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?
Tata Zest was designed with inputs from the company’s three different design studios – Pune (India), Conventry (UK) and Turin (Italy). Several designing processes were also carried out by the help of Jaguar Land Rover – company’s luxury vehicle divison, as more than 6000 engineers and technicians worked relentlessly and rigorously across five countries and eleven centres. All the aforementioned hard work resulted in the birth of a distinct and never-seen-before sedan in the form of Zest. Being based on a thoroughly modified X1 platform, The all-new styling of the Zest is based on its new design direction of ‘Confident Dynamism’. As far as the front fascia is concerned, it flaunts the all new company signature grille with the newly introduced ‘Humanity Line’. This front grille is complimented immensely well by the dual projector headlamps with chrome accents, which are standard for every variant, except the base XE. Moreover, the top-end trim XT also enjoys LED daytime running lamps. The front bumper boasts triangle shaped twin fog lamps and double slat air dam. Find best offers on Zest
Coming to the side profile of the sedan, it has an enlarged C-pillar which makes the roofline a bit sloppy. The Zest has body colored ORVMs with blinkers and turn indicators, body colored door handles, and body colored bumpers as standard across the entire range of variants. The flared wheel arches have been bestowed with 15″ alloy wheels which, again, are standard feature and offered with each and every variant. At the rear-end of the car, the Zest is the first car in its segment to flaunt LED tail lamps. The whole tail lamp cluster is quite stylish and feature a wrap around design. The boot-lid gets a lot of chrome treatment, particularly around the horizontally positioned strip, company logo and model badging. Tata Zest is being offered with 6 vibrant colors – Buzz Blue, Venetian Red, Sky Grey, Dune Beige, Platinum Silver and Pristine White. In all, Tata has finally succeeded in carving out a niche sedan that is good looking, stylish and sporty. It won’t be an exaggeration to term it ‘The Best Tata Car’ till date in the exterior designing aspect.
Now most of the Indian consumers wants maximum out of their cars interior because this is the place where most of them and their family would spend their time in. Tata has tried to make the interior look new and fresh and we must admit that the interior of the Tata Zest neat and and modern compared to other Tata Motors products.The first thing that catches everyone’s eye when they step inside a car is the dashboard, in the case of Zest compact sedan Tata has fitted a completely new dashboard which looks very modern and premium. Tata have used Java Black & Latte colors. The newly designed three spoke steering wheel looks new.In addition to that Tata also has highlighted some important bits with chrome which overall adds a very interesting and premium finish to the dashboard. The top end variants definitely gets lots of goodies like Harman touchscreen multimedia system with 8 audio speaker, Voice recognition and SMS readouts and even steering mounted controls. The top trim also gets automatic temperature controls which can be operated via the touchscreen interface.
Now coming to the comfort factor the seats definitely feels comfortable while the white colored leather seats make the interior feel plush and appealing. From the pictures it is quite clear that the rear seats has sufficient amount of leg room which will definitely be useful during long journeys but what you will lack are the storage spaces inside the cabin, there is neither any arm rest on the front or even in the rear seats which is bit disappointing though. However at the rear of the car you will get a 360 litre boot which can help you store lot of luggage’s but the Swift Dzire or the Honda Amaze provides even better boot space.The base XE trim gets lot of important goodies like tilt adjustable power steering, air-conditioner with a heater option, front power windows, manual central locking and foldable key but unfortunately you won’t be getting any audio system with this trim. While the top end trim gets Automatic climate control, Multifunction steering wheel with voice command, Rear parking sensors, Electrically adjustable wing mirrors, Driver seat height adjustment, Harman music system with 8 speakers which supports
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.
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
The final area where huge strides have been made is the chassis and suspension. Without getting into too much detail, what you need to know is that Tata has managed to find a sublime balance between ride and handling; perhaps even the best in this class. Drive it over any manner of road blemish and it will flatten it out impeccably, and quietly. Even big potholes hardly faze it. Road shocks are cushioned brilliantly and the sense of calm in the cabin even on a really bad surface is amazing for a car in this segment. The only time it comes close to being caught out is when you drive it quickly over large road undulations, at which point, it may pitch a little at the rear. Under very hard braking too, the rear can get a bit unsettled
Amazingly, the relatively heavy and tall Zest darts around corners quite capably too. Its wider tracks help it feel more planted than an Indica, and the body movement is very well controlled for a car that seems to ride quite high. Yes, there is a bit of body roll but the overall balance of the chassis doesn’t make it an issue. The new electric steering unit, borrowed from the Nano Twist, also works really well. It’s pretty accurate and the ‘active return’ feature does subtly make things easier on the move. At speeds, the steering does feel a bit light but doesn’t take confidence away from the driver.
The Tata Zest uses a baked hardened steel in its construction. It gets front and side crumple zones along with protection bars for rear passengers. Safety equipment includes dual front airbags, ABS, EBD and Corner Stability Control (CSC). The Zest feels strong, the doors close with a reassuring thud and the thickness of metal is good too. However, the vehicle isn’t tested by Global NCAP yet and we can only comment on the safety of the vehicle after a crash test rating has been given to it. The company has crash tested the Tata Zest at its own facility and it meets Indian regulations.
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.