Tata Motors has been doing quite well in the Indian market in the recent past. They owe this success to their latest product line-up which consists of some pretty impressive vehicles like the Tiago, Tigor, Hexa and more recently, the Nexon. When Tata Motors launched the Nexon last year, it had all the characteristics which made it classify amongst one of the best sub-compact SUVs in India. The Nexon came with an impressive and unique styling, a feature loaded cabin and a refined set of petrol and diesel engines.
However, one of the main ingredient lacking in this success recipe was the availability, or rather the non-availability, of an automatic gearbox. Well, after much testing and tuning and a gap of almost 6 months, Tata Motors have finally launched the AMT equipped variant of the Nexon in India. They are calling it the Nexon Hyperdrive and in this review, we are going to find out if the wait was worth and how does this new 6-speed AMT gearbox score in real-world conditions.
Tata Nexon AMT Exterior And Interior
Now before we get into the details of how the Tata Nexon AMT is like to drive, let’s first get some minor details out of the way. For instance, at the moment, this new AMT gearbox is only available on the top-of-the-line, XZ+ variant of the Nexon. And with both the 1.2-litre petrol as well as the 1.5-litre diesel engines.
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Hence you get all the bells and whistles like the projector headlamps, LED daytime running lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto, an eight-speaker Harmon Kardon tuned sound system and the likes when you buy this SUV, be it in any guise.
Which means, on road, the automatic version would be quite hard to differentiate from the manual ones in term of their appearance. In fact, the only way to differentiate the AMT version from a manual top-of-the-line variant is by looking at the suffix ‘A’ on the XZ+ badging on the boot-lid.
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There is no change inside the cabin of this compact SUV as well. Apart from this new gear selector for the AMT transmission. It has three positions, A for automatic, which is the drive mode, N for Neutral and R for reverse. In addition to this, if you push the selector to the left, you engage the manual mode in which you can up-shift or downshift as you please.
Tata Nexon AMT Diesel Review
Tata Motors have retained the Nexon’s party piece, its driving modes with its AMT version as well. By default, the SUV starts in the City mode and believe me, this is the mode in which you would want to drive the Nexon most of the time. With the 1.5-litre diesel engine, that I am driving right now, in the City mode, with this AMT gearbox, the throttle response it dulled just enough to avoid jerks in stop-go traffic while it continues to offer the required guts for those small overtakes and if you want to just cruise in the city. Being an AMT, this 6-speed unit does have that inherent head nod when changing gears. However, the tuning is such that it is felt to the minimum during up-shifts and is almost negligible during downshifts.
Coming to the sports mode, it is best suited for highway use as it holds on to gears a little longer and sharpens the throttle response. Using this mode in the city’s bumper to bumper traffic might result in a jerky ride at low speeds and unnecessary fuel consumption. The eco-mode is what you choose if you really need to save fuel and can compromise of performance altogether.
In addition to the driving modes, the Tata Nexon AMT also comes with a couple of other tricks up its sleeves. It has a ‘creep mode’ which lets the car move under the idle torque at low speeds when the brake pedal is released, without pressing the accelerator. This function is a boon in bumper to bumper traffic and when navigating in and out of a parking spot. In addition to this, with this AMT gearbox, you also get hill descent and hill assist.
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Tata Motors AMT Petrol Review
Now talking about the petrol derivative of the Tata Nexon AMT, it gets the same 6-speed AMT unit as the diesel one. It too has the three driving modes and also features like the creep, hill descent and hill ascent driver aids. So, is there a major difference between the two? Well, there isn’t, at least as far as the capabilities of the gearbox is concerned. The gearshifts are smooth in the petrol version as well, be it the case of upshifts or downshifts. Just like the diesel variant, the engine and gearbox’s behaviour change, when you shift from one mode to another. But as is the case with the manual version, this 3-cylinder turbocharged unit is best enjoyed in the Sports mode. And this AMT gearbox is right there alongside, making the whole cruising at high speeds experience quite enjoyable.
All that said, I am not too convinced with this petrol engine and AMT gearbox combination for its slow speed capabilities. The smoothness that this combination offers at high speeds sort of disappears when driving in stop and go traffic as no matter which mode you choose, the ride feels bit jerky. So is the case with the creep mode. Unlike the diesel variant, where it sort of nudges you ahead, the creep mode in the petrol derivative sort of pushes you, resulting in you stomping on the breaks too hard. Making the whole driving experience a bit difficult at lower speeds.
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In term of fuel efficiency, the onboard gauge in the diesel variant showed an average economy of 18 km/l while the petrol was able to deliver 15 Km/l.
Tata Nexon AMT Verdict
All that said, there is still room for improvement. First, the USB charging slots are still difficult to reach. The rear window, thanks to the Nexon’s coupe-like rear end, is still quite small and the ride could get a bit bumpy, particularly in the diesel derivatives. Furthermore, the AMT transmission units are only available in the top of the line XZ+ trims. With ex-showroom prices in Delhi starting for Rs 9.41 lakh for the petrol automatic and the Rs 10.38 lakh for the diesel one, it might turn out to be a little bit expensive for those who are just looking for an automatic SUV for daily use and can compromise on some features.
To sum it up then, we would like to say, that with the introduction of an AMT gearbox in its line-up, the Tata Nexon now comes across as a complete, a more rounded package. It already had the looks, the features, comfort and the engine specs to impress buyers in the sub-compact SUV segment. The automatic variant just acts as the final piece of the puzzle. In terms of its daily driving capabilities, we believe that this AMT gearbox is amongst the best that currently exist in India.