Tata Motors has added another technology to the Nexon—the six-speed AMT, or the automated manual transmission—which it will launch next month. It doesn’t have clutch pedal, so your left foot can relax
With the exception of Tesla, perhaps no other major car company builds cars that end up looking like the futuristic concepts. The Nexon that Tata Motors launched last year looked a lot like the Nexon it had showcased as a concept car at the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo. And that futuristic design—coupled with the right pricing strategy, able engines, good cabin space—turned out to be its USP. In fact, since its launch in September last year, this compact SUV has been selling about 4,000 units per month and has helped Tata Motors become India’s fourth-largest carmaker. The company has added another technology to the Nexon—the six-speed AMT, or the automated manual transmission—which it will launch next month. We drive it around Panchgani, the hill station in Maharashtra’s Western Ghats.
How does the Nexon AMT look?
There are no major exterior changes to the AMT variant, but for a badge. However, Tata Motors will introduce a new colour (in a shade of orange) coupled with body claddings with the AMT. The design is the USP of the Nexon and, in the new shade, it stands out even more. This new shade will be available with a silver dual-tone roof. The key design elements remain the same—projector headlamps with feline-eye-shaped DRLs, and ivory white accents around fog lamps, which kind of swoosh across the shoulder line, and then merge at the rear of the car in a big X shape.
Are there changes inside the cabin?
But for the obvious gear lever and the missing clutch pedal, there are no changes.
Wearable key: The company will introduce a wearable key with the Nexon AMT. You can wear the key on your wrist. It looks like a Fitbit device. Wearing it, as you press a button on the door, the car gets unlocked. To start the engine, just press a button on the dashboard. I, however, wish the key had a screen to show time or certain information related to the car, making it a truly smart key.
How feature-loaded is the cabin?
The cabin is spacious (all seats have a protrusion that provides thigh support, boot space is 350 litres) and feature-loaded (6.5-inch ‘floating’ touchscreen). And then some features are missing—like a one-touch power window switch, at least for the driver; buyers even in this segment have started expecting such convenience features.
What about the engines?
Both diesel and petrol engine specifications remain the same—the diesel is the 1497cc Revotorq unit (108.5bhp; 260Nm) and the petrol is the 1198cc Revotron turbocharged unit (108.5bhp; 170Nm).
How does the AMT unit perform?
First, the facts. Tata Motors calls it the first AMT option in India with multi-drive modes (Eco, City and Sport). It also gets the ‘manual tiptronic’ mode to shift gears manually, in case you want to. It has a ‘creep’ function—the car can crawl at a low speed in stop-and-go traffic. And it has a feature called ‘smart hill assist’ that prevents the car from rolling back on uphill drives.
Now, the performance. The AMT gearbox takes about half a second to change gears, which is slightly slower than what a traditional, more expensive automatic transmission unit does. In the diesel, the difference is not ‘that’ apparent—if, of course, you don’t floor the accelerator pedal. The reason is that the Revotorq unit generates a peak torque of 260Nm, which is powerful enough to nullify the gear-shift lag, or the feel of it. In the petrol, the lag appears to be more noticeable than in the diesel. However, driving within the city, at moderate speeds, the AMT leads to a relaxed driving experience.
How much will it be priced?
AMT gearbox-equipped cars are priced about Rs 50,000 more than manual gearbox cars. The ex-showroom, Delhi, price of the Nexon AMT should be in the range of Rs 10 lakh (to begin with, Tata is expected to launch the AMT only in top-end variants).