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Tata Motors Hexa
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Customer Rating
: 3/5
Expert Rating
: 8/10
Warranty
: N/A (Whichever is earlier)
Ex-showroom price in 
Delhi
 help (Rs.Lakhs)
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13.25 Lakhs-18.66 Lakhs

Strong Areas

  • Premium MPV
  • Feature Loaded
  • Upmarket Interiors
  • Comfort Boosting Seats
  • Great Valuew for Money MPV
  • Big R19, 235/55 Tubeless Tyres

Weak Areas

  • Tata Heritage
  •  Costly Service Perception
Tata Motors Hexa
 
 

Design and Performance Review of the new Tata Hexa

Hexa is Tata’s newest premium utility vehicle that will compete with likes of Innova Crysta and XUV500. Its enormous road presence and pleasing ride quality make it a strong competitor. We have reports on the manual and automatic transmission variants.


Author

By

ecardlr.com National

Tata Hexa is none other than the Aria in a new package. As the previous MUV failed to make its mark in the segment, it comes back with a lot of improvements and also a new name. It looks better, has more comfortable cabin and also displays improved road behaviour.
          Tata Hexa
The Aria was launched in 2010 and while it was a technically good vehicle, the pricing spoiled its impression. Since then the UV market segment has become wider and there are more buyers for such cars. So Tata Motors is launching its Hexa in 2017, almost a year after its display at the Auto Expo 2016.

Underpinned by the hydroformed X2 platform which is also the base for new Safari Storme, the Hexa has 2.2L VARICOR 400 turbo-diesel engine under its hood. It generates 148 bhp and 320 Nm torque. The base variant XE gets VARICOR 320 for its power source.

Here’s our detailed report on the styling, comfort features, performance and road manners of this new utility vehicle: 


The External Impression

With its new styling the Hexa has lost the van like appearance of Aria to a good extent. It has been designed using what the makers call ‘Impact design language’. It has a mature face with piano black grille having hexagonal design pattern. The lower side of this grille is marked by a chrome accented ‘humanity Line’. Your attention will also go to the neat twin-barrel projector headlamp cluster that looks classy with its smoked effect. Fog lamps have a DRL strip above them and further up is the same hexagonal pattern that we see on the radiator grille.


           
 

There is a slight hump on the clamshell bonnet. The make of the wipers is same as in Aria. There are two washers for the windshield and each sprays out two jets of water. On the right fender you will find the lettering VARICOR 400 indicating the engine used for this UV. The AWD variants further get 4x4 insignia on the left fender. ORVMs are the units from Aria. They come with integrated indicators and are electrically foldable.


             Hexa
 

The body coloured door handles have chrome insert. Handles for both the front doors have keyhole inserts but there is no smart key or sensor opening system even when modern cars in less premium categories have such mechanisms. Coming down to the wheels, those 19 inch rims have 5-spoke designs and are padded with 235/55 section tyres custom made by MRF for the Hexa. Such big wheels with short sidewall tyres can be prone to damage on poor Indian roads. But aesthetically they do add to the planted stance of this huge vehicle.

 
               

 

While the top end XT trim has 19 inch alloys, the base and mid segment variants - XE and XT - get 16 inch steel wheels with 235/70 R16 tyres.

Flared wheel arches have black cladding and the thick plastic cladding also lines the bottom of door panels. Then the B, C, D pillars have been blackened in a bid to create floating roof effect. Window glass area is big enough to bring plenty of light into the cabin. HEXA lettering finds space on the base of C pillar.


              
 

Roof is ribbed for added rigidity and roof rails have been provided for a sporty feel. The stubby radio antenna is positioned towards the rear end. Washer for rear windscreen is housed under the roof mounted spoiler. 
 
There are many changes at the rear giving it an identity different than the Aria. The LED wraparound tail-lamp design is a welcome change from the Christmas-tree design seen earlier. Between the lamps runs a rather thick chrome belt through the tailgate and it has T logo referring to the makers. So much of garnish may not be to everyone’s liking. Reversing camera is concealed beneath this feature. And on the bumper below you will see a prominent skid plate and 4 parking sensors.

 
                 

 

A single rear fog lamp sits on the right and single reversing light on the left. The exhaust tip looks big due to the chrome lining it has but the actual functional pipe inside is small.

Into the Cabin 

Front

Front doors open wide. Ingress and egress is easy on average but elderly people may need to make effort. The cabin is all black. Some buyers prefer beige interiors but that it is more difficult to maintain for clean look in our polluted environment.


              
 

As was also seen in the Zest and Bolt, the cabins of Tata’s cars have improved and Hexa also impresses in this category. On the black dashboard smoked chrome and brushed aluminium inserts appear nice and the features are well spread out. The thick rimmed steering has thumb contours and audio control buttons on the spokes have piano black finish. One downer is that the steering is positioned rather far from the driver’s seat. This will not be suitable for those who adjust the seat in a pushed back position. Reach adjustment will be missed.

 
             

 

The hoods in the instrument cluster have chrome borders. Coloured MID between the two dials contains digital fuel gauge and engine temperature gauge along with 2 trip meters, average & instant fuel efficiency, distance to empty, time, outside temperature and door ajar warning. 

Door panels have soft touch plastics and their armrests get brushed aluminium strips. Door pockets can hold up to three 1-litre bottles. All doors of Hexa have puddle cum warning lamps at lower ends.

 
              

 

Front seats are comfortable with their back and under-thigh support. Driver’s seat is 8-way adjustable. The centre armrest is broad but to make way for operation of the handbrake, its shape is not balanced on two sides. It will be more useful for the front seat passenger than the driver. Down in the footwell, A-B-C pedals are spaced out nicely but there is no dead pedal.
 
ORVMs give a fine view of the rear and they have a demister. Internal rear view mirror is also usable but the thick D pillar restricts some visibility.
            
Adding to the comfort of the cabin is the powerful automatic climate control feature that can be adjusted in a range of 16 to 30. It also has economy mode where the usage of compressor is reduced and fuel economy gets enhanced.

For infotainment Hexa has Harman-developed ConnectNext with 5-inch touchscreen. It comprises voice recognition, USB-Aux-Bluetooth music inputs, SD card slot, navigation, SMS display over screen + readout, reversing camera display and video playback.


Rear – Middle Row 

Getting in and out is easy for this part of the cabin too but again elderly find it difficult as is the case with most other SUVs. As on the front door armrests, there are brushed aluminium inserts here too. The door pockets are smaller but can hold a 1 litre bottle. 
         
In the 6-seater version, Hexa has two captain seats for the middle row. They are very comfortable and have their individual armrests. Legroom and headroom are adequate. These seats also get adjustable lumbar support.

For the 7-seater version, there is a 60:40 splitting bench seat. Legroom here too is adequate to make even tall people comfortable. A pushback armrest and the two headrests for the side seats makes things more luxurious when there are only two occupants for the bend seat. The armrest has storage space beneath which is enough for a mobile phone and there are two cup holders too.
          
In both the versions described above, Hexa has rear AC vents on the centre console and they come with individual direction adjusters but just one air volume control knob. A 12 V power socket and USB charging port is also provided. There’s more – centre console contains 2 fold-out cup holders.


Rear Third Row  

In the 6-seater version, the best way to get to the third row is by creeping through the gap between the two captain seats. This is because even if you push down a captain seat, you won’t get enough space to reach the last row without striking against something. Using the gap is much better and it’s easy for most people especially children. But it is not practical for old or infirm people.


          
 

In the 7-seater Hexa, where there is bench seat in between, the only way to access the last part of cabin is by tumbling down the 60:40 split seats. Users will also need to do this when stuffing heavy luggage onto the last row.

And how is this seat for passenger accommodation? As in other MUVs and SUVs having three rows, it is expectedly less comfortable than front and mid sitting points. However, they are not all bad and children can use them easily even on long trips. Back support is fine – it’s just that low positioning of the seat and poor thigh support that can bother adult users. The seats can be split in 50:50 ratio. They have adjustable headrests but cannot be reclined backwards.

 
            

 

With all the seats up, you can keep at least two medium sized bags behind the last row. When the last row is folded down (it does not make a flat floor) the stowage space increases significantly. Maximum capacity after tumbling down the bench seat (7-seater version) is 671 litres.

Engine, Transmission and Performance

6 Speed Manual Variant

The 2.2 litre, 16-valve diesel engine of Hexa churns 154 bhp at 4,000 rpm and as its name suggests it has 400 Nm of torque at 1,700 - 2,700 rpm.  These specs look impressive but the car carries a lot of kerb weight equalling 2280 kg which makes power & torque-to-weight ratios poorer than Innova Crysta and Mahindra XUV500. Only the manual variant has optional AWD.


               
Although it is in the segment of premium cars, Hexa does not have push start. When you turn the key to crank up the engine, it starts with a slight quiver which is the characteristic of body-on-chassis UVs. The clatter of the diesel is finely controlled in the cabin. Some vibrations are felt on the steering, gear lever and pedals.

The Hexa moves forward effortlessly as you take your foot off the light clutch.

It displays some turbo lag but not excessively. After 1700 rpm, the turbo kicks in and progress is better. From here, the power delivery becomes linear. The engine makes Hexa comfortable to drive in city speeds. You can use the 3rd gear at 40 km/h easily. But downshifting will be needed to close gaps suddenly.

On the highways, Hexa’s engine revs quite freely and can make it go at 100 km/hour @ 1900 rpm in 6th gear. For quick overtaking, once gain you will have to downshift but can pass slow moving vehicles without much of gear changing. The engine is not pleased revving beyond 4100 rpm. Also, it is a heavy vehicle and all those extra kilos affect its performance to some extent.

The 2.2L Varicor engine has four 'Super Drive' modes - Auto, Comfort, Dynamic and Rough Road. These can be chosen through a rotary knob on the centre fascia.

Auto mode is a partial AWD mode wherein the UV changes its driving style as per the tarmac. It is focused on stability and traction more than direct on-road performance. It can be used on the road as well as off it. 

Comfort is purely rear wheel drive mode aimed at comfort of driving. The engine is least powerful and throttle response becomes dull here. For sedate driving style, it is the best mode.

Dynamic is also a rear wheel drive mode and as the name suggests the engine is mapped to its most aggressive state here. Throttle response is very sharp and the drive becomes energetic. It is for enthusiastic driving but the fuel economy will be adversely affected.

Rough Road is the offroading mode. With this the Hexa performs better on slippery surfaces too and braking ability is better.

The 6-speed gearbox is not slick and has a rubbery feel. The throws are long. Engaging in reverse calls for some effort as you need to pull the shifter towards right (ahead of the 6th gear).


The clutch is light but has a long travel range.

Sound insulation in the cabin is nice. Both the engine and wind noise is controlled even though the fact that it’s a diesel is always clear in the cabin. Overall, the NVH is a good feature in Hexa.

6 Speed Automatic Variant

Tata Motors has sourced Hexa’s automatic gearbox from Punch Powerglide, France. It is used in some American cars.

The gearbox does not have advanced dual-clutch technology and there are no paddle shifters. It is only a torque converter unit but is smooth-shifting and utilitarian. If you can make a choice in your budget, it is worthwhile to put your money on the AT variant. There is only one downer that AWD comes only with manual.

There are slight vibrations through pedals and steering wheel on start-up. On slotting the shifter into ‘Drive’, the Hexa moves ahead efficiently. Thanks to the creep function of the gearbox, the UV can crawl at 7 km/h without accelerator input – a helpful feature in city traffic.

Any turbo lag is masked by the torque converter and throttle response does not disappoint. As long as you are driving with a light foot, the transmission can shift up at up to 1800 rpm. It shifts smoothly without letting any jerks into the cabin. There is variation in the pitch of the engine note and that lets you know about the shifting of gears. Power delivery is linear.

On open roads the Hexa becomes mile muncher. It can go at 100 km/hour @ 1,900 rpm. Gear shifts remain smooth here too and the Drive mode is good to use. There is plenty of torque to help you going at a decent speed and overtake slow moving vehicles.

Then there is a Sports mode where the transmission map is altered. It makes the gearshifts more aggressive. Lighten your foot on the accelerator and it will downshift soon. As the revs are kept at a higher level in Sports mode, the engine power is instantly accessible.

The AT in Hexa does have a tiptronic mode that lets you manually shift the gears. To engage it, you need to shift the gear lever to the same position as Sport mode. Then, pull it up for an upshift & down for a downshift. Gearshifts remain smooth in tiptronic mode.


Ride and Handling 

One thing for which we will give a strong ‘Like’ to the Hexa is its ride quality. It feels even better than that of Renault Duster. There is a double wishbone suspension for the front and a 5-link rigid axle with coil springs at the rear. Even with its big 19 inch wheels, the suspension makes the ride very comfortable.  Bumps on poor tarmac are ironed out.  Even at highway speed, Hexa glides smoothly on bad roads.  Furthermore, the hardware does its job without any thuds getting into the cabin. Hexa has 200 mm of ground clearance.

Its straight line stability at high speeds is impressive but as in most other body-on-frame UVs, the Hexa does have body roll while cornering. You should anyways never try hard cornering in such a big vehicle – remember its height and kerb weight.

Looking further into the handling aspects, it is the steering that does not impress. With a radius of 380 mm, it has good size but this hydraulic unit is quite heavy at slow speeds and parking speeds. People who have become used to light EPS systems in new sedans and hatchbacks will find this old-school feel annoying. At highways speeds though, it is better to use with all that weight. The turning radius is 5.75 metre which means that you will need to apply effort for turns in crowded lanes.

Safety kit includes a number of features in the MT model.  There is ESP, hill old control and hill descent control. On the other hand Hexa Automatic doesn't get the electronic stability program & traction control which is disappointing considering that it’s the more expensive variant. Six air bags (front, side and curtain), ABS and EBD are provided as standard. The Hexa has 298 mm discs for the front and 206 mm discs at rear. Another nifty safety feature – all doors get auto locked at speed of 15 km/hour.


Fuel Efficiency

The ARAI certified fuel efficiency of Tata Hexa is yet to be announced. We expect it to be between 12 and 15 km/litre for manual and slightly less for the AT models. With a heavy kerb weight, not much can be expected on this front.

Round Up  

What now needs to be seen is the price and that will be announced by mid January. We will also like to mention here that the makers never referred to the Aria even once at the time of showing this new product to the media. And that’s expected.

Hexa will have colour choices between Arizona Blue, Tungsten Silver, Pearl White, Platinum Silver and Sky Grey. XE and XM are the 7 seater variants and the top end XT has both 6 and 7 seater options. AWD is optional feature in XT. 

The 6 Speed automatic transmission is available only with XM and XT. The base XE model comes with 5
speed manual transmission.

This spacious UV can be a good competitor for the XUV500 if it’s priced right. 


Our ratings on different attributes are:

Comfort: 3.5/5
Refinement: 3.5/5
Safety: 4/5
Ride: 5/5
Handling: 4/5

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