The introduction of an Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) on the Nexon SUV made Tata Motors the first company to feature the two-pedal technology on a compact SUV in India. As a technology, the AMT essentially uses actuators that control the clutch and gear shift operations of a manual transmission. Tata Motors is offering the Nexon AMT with different drive modes – Eco, Sport & City, that come incorporated on the 6-speed manual transmission variants. The AMT is being offered on the Nexon in the XMA and XZA+ variants.
The three different drive modes being offered on the Tata Nexon AMT are not just a marketing gimmick. Each mode comes with a separate set of parameters that solves a purpose. While the Eco mode is primarily aimed at squeezing out maximum km from a litre of fuel, the City mode is more punchy and provides a quicker throttle response, thus making overtaking under city driving conditions easier. Aptly named, the Sport mode is for spirited driving when the driver requires the maximum performance from the engine. In this review we cover the performance of the Tata Nexon in three different drive modes, and take a closer look at the driving dynamics in each mode.
ACCELERATION & SPEED
The Tata Nexon is one of the first compact SUVs in India to offer drive modes, not barring many other segment-first features. The Nexon is offered with the options of both a petrol and diesel powertrains. For this review, we had the
1.5 l, four cylinder diesel powered variant of the Nexon SUV. The turbocharged and intercooled engine is rated at 108.49 hp at 3,750 rpm and 260 Nm between 1,500-2,750 rpm. While driving the XZA+ variant with the 6-speed AMT, one can easily feel the difference between the various drive modes. In the Eco mode, the throttle response feels sluggish and is limited, while in the City and Sport modes, the vehicle feels a lot livelier.
During our road test, we were able to ascertain the difference in performance while driving in the three drive modes. In terms of flat out acceleration from 0-100 km/h, the Nexon is quickest in the Sport mode. But our recorded time in the City mode was not too far behind that of the Sport mode. While in Sport mode, we were able to record a top time of 16.63 s, in City we recorded 16.89 s. In both City and Sport modes, the Nexon was able to reach the 100 km/h mark quicker in the fourth gear than in Eco mode. It took 21.41 s in Eco mode to touch the 100 km/h mark.
While mapping out the 1/8th mile (roughly 0.2 km) and 1/4th mile (roughly 0.4 km) runs, we recorded the quickest time of 13.39 s in the Sport mode for the 1/8th mile run. In City mode, this figure was again not too far behind, standing at 13.72 s. The highest speed recorded in the 1/8th mile run was at 92 km/h in Sport mode, in City mode the Nexon was only 3.01 km/h slower. While driving in Eco mode, we were able to complete the 1/8th mile run in 15.02 s and recorded a speed of 85 km/h.
Quarter mile test runs have also concurred the same results as the previous test runs. Sport mode comes out on top with a time of 20.55 s and a speed of 97.99 km/h. In City mode, the Nexon trails up close at 93 km/h recorded in 20.87 s for the quarter mile run. The Eco mode is exactly 2.68 s slower in the quarter mile run, recording a speed of 90.99 km/h. Despite throttle response being sluggish in Eco mode, the Nexon managed a speed of only 2.01 km/h slower than the City mode.
DRIVING DYNAMICS OF THE MODES
It has already been established that the throttle response in Eco mode is slow and only a limited amount of power is sent to the wheels even at 100 % throttle. Gear shifts are the quickest in Sport mode, with the transmission upshifting faster than the other two modes. That said, gear shifts in the City mode are not too far behind the times of that in the Sport mode. The in-gear acceleration time is longer in Eco mode.
While accelerating in City mode, the vehicle is able to achieve more or less the same power output in the first two gears. Acceleration time in the third gear is the longest in all three modes during the 0-100 km/h sprint. In Sport mode, the engine seemingly belts out more power in the second and third gears, while in City mode it achieves this in the third gear only. However, the output is roughly the same for the first two gears in City mode. Acceleration at 100 % throttle feels the smoothest in Eco mode. In our tests the Nexon touched fourth gear the quickest in Sport mode, followed by the City and Eco mode.
STACKING IT UP
The 1.5 l diesel engine is quite punchy and feels very sporty to drive. This is dampened in Eco mode but can be offset by much better results on the fuel efficiency front. There are fairly noticeable differences in all three drive modes with each solving the purpose they have been designed for with precision. The Sport and City drive modes cater to a spirited drive experience, while the Eco mode is best suited for congested driving conditions.
The AMT option in the Tata Nexon, along with the option of drive modes, caters to a unique proposition for customers looking for a compact SUV with the two pedal technology. This combined with ample features, decent build quality and a significantly radical design makes the Nexon a hot deal in our books.
TEXT: Joshua Luther
PHOTO: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay