The Tata Hexa was first showcased as a concept at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. Unveiled later as a production version at the 2016 Delhi Auto Expo, the Hexa will be Tata’s flagship model in India and is likely to hit the roads in January 2017.
Developed by Tata Motors in collaborations with its technology partners, the much awaited Tata Hexa is built on a new versatile platform and has been positioned as a vehicle that is designed for customers with an active lifestyle and aims to provide the perfect blend of on-road and off-road capabilities.
But does the Tata Hexa have enough arsenal in its armory to outclass the Toyota Innova Crysta and the Mahindra XUV500? We got behind the wheel of the top XT automatic and manual variants and took it for a spin around Hyderabad – the city of Nizams. Read on to find out what we discovered.
Design & Engineering
Tata Hexa is the second vehicle to sport the Impact design language after the Tiago and has a masculine and imposing stance. The Hexa features a dual-coloured bumper, Tata signature grille with chrome line, stylish new projector headlamp with smoked effect, Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) seamlessly integrated with stylish fog lamps.
Tata Hexa 19-inch alloy wheels are smartly nested in muscular wheel arch claddings, adding a sporty touch. The floating roof and wraparound chrome feature line, with Hexa embossing, gives it a contemporary SUV silhouette. Hexa dual tone rear bumper with chrome accented step plates and chrome exhaust gives it an impactful rear styling. The stylish wraparound horizontal tail lamps, with flexible LED technology, are connected by a chrome applique.
NVH levels are very well contained with minimal external noise filtering inside the passenger cabin. The only sound you would hear is the growl of the diesel powertrain at high revs. Overall, the Hexa is a well packaged vehicle and the designers at Tata deserve a pat on their back for doing a commendable job.
Interiors & Comfort
Step inside the Tata Hexa and you will be welcomed by an all-black interior, with decent finishes, soft touch materials, textures and grains. Sculpted seats with contrast stitching and accentuated bolsters with Benecke-Kaliko leather feel upholstery, adds a touch of class.
Tata Hexa is equipped with new-gen ConnectNext Infotainment system, with 5-inch touch screen, designed by Harman, which features voice recognition and smart phone integration.
The Hexa has 10 JBL speakers - 4 door speakers, 4 tweeters, a centre speaker, sub-woofer and a power amplifier that produces quality audio reproduction. The ConnectNext infotainment system also comes with multiple features such as playback via FM/AM, USB, iPod, Aux, voice recognition, Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming, navigation, on-screen SMS display, SMS readout and rear view camera display. The ConnectNext App suite includes, NaviMaps App, Juke-Car App, Tata Smart Remote App and Tata Smart Manual App.
Hexa also comes with a choice of eight colours for in-cabin ambient mood lighting, with illumination control and customisation. Thoughtfully designed utility spaces can be generously found in all three rows.
Tata Hexa has an 8-way adjustable driver seat for a comfortable driving position using horizontal, vertical, angular recline and lumbar controls. Flexi-seat configurations in the second row is available, with an option for captain or bench seats. The second and third row seats are availble with multiple folding configurations, releasing 671 litres of space with the second and third row folded. Unlike other cars in the segment, the third row of the Tata Hexa has aequate legroom and can accommodate two medium built adults.
Tata Hexa Automatic climate control system with dual HVAC, maintains the in-cabin temperature, with personalised air flow and speed control, through AC vents in each row for enhanced passenger comfort. The rear window sun blinds, help to shield passengers from sunrays.
Cruise control is available at the touch of the button, while automatic headlamps switch on or off automatically on sensing exterior conditions. Follow-me-home approach lights are switched on through the remote key, illuminate the pathway and locate the vehicle in the dark.
USB charging points in the second and third row, sense plugged in devices for fast charging.
Performance & Handling
Tata Hexa is powered by the next-gen 2.2L Varicor 400 diesel engine that delivers 156 PS of maximum power at 4000 rpm and 400 Nm of peak torque between 1700-2700 rpm.
Tata Hexa is available in two gearbox configurations - a new 6-speed automatic gearbox and a 6-speed manual transmission. The Hexa manual drive variant comes with 'Super Drive Modes' allowing the driver to switch between the four different driving modes - Auto, Comfort, Dynamic and Rough Roads, for enhanced ride comfort and stability over different terrains. The All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system is electronically controlled via an adaptive system by Borg Warner, with torque on demand feature. The automatic version with a new-gen 6-speed automatic transmission has selectable modes - Sports and Auto, with manual shift option.
The diesel powerplant is quite responsive with little turbo-lag. Power is available from as low as 1400 rpm going well past 3000 rpm. The long-throw manual gearbox felt notchy and struggles to slot in smoothly. However, the automatic transmission is well mated and shifts smoothly resulting in good drivability.
The Hexa is a tall boy and one is bound to experience some amount of body roll around the corners, but that is well contained and nothing major to spoil your fun. The steering wheel is light and it weighs gradually with the increase in speed.
Tata Hexa boasts of a very good ride quality. The suspension set is well tuned for Indian road conditions and irons out most of the jolts on uneven stretches of road and the dampers do well to absorb most of the shocks keeping the ride smooth, composed and poised making it a perfect choice for long distance travels.
The Hexa brakes well to bring the SUV to a halt while zipping through city thoroughfares or cruising on the highway. It has got discs doing duty up front and at the rear.
Hexa is due for market launch in early 2017 therefore Tata Motors is tight lipped about the fuel efficiency figures until such time. However, going by experience, my guesstimate would be that a 2.2-litre diesel powertrain from Tata’s stable could potentially deliver about 9 kmpl in the city and about 12-13 kmpl on the highway which is very good when you consider the size and weight of the vehicle.
The 60-litre fuel tank means you can cover substantial distances before needing to stop for fuel, providing you with a safe range of about 540 kilometres between fill-ups in the city and around 720 kilometres on the highway.
Tata Hexa features an array of safety features with the top XT trim coming loaded with 6 airbags, Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), ABS with Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) which optimises braking distance and ensure vehicle stability. It also gets Hill Hold Control (HHC) which automatically activates to prevent the vehicle from rolling backwards on up-hill drives and Hill Decent Control (HDC) which controls descent on inclined surfaces. Additionally, traction control system prevents excessive wheel slip.
Tata Hexa is a well packed and engineered product. Kudos to the engineers and designers at Tata Motors for a commendable job. For starters, the Hexa is the best product we have seen from Tata’s stable till date. Little wonder then that Hexa will be Tata’s flagship model in India.
The Tata Hexa has a masculine and imposing stance with good ground clearance making it a vehicle of choice for on-road travel and off-road adventure. The Hexa is powered by a responsive diesel engine which delivers linear power across rev range with very little turbo lag. It boasts of good drivability and an impressive ride quality, thanks to a well-tuned suspension set up perfectly suited for Indian road conditions. The XT Automatic was a joy to drive and is easily the best automatic transmission offered in that product segment.
The all-black passenger cabin is spacious and classy with well bolstered seats, commanding driving positing and the best infotainment system in the class with 5-inch touch screen, designed by Harman, featuring voice recognition and smart phone integration. Hexa also comes equipped with 10 JBL speakers that includes 4 door speakers, 4 tweeters, a centre speaker, sub-woofer and a power amplifier that produces high quality audio reproduction.
There is no doubt that the Hexa is a competitive product. However, there are a numer of facotrs which collectively determine its fate. Pricing is definitely going to be crucial in determining Hexa's success. It would be prudent if Tata Motors can come up with a pricing strategy that undercuts both its rivals - Toyota Innova Crysta and Mahindra XUV500. The idea is not necessarily to sell the product at the cheapest price, but at the best price that would offer a great value proposition to the customers. Lastly, a lot of good passenger cars from Tata fail to do well in the Indian market due to the public perception about Tata cars. The company needs to come up with an aggressive marketing strategy to shatter that myth.
Mahindra XUV500, Toyota Innova Crysta