2023 Tata Nexon first drive review
Five lakh car sales! That’s a big number for any brand, but for Tata Motors, it is more than just a number. The Tata Nexon turned around fortunes for Tata Motors, filled up their coffers to make more products, allowed the company to be bolder and more aggressive, set the wind in their sails, and so the Nexon nameplate means a lot for the Indian carmaker. The Nexon takes on the likes of the Maruti Suzuki Brezza, Hyundai Venue, Kia Sonet, Mahindra XUV300, Nissan Magnite and Renault Kiger in this hotly contested compact SUV segment. Despite the stiff competition, the Nexon has led the segment for two years in a row, late into its life cycle. Tata Motors had to do something big to keep it relevant and at the top of the table, and that brings us to the car you see in these pictures.
Design and styling of the 2023 Tata Nexon
The Chief of Design at Tata Motors, Martin Ulharik wasn’t around when the Nexon was first launched, so he comes with no familiarity to the original design. It allowed him to look at the Nexon with a fresh set of eyes and the result is a car that looks nothing like the original except for his broad shape. The bonnet is taller and more pronounced, the front end gets fresh design and detailing from the higher set LED DRLs to the bi-functional LED headlamp now integrated in the bumper to the new grille, everything is all new. In profile, the belt line extends from the front to the rear tying up the whole design neatly, leading from the DRLs to the taillamps. The tail lamps are connected through a light bar that now comes with a beautiful dynamic swipe like you see in more premium cars. The rear spoiler extends more than before now and looks much better than before. The alloy wheels too are new. In fact, there are so many new panels on the Nexon, it just looks similar in shape to the car it replaces. It feels all fresh otherwise. This includes a new tailgate, that in addition to a fresh design, offers 32 litres of extra boot space, taking the boot capacity to 382 litres.
Tata Motors has experimented with their variants in the past, but what we see in the Nexon is a more detailed attempt at defining the variants based on probable personalities, and not just base-to-top variant strategy. The purple colour for example is replicated in the upholstery and door and dashboard trims in this ‘fearless’ variant. There are more understated variants as well, and these vary with the features on offer, so run through the brochure to find what suits you.
Interior and features of the 2023 Tata Nexon
Step in and the Nexon feels like an all new car. The dashboard has completely been redesigned. It features new materials, new panelling, even the AC vents, the centre console and parts of the door panels are new. The 2023 Nexon features a new two spoke steering wheel now, the same one we saw on the concepts Tata Motors showcased in 2022. The gloss panel is prone to smudges and will get scratched easily so I’d recommend a screen guard for it. The Tata logo on the steering wheel is backlit and looks very premium. Right behind the steering wheel is the most premium update on the interior, the new digital instrument cluster. It even relays maps on its full screen from the centre console. Looks very cool and is customisable in many ways but there are plenty of bugs that Tata motors needs to fix before the car reaches customers. A digital instrument cluster in this segment with the set of functionalities on offer is unheard of. Expect all these updates in crisper displays to fit into the Harrier and Safari sometime soon. To the left is a new 10.25 inch touchscreen infotainment system, a big upgrade from the pre-facelift car.The new display also relays information from the 360 degree camera, which is a bit laggy but again, a premium feature for a car in this segment. Below the centre console, you get your HVAC controls also in touch on a gloss panel, but the good thing is that the fan speed and temperature settings get proper buttons.
Backing up the new console is a superb 9-speaker JBL music system that feels like it should be in a car from a segment above. Supporting good quality music is an improvement in NVH levels. You’d want to spend a lot more time in the driver’s seat as a result, and thankfully, Tata engineers have redesigned the front seats. This was one pain point in the Nexon that needed fixing. The seats have better contouring and support, the cushioning has improved and it even gets seat cooling like you do in the Nexon EV. The passenger seat can also be adjusted for height now. Tata Motors has done a stellar job of packing the Nexon with features that go beyond what is expected in a car in this segment, and what is expected of a facelift.
Engine and gearbox of the 2023 Tata Nexon
There are no changes to the engines on offer. You get the same 3-cylinder turbo petrol motor and the 4-cylinder turbo diesel. Power and torque figures are identical too. You get 118bhp/170Nm and 113bhp/260Nm respectively. You get a new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox mated to the turbo petrol Nexon. The new gearbox improves your driving experience considerably. Shifts are smooth, kick downs are quick and the refinement levels are impressive. You step on the gas, rev the 3-cylinder mill up to 4000rpm and above and the noise begins to filter in the cabin, but NVH levels have improved. The cabin filters out outside noise better, which will make longer road trips less tiring. The DCT also comes with paddle shifters, overall improving the user experience. The DCT Nexon feels like a nice step up to the pre-facelift car, especially for those who have been driving the AMT Nexon.
Ride and handling of the 2023 Tata Nexon
Ride quality has been a USP for the Nexon and that bit carries over to the updated car. It takes on poor roads without batting an eyelid. You can hammer through rough patches and the car feels tough. Generous ground clearance of 208mm makes you take the compact SUV over the worst of roads without worrying of scraping the underbelly. The Nexon can take a beating, and feels solid from the driver’s seat. It’s one of the major reasons for the success of the car over all these years.
The Nexon is also fun to drive around a series of corners. The car feels nimble on its feet, eager to attack a switchback like you would with a hatchback. There is a bit of roll from the high set SUV but it isn’t unnerving in any way. Tata Motors has also re-engineered the Nexon to take on the Bharat NCAP tests that kick off next month. The structure is reinforced symmetrically now to make it safer than before, and Tata Motors claims it has helped in the rigidity of the chassis as a result.
Fuel efficiency and safety of the 2023 Tata Nexon
Tata Motors hasn’t revealed the ARAI figures of the Nexon yet. Considering its a facelift, I don’t expect numbers to change from the pre-facelift model considerably although you may see some variation due to a bit of aero tweaks to the rear spoiler. On the safety front, the Nexon now gets six airbags as standard and a stronger shell than before. Tata Motors has built a brand around safety and we don’t expect the Nexon to score any less than 5 stars in the Bharat NCAP tests that will most likely happen next month, right in time for the festive season.
Verdict on the 2023 Tata Nexon
You usually don’t see so many updates in a facelift so a good job done by Tata Motors on keeping things fresh in the Nexon. It is a seven year old car underneath all the freshness you see inside-out, but the way it drives, the Nexon feels as contemporary as any other car in this segment. The new DCT just makes the user experience so much nicer. Even if you are a Nexon owner, the new Nexon will feel like an upgrade, but we recommend you wait out the first batch while Tata Motors addresses a few niggling issues on what is otherwise a very well rounded car. On the pricing front, I expect a 5-10 percent delta over the pre-facelift car considering all the new features on this car. That would still keep the Tata Nexon a competitive car in this segment.