The Tata Nexon EV is India's most selling electric vehicle today and has recently gotten a significant software update as well. We live with one to find out how true it stays to being an 'EV'...
Words : Neeraj Padmakumar Photography: Gabriel Francis
When the Nexon EV was launched in 2020, it had turned many heads. It is still lauded as an Indian product that embodies true EV genes and bears a rather affordable price tag around its shoulders. In fact, the EV has had growth figures which would leave even the biggest EV makers dumbstruck in a market like India, where the EV ecosystem is still in the developing phase. What is it that has made the Nexon EV this popular? Read on and you will soon have your answers...
The design essence of the all-new Tata Nexon had had its premiere through the Nexon EV. This essentially means that one could easily mistake the EV for a regular Nexon ( or the ICE version, to be more EV-literate) if it were not for a few subtle cues that the former hosts. The car gets blue (or should I say turquoise?) embellishments at a few strategic sites of its design, which of course go vocal about its EV genes. Also to be noted is the fact that the Nexon EV gets slightly tweaked tri arrow elements, which now gets the blue paint for just two of its arms. You would also get to see an 'EV' badge on the grille and a 'Ziptron' branding at the rear.'
The Nexon EV has the same X1 platform as the ICE Nexon underpinning it. Though the overall dimensions and rigidity remains the same, this platform does get a bunch of key modifications on the electric Nexon. It has been structurally reworked to accommodate the all-new battery pack, motor and power electronics, all part of the all-new Ziptron EV technology from Tata Motors well. One thing that got me bewildered here is that despite the EV being considerably heavier than its ICE counterpart (150 odd kilos over a petrol Nexon) the suspension remains the same and interestingly this has had zero itches on the ride and handling! The brakes too have been carried over from the ICE Nexon. The 16 inch wheels come lighter on the electric Nexon
The overall look and feel of the Nexon EV's cabin is quite heart-waming. The cabin gets the characteristric blue accents at numerous places. Occupying the center stage is a freestanding 7.0-inch touchscreen that offers decent touch response, and a bunch of useful connectivity features like wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There is even a good looking digital MID screen on the instrumentation panel as well. However, the information on offer here could seem a bit limited atleast for some, going by the modern EV standards.
The front seats are quite supportive and comfortable to be in, while the rear bench deserves immense praise for the comfort on offer. The leg room and knee room at the rear are also commendable. The decently sized 350L boot and numerous storage spaces and charging points inside render a practicality competence to the EV as well.
Start talking of the specifications and what you would address first would be the EV technology that has been made use of in the Nexon EV- the ZIPTRON. The Nexon EV has been built on a reworked X1 platform, but Ziptron deals with the EV components used - the battery pack, motor and power electronics. These three could be called advanced by all standards. The 30.2 Kwh, T-shaped, liquid cooled, Lithium ion battery pack comes floor-mounted, without eating much into the cabin-room.
The Ziptron-spec permanent magnet synchronous electric motor is capable of putting out as much as 130hp and 245Nm. The power electronics on this vehicle is quite advanced and equally efficient for its price and provides better cooling and consistent performance. In fact, the cooling is so perfect that you can literally have access to the peak torque for as long as you wish to!';
To start with, the Nexon EV has two different drive modes- D (Drive) and S (read Sport), rendering two entirely different personas to the EV. The D mode is the most civilized and pocket-friendly. Here, the motor is restricted to work at 60 percent of its actual potential- 150Nm to be precise, meaning you get a comfortably linear power delivery, even while responding in an instantaneous fashion to your throttle-taps. This feels quite right for the city runs, though you wouldn't complain in most highway scenarios either. Dab the pedal and the EV gets most overtaking jobs done without embarassment.
The Sport mode, for me, is still the cream of this car! This is where you would get to experience a hint of true EV performance. The S mode unleashes all the 129 horses and the 245 Nm of the motor. The car, which used to be silent as a corpse in the D mode, now lets out the characteristic EV hiss and sprints to 100kmph in 9.5 seconds! The acceleration here is highly ecstatic ( The Nexon EV is the first vehicle from Tata Motors that does the 0-100 sprint in under 10 seconds!) You get access to all the 245-newton metres in no time and what is even more exciting is that you can retain this access as long as you wish to. The top speed, however, has been limited to 120kmph. The 'regen' feels highly held back in the S mode, adding to the acceleration and simultaneously ravaging the range figures.
The brakes on the Nexon EV are quite capable and wisely configured. They offer good bite and stopping power and can curb any speeds of this machine effectively.
As mentioned in the start of this story, the Nexon EV had recently had a major software update for itself. The same has curbed the response and power delivery in the D mode, by notable levels. The response now seems much toned down , (or should I say eco-friendly?) and better knit for the cities, than what we had experienced on the 2020 car. This restraining has, apparently added to the economy and somehow we also found this slighly more comfortable in the bumper-to-bumper scenario. What has also changed with the update is the amount of regen on offer. Tata Motors seems to have reduced the intensity of regen by just the right amount and the Nexon EV now feels less dramatic when you let your foot off the throttle and feels somewhat like a petrol car undergoing engine braking in the process.
Ride And Handling
Even while being built on the same platform, the ride and handling of the Nexon EV are stark deviations from those of the ICE Nexon. At 1400 kilograms, the EV is considerably heavier than the ICE counterpart. However, this added weight has been so beautifully converted into better road manners! The engineers have managed to strike a 50:50 weight distribution on the EV and the same has improved its road manners. The floor mounted battery essentially means a lower centre of gravity for the car. The suspension has been set on the firmer side to carry the added bulk (the impacts of this on the ride quality are close to nil though!) and the steering feels precise, connected and wisely weighed! All these mean but impressive handling for the EV! Push it into corners and you would be surprised to see how well the body roll has been contained and how predictable it feels at most times.
However, there is another side to this. Even while hosting a capable battery-motor setup and balanced handling, the Nexon EV misses out on a few highly significant modern-day technologies like Traction control and ESP. Thus one would have to be really good at driving to push this vehicle into challenging driving scenarios. On a more general note, one should be thorough with the nature and pace of EV power delivery and the road/climate conditions before he actually chooses to engage the Sport mode!
[Spoiler: Expect a lot of tyre screech and associated chaos should you choose to floor the pedal in S, no comments if you are to do it in the rains! ]
Even with the suspension being on the stiffer side, the Nexon EV offers good ride quality. Almost all rough patches are dealt with effectively by the car and even larger potholes have reduced impacts on the occupants.
The 'Nexon EV range scam' could be doing rounds on the internet even as you read this. This is also something that needs to be talked on in detail. Let's start with this- 'Nexon EV does not give its ARAI claimed range figures in the real world scenario' But hey, I ain't finished yet! ARAI certified range figures for the electric Nexon is 312 kilometers per charge.
To be less Utopian while addressing this here, we conducted a survey among 25 selected Nexon EV owners from our contacts before we actually put our test car to a rigorous range test. 19 of the 25 participants reported their average range figures to be in the 210-240 km bracket. 3 of them recorded range figures of 240-260 kilometers and the remaining three reported it to be in the 190-210 bracket.
And we decided to go oldschool. On a full charge, we managed to put 232 kilometers on the odo, till when we finally drained the battery. These figures were achieved by driving with a light foot, in a very civilized and pocket cautious manner, engaging just the D mode, and by having the air conditioning in its 'ECO' mode at all times. Also, the test was done on roads with minimal altitude variations. With altitude variations come slight drops in the actual range figures, engage the Sport mode and you will be shelling out a lot of charge.
So how bad can the S mode drain the battery? Well, we would say not as bad as you would expect it to. We drove 35 odd kilometers in S mode alone, and with harsh throttle inputs ( 'launching' at all possible times) and ended up losing a good 28% in the process [we had started off with 66% charge and had 38% left at the end of it] We would not call it too big a loss for the amount of fun you get to enjoy!
As for the charging, the Nexon EV comes with a CCS2 fast charger. DC fast charging would get the 0-80% done in under one hour. Plug it into a 15A wall socket and the 20-100 AC charging would take over 9 hours for completion.
Why Should You Buy One?
While India is still in its 'EV childhood', a Nexon EV is still a worthy buy for many. Yes, at 13.99 lakh (ex-showroom) for the base variant, it is still a chunk costlier than the petrol counterpart. However, with hefty pushes for EV adoption from the various state governments, and with the fast-developing EV infrastructure in place, the Nexon EV does stand a chance to be considered! The skyrocketing fuel prices and the considerably higher running costs of ICE vehicles over the years would also add to the significance of this car. Also to remember is the fact that the Nexon electric is a fun-to-drive and equally practical car which is also the most affordable EV in the country!
In such a scenario, the Nexon EV can be a great choice for people requiring frequent city commutes, or executives for their daily office commute and fits in best as the second car for many who are looking for a cost effective way of daily commute.