Tata Motors recently announced a new addition to its EV range, the Tata Nexon EV Max. It is an upgraded version of the hugely successful (for a battery-powered car in India) Nexon EV, with a longer range and some crucial improvements made to it. Prices start at Rs 17.74 lakh and go up to Rs 19.24 lakh (ex-showroom). With this, Tata has tried to bridge the gap between the entry-level EVs like the Nexon EV and Tigor EV and the better-equipped ones like the very popular MG ZS EV. We got behind the wheel of the latest Tata to understand what is in store for a new EV buyer.

Tata EV MAX review

What We Liked

Bigger Battery, More Power, More Range

If you’re moving on from the standard Nexon EV, the Max is an upgrade as it not only offers a longer range, but also more power. The acceleration is brisk and once you put it in Sport mode to enjoy its peak power (143hp and 250Nm), you’ll be able to appreciate the added punch this car brings.

Moving to a larger battery (40.5 kWh) has enabled Tata Motors to claim a longer range for the Nexon EV Max. According to the company, on a full charge, this crossover can go for 437km before it runs out of charge. Our short stint in the car saw us cover over 150km (a mix of urban and highway driving), and the charge dropped by 50 percent. At the time of handing the car to Tata, the EV still had about 40 per cent of battery capacity left and an estimated range of another 120km. Keeping in mind that towards the end of my run, I was exploring the car’s performance in Sport mode, I am confident that the Tata Nexon EV Max would’ve gone farther than 120km on the remaining charge.

New Ways to Maximise Efficiency

The Nexon EV Max comes with a single-speed transmission so its power delivery is uninterrupted. Also, to ensure that you can maximise the available range, there is a variety of drive and regeneration modes on offer. Drive modes available included Eco, City, and Sport. It’s the most laid back in ‘Eco’, slightly more spirited and ready for stop-go traffic in ‘City’, and it has the maximum power available in ‘Sport’. Selecting these does change the colour of the gear knob display and there’s a clear notification in the instrument cluster, too.

Tata Nexon EV Max interior

Regeneration is a clever way to charge the onboard battery without an external power source but the car’s motion. The Nexon EV Max, like many other modern EV, gives you the ability to control regeneration. There are four levels to choose from, and depending on the regeneration mode, the car will either keep moving, even if you take your foot off the accelerator, or slow down. For instance, if you want to ‘coast’ (useful for long drives especially where the need to slow down is much less, like on highways), Regen: Off does the trick. For when the car is in one of the three Regen modes and is decelerating as you take your foot off the accelerator, it automatically switches the brake lights on to notify fellow road users that you’re ‘braking’.

Nexon EV

New Features

The Tata Nexon EV Max is available in XZ+ and XZ+ Lux trims. Apart from the added power and range, there are a handful of new features that help justify the relatively expensive positioning of the car. The important ones here are cruise control, disc brakes on all four wheels, sunroof, gear shift dial with inbuilt display, wireless phone charging, air purifier, auto-dimming inside rear-view mirror, and of course, ventilated front seats. Tata has also updated its Z Connect app with new features, and it can be used with a smartwatch, too.

Great as an Everyday Car

The Nexon EV Max is easy to drive, and despite the added weight of the larger battery (IP67-rated, so don’t worry about the weather spoiling your car), Tata has tuned the suspension to ensure that it drives as effortlessly as the regular version.

There’s also a decent amount of room inside and in the boot. A longer drive will help us gauge if the under-floor battery has affected the rear seat comfort, but from the driver’s seat, the Nexon EV Max seems like an okay car to live with. The aforementioned new features promise to make it a good car to live with, and let’s not forget the added range, which is crucial if you intend to use the Nexon EV Max as a daily driver. The added power won’t exactly set your pulse racing, but the bump in acceleration is pretty evident.

Nexon EV

The Charging Situation

There’s no doubt the charging infrastructure has improved in the last few years, and cars like the Tata Nexon EV and MG ZS EV are responsible for making that happen. Various brands (and third-party companies) have set up charging stations witnessing the consistently increasing demand. With the Tata Nexon EV Max, you’re given an option to choose between a 3.3kW charger or a 7.2kW one, both of which can be installed at your home or workplace. There’s a price difference between the two, but the latter is an AC fast charger, and the investment one makes will lead to quicker charging times. If you have access to a 50kW DC fast charger, the Nexon EV Max is said to go from 0-80 percent in just under an hour.

What We Didn’t Like

Interiors

I feel that electric cars need to feel a lot more special than this, because one, you as a customer are walking away from your comfort zone, so there has to be something that makes this experience more enjoyable; and then it’s Rs 20 lakh of your hard-earned money. The layout of the cabin and the features both show a scope of improvement. 

Nexon EV

While it’s good to have a touchscreen that doesn’t occupy half of the dashboard real estate, the system seemed slow to respond. The audio quality is mediocre, and it doesn’t exactly deserve to be in a car that costs Rs 19.24 lakh or so.

The conventionally powered Nexon is one of the safest cars in India. It’d have been great if Tata Motors extended this safety focus to the Nexon EV Max by offering side and curtain airbags. One may suggest that autonomous driving features aren’t exactly relevant in the Indian context, but airbags most definitely are.

Basics be damned!

Our drive schedule for the Nexon EV Max was early in the morning, which was a great way to beat traffic and focus more on understanding the car. And this also gave me the chance to head to another popular Tata franchise, rather one brought to India by Tata — Starbucks. 

Nexon EV

The only issue is that the Nexon EV Max won’t let you enjoy your favourite coffee because there’s no place to keep it. There are two token cup holders inside the glovebox but that’s about it. Tata Motors has been kind enough to include a very Rolls-Royce/Skoda-like umbrella compartments in the door cards but not cup holders.

Nexon EV

Also, typical of staying a generation behind when it comes to tech, the car only has USB Type-A ports. Plus it’s so ergonomically awkward that the recess in which the port exists requires your hand to undergo a three-month training by a contortionist to access.

It’s far from engaging to drive

This might be down to the fact that the Nexon EV shares its architecture with a car that’s also available with a conventional engine. It can also be because Tata Motors didn’t have driving appeal on the top of its list for the Nexon (or the EV/EV Max for that matter). Considering it has a fair bit of power in a small-ish (albeit heavy) package, the Nexon could have been a fun car to drive. It’s disheartening that it isn’t. The car’s full potential in Sport mode does make it quick (0-100kph in 9 seconds or so, claimed) and it’s not slow to react, either, unless in Eco mode. But engaging, it is not.

Nexon EV

So should you buy it?

If you’re in the market for a non-luxury electric car, there’s no chance the Nexon EV won’t be on your list. It tries to take everything the lower-priced variant had and make it better. It’s a well-rounded product, and it’s one that encourages you to consider EV ownership more seriously. There are more than 19,000 Nexon EVs sold in the Indian market, and that speaks volumes about the car’s success.

The price increase over the standard Nexon EV puts it closer to the upcoming MG ZS EV. Expected to launch later this year, the lesser variant of the MG ZS, called Excite, will be priced at Rs 22 lakh. It’ll miss out on some of the features of the top-spec ZS EV but with a longer range and more power, it’ll give the Nexon EV Max tough competition.

Nexon EV

In conclusion, the Tata Nexon EV Max isn’t a massive upgrade over the Nexon EV but is rather a more complete version of that. Tata Motors is focused on building a solid portfolio of electric cars, as we’ve seen with the Curvv and Avinya concepts, and this model will help the brand realise that goal. If you’ve been on the fence about EVs, this might make it easier for you to make a choice.