after the ignition has been switched off. Very useful in rolling up any windows that might have been left open.
• The Hexa offers 'Electronic Brake Prefill' on the ESP-equipped variants. The function is triggered after a sudden release of the accelerator pedal (may be due to an unexpected emergency situation). The system actively pre-fills the braking system to reduce the brake's response time. This might result in a shorter stopping distance.
• The Hexa is as much a 'new generation' as the Innova Crysta is. Remember our comment on the Innova being based on the same 10+ year old platform ? Even here, (mostly) the body panels & interiors are all new, with vast improvements all-around:
• Disclaimer: Tata invited Team-BHP for the Hexa test-drive. They covered all the travel expenses for this driving event.
The Smaller yet Significant Things
LED daytime running lights are bright and grab the attention of other road users. Here, the Hexa is seen in the 'Arizona Blue' body colour:
Rear number-plate is illuminated by bright white LEDs:
The Hexa comes with a diesel engine only. Still, just in case the pump attendant needs to be reminded, there is a warning on the fuel cap:
No cladding inside the front wheel well. NVH is still good, although you might hear pebbles & stones hitting the well on rough roads:
Rear wheel well gets full cladding:
You can see the diesel filter through the front wheel well:
Fuel tank capacity = 60 liters. For such a large and heavy vehicle, we would have liked at least 70 liters (like the XUV500):
Tachometer & speedometer do the 'needle salute' when the key is turned to “ON” position:
Fake leather covers up the ugly gap between the dashboard and steering console - a premium touch:
Small solar sensor for the climate control system is located on the right side of the dashboard. Much better than some ugly bigger ones we've seen:
Intake hole for the climate control sits high on the dash. Very conspicuous; most cars have a less-obvious placement:
Open cubby hole on the left side. The lid of the glovebox serves as a lip to prevent stuff from sliding off:
Automatic dimming for the IRVM is shockingly missing in such a well-kitted car! Standard manual adjuster is provided:
A close look at the material & pattern of the roofliner. The quality is top notch:
As mentioned before, the Hexa gets a flippy key (same as a 5 lakh rupee Tiago). Smartkey should have been standard at this price. Center button is used for activating the headlamps (illuminate the surroundings at night):
Remember to idle your engine (related thread). Sticker with instructions is weirdly pasted on the bottom of the driver’s door. Don't miss the typo!
Truly global part sourcing, eh? Image courtesy ksdr @ theautomotiveindia.com:
Yep, the ORVMs are India-friendly. No worry of 2-wheelers damaging them:
Customisation options will be available for the Hexa. These include chrome inserts (ugggghhhhh) on the sides of the headlamp clusters, top of the grille, ORVMs…
…tail-lamps & more:
Side step, if your folks need it:
Roof cargo box:
No ISOFIX mounts in the Hexa. Of course, a child seat can still be secured with the seatbelt:
The Hexa “TUFF” edition from the 2016 Auto Expo. Looks smart with the black treatment (less chrome):
Use of chrome is minimal here:
Fully blacked out grille…
...and darkened rims. Brake disc looks so small in these 19" rims, no?
Wheel-mounted step (sample usage):
Cargo rack gets a battery of LED lights at the front:
Posting the variant-wise comparison taken from the feature list provided on the Hexa website.
Features common across all the variants
XE vs XM
XM vs XT
XM vs XMA Mid Variant (Manual vs Automatic)
XT vs XTA Top Variant (Manual vs Automatic)
XT vs XT 4x4
XMA vs XTA (For Automatic Lovers)
XTA vs XT 4x4 (Although unlikely, but for those who are confused between the Auto and 4x4)
Attaching the excel sheet in case anyone wants to do further customization of the variant comparison.
Re: Tata Hexa : Official Review
Thread moved from the Assembly Line to Official Reviews. Thanks for sharing!
Aditya & Viddy, salute for completing the full review of the car in just the 1.5 days that you had with it clap:clap:. @ BHPians: Once we get the Hexa in Bombay, we'll of course add some more observations & pictures (i.e. the little things).
As I was reading the review, I felt like going over to the boys @ Tata and giving them a pat on the back. They've taken a l-o-n-g time, but damn, the product is spot on! What a true all-rounder the Hexa is. The Mahindra XUV500 always was (and is) on top of my recommendation list for buyers in this segment. The Hexa now joins that club, subject to it being trouble-free (ask my brother who bought a new Bolt & has already visited the workshop twice for power delivery issues in <5,000 km).
Rating 5 stars!
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