I am driving a new car on the empty roads of Goa when I receive an SMS. Instantly, the car reads out the message to me. I feel the cabin is getting hot. I give a voice command. Instantly, the car increases the blower speed. I don’t like the music being played. I ask the car to change it. Instantly, the car plays me another song.* No, it is not some high-end luxury car, it is a sub-4 metre entry-level sedan—soon to be launched in India.
The Indian sub-4 metre sedan segment is interesting. Created by a Tata car—the Indigo CS—the segment, since then, has been ruled by Maruti Suzuki Dzire and earnestly followed by Honda Amaze and Hyundai Xcent. So as to regain a foothold, and after a considerable amount of time and lots of efforts, Tata Motors has finally developed a car that can give stiff competition to the Dzire, the Amaze and the Xcent—all superstar compact sedans. Tata calls it the Zest.
The Zest is not exactly a head-turner but demands attention because of the new grille that flows into the projector headlamps and the sculpted side panels. LED daytime running lights further enhance the front fascia. The side profile is refreshing, too, and the large 15-inch wheels give the Zest a raised stance. The rear section—having wraparound LED tail-lamps and ample usage of chrome—is unlike most Tata cars and the boot doesn’t really seem like an afterthought. The Zest is 3,995 mm long, 1,706 mm wide and has a ground clearance of 175 mm.
If the exterior fit-and-finish adds to the contemporary styling of the Zest, the interior quality standards are a giant leap for a Tata vehicle. The cabin looks elegant, to say the least. The knobs, the buttons, in fact all controls are precisely placed. Mention must be made of the new steering wheel, which looks very good and is nice to hold. The cabin certainly is in the league of both the Dzire and the Amaze, but falls slightly short of the quality levels found in the Xcent. However, an area where the Zest truly stands out is its infotainment system.
Developed with audio experts Harman Kardon, this eight-speaker system is simply fantastic for an entry-level sedan. The top-end variant of the Zest gets a touchscreen infotainment system