Answering this question after driving the Nexon EV Max for 150 odd kilometers
Photography: Sarath S
Days past its official market debut, we had an intense-but-brief outing with the Tata Nexon EV Max- or in other words, the extended range version of India’s most sold EV. Of course, the drive was not long enough to put the range claims to test, but yes we could get a quick idea of the same. Moreover, we could tell you what’s changed in terms of overall cabin experience, ride quality, and driving dynamics. Read on for all of that…
Tata Nexon EV Max : Design
There is apparently no big change in the exterior design of the Nexon MAX. The overall shape and most of its detailing remain the same as the standard car. We had talked more about these in our review of the 30.2 kWh Nexon EV. Underpinned by the same platform, the extended-range Nexon retains most of the previous car’s dimensions.
However, the Max gets a new set of alloy wheels with a different design and dual-tone finish. Another novelty is the paint that you see in the pictures here. This shade- rightly called Intensi-Teal is a colorway exclusive to the Nexon EV Max. Of course, it would look familiar, as the 30.2 kWh Nexon EV already has a ‘Signature Teal Blue’ shade that could essentially be a shade or two lighter than this. Unlike the standard EV that comes in just two shades, the EV MAX is available in a total of 3 dual-tone exterior colorways– Intesi Teal, Pristine White, and Daytona Grey. Save for these, there are no major visual deviations from the familiar EV. Also interesting is the fact that Tata Motors has not placed any model-spec lettering anywhere on the car- You won’t find any MAX badges or similar insignia here!
The MAX gets a battery pack that has grown by 30-33% from the one on the previous car. Courtesy of its packaging efficiency, there is no curb in the boot space offered. Nexon EV Max has the same 350L boot capacity as the standard car. What has however changed, is the ground clearance, which is now down by 15 mm. From our time with the car, we could easily tell you that this drop would be no trouble! We took the Nexon EV Max to some tricky terrains and bad patches, without any trouble. The current ground clearance of 190 mm gets the job done in most of the probable driving scenarios one might ever take this to.
Despite losing slightly on ground clearance, the Nexon EV Max has its overall height raised by 10-ish mm, standing at 1616mm against the regular car’s 1606mm.
|Ground Clearance||190 mm|
|Boot Capacity||350 kg|
Courtesy of its larger battery and newly debuted features, Nexon EV Max has gained around 100 kilograms of additional weight. (70% of this is known to be from the battery alone). Tata Motors has not given out the exact numbers yet, but going by the 1400 kg mark of the standard car, we could expect Max’s weight to be around 1500 kilos.
Interior: Refreshed Looks And More Features
There is a lot different about the Nexon EV Max’s cabin. The car gets a new, good-looking Beige-Black interior colorway. The overall design of the dashboard is retained, but there are a number of new, flashy bits inside. We particularly like how the wide glossy Black strip on the dash looks and seamlessly incorporates stylish Teal Tri-arrows towards the co-driver.
The central tunnel goes for a thorough design overhaul in the MAX. It is now more visually imposing and features the use of more premium trims and bits. The ‘Drive selector’ is the best-looking thing here. Instead of the plain, blunt design of the standard car’s unit, the MAX has a ‘Jewelled control knob’ that gets a good-looking design with Chrome surround with a knurled finish on it, and a centrally placed backlit display that shows the mode engaged.
The central tunnel also houses the controls for selectable drive modes- Eco, City, and Sport (The Nexon EV Max finally gets these!) and for the selectable regeneration levels. There are 4 levels on offer, including the ‘no regen’, and can all be operated easily through two buttons.
Nexon EV Max gets an electric park brake with auto-hold function, in place of the standard car’s manual unit. While this is already a very modern and convenient feature to have on your car, it has had more implications on the Nexon EV Max. It has allowed for neatly integrating a Park (‘P’) mode, making the overall user experience more like that of a modern-day automatic ICE car.
There is also a wireless charging bay on the central tunnel towards the armrest. This looks rather sleek, and might even make you wonder if larger phones like, say an iPhone 13 Pro Max, would fit in comfortably (actually they would!). The central armrest offers some storage and there are other places too, like a few cupholders, boxes, a sunglass holder etc. The MAX also gets things like a sunroof, rear AC vents, rear USBs, cruise control, an improved touchscreen infotainment unit with 8 speaker Harman audio and smartwatch integration, and ventilated front seats. However, we found the seat ventilation controls to be strangely placed. They sit on the seat-sides, between them and the door panels- much-unexpected placement by modern standards, and not the easiest to reach either. We would better like them to be on the tunnel or the central pane. The analog-digital instrument cluster is retained but the screen here delivers more warnings and info than the standard car’s.
Extensive revisions have been implemented on Max’s powertrain. While it is still based on the Ziptron architecture, the battery is larger, the motor has gained more power, the cooling improved and the battery management has been updated as well.
Tata Nexon EV Max gets a large 40.5 kWh battery pack which essentially has its capacity gone up by over 10 kWh. It however uses the same Lithium-ion chemistry and cell typology as the one on the standard car. So the best way to increase capacity was to pack more cells. Doing this has made the battery pack’s bulk grow in all directions – up, down, and towards the sides. However, it is still mounted on the floor, with almost no part of it eating into the boot. The manufacturer has apparently deleted a few members of Nexon’s platform to generate room for the extra bulk. The packaging efficiency claims are to be believed.
The permanent magnet synchronous AC motor now offers a higher output. It delivers 143 hp and 250 Nm, meaning a hike of 14hp and 5Nm from the standard car. There are improved cooling mechanisms for the battery and the motor, ensuring better and longer access to peak performance.
The Nexon EV Max evidently drives better than the standard car. 143 hp and 250 Nm feel quite likable on the car. When the electric Nexon was launched in 2020, it could do the 0-100 kph run in around 9.4 seconds and was the fastest accelerating Tata car back then. The MAX carries this legacy forward by doing the 100 kph run in under 9 seconds. It definitely is the fastest accelerating Tata car today.
There were minimal instances of us pulling off a genuine, loud tyre screech with this car, something which was easy on the standard EV. Under super-hard acceleration, you would feel all those torque, there might even be a slight, momentary torque steer, which will never live long enough or escalate further to tamper with the driver’s balance!
The performance and torque delivery vary sharply across the 3 modes- Eco, City and Sport. Further, the selectable regen levels ensure that the driver gets ample opportunities and options with the EV powertrain for any given road/driving scenario. Selectable recuperation is something we had missed terribly on the standard Nexon electric. The ‘one size fits all’ formula doesn’t always suit the regen game. There could be times when you want too much of it, and there could also be times when you wouldn’t want it at all. The Max’s regen selection saves you here with its 4 levels- Off, 1, 2, 3 with minimal recuperation in level 1 and as much to realise single-pedal driving in level 3.
Tata Nexon EV Max can get to speeds with ease. 100 kph in 9 seconds is quite quick and likable. Going further up feels good too. 100-130 kph would not require much stress. The vehicle has a top speed of 140 kph. What you would notice in the 0-100-130 kph run is how the peak power and torque stay usable throughout. The efficient power electronics are to be thanked here.
The Nexon EV Max is quite enjoyable to drive with a light foot. The ECO mode would strongly curb the performance, the ‘City’ should be a sweet spot in most cases. The cabin insulation and overall refinement have gone up from the standard car. The larger battery pack and tuned-up motor are louder than the previous powertrain, but strong curbs have been placed on these sounds seeping inside. Some amount of tyre noise is audible inside though.
Ride And Handling
Courtesy of its increased bulk, the suspension is on the stiffer side. The Nexon EV Max uses the same setup as the standard car but with Gen 3 dampers. The spring rate and damping have been recalibrated here for ensuring a balance between comfort and handling. The overall ride quality is good. We drove it over a series of terrains- highways, broken patches, unpaved gravel, and over a few serious potholes and speed breakers. It was only with the biggest and sharpest speed breakers and the deepest potholes that the occupants had a bumpy ride. In all other cases, it remained stiff but never uncomfortable.
The Nexon EV Max handles sweet too. The steering offers decent connect and the suspension lends ample support too. I loved zig-zagging between lanes at highway speeds. The MAX feels quite maneuverable. The balanced weight distribution could be contributing much to this. There is some amount of body roll felt around corners, but never big enough to worry about. Braking seems to be strong enough for the upped powertrain specs. While the standard electric Nexon gets front disc brakes and rear drums, the MAX gets discs at all four wheels. Furthermore, there is tech like ESP with iVBAC to fine-tune braking performance.
More Range And Lesser Energy Expenses
Tata Nexon EV MAX claims an ARAI-certified range of 437 kilometers per charge. While this might seem slightly unreal, we think expecting a real-world range of 300+ kilometers would be rational. We did not have enough time with the car for a proper 0-0 range test as such, but with mixed driving behavior and in varying road and traffic scenarios, we managed to get range figures in the 280-300 km range. With a more rational throttle and the right drive and regen modes engaged, one should be able to get around 320 km, is what we presume. A more authoritative opinion on this would follow as and when we get the car for a proper range test.
Chargers, Charging Time, And Speed
Another key improvement on the MAX is in its charging. Unlike the standard car that gets just a 3.3kW AC charger, and supports DC fast charging only with a 25 kW speed, Nexon EV Max offers two AC chargers to choose from- a 3.3 kW and a faster 7.2 kW. Of course, this is no free deal and also comes for a reason. The standard Nexon EV with its 3.3 kW AC charger and smaller battery pack requires approx. 10 hours at the wall socket for a full charge. The larger 40.5 kWh battery would then require 15-16 hours with the 3.3 kW charger for a full charge. This could be a huge limitation in many cases. The 7.2 kW charger comes to the rescue here, by getting a full charge done in 5-6 hours. Quite a recommended thing to have, the AC fast charger would cost an additional 50k over the variant price.
The long-range Nexon EV also supports faster DC charging. The standard car supports just 25 kW DC charging, but we do know that 50 kW DCs are considered the ideal future of EV fast charging. Many existing EVs like the MG ZS EV are already capable of doing 50kW DC. The Nexon EV MAX has now joined the club and would have its battery charged from 0-80% in just 56 minutes on a 50kW DC fast-charger. The charging standard continues to be CCS2.
Price, Variants, And Comments
|Trims||Charger Options||Ex-Showroom(All-India) I Prices In Lakh|
|Nexon EV MAX XZ+||3.3 kW||17,74,000|
|Nexon EV MAX XZ+||7.2 kWAC Fast Charger||18,24,000|
|Nexon EV MAX XZ+ Lux||3.3 kW||18,74,000|
|Nexon EV MAX XZ+ Lux||7.2 kWAC Fast Charger||19,24,000|
The base-spec MAX XZ+ with the 3.3 kW charger is more expensive than the top-spec Nexon EV XZ+ LUX (30.2 kWh) by Rs 54,000. Including the 7.2 kWh AC fast charger, which we think is a must-have for this car, would push the price gap further up to more than a lakh, where you would still be missing out on features. On a spec-to-spec comparison, the MAX variants with the 3.3 kW chargers are more expensive by up to 1.54 lakh, and around 2.04 lakh costlier than the corresponding standard Nexon EV variants with the 7.2 kW AC fast charger.
Those who are too worried about the range figures can definitely consider the Nexon EV extended-range variants over the standard car. The base-spec MAX XZ Plus could make much sense to them.