Tata Motors had unveiled their new compact sedan the Zest and its hatch version Bolt before the Auto Expo 2014, and then showcased them at the event. On 12th August 2014 the Zest got launched to enter a segment that has strong rivals such as Maruti Dzire, Honda Amaze and Hyundai Xcent. Zest has been brought in both petrol and diesel variants. The aggressive prices starting at Rs. 4.64 lakhs for Petrol and Rs 5.64 lakhs for Diesel (ex showroom price Delhi) make things more interesting.
The Zest sub 4 meter sedan is a part of the company’s new ‘Horizonext’ strategy that has been devised to move away from the simple image exuded by Vista and Manza. Tata Motors wants to make its new cars more aspirational and appealing for a younger set of buyers. Codenamed Falcon 5 earlier, the Zest is based on reworked version of Tata’s X1 platform that is also used for Manza and Vista.
To look into the mechanicals, the powertrain for Petrol Zest is the new Revotron 1.2 litre turbocharged MPFi engine that churns 88.7 bhp at 5000 rpm and 140 Nm of torque at 1750 -3500 rpm. It is coupled with 5 speed manual transmission and has three driving modes – Eco, City and Pro.
Predictably, the Diesel Zest has the familiar ‘national engine’ – the Fiat sourced 1.3 litre Quadrajet and it comes in two states of tune:
? 74 bhp at 4000 rpm and 190 Nm of torque at 1750 -3000 rpm (only for base variant)
? 89 bhp at 4000 rpm and 200 Nm of torque at 1750-3000 rpm
Interestingly, besides the 5 speed manual gearbox, the 89 bhp diesel version also comes with 5 speed automated manual transmission (AMT). This is a significant USP for the Zest.
Although the basic form of this car is similar to other Tata models, it looks younger and sharper. The modified design language brings a new signature grille that has honeycomb mesh with chrome lines running along its top and bottom. The grille merges seamlessly with the headlamps and there is a mild power bulge on the bonnet. Zest’s headlamp clusters get halogen projectors for low beams and they also have follow-me-home feature. On the heavily sculpted front bumper you see a wide trapezoidal air dam and fog lamp housings lined with LED DRLs (a segment first).
Viewed from the side, the silhouette is distinctly Tata. A character line flows down the door panels to reduce some visual bulk. The top and mid variants get 15 inch alloy wheels with 185/60 R15 tyres.
The boot has been integrated neatly into the design for a sub 4 meter sedan, and is better than Honda Amaze, although there might be mixed opinions on this aspect. There is a thick strip of chrome above the number plate. Detailed, wrap around tail lamps add more character to the rear.
For the inside story, you will like Zest’s stylish dash design. It looks more inspiring than the unit in older Tata cars. Even the black and beige theme with silver accents is more upmarket as compared to Manza’s. The three-spoke steering wheel has infotainment controls and the buttons feel quite solid. The steering wheel can only be adjusted for rake as per the standard in this price segment. With its white back light illumination, the instrument panel looks smart. As in the Manza, the tacho needle turns red when you reach the rpm redline.
To reduce the NVH levels – a common complaint against Tata cars – the engineers have worked upon Zest’s chassis. The redesigned steering column is mounted on a new sub-frame the hard points of which are optimised to transfer minimum shocks to the steering wheel.
The front seats of this car are supportive and comfortable, and the driver’s seat can be adjusted for height. On the top of the centre console is the infotainment system developed jointly by Tata and Harman. It has 5-inch resistive touchscreen and comprises USB + AUX in ports, SD Card and Bluetooth connectivity. The touchscreen also provides parking sensor display. Climate control and vehicle settings for parking sensor customisation, auto-locking doors and approach lamps can be managed through this screen.
At the rear, seats are comfortable and there is adequate headroom. With scooped out back of the front seats, there is no shortage of legroom. Zest has a wheelbase of 2470 mm which is longer than its three prime competitors – Dzire, Amaze and Xcent.
The boot has 360 litres volume. But Zest lacks good cubby holes. It has a bin-like space below the handbrake and you can keep your mobile here. In front of the gear lever there is a cup holder. Door pockets can take in just about a 500ml bottle each. The glove box is accommodating.
Tata has a logical nomenclature for the variants of Zest. So XT is Top, XM is Mid and XE is Entry (or Economy) level version. The XMA is the ‘A’utomatic trim and XMS is ‘S’afety pack. Petrol trims are priced between Rs. 4.64 lakhs and 5.99 lakhs. For diesel the price range is Rs. 5.64 lakhs to 6.99 lakhs. The automatic XMA trim is also priced at Rs 6.99 lakhs. (all prices ex showroom Delhi)
ARAI fuel efficiency is rated at 17.6 km/litre for the petrol and 23.0 km/litre for the diesel.
Bringing the first diesel automatic in sub 4 metre sedan segment, Tata Motors has made an important move. The build quality, fit and finish of Zest is also at par with its rivals. How good will it be on the road is to be seen. But with some big improvements, Tata has indeed dawned upon a new horizon.