Tata Zest Hatchback First Look Review

Tata Zest Test Drive in Mumbai

Tata Zest Overview

The Zest has been drawn from the ground up, keeping all of Tata Motors’ baggage from the past aside. Work on this car began nearly three years ago involving over 6,000 engineers and technicians spread across 11 technical centers in five countries. That might seem like a lot of manpower to develop just one car, but then you have to keep in mind the Zest is not just one car – it is the seed, the progeny of things to come from Tata Motors over the next decade.

The other reason for involving so many people in this project is that the Zest is intended to be a global car. The Zest is also not just one car but two, like most modern cars in the compact segment, the platform it has been raised on spawns both a sedan and a hatchback. While the Zest is the sedan, the hatchback is named Bolt and will be introduced in the Indian market in a few months from now.View offers on Tata Zest in New Delhi at Autozhop.

Tata Zest Exterior & Style

One of the biggest consideration aspects while buying a car here in India, is the exterior design or styling. It is said, if you get the visual allure of a product right, that’s half the battle. On this front, the Zest is a huge step up over both the Vista and the Manza. The Zest still has that typical Tata smiley face, which Tata now calls the humanity line. It is the line that runs along the bottom of the grille and connects the headlamps. The headlamps look nicer too, and in this top of the line version, are projector type. The bumper with its large fog lamp housing and a reverse air dam design give the Zest an air of much-needed modernity.

In profile, the Zest doesn’t look very proportionate; it’s more like the Dzire – with a longer hood and a stubbier boot – than the Amaze which clearly is better balanced visually. But with a revised shoulder line and an upswept lower character line, it gives the Zest better road presence. It gets largest in class 15in wheels too. The design for the alloys isn’t exciting, but its size certainly helps the Zest’s stance. At the rear, the Tata Zest has LED tail lamps, a well-defined bumper and boot lid with a thick chrome line dominating proceedings.

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 & Gearbox

The Zest comes with a choice of both petrol and diesel engines and that gives the car a versatile customer appeal. The petrol is an all-new turbocharged unit, displacing 1,193cc. Tata Motors likes to claim that this is the first turbocharged engine in the segment, but let me refine that fact, the technology isn’t new to India. Ford has the 1.0-litre Ecoboost and Volkswagen, the 1.2-litre TSI, both turbocharged fuel injected engines, though to be fair to the Zest, neither of the cars these engines power belong in this segment.To know more information on Tata Zest check Basna

So the Revotron has been designed in-house by those 6,000 engineers and technicians I mentioned earlier. The word Revotron comes from blending the words ‘revolution’ and ‘tronel’ which is French for balance. Why did Tata Motors go all the way to France to add balance to their engine beats me! But they did find a fair amount of balance and what has resulted is a brilliant piece of engineering. This 1.2-litre petrol is a clean and smooth engine, it’s also effortless and finally I can say a Tata Motors engine is fun. On a short drive in and around Cansaulim in Goa, the engine revved cleanly put the car into the power band rapidly and never ever felt short of breath. The turbo kicks in around 1,200rpm and that provides torque pretty early in the rev band. You get 90PS of max power at 5,000rpm and 140Nm of torque between 1,750 and 3,500rpm which is par for the segment.

Ironically just as we went to drive this car, petrol prices were hiked by another rupee and some sixty paise per litre. For the domestic market, this engine then may not seem to be a very positive step for Tata Motors but their interests this time around have global repercussions. The petrol engine is intended to capture attention in European and Asian markets where petrol is still a popular choice of fuel. And this engine can easily hold its own against comparative Ecoboost or TSIs of this world.

The diesel engine on the other hand may still be the popular choice for India but it’s not a new engine. This is the same Quadrajet engine that is sourced from Fiat and tuned by Tata Motors. You get 90PS of max power at 4,000rpm and 200Nm of max torque between 1,750 and 3,000rpm. It’s a torquey engine but certainly not as quick as the petrol or for that matter, it does not feel as alive or energetic. That’s not to say this engine is a dud, you can get decent performance out of it, but both the Amaze and the Xcent for instance feel a bit more spirited.

To keep NVH levels in cabin comfortable there are three sound deadening layers. There is an absorptive layer inside the engine bay, followed by a reflective layer inside the cabin on the firewall. This is the wall separating the engine bay from the cabin. And finally there is another absorptive layer over the reflective one. So is the cabin a quiet place? The petrol definitely is but the diesel is also surprisingly quiet if driven calmly.

The interesting bit about both the petrol and diesel engines is the transmissions used in them. The rumours about Tata Motors going in for the AMT transmission can finally be put to rest. Yes there is an automated manual transmission in the Zest but it is provided only with the diesel. The petrol gets a regular manual transmission but bear in mind even the AMT is a manual transmission that uses the same device as Maruti did in the Celerio to actuate gears. All the AMT does is removes the need for a clutch while using an onboard computer to decide when a gear shift is necessary. The AMT has been sourced from Fiat which means it’s a Magnetti Marelli component since they alone supply this technology to Fiat worldwide.Apply car loan for Tata Zest.

The AMT transmission provides both an automatic and a manual shift experience. You get just three driving modes, ‘D’ to drive forward, ‘R’ to back it up and ‘N’ to leave it in neutral. Slip the shift lever to the left and you can then select gears manually by simply sliding the stick up or down to raise or lower the gears. You would have also noticed a small ‘S’ button just below the shifter and that essentially puts the powertrain in Sport mode. In this condition, the transmission will let the engine rev all the way to redline before it shifts a gear. In normal mode, the management system will select the optimum rev point to shift up or down depending on the engine load conditions to maximise fuel efficiency.

Tata Zest Driving Dynamics

Like space, ride quality too has been one of Tata Motors’ strong points. And the Zest is no different. It rides well at slow speeds, and even pronounced undulations, doesn’t unsettle the car too much. Tata has used what they call dual path struts at the front and revised torsion beam axle rating at the rear to achieve this. The dual path struts use a softer rubber at the point where the strut connects with the body in white giving a supple secondary ride before the spring and damper setup comes into play. This has allowed Tata engineers to firm up the latter combo a bit to achieve better cornering ability.

On the road, the Zest doesn’t feel like a go-kart or even a car where handling takes precedence. It is still more comfortable than energetic around a switchback. Not that it feels cumbersome or lazy if that’s the impression the previous line left on you. It’s just not as sharp at turn in or flat around bends or neutrally balanced to keep understeer away as an entertaining handler ought to be. The steering response and feel, on the other hand, particularly for an electrically assisted one, is impressive. It also has feel and is agreeably quick, and because it’s light and not vague, it makes driving the Zest in the city pretty easy.

Tata Zest Braking & Safety

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 in New Delhi

Tata Zest On Road Price is 6,54,475/- and Ex-showroom Price is 5,70,663/- in New Delhi. Tata Zest comes in 6 colours, namely Venetian Red,Platinum Silver,Sky Grey,Pristine White,Dune Beige,Buzz Blue. Tata Zest comes with FWD with 1193 CC Displacement and 4 Cylinders with Maximum Power 89 bhp@5000 rpm and Peak Torque 140 Nm@1500-4000 rpm DRIVE TRAIN FWD and reaches 100 KMPH at N/A . Tata Zest comes with Manual Transmission with FWD .

Tata Zest Verdict

Even a short drive in the new Tata Zest will make you forget everything about the old Indica Vista, so effective are the improvements. The design is a definite step forward and when viewed from certain angles, the car looks genuinely good. The real changes are in the engineering. The ride and handling mix is just spot on, and it’s even fun to chuck around corners. The petrol engine doesn’t quite live up to all the hype Tata put behind it, but in isolation, is very smooth and driveable, and packs adequate punch too. The AMT diesel comes with the compromises typical of this type of gearbox, but for most people in everyday driving, the price, fuel economy and immense convenience factor should outweigh the small foibles. You’ll also have little reason to complain sitting inside, apart from the lack of cabin stowage, and the top-spec car is really well kitted out too.

With the Zest, Tata Motors is taking on a hugely competitive segment dominated by three of the country’s biggest carmakers. It does have a trump card up its sleeve with the diesel auto, however, and this alone should have buyers flocking to showrooms. Tata was the company that started this segment in the first place, remember, and if it prices the Zest as competitively as it historically has its other cars, this could be the car that puts Tata back in the game.

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