The Tata Nexon has been one of the more popular offerings in the sub-4 metre SUV segment, and all for good reasons. From concept to the final production vehicle, the Nexon stayed true to its quirky design, which a lot of buyers liked. In fact, in the last three years, since the SUV's launch, Tata Motors has produced over 1.5 lakh units of the Nexon in India. And that shows how popular it has become. It also offered several modern creature comforts along with one of the most spacious cabins in the segment, and to top it all, the Nexon also became the first car in India to bag the 5-star safety rating from Global NCAP, which only added to its volume growth. But with growing competition, and the entry of the more feature-packed and connected cars like the Hyundai Venue, Kia Sonet among others, Tata had to take things a notch higher.
Thus, when the company had to upgrade to BS6 emission norms, instead of just updating the engine, the company also decided to upgrade the car with a more feature-packed mid-life facelift, featuring a more powerful petrol engine. While the car was launched earlier in January, thanks to the pandemic, it's just now that we finally get to drive it. So, let's get into the details.
What It Looks Like
Visually, the facelifted Tata Nexon certainly looks much sharper now, especially with the new sleeker grille, which also comes with a glossy black slat that houses the Tata logo. It is flanked by a pair of new sharp-looking headlights, which come with LED projector units and integrated LED daytime running lamps. And now, they offer better throw as well. Below, the Nexon gets an updated, muscular-looking, front bumper that comes with a new foglamp housing on each side. Also, the older white U-shaped inserts, have been replaced, by new silver brackets on either end. Plus, you get a more pronounced bumper cladding with a faux skid plate and the signature tri-arrow design for the airdam grille.
As you move towards the side, you will notice that from the profile the SUV largely remains similar to the pre-facelift Nexon, be it the high shoulder line, the floating-style sloping roof, which still gets dual-tone option, and the flared wheel arches. The Nexon also continues to get the same underbody and side cladding. However, it also gets a set of new 16-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels that look much nicer than the older ones. Moreover, this dual trim option also comes with stylish piano black ORVMs with integrated indicators, and silver roof rails.
As for the rear section, it too comes with minimal changes, but the most noticeable ones are the tri-arrow pattern LED taillamps, which get clear glass now, a new centrally positioned Nexon logo, and a more sculpted rear bumper with black cladding and a faux silver skid plate similar to the one upfront.
Step inside and you will notice that the 2020 Nexon's cabin too has received its fair share of updates. The dual-tone interior now gets a black and white treatment, and there is also a new off-white panel running across the dashboard with the tri-arrow pattern. You now also get a flat-bottom steering wheel as standard, but steering-mounted controls and faux leather wrapping are optional. The large glove box on the dashboard still gets cooling function, and there are a host of other cubby holes and storage spaces as well, along with a UBS and 12V charger.
The seats are well-bolstered and are upholstered in premium black fabric, while the central armrests for both rows add to the overall comfort. In fact, the foldable one at the rear also comes with cup holders. Furthermore, along with automatic climate control, the Nexon also comes with rear AC vents, adjustable headrest, and yes, there is an electric sunroof as well. And now Tata offers it with the mid-spec XM (S) variant as well. Cabin space has always been a big USP for the Nexon, and it continues to be so.
As for in-car convenience, the Nexon gets a new fully digital instrument cluster with a large MID unit that offers a tonne of information from fuel economy, distance to empty, time and tyre pressure among others. The SUV also continue to get the same 7-inch touchscreen display with an updated infotainment system featuring Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation and Tata's new connected technology iRA. Sadly, it was not functional in the car we had with us, which was the top-end XZ+(O) trim, and that, and its AMT version, are the only two variants that get the new iRA technology. Tata says that it offers remote functionality via smartphone, geo-fencing, a valet mode among others, but we would have to test it to tell you more about it. Also, the Nexon still gets the signature rotary dial to select between the same three driving modes, which are - City, Eco, and Sport.
How Safe Is It?
As we mentioned above, the Tata Nexon is known for its high safety standards, and nothing has changed in that department. Dual airbags, ABS with EBD, ESP, Electric Traction control, hydraulic brake assist, roll-over mitigation, hill-hold control and ISOFIX child seat mounts, all are standard fitment across variants. However, if you get some of the higher variants you will also get a rear parking camera with dynamic guidelines, a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers and cruise control. Yes, you also get keyless entry with push-button start/stop function.
What Powers It?
Now the model we drove was the Nexon petrol, and it came with the same 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged engine that powered the older model. However, this one is BS6 compliant now, and more powerful at 118 bhp, which is 10 bhp more than the BS4 version. Also, instead of 5000 rpm, peak power is now achieved at around 5500 rpm. The engine's torque output remains unchanged at 170 Nm, and while Tata says that it kicks in at 1750 rpm and goes up to 4000 rpm, there is still a noticeable turbo lag in the lower revs, and that can be a bit underwhelming in stop-and-go traffic. That's more so if you were driving the manual version like us which, although gets a light clutch, but the pedal is a bit too tall for my liking.
However, once you reach the 2500 rpm mark, the turbo kicks in and the engine feels more alive, enabling the over 1300 kg Nexon to achieve triple-digit speeds in no time. The car with us came mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox, but it lacked a bit of refinement. The shifts felt a bit clunky, especially while moving from the second gear to the third and back, however, the ratios are well spaced out. Tata also offers an AMT version and that could make things a bit more convenient. There is also a diesel option on offer, which comes with a 1.5-litre motor that continues to make the same 108 bhp and 260 Nm of torque as before and gets the same transmission choices as well.
How does It drive?
The Nexon continues to offer great handling, and the addition of the flat-bottom steering wheel has certainly made things better, however, it is only adjustable for tilt, and not reach. It is a bit too light for my liking, but if you are driving in the city then you will find it quite convenient. High-speed stability is also good, so highway driving too won't be an issue. Plus, you get cruise control as well so that's a bonus. The suspension on the Nexon is also well-balanced, a tad on the softer side, in fact, but that means the Nexon can handle all the undulations on road with complete easy, offering good ride quality. In fact, Tata has also improved the NVH levels on the SUV.
Should You Buy It?
The Tata Nexon used to be the most affordable subcompact SUV in the market, however, with the facelift being priced in India at ₹ 6.99 lakh to ₹ 12.70 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) that is no longer the case. Base models of both the Kia Sonet and Hyundai Venue are cheaper by ₹ 28,000 and ₹ 24,000 respectively. Also, compared to the two Korean SUVs, the top-spec Nexon misses out on features like wireless charging or ventilated seats. However, these are quite exclusive features anyway so, none of the other SUVs in this segment like - Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Toyota Urban Cruiser, or Ford EcoSport offer these as well.
What the Nexon does offer is - a host of usable creature comforts, some of the best safety features in the segment, that too right from the base variant, and it gets a spacious cabin, along with a powerful petrol engine. In fact, only the Ford EcoSport gets a marginally more powerful petrol engine compared to the Nexon. So, if you are looking for a capable all-round compact SUV, which drives well, offers good comfort and space, and does all that at a great price, then the Tata Nexon is certainly, worth your consideration.
Photos: Pawan Dagia