With the Hexa, Tata Motors is entering a tough space, ruled since long by Toyota Innova (now Innova Crysta). So successful has been the Innova Crysta that, since its launch in May this year, it has been selling over 7,000 units every month and has a waiting period of three months for some variants. Another formidable competitor is Mahindra XUV 500.
To succeed, you need to have a very capable vehicle. Last week we drove the Hexa near Hyderabad and found that, in some areas, it one-ups competitors.
The Hexa is the second Tata vehicle, after the hatchback Tiago, to sport the company’s new ‘Impact’ design language. The difference is apparent. Unlike the Aria—Tata’s capable but unpopular MPV on which the Hexa is based—the Hexa has a very confident, futuristic design. New elements are Tata signature grille, dual-coloured bumpers, just the right amount of usage of chrome, projector headlamps, and daytime running lights seamlessly integrating with fog-lamps. The side profile is elevated by muscular wheel arch claddings and 19-inch wheels. The ground-clearance is a high 200mm, giving it an SUV stance. As do the chrome step plates and twin exhaust at the rear. The company claims the wraparound horizontal tail-lamps come with India’s first patented flexible LED technology.
The all-black interiors are inviting and are a huge leap ahead for Tata as far as quality and craftsmanship is concerned. The fit-and-finish is superb for a vehicle of this class. There is a choice of eight colours for in-cabin lighting, with illumination control and customisation. There are three rows and ample cubbyholes in all.
The driver’s seat can be adjusted in eight different ways. The second row has an option for a single bench seat or split seats. The third row, as is with vehicles of this class, has limited legroom. The good part is that both second and third row seats are available with multiple folding configurations.
The AC is efficient. There are personalised airflow and speed-control features and AC vents are in all three rows. The second row gets sun blinds, to help shield passengers from sunlight.
The five-inch touchscreen, exclusively designed by Harman—the premium audio and infotainment solutions company—features voice recognition and smartphone integration. Mention must be made of the apps Tata has developed for the Hexa—NaviMaps (maps), JukeCar (playlist) and SmartRemote (personalisation)—which work very well and enhance your connectivity experience.
An ‘impactful’ feature is the 10-speaker JBL system, which, utilising Harman tech, delivers high-fidelity sound.
There are, however, some areas of improvement. For example, the rear-view parking camera should have better resolution.
Start the engine and you are in for a surprise—it’s very, very quiet. Kudos to Tata engineers for NVH refinement levels, which are perhaps the best-in-class. This 2.2-litre Varicor 400 diesel engine delivers a peak power of 154bhp and a massive torque of 400Nm. There are two gearbox configurations—a new six-speed automatic and a six-speed manual. The engine has enough pulling power and overtaking even long vehicles on the highways is very easy.
However, while the automatic gearbox works well and changes gears in milliseconds, the manual gearbox shift quality, I think, can be improved. For example, while shifting from sixth to fifth, many-a-times I ended up shifting in third.
The manual variant has a very interesting feature, though. It’s called Super Drive Modes. There are four modes—Auto, Comfort, Dynamic & Rough Road—and the driver can seamlessly switch between them. The Rough Road mode turns the manual Hexa from a 4×2 into a 4×4 vehicle. This all-wheel drive system is electronically-controlled via an adaptive system by BorgWarner—the American company known for its powertrain products.
While Tata hasn’t shared its fuel-efficiency figure, we got about 14kpl in mixed driving conditions. Impressive.
There are ample safety measures. Six airbags, electronic stability programme (ESP), ABS with EBD, hill-hold control and hill-descent control, traction control system, among others.
To be launched in January next year, the Hexa is a very brave effort by Tata. The company’s new design language has worked for the Tiago, so ideally it should work for the Hexa as well. If priced right—which, of course, it will be—and marketed well, I think both the Innova Crysta and XUV 500 are in for some serious competition.
Impact design: The Hexa is the second Tata vehicle to sport the Impact design language, after the hatchback Tiago
Varicor 400 engine: This 2.2-litre diesel engine delivers a peak power of 154bhp and a massive torque of 400Nm
Super drive modes: Driver can seam-lessly switch between four drive modes—Auto, Comfort, Dynamic & Rough Road
Six-speed auto: Apart from the six-speed manual, the Hexa also gets the new six-speed automatic transmission
Ambient mood lighting: There is a choice of eight colours for in-cabin lighting
10-speaker JBL system: Utilising Harman tech, it gets the JBL 10-speaker system