Tata Nexon EV Battery Draining First Drive Review
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With ‘EV’ suffixed to its name, the Tata Nexon now offers its family friendly package with a zero emission powertrain. How close can it come to its 312km range when put through our torture test?
Of course, this review will tell you everything that’s new in the Tata Nexon EV. After all, it previews all the new styling highlights and features the standard Tata Nexon facelift receives. Yes, it offers a silent drive experience, instant torque and everything else you already know about electric cars. But why should you buy the Nexon EV over the diesel/petrol, and in the real world, what’s the absolute minimum range you can expect?
It’s amazing how Tata’s managed to give the Nexon a brand new personality for 2020, even though the cosmetic tweaks introduced are minor. Oh yes, the Nexon is a more mature and handsome looking SUV. In fact, we’d go so far as to say it’s the best looking sub-4 metre SUV today! The flatter bonnet and sharper styling for the halogen projector headlamps make it look like a downsized Range Rover Evoque.
The side profile reveals a classier set of 16-inch alloy wheels that look particularly striking on the move. But the rear? Well, it sure looks more unique but to truly appreciate the Spider-Man-eyes-like treatment the new LED tail lights receive, you have to check out the Nexon EV at night!
Interestingly, even with all these changes, the dimensions remain unaffected by even a millimetre. However, the ground clearance in the Nexon EV does see a minor 4mm drop (due to the floor pan integrated battery pack). Still with 205mm of clearance, it’s hardly low-slung.
But can you tell the Nexon EV apart from the standard Nexon? In design, no. However, the fog lamps, front grilles, shoulder line and even rear get a healthy dose of blue highlights to make the EV more distinctive. Of course, there’s also a Ziptron badge at the rear aside from the ‘EV’ badges all around to denote the electric vehicle technology that powers this SUV.
Inside, Tata has yet again introduced minor changes to give the cabin a new flavour. The dashboard’s plastic panel is now finished in black. Contrasted by the Nexon EV’s blue highlights, it does make the cabin feel better than before. We also found the materials used feel a tad better to the touch, though the XUV300 and Venue still feel slightly better when it comes to trim quality.
Most of the cabin remains unchanged which means you still get features like auto AC, rear AC vents, push-button start and 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system. What’s new is the addition of goodies like auto headlamps, auto wipers & white leatherette upholstery. Oh yes, the Nexon EV has a sunroof too.
Additionally, both the steering wheel and instrument cluster are now shared with the Tata Altroz. So, the driver information system is now a 7-inch screen. By the way, all your electric powertrain related data (range, charge, energy flow animation and power flow histogram) is displayed here.
Is that all? Nope. The Nexon EV also gets connected car tech. Through the ZConnect app, you can now view car health data, control the air conditioner, manage the door locks, set up a geo-fence or even track/immobilise your Nexon remotely.
Tech aside, the experience in the Nexon is familiar. It’s still a very comfortable cabin to seat four adults, with generously cushioned seats pleasing your lazy side. Nope, the battery pack hasn’t raised the cabin’s entry point so ingress is still easy as before. Yes, even the 350-litre boot space stays unaffected, so there’s no trade-off in practicality or usability vs the Nexon you’re familiar with.
The Tigor EV is something of a starting point for Tata’s mainstream electric vehicle range but it doesn’t make EVs desirable. Not the case with the Nexon EV. It’s based on a different EV architecture and has a healthy 129PS/245Nm available. Even at 80-100kmph, you’re in the Eco zone of the graph and it feels as relaxed at 100kmph as it does at 30kmph.
The Nexon EV is everything we’d hoped it would be to drive. Smooth? Sure. Silent? Of course, but what really stands out is its usability. The relationship between throttle dialed in and speed gained is very direct. Above all else, the torque delivery, while instant, is very easy to manage even for someone who has never driven an electric car before. Combine that with a single speed automatic transmission and your drive experience is as hassle free as can be. Interestingly, the gear selector is a dial, similar to the one used to select the drive modes in the petrol/diesel Nexon.
Cruising or overtaking, be it in the city or the highway, is extremely easy. The behaviour is, simply put, intuitive, as long as you’re using the standard D (Drive) mode. Slip it into Sport and it can be a bit of a handful. Here, the throttle response is more sensitive and you can find yourself getting on the brakes quicker since the car accelerates more impatiently. Even on the highway, this mode isn’t something you need, just something that you can engage, to get a more exciting experience.
Of course, that is the mode we used for our 0-100kmph tests! Tata claims a 0-100kmph time of 9.9 seconds. With our VBOX connected, we actually managed a recorded time of 9.48 seconds. And that’s with two people and some luggage on board. So while we can’t officially declare this as our final tested 0-100kmph time, it certainly gives us ample reason to be optimistic. That said, there is a catch. To preserve the battery’s life as well as range, the top speed is limited to 120kmph. So while it’ll reach 120kmph with ease, it cannot go any further. That said, you can sit at 120kmph all day long as the Nexon EV doesn’t feel stressed at that speed.
Option 1: DC fast charging which takes 1 hour to charge the battery from 0-80 per cent. Our test showed us that dropping the battery to 0 is no easy task, so with some charge left over, realistically you should be looking at a time of 30-40mins.
Option 2: AC home charging (3.3kW charger) which takes 8 hours for a 20 per cent to 100 per cent charge.
Dual front airbags, ABS with EBD and ISOFIX are offered as standard in the Nexon EV. It also features hill-hold and hill-descent assist and gets features like cornering fog lamps, rear parking sensors and a rear camera. While the standard Nexon gets a 5-star rating for safety from Global NCAP, the Nexon EV receives some structural reinforcements up front and will undergo a crash test independent from the standard Nexon. Tata is expecting another 5-star result here too.
The Torture Test
We’re calling this a torture test since what we’re hunting for here is not the maximum range; in fact, it’s exactly the opposite. Our shoot cycles for reviews are the least efficient for any car. With inconsistent drive cycles, traffic, periodic hard acceleration for actions shots and our performance tests, what we obtain is the minimum range i.e. the real world range you can expect with v-e-r-y inefficient driving.
Our day started with the 30.2kWh battery charged up to 95 per cent with the range displayed at 237km. About 50km of driving in, plus two hard launches from 0-120kmph, the range dropped to 150km. The Nexon EV was driven with 2-3 people + luggage on board at any given point of time, adding further strain to the battery and motor.
To drop the range further, we head out to the Mumbai-Pune expressway. Highway drives make electric vehicles lose range quickly as opportunities for brake energy regeneration are rarer. Surely enough, we see the battery lose charge quicker and the range starts dropping at a greater pace than it did in the city.
Our target for the day was simple: drain the battery right down to 0 per cent. As we pushed further and dropped the battery down to 20 per cent and below, the warnings started to appear. Throttle response gets weaker and the Nexon EV disables Sport mode i.e. it can no longer be chosen. Finally, we drop the battery down to just 10 per cent and the “Limited performance” warning flashes on the driver information display. Now, throttle response dulls down even further, the top speed will not exceed 55kmph and the air conditioner disengages i.e. the compressor will no longer engage. We keep pushing further and drop down to 8 per cent before we have no choice but to return the car as we run out of time. So how did the Nexon EV fare?
Our drive ended with 8 per cent of the battery left and 165km driven. Based on this, we can say with confidence that even with very inefficient driving, the Nexon EV can do 180-200km before you need to get it charged. Drive it efficiently and you should be able to manage 250km on a full charge quite easily.
While the 312km range will require some especially light-footed driving, this would be largely manageable in the city, where there are adequate opportunities for the battery to reap the benefits of regenerative braking. With pure highway driving, the claimed range is not attainable. So we’d still call the Nexon EV a city SUV which can manage short highway road trips.
The Nexon EVs kerb weight stands at 1400kg.
The battery pack of the Nexon EV is IP67 rated i.e. it can be submerged in water 1 metre deep for up to 30mins without sustaining damage.
This sub-compact SUV’s battery has been approved after several tests, including Nail Penetration Test, Crush Test, Fire Pond Test, Overcharge Protection Test, Shock Protection Test and Short Circuit Protection Test.
The estimated cost for a 0-100 per cent charge using your home charger is Rs 300-350.
Battery charge times can vary based on the outside temperature as the battery itself draws power to maintain its operating temperature.
Not only is EV maintenance cheaper thanks to the lower number of replacement parts/consumables, their service turnaround time is also quicker.
Tata will offer the Nexon EV with an 8 year / 1,60,000km battery warranty.
The Nexon EV is available in 3 variants: XM, XZ+ and XZ+ Lux.
The Nexon EV is a package that makes a lot of sense. While the claimed range of 312km may be hard to reach, driving with even a little patience should get you 200-250km of range on a full charge. It’s also an SUV that combines refreshingly sharp styling with performance that’s always usable and exciting when you want it to be.
To top it off, the Nexon EV is just as family friendly as the petrol/diesel Nexon and presents itself as a very good all rounder when it comes to daily usability. The main limitation it has is highway usage: It’s very easy to drive at high speeds but will lose range quite quickly.
Yes, Rs 15 lakh - Rs 17 lakh may seem like a lot, especially since what you’re buying is, at the end of the day, a sub-4 metre SUV. But depending on where you live, you can enjoy rebates, sops and tax benefits of up to Rs 1.50 lakh - Rs 2 lakh. Overall, the Nexon EV doesn’t have any major cons that aren’t general limitations electric vehicles face. Which is why it’s a package that gets a big thumbs up from us.