2022 Tata Nexon EV Max first drive review: Should this be your first EV?
The Nexon EV Max's claimed range has been bumped up from 312km to 437kmShot by Sachin Khot

2022 Tata Nexon EV Max first drive review: Should this be your first EV?

The Tata Nexon EV Max gets a bigger battery and with it comes more range, more power and more features! Can it take the fight to the MG ZS EV?

I couldn’t have come up with a better name. Max. It makes a lot of sense to call this the Tata Nexon EV Max. After all, it now gets more power, more range and a lot more features. You see, Tata Motors noticed something — it noticed that a lot of people are keen on driving their EVs long distances. They also noticed that a lot of people are open to the idea of having an EV as the only car in their garages. And to make the lives of these people easier, it has packed an even bigger battery in to the floor of the Nexon!

Tata Nexon EV Max styling

Nothing much has changed on the styling front. After all, this is just a variant with more range and not a facelift. Up front, you get an identical face with the same headlamps, grille and even the light blue accents on the car are the same. What is different are the wheels — they’re the same 16-inch wheel size but they have a slightly different design. Another change is the fact that the Max gets rear disc brakes. That isn’t really a styling difference but it is one way you can identify the long-range model from the standard car if you spot it on the road. At the rear again, there are absolutely no changes. I would have thought Tata Motors would have stuck some sort of badge on there to differentiate it. After all, this is a car that costs a fair bit more money. What they have done instead is give the Nexon EV Max an exclusive paint finish — what you see pictured here is a paint called Intensi-Teal and it isn’t something you can spec on the standard Nexon EV.

Tata Nexon EV Max interior and features

The shift knob now gets a digital screen
The shift knob now gets a digital screenShot by Sachin Khot

Changes to the inside are a lot more comprehensive. Climb into the driver’s seat and you will immediately notice a completely revamped centre console. The first thing your eyes gravitate to is the new shift knob. It remains a rotary dial like on the previous Nexon EV but now with a more expensive-feeling textured side and a digital screen on top. The mode buttons are right beside it and there are a few completely new buttons as well — for the electronic parking brake and auto hold (both a consequence of the discs at the rear) and buttons to change the aggressiveness of the regeneration.

The rest of the interior is identical to the standard Nexon EV, with the exception of some added equipment
The rest of the interior is identical to the standard Nexon EV, with the exception of some added equipmentShot by Sachin Khot

Otherwise the dash stays pretty much the same — you have the same 7-inch infotainment screen, same instrument cluster and the layout of the dash is the same. What you do get is more features — ventilated seats, auto dimming IRVM, an air purifier and cruise control. It also gets a few more connectivity features on the ZConnect app, including smartwatch integration.

The backseat of the Nexon has always been a spacious place and that hasn’t changed. I had more than enough kneeroom and headroom. However, the floor is now 20mm higher than before and that means your knees are pointing upwards – not a particularly comfortable position to be in. You do have rear AC vents at the rear, along with cupholders and a 12V socket (no USBs) to make this space more practical though.

Tata Nexon EV Max drivetrain

The Nexon EV Max's electric motor now puts out 141bhp and 250Nm of torque
The Nexon EV Max's electric motor now puts out 141bhp and 250Nm of torqueShot by Sachin Khot

The big talking point for the Nexon EV Max is the bigger battery. The battery pack itself is now 33 per cent bigger than before, taking capacity to 40.5kWh. This hike in battery capacity has also allowed Tata Motors to liberate more power from the motor — taking power up to 141bhp and torque 250Nm. Claimed range is up to 437km, but that is the ARAI figure and isn’t really representative of real world performance. We didn’t have the car long enough to do a proper range test but when I started off in the morning, the dash indicated a cool 340km of range. Tata Motors’ engineers say that you should be able to do 300km on a full charge, though a lot of this is subject to driving style and driving conditions.

Can't wheelspin it anymore, but the Nexon EV Max remains a strong performer
Can't wheelspin it anymore, but the Nexon EV Max remains a strong performerShot by Sachin Khot

Power is up, but so is weight (up by 100kg, to 1535kg) but performance remains sprightly. The car no longer spins its wheels when you floor it — a consequence of the ESP system that can’t be turned off — but just because the drama is dead, doesn’t mean the performance is. It still accelerates strongly, and Tata Motors claim a 0-100kmph time of 9 seconds which is very quick. Off the line, the Max doesn’t feel very aggressive but once its past 15kmph, it really dumps all that torque. So much so that TC kicks in at around 20-30kmph before it pulls strongly again. Even while rolling, the initial shove isn’t too aggressive (except in Sport mode) but it does move quickly. I think that has been done to not startle buyers moving to EVs from ICE cars — that initial responsiveness so inherent to EVs has been ironed to make it easier to use. But top speeds are not a problem — this test car pulled comfortably past 120kmph and onwards to an indicated 140kmph without letting up, I was the one who ran out of space and had to.

Another interesting bit on the drivetrain front are the regeneration modes. The Nexon EV had a single, default mode but you can actually adjust the levels of regeneration on the Max. You have a total of four settings — 0 which has no regen at all and you simply coast off throttle. Then there are modes 1, 2 and 3 that get progressively more aggressive. I found mode 3 to be easy to drive in — regen (and consequently deceleration of throttle) is strong, but at no point is it uncomfortable as the head toss under deceleration is controlled. But I found myself most comfortable in Mode 2, it was most reminiscent of regular engine braking and provided a good balance of deceleration and regeneration. That said, the calibration of the throttle pedal was a little different to other EVs I have driven. Many EVs – the Audi e-tron and Volvo XC40 included – allow you to regen when in the initial part of the throttle travel when in one-pedal mode, while on the Nexon EV Max, you have to be completely off throttle to regenerate energy. This didn’t feel uncomfortable, but I do feel that it could become so when spending long hours in the car. I would have to drive the car longer than I did to corroborate that though. What I do like is that the brake lights come on past a certain degree of deceleration so cars around no that the Max is slowing down – even if the driver doesn’t touch the brakes.

Tata Nexon EV Max Ride and Handling

Despite the extra weight, the Nexon EV Max doesn't feel uncomfortable to drive
Despite the extra weight, the Nexon EV Max doesn't feel uncomfortable to driveShot by Sachin Khot

The Nexon’s ride and handling has always been a highlight and that doesn’t change with the Nexon EV Max. Despite the extra weight, it rides confidently and at no point does it feel uncomfortable. The suspension has been worked upon and it does a good job over bad roads – the ride quality is great, with the suspension absorbing a lot of what comes its way. It also keeps body movement in check. What I particularly like about the Nexon EV Max is how robust it feels. Bad roads simply do not faze it and it deals with them confidently. Whether it is driving over a bad road at low speed, or sitting at the speed limit on the highway, the Nexon EV’s suspension has things under control.
Handling is fairly good too. With the weight low down in the floor, it has got the physics right and actually can deal with a set of corners without tying itself in knots. The steering is direct and the front end feels sharp. It changes direction willingly and doesn’t complain when doing so. But this is a heavy car, running eco tyres, so it does have its limits. Interestingly, the new battery pack required some structural elements on the floor to be modified and the Max actually ends up with a higher structural rigidity than the Nexon EV that came before it!

Tata Nexon EV Max verdict and price

Prices for the Nexon EV Max start at Rs 17.74 lakh
Prices for the Nexon EV Max start at Rs 17.74 lakhShot by Sachin Khot

The Nexon EV Max is available in two rather well kitted out variants – the ZX+ and ZX+ Lux. The Lux is more expensive, and gets a few additional features over the former, with a sunroof, ventilated seats air purifier, leatherette upholstery and connected car features. Additionally, both variants are available with a faster 7.2kW wallbox charger that reduces the charging time from 15-16 hours (on the standard 3.3kW charger) to 5-6 hours. I think that’s a useful bit of kit to have with the Nexon EV Max, despite the Rs 50,000 it adds to the ex-showroom price.

Max is on average 3 lakh more than the standard Nexon EV. Prices start at Rs 17.74 lakh, while the car on test costs Rs 19.24 lakh, if you include the fast charger. That makes the Nexon EV Max about Rs 1.5 lakh more variant to variant. This may seem expensive on the face of it, but other EVs that offer this sort of range – the MG ZS EV and Hyundai Kona Electric – cost a fair but more. The Nexon compromises slightly on the space and performance front, but nails pretty much everything else leaving you with a really impressive car at hand. Definitely worth a look at as your first EV!

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