Tata's biggest crowd-pleaser at the 2016 Auto Expo was the Nexon compact SUV. Although this car looks like a concept, it is actually almost production-ready according to Pratap Bose, Tata's head of design. Next to the rest of the Tata fleet, this sub-four metre SUV really stands out because the Nexon is quite the looker with its European design cues that are inspired by Tata's Impact design language. The headlight units feature projector lamps and DRLs while the tail light is an LED unit. The front of the car looks quite burly with the muscular bulges, but the rather quirky looking rear has a very hatchback-like look. The side profile, however, looks butch with its 200mm ground clearance and 16-inch wheels wrapped in 215-section tyres. The rising waistline and the thick C-pillar do look good, but it might reduce the visibility and make things a little claustrophobic for rear passengers. Overall, it's a funky looking design but one that you either love or hate.
Although the pre-production model here has a dual tone paint scheme, the production-spec car will be sold in the usual solid colours. However, we do hope that this particular shade of blue makes it to production.
We also hope that the interior doesn't receive too many changes either, because from the looks of it, the cabin is quite impressive. The only bits inside that look familiar are the steering wheel and the instrument cluster, which seem to be lifted off the Zest/Bolt. The rest is all-new with a neat dual tone finish and simple layout that isn't too crowded. Tata has used an all-new 6.5-inch Harman touchscreen infotainment system, which is essentially a tablet mounted on the dash like in a Mercedes. The plastics on the dash seem to be of a good quality with a textured finish on the top half, but we'll only be sure when we actually get our hands on it. The Nexon will also get sufficient storage space inside with deep door pockets that even have room to hold an umbrella. Based on the position of the handle, the boot appears to have a thoughtfully executed low loading bay but we will reserve our comments until we see it in the flesh.
The Nexon will run a new set of 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engines which will be part of a new family that Tata is yet to name. The 1.2-litre turbopetrol motor will most likely be the more powerful variant. The 1.5-litre turbodiesel, which was showcased at the Expo produces 110PS and 260Nm. These engines will be mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, while an automatic gearbox could be an option too. The Nexon also gets a dial just behind the gear lever that provides three driving modes which include Sport and Eco.
The Nexon is expected to be launched in India in late 2017 and will add significantly to the booming compact SUV segment in India. However, the Ford EcoSport and Mahindra TUV300 have raised the bar, and there's also the new Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza to contend with.