We were off to the Tata Hexa Experience, came back impressed

Tata Motors has a lot riding on it's upcoming launch, the Hexa. With the Tiago doing well, the Pune-based car manufacturer finally has something to cheer about and they would be keen to retain the momentum going forward. Moreover, the Hexa is Tata's second attempt at the premium crossover segment after the Aria failed miserably. The pressure, then, is on Tata to get this right. If the pre-launch events are anything to go by, Tatas are leaving no stone unturned to create an impact this time. 

The Hexa Experience Centres that were setup in various cities prior to launch is one of them. We had a chance of experiencing it in Chennai last week when a bunch of Hexas came visiting.

The entry to the venue had three separate counters for online registrations, Bookmyshow bookings and walk-ins. We had registered online through Tata Motors' official website and the entry was seamless. Elsewhere in the hall, a Hexa took centrestage as visitors gathered around to have a look at the new flagship of Tata Motors. The indoor hall also had a host of Tata Group stalls including Croma, Tata Finance, Tata Water Plus and some quick eats as well to keep the visitors engaged. Just outside the hall were a couple of accessorized Hexas parked to attract eyeballs. With it's blacked-out exteriors, the Hexa Tuff looked particularly inviting.  

The well-organized drive event was split into two parts - an 'Off-road Experience' with Tata experts behind the wheel and a short test drive around the venue. While it was disappointing to not unleash the Hexa off-road ourselves, we couldn't fault Tata. With limited cars and little room for error in the course specifically set up for the event, they had to keep us visitors in check. 

The track had been designed to demonstrate the capabilities of the Hexa off the beaten track and, having experienced it, we have to admit the newest Tata crossover didn't fail to impress. 

Starting the course were a pair of axle-twisters to showcase Hexa's articulation capabilities. With the trained hands and legs of Tata-appointed professionals behind the wheel, the Hexa cleared the axle-twisters with little fuss, albeit scaring some first-time visitors a bit.

Next up were a set of solid blocks that utilized the full 200 mm ground clearance of the Hexa. There was nary a struggle in going past this, errr, obstacle. Bring on those speed breakers, we say!

The top-end variants of the Hexa gets Traction Control System (TCS) as standard which worked flawlessly through a set of rumblers that were placed next on the course. As soon as the system sensed loss of traction on the front left wheel, it ensured there was enough traction on the other wheels to keep the vehicle going steady without wheelspin.

The next set-up was easily the crowd's favourite, an arched ramp to demonstrate Hexa's Hill Hold Control and Hill Descent Control features. The professionals driving the Hexas stopped at the right places to explain the occupants on the usefulness of these features in the tricky conditions. While it's true that most of the potential Hexa owners aren't likely to venture off-road ever, these features will come in handy on those bumper-to-bumper traffic scenarios or the unscientific ramps that dot our malls and hotels.

As soon as we descended the ramp, a side incline of 40 degrees welcomed us. The Hexa had no qualms in negotiating it though. 

With a fantastic 400 Nm of torque available from as low as 1700 rpm, the Hexa was then driven through a flight of stairs that the crossover dismissed with aplomb.

What's off-roading without splashing some mud and water? We did that next with the Hexa wading through more than 400 mm of muddy water. A couple of other minor obstacles later, we reached the end of the course.

A short test drive in and around the venue was also offered and we got behind the wheel of the Hexa XTA, the top-end automatic variant. Despite it not lasting long enough to form our opinions, the short test drive highlighted Hexa's strengths and, of course, weaknesses, quite easily. 

  • First up, the interiors are the best seen on a Tata vehicle yet.
  • The gear ratios in the automatic transmission are well tuned with the Hexa never leaving us wanting in the short drive that we had.
  • For those one-off nights to have fun, the Sports Mode with Race Car Function is good enough. It holds gears and sounds sweet to the ears too!
  • Steering is heavy at parking speeds and gains weight as speeds build up.
  • Handling is predictable with a hint of body roll around corners. In the short test drive that we had, it wasn't scary.
  • Ride quality, like in most Tata vehicles, is superb with the road irregularities hardly filtering into the Hexa's cabin.
  • We sorely missed paddle shifters, more so in the Sports Mode.
  • For such a feature-loaded car, omission of push button start is startling.
  • Space is abundant in the first two rows with the third row easily capable of accommodating two medium-sized adults.
  • The captain seats in the second row is supremely comfortable. If we were to go on a long road trip in the Hexa, this is where we would be perched!
  • Even with all three rows in place, there is still decent space in the boot for a weekend family trip.

By this time tomorrow, the Hexa would have been officially launched and we wish Tata well for it's success. The Hexa can sell on it's own merits but a value-for-money price tag would make the deal sweeter and the XUV5OO sweatier. Over to you, Tata.

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