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Old 25th October 2009, 23:00   #1
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Default First test drive of Reva NXR electric car

I was at the Frankfurt Motor Show last month, where REVA launched their new NXR electric city car and previewed their NXG electric sports car.

I run the REVA Car Club and as a result, I also had a chance to take an NXR out for a test drive. I've put up a You Tube video of the experiences - you can see it here:

The car is very good indeed. A couple of days before driving the NXR, I drove a Ford Ka - it's a similar sized car to the NXR, and in Europe the base model Ford Ka sells for about the same as the base REVA NXR City. The idea of seeing the Ford Ka was simple - I wanted to see if the NXR could compete with a mainstream car from a mainstream manufacturer, even when the environmental benefits of being electric were ignored.

I found the Ford Ka small and cramped. I'm six foot tall (180cm) and could not get comfortable in the front seats, and couldn't sit in the back at all without having my head on one side. Boot space was minimal and the quality of the interior was nothing special. The front seats were not particularly supportive and the rear seats were even worse. On the positive side, the doors closed with a nice 'thunk'.

The NXR really is a fantastic car - don't think of it as an improved G-Wiz, it is a completely new vehicle which really takes Reva into the mainstream market. The styling looks terrific and the car is certainly very eye-catching when you see it in the flesh.

For a start, unlike the G-Wiz, the Reva NXR is a proper car with twin airbags and M1 certified safety features throughout. It is a high quality product and feels it throughout. When I saw the prototype back in March in Bangalore I was impressed with what I saw, but the car that Reva presented at the motorshow is head and shoulders above what I saw then.

In comparison to the Ford KA, the Reva NXR was definately more spacious. More leg and head room in both the front and the back of the car, although shoulder room was perhaps more limited - but by no more than a couple of centimetres. The fit and finish of the interior was as good as the Ka and the choice of materials and switchgear was better - the steering wheel, indicator stalks, the buttons and the gearknob felt like Volkswagen quality rather than the cheaper feel to the Ford equivalents.

The REVA NXR has a digital dashboard. I have to be honest and say I've never been a fan of digital dashboards before: call me old fashioned, but I like the dials and needles and things going round. The Reva digital dashboard is very good, however. It is nicely laid out with all the information clearly laid out and easy to read. I have to say I liked it, which I wasn't really expecting. In an electric car where you may want to display all sorts of different information at different times, a digital dashboard really does make sense.

It was pointed out to me by someone from Reva that getting into the back of the NXR wasn't that easy for a large adult like me. However, it is no worse than the Ford Ka or Fiat 500 and once you are inside, there is plenty of space to sit. In fact, you can easily get four adults comfortably inside an NXR and I must admit I didn't feel it was too difficult to get into or out of anyway.

Fit and finish on the NXR was a vast improvement on the G-Wiz and was comparable to the Ford Ka. Whilst the doors didn't have quite the same satisfactory 'thunk' sound when you closed them, they were not far off - and I am told there will be further improvements to the door fittings before the car goes into production.

The quality of the bodywork was generally very good, my only comment is that there was a very slight discoloration in the gel coating around one of the 'C' pillars at the rear of the car. Again, this is something that should be rectified before the car goes into production.

The show car had a sample solar roof fitted. This will be an option on production models which will be capable of providing around 150 watts of power (peak) per hour - enough to provide 2-3 extra kilometres of range for every hour the car is parked in the sunshine in the summer months.

I then had the opportunity to try out the NXR for myself. Reva had a test car hidden away in the basement. At this stage, they are not letting journalists loose on the car as they are still making some final improvements to the car before it is production ready. So far only Reva agents have had the chance to drive the car and I was one of the first 'outsider' to get to try the car for myself.

First impressions of being behind the driving seat were very positive. The car feels very solid and substantial. All round visibility is excellent, including behind where the kick-down at the bottom of the rear windows helps when maneuvering the car.

You start the car by pressing a start button and switching the gear knob to DRIVE. The gear knob uses the same concept as with the G-Wiz, although the knob itself is a much higher quality unit with a lovely smooth feel to it.

Performance from a standing start was very brisk, the car accelerating very quietly and smoothly. The car absorbs the bumps very well and the car is very easy to drive quickly without any dramas. I drove around a tight 90 bend at around 60km/h without any problems at all - if I'd have tried that in my G-Wiz I think I'd have crashed it!

Brakes are also strong and progressive and the car feels solid and unstressed at all times. The steering feels very balanced and confidence inspiring although it was pointed out to me that the steering could be construed as being too heavy. Personally I didn't feel that, but apparently steering on the production cars will be lightened.

Turning circle, as with the G-Wiz, is superb - you can turn the car around very easily in a very small amount of space: tight enough to make a London Taxi look like a barge.

I came away feeling very impressed - Reva has produced an electric car that really can be compared favourably with a car from a mainstream manufacturer: ignoring the environmental credentials, the Reva NXR can be compared to a similarly priced Ford Ka and make a strong case for itself.

After the show, I went to a Fiat garage and looked at a Fiat 500 and a Fiat Panda. The NXR has more interior space and more boot space than a Fiat 500, and more front space than a Fiat Panda with a comparably sized boot. Whilst the Fiat 500 undoubtedly has the more jazzy interior, the NXR certainly compared favourably with the interior of the Panda.

Incidentally, whilst I was at the Frankfurt Motor Show, I had the opportunity to interview Chetan Maini, the CTO of Reva, about the new cars. Here is a link to the the YouTube video:
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Old 25th October 2009, 23:37   #2
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Great stuff there Mike. If it sells in India with a competitive price tag, my dad shall be mighty pleased. He's always been a supporter of reva, was throughly impressed when I showed him the pictures of NXR and NXG, and the NXR might just be his next car (if he decides to sell his M800 that is)!
Now I leave the rest to market economics.
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Old 25th October 2009, 23:48   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeBoxwell View Post
The REVA NXR has a digital dashboard. I have to be honest and say I've never been a fan of digital dashboards before: call me old fashioned, but I like the dials and needles and things going round. The Reva digital dashboard is very good, however. It is nicely laid out with all the information clearly laid out and easy to read. I have to say I liked it, which I wasn't really expecting. In an electric car where you may want to display all sorts of different information at different times, a digital dashboard really does make sense.

What kind of stuff would you want to display (different info at diff times) in an electric car which wouldn't be relevant in a petrol or diesel car?
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Old 25th October 2009, 23:56   #4
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What kind of stuff would you want to display (different info at diff times) in an electric car which wouldn't be relevant in a petrol or diesel car?
amount of charge in battery left - don't have that in a regular fuel car !!!
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Old 26th October 2009, 00:02   #5
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The review feels like reading about a mainstream car. Without any exceptions. Alas, in India it would depend on pricing.
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Old 26th October 2009, 00:04   #6
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amount of charge in battery left - don't have that in a regular fuel car !!!
In a regular fuel car - that could be the amount of fuel left?
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Old 26th October 2009, 00:16   #7
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In a regular fuel car - that could be the amount of fuel left?
Come on , I was just kidding (regular cars ain't driven by battery - so technically my point stands correct )! Regular cars do have digital fuel meters, I guess the ritz has one.

Really, the digital dashboard thing I feel has to do more with the overall packaging of the car as a 'techie' car, if there ain't any other deep thought reason which is passing over the head of a lesser mortal like me.
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Old 26th October 2009, 03:07   #8
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Reva have added lots of new 'goodies' to the NXR, including the ability to send and receive mobile phone SMS texts from your car - you can switch on and off the air conditioning and heater via text message, you can check the range and various other things.

This is the digital dashboard display:

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Old 26th October 2009, 05:56   #9
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Originally Posted by blackasta View Post
Come on , I was just kidding (regular cars ain't driven by battery - so technically my point stands correct )! Regular cars do have digital fuel meters, I guess the ritz has one.

Really, the digital dashboard thing I feel has to do more with the overall packaging of the car as a 'techie' car, if there ain't any other deep thought reason which is passing over the head of a lesser mortal like me.
Yes - that's why, my question was - though the OP disliked digital dashboards, why did he feel they were reasonable for an electric car.
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Old 26th October 2009, 08:29   #10
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Good review Mike. Never really expected to see this here.

Any idea when we are expecting to see this on road?

Wonder what Jermy will have to say now.
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Old 26th October 2009, 16:32   #11
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good review mike,NXR seems bound above the quality and performance it used to deliver in its older model.Wish they could give this model in india as well.
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Old 26th October 2009, 20:53   #12
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You'll start seeing these cars in India early next year. I'm guessing there will be a few driving around the roads of Bangalore over the next couple of months.

A couple of friends have ordered their Reva NXRs here in the UK already and they are being told they'll be receiving their cars in March. So not really that long to wait.

The cars really are a huge step forward over the current model: they genuinely can compete with the cars from the mainstream car companies which is a huge testiment to the dedication of REVA to get this car right.

With regards to the digital dashboard - I've never liked digital dashboards simply because of personal preference. However, as digital dashboards go, the REVA one is very good and its the first one I've come across that I would be happy to have on my own car.
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Old 26th October 2009, 21:26   #13
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This is really good news. I feel proud having worked for them at a point of time. The Reva have come a long way.
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Old 26th October 2009, 22:02   #14
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This one looks good and proper! Now this is called evolution. Some Indian companies should learn from these guys. Instead of changing lights and slapping some decals, these guys have built a whole new car.

This could be very interesting given the fact that they are planning a US assembly tie up. Would love to see these in North American cities.
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Old 26th October 2009, 22:30   #15
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Seems very promising indeed. What would clinch the deal for me when it's released is the price here in Bangalore plus the potential to ICE it with atleast a good HU and goo speakers.
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