It has been a while since Tata introduced a truly flagship car for the Indian roads. Since the Jaguar Land Rover acquisition happened, I was keen on getting a car from the Tata Stables with some influence from their new business liaisons. Tata Aria was introduced a while ago and it is a known fact that the Aria is not a commercially successful venture. This year Tata decided to raise the curtains on its flagship offering for the Indian market: The Tata Hexa. A quick glance would give an impression that it would be an upgraded Aria, but upon closer inspection you would find that the Tata Hexa is a new beast.
The Tata Hexa gives you a machismo impression. It has a very high stance and a dominant road presence. The grille and the air damp on the front have a prominent “impact” on the entire design of the vehicle. The LED DRLs and rear lamps are futuristic. This “Made in India” car has a mega 19 inch alloy wheels and tyres made by MRF.
Getting inside the car, you would instantly feel premium. The dashboard has a faux leather finishing. The top variant comes with 10 speakers JBL sound system, auto headlamps and rain sensing wipers.
At the center is the touch screen control panel which controls both the sound and the navigation. Tata has developed about 4 applications to work seamlessly with the the control panel. The interior has mood lights which can also be controlled via the smartphone apps. The instrument cluster looks sharp with its LED display and intuitively designed graphics.
The interiors scream premium with its faux leather upholstery and comfortable cushions. You can choose to have 7 seater model or a 6 seater option. I would personally prefer the 6 seater option with two captain seat at the center. The third row offers 50:50 split and it has less leg room and head space. It would be ideal for kids or pets and definitely not for tall passengers. But these seats are comfortable as well.
All rows get dedicated air vents, reading lamps, cup holders and 12V charging points. The glove box get a secondary lit and cooled compartment for that chilled beer on that long travel, you are already planning in your mind.
Under the hood, the Tata Hexa is powered by the Varicor 400 diesel engine. The engine is smooth and it gives a refined feel while driving the vehicle. I drove both the 6 speed manual transmission variant and the 6-speed automatic transmission. In the manual transmission variant, I found the gear box to be a bit tough. Shifting gears were easy, but it does not give that smooth feel.
The manual variant has 4 different driving modes: Auto, Comfort, Dynamic and rough roads. The vehicle offers ESP, electronic stability program and these 4 modes control the drive along with ESP. I found the comfort mode to be really comfortable and the rough mode suited for off-road experience (which could be easily renamed to Bangalore roads mode).
I am a person who prefers to drive manual transmission vehicle and have stayed away from auto transmission vehicles, except when left with no options while renting cars in the US. I found the automatic transmission to be surprisingly efficient and effortlessly powerful. If I had to choose, I would definitely choose the top XT variant with 6 seater option and auto transmission, though it does not have 4 wheel drive. The sports mode, race car or turbo mode were nothing less than the auto down shifting manual gear shifts in the auto transmission.
The vehicle offers wonderful handling experience. In both highways and congested roads, the drive was smooth and punchy. The 19 inch wheel and the powerful engine offers a confident driving experience. The brakes were totally in control. I could break instantly and stop withing few feet, though I am driving at full speed. The cabin is very silent and I noticed a bit of wind noise only at speeds over 140 kmph.
The Tata Hexa is a new beast and its a beast which Indian roads has never seen before. It is not an Aria and it is neither a Land-rover. It is comfortably sitting on a sweet spot between these. The Tata Hexa has two primary competitors; Mahindra XUV500 and the Innova Crysta. These competitors were ruling the roads till date and the Hexa has got everything that it takes to run a chill down their spine. If only Tata prices the Hexa smartly, it would give both Innova and Mahindra sleepless nights, if not a run for their money.