2023 Tata Nexon EV: First Impressions
2023 Tata Nexon EV: First Impressions

The Nexon.ev makes a strong case for itself with a new design, revamped interiors and even the ride. But is that enough to make buyers look beyond its flaws?

I had just returned after being surprised by the 2023 Tata Nexon facelift when Tata invited us to drive the EV version of the SUV in Pune. Expectations were high. Even though opinions were under embargo till 4PM on September 12, the first glimpses of auto journos driving the EV showcased a much premium product. In fact, the infotainment, the upholstery and just the materials used on the inside looked from a segment or two above. And I’m glad that I wasn’t disappointed. 



The new Nexon.ev looks like a massive upgrade over the outgoing model especially on the outside. The headlamps are now on the bumper and the sleek DRLs up top make it look really sleek. The rear has also been revamped and looks properly 2023. It is a looker and draws a lot of attention on the road. While the ICE version in purple reminded some onlookers about Tarzan the Wonder Car, they couldn’t wrap their heads around this one and wanted to take a look inside to see what this car was all about. And naturally, so. The Nexon.ev looks drastically different from the previous-gen model and the results were evident on the streets of Pune. 


Spec Check 


Breezy Breakfast Hopping


With my colleague and Pune-based journalist Niraj at shotgun, I got behind the wheel of the new Nexon EV to hop across some iconic breakfast spots of the city. The drive started off with a sudden jolt of EVs that you tend to forget about when you have been driving ICE vehicles on a daily basis. However, it was followed by a slight disappointment as our first stop, German Bakery in Koregaon Park was closed. Maybe we arrived too early, thanks to the Nexon EV.



Tata say that they’ve worked on reducing the rolling resistance on the tyres down to 6.5 N/Ton. Factor in the cabin insulation of the new model and the cockpit feels like the perfect place to meditate. But then, as soon as you settle in, all the distractions creep up quickly on you. For starters, I want to give big ups to the 14-inch infotainment that really works like a charm. Partly down to the fact that Tata have set low expectations when it comes to infotainment units, but this one is exceptional. It works like a charm, boasts of the arcade ev, offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and just feels notches above, compared to the ICE Nexon unit.  


Like all other Tata cars, the Nexon EV also gets three drive modes – Eco, City and Sport. There’s also four levels of re-gen on offer that can be toggled by the paddle shifters. With the riding mode set on Sport and regen set on L1, we made the most of the empty streets of Pune, effortlessly reaching triple-digit speeds. And while that might not sound so remarkable, it’s what you feel inside the cabin at such speeds that sets the Nexon apart. Bad roads don’t unsettle the SUV to the extent that even when you pass over temporary bad-road fixes, you might not notice them if you aren’t at high speeds. 



After the disappointment at German Bakery, we headed to the much more familiar and iconic Vohuman Cafe for a quick muska bun and chai. With the city traffic slowly getting unrulier, it was time to try out the other levels of re-gen. L1 seemed really unintrusive, allowing you to almost coast without dropping speeds rapidly. Things get gradually and predictably more aggressive with L2 and L3. And while there is a learning curve, when you get used to it, you can even switch to L3 in city traffic and almost not need to brake at all. The one-pedal driving experience coupled with the NVH levels of the cabin make the Nexon.EV a pleasure to drive in the city. 



Our second stop, Goodluck Café, seemed to have a new address, which made us double check Apple Maps, given how renowned it is for its inaccuracy. The 10.25-inch instrument cluster, displays the navigation(like the ICE Nexon), making it easier for you to check the directions while driving. Apple users, however, will have to trust Apple Maps since Google Maps won’t work if you are connected via CarPlay. Android users, on the other hand, can use the trusty old Google Maps. The supposed Goodluck Café turned out to be a dud but but our appetite for either breakfast or the Nexon.ev wasn’t quite full yet and we decided to head to Flour Works just to end our drive on a better note than it would have. 


Familiar Foes


For the most part, the Nexon.ev doesn’t feel like any other Tata car, which comes down to the premium build and features on the inside and the striking design on the outside. As you spend more time with the Nexon though and grow out of the cocoon it keeps you enclosed in, the familiar snags of older Tata cars start surfacing. The horn, for instance, would work just fine when you press it on the centre or towards the right, but wouldn’t when I pressed on the left edge. The wireless charger is also inconsistent and would start and stop charging abruptly. And even though the infotainment system deserves all the praises, there were still a few glitches. Not only could we not adjust the brightness, it also didn’t show an entire row of the keypad while we tried to search for a film in the Disney+ Hotstar app. However, given the fact that these were pre-production prototypes that we were driving, we expect these issues to be ironed out in the final production-spec vehicles. 



And then there are some misses that can’t be fixed later. For instance, I would have also liked an easily accessible cup holder or two for front-seat occupants besides a few more cubby holes to store nickknacks. 


Larger Picture



During the entire presentation, the Nexon EV was referred to as Nexon.ev. While it may remind some of Prof J. Asthana’s insistence from Munnabhai MBBS to pronounce the dot, it is Tata’s new positioning and larger strategy for EVs. The carmaker wants to retail EVs through a new dedicated chain of showrooms as part of its Tata.EV brand and the new Nexon.EV is the flag bearer of this paradigm shift. It does make a strong case for itself, marking a stark departure from the previous-gen model and Tata cars in general. Be it the design, the interiors and even the ride, the Nexon.ev takes the carmaker’s promise of delivering quality EVs at a budget in a whole new direction ahead. And if you can look beyond the usual Tata-esque flaws, it is something you’d love to drive every day or even on the weekends with your family. 

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