Tata Zest Hatchbak Review & Performance

Tata Zest Overview;

The past few years haven’t been good to Tata Motors’ passenger car division. It has had a few good products, but there always was something that didn’t sit right. Of course, there were even more things that were brilliant about the products, but desirability, one of the most important things in an economy such as ours where a car still remains in large part a luxury rather than a necessity, was absent. Tata has now recognised this, and has thrown everything they have behind the new range of products that will launch from now on, and it all begins with this small car that will replace the cheapest sedan on the planet – the Tata Zest. Does it manage to deliver what Tata so badly needs? Check for Tata cars Price & Specifications at CarzPrice

Tata Zest Exterior & Look

There is a new look about the Zest, yes, but there is also a little that remains from the Indigo CS. However, everything except the silhouette is new about the Zest. There’s a new grille that has taken inspiration from the old Indica grille, but is now a snazzy honeycomb design with a bolder logo on it. It is flanked by the headlamps, which remain a dual-barrel design but the top-spec versions now get a projector low beam with a corona ring. The fog lamps are housed in the new bumper that has a trapezoidal black center.

The Revotron gets LED daytime running lamps, while the diesel auto we had sported a chrome accent under the fog lamp. The hood now has a ‘power bump’, which helps the sporty intentions. From the front three-quarter, the shoulder lines are what grab your attention. Never before has Tata made a car this aggressive in the bodywork, and it is a pleasant change. The wheel arches are flared a little, and this time they are adequately filled out by the 15-inch alloy wheels shod with 185/60 tyres. The fenders don’t have indicators on them any more, they have been relocated to the mirrors, and the bottom of the window line gets a subtle chrome strip. The diesel gets a multispoke design reminiscent of the Manza’s wheels, and the petrol, a new eight-spoke layout. There is no diamond-cut finish here, and the Zest doesn’t really need it, either. As with any other sub-four metre sedan, at the rear is where the proportions are odd, but the Zest does a fair job of hiding the height of the rear by breaking it up into the bumper with a matt black lower section that mirrors the front bumper, a bootlid with a numberplate and a generous chrome strip above it that links the tail lamps and a subtle lip on the top of the boot lid. The tail lamps are horizontal and wrap around the car’s corners a fair bit. The top-spec variants we drove even had LEDs with light guides on the top, linked to turning the headlamps on. Overall, the Zest is a leap forward for Tata design, without making a clean break from the past. It is the right step forward and will definitely have heads turn, especially when they realise it is a Tata.

Tata Zest Interior & Space

A much bigger surprise is the cabin, which is easily the most modern and classy looking one we’ve seen in a Tata vehicle to date. The two-tone colour scheme makes it feel really airy, and the piano-black and gunmetal grey plastic trim do liven up the dashboard. The steering wheel is smaller in diameter than the Vista’s, it has a smart new hexagonal boss and there are audio controls here too. The speedo and rev counter dials are also very attractive, with a chunky-looking 3D jewelled effect, and a detailed fuel and trip computer nestled between them. It’s not just the look that’s improved, but the quality too. The texture and finish of the plastics look and feel much better to be on par with Maruti and Honda (though not quite at Hyundai’s level). If we’re going to nitpick, panel fit still isn’t perfect, the edges of certain parts are still quite rough, and the shiny plastics still reflect too much. It’s a shame that all the leather trim from the car shown at the Auto Expo 2014 is missing, even on the top-spec car, and that there is just one cup holder in the cabin; the slim door pads could barely fit a half-litre water bottle.

A lot of work has been done to the seats as well, and the big front chairs are well cushioned and supportive. The high dashboard means shorter drivers might have to use the seat height-adjuster (only available on the top trim), but you will be comfortable over long journeys. The rear seat is like a sofa – easily wide enough for three, with good support and space in every direction. The air-conditioning – automatic climate control on the top-spec car, manual otherwise – has also been improved, and though we didn’t have a hot summer’s day to test it on, it regulated cabin temperatures very quickly and efficiently.

Finally, another talking point on the inside is the new infotainment system developed with luxury audio experts Harman (of Harman and Kardon fame). The eight-speaker audio sounds fantastic for this class of car, and gets USB, Bluetooth, aux and SD card input (no CD player though). The touchscreen infotainment system on the top-spec car is very ambitious, offering higher-segment features like a proximity display for the rear parking sensors, alternate controls and display for the air-con, vehicle settings control, and even voice commands. It gets the job done, but is a little rough around the edges; the voice commands are too few and specific, for example. The screen is a bit too reflective to easily read on the move as well, but the unit itself feels really good to use, with high-quality controls. The lower-spec car misses out on the touchscreen, and with it, some of the aforementioned features, but its unit looks neat and works well.

Tata Zest Engine & Transmission

The Tata Zest is offered with the tried and test 1.3-litre Quadrajet diesel engine which produces the same output as it used to earlier. This engine is sourced from Fiat and is also popularly called as the “National Diesel Engine of India”. While offered with a 5-speed manual earlier, it now also gets paired to a 5-speed AMT automatic gearbox, making the Zest the cheapest diesel automatic in the country and also the only diesel automatic car in its segment. The bigger news is the new 1.2-litre Revotron petrol engine, which has been developed by Tata Motors in conjunction with AVL. It’s the first and only turbocharged petrol engine in its class.The 1.2-litre Revotron turbo engine uses an alloy head and a cast iron block, it belts out 90 PS at 5000 RPM and 140 Nm of torque at as low as 1750 RPM (up to 3500 RPM). The Zest gets a clutch lock and once you start the vehicle, you will really appreciate the low NVH levels, the motor is super refined with no vibes at all. In fact, the NVH is so good that at speed with the audio system playing, you can’t hear much of road, tyre or wind noise. Drivability is where the 1.2T Revotron mill truly shines, it offers an excellent low and mid-range punch but lacks top-end thrust. There is no turbo lag and performance is instant too, with power delivery being linear. The engine doesn’t rev quickly though and you do have to work the gearbox for quick overtakes, more so if the RPM drops below 2500 RPM in higher gears (4th and 5th).

So for instance, driving at 90 km/hr in fifth and you stand on the pedal, the motor does take its time to pull, clearly fifth gear is for cruising. Redline comes in just under 6000 RPM with the tacho glowing red once you whizz past 5500 RPM. 100 km/hr comes up in third gear with the tacho ticking in at around 2300 RPM in top gear at the same speed, so the engine is relaxed when you want to maintain cruising speed on the highway. Tata Motors has tested the engine for 3 lakh hours and there are many highlights of this powertrain – 10% faster than the closest rival, highest power and torque density in it class, 23% better peak torque than the closest rival. The engine doesn’t sound sporty but you can hear the turbo whistle. This is not the motor which will put the tarmac on fire as it’s not tuned for high revs but drivability is its forte. Still, it does cut off smoothly when it hits the redline (like European cars) and doesn’t feel jerky there.While accelerating, if you lift off, the RPM doesn’t drop quickly, it increases a bit and then falls very slowly. First gear is good for 50 km/hr while second will see you do 90 km/hr. The engine won’t rev more than 5000 RPM in neutral. The Revotron engine also has a first in class drive mode selector (developed with Bosch), you can choose between Eco, City and Sport. By default, the car is in City mode and a touch of a button on the centre console changes the mode (which is reflected on the 2.5-inch display on the instrument cluster). This change happens on the fly and the Eco mode is aimed at mileage, the Sport mode boosts performance marginally while the City mode gives you the best of both (the throttle response is altered). You can feel the power trailing off a bit in Eco mode while the accelerator feels more instant in Sport, the 0-100 km/hr timings reflect the difference in different modes and the same is significant. The 5-speed gearbox offers smooth shifts and the clutch is light too. We can expect a mileage of 13-15 km/l from the petrol Zest.

Tata Zest Driving Dynamics

This Tata car rides well and handles great. The Zest impressed us completely with its amazing handling potential. It has a taller ground clearance but at the same time the roof line flows at a lower height bring down air resistance. Introduced in the Nano, EPAS (Electronic Power Assisted System), with speed sensitivity along with a segment first feature of Corner Braking stability makes the Zest handles corners confidently. For information on contact details of Tata car dealers in Mumbai

All the earlier issues of steering losing grip and wobbling on high speeds has completely gone. During out test drive in Goa, it was raining heavily but the ride quality of Zest held the wet roads firmly. The 185/60 R15 tyres have great traction. Even on rough patches, the suspensions refused to give up doing its best to keep the disturbance felt at the lowest level possible. It is evident that the team at Tata Motors has worked really hard to make sure the Zest delivers on points where Tata cars have been highly criticized for like ride and handling, in cabin noise insulation, gear shifts and steering response.

Tata Zest Safety & Security

Tata Zest comes equipped with Disc brake as front brake while Drum brake does the duties as the rear brake. This primary braking system responds instantly and to ensure much better braking, the company has also introduced the most advanced, the 9th generation Antilock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) as secondary braking system. Tata has also blessed the Zest with Speed dependent auto door lock system and Front and rear fog lamps. But unfortunately, the XE variants in both the guises miss out on these features. The company in a bid to avoid any mishap and make sure of maximum safety of the occupants, has also incorporated segment-first, the Corner Stability Control feature in the Tata Zest with mid and top trims. There are also dual front airbags and front seat belts with pre-tensioner & load limiter in the top-end trim. However, for the security of the vehicle; the company has come up with Immobiliser with every variant. But, the top-end trim XT also has a Perimetric alarm system that makes loud sound if any attempt of burglary or thievery is made.

Tata Zest Price

Tata Zest Ex-Showroom Price in Hyderabad ranges from 5,17,692/- (Zest Revotron 1.2T XE) to 8,54,312/- (Zest Quadrajet 1.3 XTA). Get best offers for Tata Zest from Tata Dealers in Hyderabad. Check for Zest price in Hyderabad

Tata Zest Verdict

It must be said that Zest is probably Tata’s best and well coveted attempt to target most sort after compact sedan segment. It actually breaks away from what we Indians are used to seeing in Tata Motors product portfolio till date as this sedan brings forward the company’s latest design philosophy and engineering to conquer competition. In sheer performance, the petrol is the one that impresses the most while the availability of an automatic in diesel is definitely going to attract a great number of seekers. The attractive pricing at which the company has launched the Zest into the market, will surely pull a lot of customers towards it, especially when it comes to the first-in-segment diesel automatic variant.

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