Tata Zest

After forty or so months since the launch of their crossover called Aria, Tata Motors have come up with something that would be loved and accepted by a much wider audience than their other models. The engineers at Tata Motors have done a great job indeed on technical and mechanical grounds alike. The styling team has also raised the bar a notch higher with a more defined form for the car and better details.

On Vista platform, but a very neat and clean look

The Tata Zest has a fresh new aesthetic appeal with a compact yet dynamic form and unlike most compact sedans, comes with a boot that is well in flow with the body. It is based on the Vista platform but with changed underpinnings so that not even a bolt is shared with the old car. The swept headlamps, and the simple grille give its face a very neat and clean look.

The interiors are very impressive with a refreshing new styling and all new components. The cabin is one of the best Tata cabins till date with a serious upgrade in the material fit and finish quality, the first touch screen infotainment and voice command  system in the segment and very decent space enough to accommodate a family of five. The boot space is just about okay at 390 litres though some of it is occupied by the rear suspension housing.

The car comes with two engine options – the 1.3 litre Quadrajet diesel, and a new 1.2 litre Revotron turbo-charged petrol. Mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox that makes sure that the engine’s 89 bhp and 140Nm of torque is transmitted to the front wheels. It is the first in its segment to offer different drive modes – Economy, City, and Sport – all of which are accessible just with the click of  a button and are quite helpful in our driving conditions.

Driving dynamics are a pleasant surprise and sharp acceleration in the sport mode and the turbo kicks in at 1800 rpm, pulling comfortably till 6000 rpm. The gearbox is extremely smooth with short shifts and well spaced ratios to assure great driving in both city and on the highway.

The diesel engine comes with an automated manual transmission dubbed the “F-tronic” and with a variable geometry turbo, it delivers 89bhp and 200Nm of torque. The gearbox runs well in sync with the diesel with well-timed gear shifts and great response to throttle. The Sport mode achieves higher rpms between gear shifts to provide for a more powerful pull.

Suspension set-up allows the car to glide over potholes 

The mid range XMA variant comes with hill- start assist and a “crawl” function that is very well suited for the incredibly slow pace of our traffic and the jams. The suspension set-up is nice and soft, allowing the car to glide over potholes and other road imperfections without the slightest of complaint, assuring a comfortable back seat ride. However, being tuned to be on the soft side, the body experiences a bit of a roll while steering hard and specially around tight corners. The new electric power steering offers a great feedback and works very well no matter how hard it is pushed, with an equally good response from the tyres that provide great road gripping.

Obviously Tata had been planning this comeback for a long time and one can easily say that it was time well spent. The features on the car make it more than well prepared to take on its Asian competition, with many of them being segment firsts. The car is one hell of a package with the right configuration of style, drive quality, comfort and to some extent the visual aesthetics too. The 1.2L turbo petrol unit is now on the same levels as the competition.

With the Zest out, the only thing that we need to see is how the company positions their new contender. Known to price their products competitively, one can expect a range from 5 to 7.5 lakh for the compact sedan with all the right features and comfort levels.

All in all, the Zest will definitely be a great choice for any Indian buyer, with the diesel automatic, best in class features, interior space and comfort, decent styling and aesthetics, great drivability and handing. If priced right this car is sure to give the other compact sedans some serious competition and quite possibly a run for their money.