Tata Zest Hatchback Test Drive & Transmission

Tata Zest Overview

Launched in 2014, the Tata Zest was the company’s first all new product under its Horizonext product strategy. It’s widely admired for its premium styling, class-leading features and competent engines. Designed with inputs from Tata’s design studios in Pune, Turin (Italy) and Coventry (UK), the compact sedan looks more premium than most Tata cars below Rs. 10 lakh. It gets new signature grille with the new ‘Humanity Line’, trapezoidal lower air dam, projector headlamps with chrome accents, ‘The Diamond DLO’ and ‘Slingshot Line’ on side profile and various other styling elements. View offers on Tata Cars from Tata dealers in Hyderabad at Autozhop


Tata Zest Style

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.

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.

Tata Zest 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 Gearbox

In the past few months, we have driven many cars across segments but with the Zest, the experience was different. Firstly, it is the first Tata car to get the recently launched Revotron 1.2T petrol engine and secondly, it is the first car in its segment to get an AMT transmission.Let’s begin with the petrol. It is very rare that a Tata car has been associated with ‘Fun” as they have always been functional and lacked emotional connect. With the all new Revotron 1.2T petrol engine, the company attempts to revamp its brand image from purpose built to built to perform car maker.

We knew it that the new engine is a result of extensive research and ticks all the boxes on paper. Fire it up and you would expect the rattles and shivers as expected but to everyone’s shock, it is not the case. The engine idles smoothly without any redundant noise. Push the throttle harder and the sounds gets sporty with a slight grunt.One can also choose a driving mode from three options which are Eco, City and Sports. It is amazing to see a car in this range sport multiple driving modes catering to mileage and performance needs. City mode, which is set by default, works on maintaining a balance between economy and performance. There are two buttons on the console which are Eco and Sports. In Eco mode, it concentrates on fuel efficiency while in the Sports mode; it is pure based on performance.

The engine feels quick if not fast. The 1197cc engine produces 90PS at 5000 rpm and generates a torque of 140Nm. Petrol variants come with a standard five speed manual transmission. The engine doesn’t react at a touch on the pedal but once it crosses the 2500 mark, its performance gets evident. The tacho needle travels all the way to 6000 rpm before shifting to next gear. One interesting bit is the needle going red at peak rpm alerting the driver to shift to the next gear.The petrol feels great on straight section but then on hilly sections where the climbing angle increases it loses breath very quickly forcing the driver to downshift. During overtaking, one has to squeeze every bit of power to make sure one manoeuvres confidently. The power band is very short in the petrol engine. Second and third gear help building momentum but at fourth it falls flat and similarly in the fifth gear.

Then was our turn to drive the diesel AMT. Thanks to Maruti Suzuki Celerio, we had an idea on Automated Manual Transmission. Gyaan goes like this; it is not an automatic transmission but an automated manual transmission unit meaning the upper half has an electronic mechanism which works with the help of a control unit and hydraulic actuators while the lower half acts like a conventional manual transmission. It comes at a price of a manual and offers convenience of an automatic.The diesel F-Tronic AMT is equipped with the same four cylinder diesel engine which was also seen on Vista D90 hatch. This 1248cc engine produces 90PS of power and generates 200Nm of torque. It is offered with a conventional 5 speed manual transmission but then there is an additional option of getting the diesel in AMT version. The engine is amazingly quiet and all the measures to make sure the cabin is insulated have worked really well. It fairs a lot better than the Honda Amaze and Maruti Suzuki Swift DZire when it comes to low NVH levels.

It comes with three different shift modes namely the automatic, sports and manual. In automatic, the drive feels sluggish at lower engine speeds but then once it enters 3000rpm to 4800rpm band, the torque delivery gets aggressive. The cut off engine speed to shift to next gear is 4500rpm. Even the intermittent delay between shifts is less. Sports more gets activated with the help of a button below the transmission stick. Power delivery doesn’t improve but the shifts happen quicker than in normal auto mode. Then comes the manual mode which is the best when it comes to outright performance.In manual mode, the driver has to upshift or downshift manually by shifting the stick forward or reverse respectively. In this mode, the engine holds on to its power delivery for a longer duration. We found a way to ‘Cheat’ the shift by downshifting few rpms before its ideal limit for example while shifting from first to second, the cut-off happens at 4500rpm and thus shift it at close to 4300rpm so the delay between shifts gets shorter and it slides to next gear quickly without losing on speed.

Tata Zest Rideing

Tata Zest comprises of a Electric Power Assist Steering (ePAS) with speed sensitivity and ‘Active Return’ function – a first in the segment. The steering wheel has a diameter of 366mm which makes it the smallest for a Tata Car, except for the Nano. The new generation tilt Tata signature steering wheel, designed with 3 spokes, is quite lighter in weight and it is easy to maneuver the sedan through narrow roads without putting in special efforts. Furthermore, The dual-path suspension, coupled with a zero-pivot sub-frame and Anti-roll bar, ensures a smooth and comfortable ride. The rear suspension is Twist beam with coil spring which compliments the working on first one extremely well. Tata has introduced first-in-segment ‘Multi-Drive Mode’ technology which displays three driving modes – Sport, Eco and City with the petrol variants. An individual can select any one mode out of the mentioned three, depending upon the road condition and driving skills. Sport is for lightening fast acceleration, while Eco is intended towards obtaining maximum fuel economy, followed by the City which is a perfect amalgamation of performance and economy. On the other hand, Zest diesel AMT variant comes up with twin driving modes – City and Sport. The Zest petrol variants clock a top speed of 154kmph while the diesel variants register a marginally high top speed of 158kmph.

Tata Zest Safety

The Tata’s compact sedan doesn’t just deliver impressive mileage; it also ensures a safe drive. The car comes equipped with a plenty of safety features such as front dual airbags, ABS (anti-lock braking system) + EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution), perimetric alarm system, front seat belt pre-tensioner with load limiter, front and rear fog lamps, immobilizer and speed dependent auto door lock system. Though, one must note that the aforementioned features vary variant-wise. The front disc brakes and rear drum brakes provide adequate stopping power. ABS (anti-lock braking system) and EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution) further enhance its braking capabilities, though the pedal brake could have been slightly more responsive.

Tata Zest Cost in Hyderabad

Tata Zest Ex-Showroom Price in Hyderabad ranges from 5,31,228/- (Zest Revotron 1.2T XE) to 8,67,918/- (Zest Quadrajet 1.3 XTA). Get best offers for Tata Zest from Tata Dealers in Hyderabad. Check for Zest price in Hyderabad at Carzprice

Tata Zest Concliusion

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.