Tata Xenon XT in India Review

')">Tata Motors Ltd recently launched the Tata Aria, a never before seen crossover concept from the homegrown company. Before this however, the company also launched another new for the company, the Tata Xenon XT car. This was a pickup SUV or er truck.Their first attempt at the pickup region was done way back with the 207Di and then some more with the TL 4×4. The former was a hit until other feature rich and modern cars came its way. The latter was too rugged and something which the urbans stayed away from. The Tata Xenon XT was first displayed at a Motor Show namely the Bangkok Motor Show and surprisingly it was launched in Thailand first and then in Italy before coming to India. It would be an understatement to say that people are crazy about the Tata Xenon in Thailand whereas in Italy it lags just behind Toyota in the pickup region. To make this pickup look a bit urban and rugged, Tata Motors took help from Concept Group which were a dowry package for the marriage with Jaguar Land Rover group. Concept Group is based in England and is also credited with the looks of the Tata Sumo Grande. Once I got my hands on the Tata Xenon XT, I was raring to go and have a spin in it. Recounting my adventures with Tata Xenon XT review below.

Tata Xenon XT Looks

This vehicle is actually a tribute to the old Tatamobile however in flesh no one could take a guess if it is actually a hand me down from the old vehicle. This vehicle has a front end resembling the Tata Sumo Grande a bit. It has a big grille with the Tata logo sitting in the middle. It has rectangular head lamps which sit quite snugly with the grille. The bumper is also neatly integrated and has a small air dam to go with it. The fog lamps are housed in their own separate units and look classy. The windscreen is not as highly raked as the other cars from its stable. It has a front skid plate which gels well with the lifestyle SUV image that Tata Motors want to project for this car.

This car is wider than even the BMW X5 and longer than the current generation Audi Q7 in India. It is based on the old TL’s chassis which has been reinforced for the more modern vehicle. The 205/80 R- 16 tyre size does justice to this vehicle however they don’t quite fill up the butch wheel arches nicely. The outside rear view mirrors are in body color and are the same units from the Tata Sumo Grande. There are standard roof rails to go with the package.

The rear end features a huge Tata embossed logo and triangular tail lamps with a tug type of rear door handle. The reflectors are also spill partly to the sides. There is a big step up at the rear to get into the rear cabin. Surprising is the fact that on the options list, for the bonnet, it features a very Aussie outback style deflector, front bull bars, aluminium side steps, chromed rear bumpers and a carrier roof rack.

Tata Xenon XT Interiors

The disappointing fact in any Tata Motors car, the interiors. For the Tata Xenon XT in India, Tata Motors haven’t tinkered with the interior trim. They have kept it the same as the one for the European market. This means that we Indians also get higher quality materials. Alas! We couldn’t be more wrong. The interiors of the Tata Xenon XT in India are like the same as on the Tata Indigo Manza. It isn’t in the same ball park as the Tata Aria. It may be due to the fact that the Aria was launched later and all the technological developments went into this car. Inspite of the 200 mm ground clearance, clambering into the cabin isn’t hard. A tiny button near the driver’s knees denotes the control for the Borg-Warner 4WD system. The dashboard is typical Tata unit and doesn’t seem distracting enough for a second look. All the controls feel logical to use along with the 4 spoke steering wheel borrowed from the Tata Sumo Grande. Three rotary knobs control the AC. Conspicuous by its absence is the stereo system. The dials are different than any other Tata. The steering wheel is circular and chunky to hold but not adjustable for reach even though rake functionality has been given. There are many cubby holes though and the finish though seems fair than the other Tata cars apart from the Tata Aria which has exceptionally good finish for a Tata car.

Space though isn’t premium and there is abundance of it at the front. There is no seat height adjust but still there is a good all round view from the cabin. Comfortable is the word that would come to your mind once you plonk yourself into the seats. The rear seats are not much off from the bench mark set by the front seats. The only hindering feature is the upright back rests which may be a problem while going all the way in the wild. The load bay can carry around 500 kgs of luggage and boasts of a 1320 cc of space. A canopy can also be added above the load bay to protect the cargo from rain, sun and of course been stolen from a country like India.

Tata Xenon XT Handling and ride quality

Ride quality is the plus point of any Tata Motors offering however not so for the Tata Xenon XT in India. This is because it features a rear live axle, leaf springs, and an independent front suspension. The body construction is ladder on frame chassis and this car makes no bones that it is a true off-roader. True to its off –roader name, the car rides well after it is fully loaded. The ride when the car is not loaded to its gills is somewhat bouncy especially at low speeds. This car doesn’t like even sharp bumps as well. However the ride quality is far better than its only competition in the Indian market and that is the Mahindra Scorpio Getaway. The suspension tuning is far superior to the one done in the Mahindra. Its suspension setting seems more crude in the off-road scenario as can be expected from pickup vehicles.

Talking about handling, this 5.2 meters leviathan is a bit of chore in the crowded lanes as also in the forest. Its steering is direct but still has some vagueness about it. It is however one of the better tuned units from the Tata Motors stable. This car features a 4 wheel drive system and a limited slip differential.It even gets traction control. The handling is very predictable and though it wouldn’t corner like a BMW, it still doesn’t roll as much as the Mahindra Scorpio Getaway. Speaking of NVH, it is nicely controlled however once past it torque band, this motor becomes quite raucous. Pottering around in town doesn’t make one realize that the motor is laboring hard away to keep the vehicle moving. The 4 wheel drive system is easy to engage at speeds of 65 kmph whereas the low ratio can be only engaged while the vehicle is in stand still. I though wished that Tata Motors should have provided the car with much beefier tyres.

Tata Xenon XT Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The Tata Xenon XT in India features the same engine as found in the Tata Safari Dicor. This 2.2 liter diesel engine or DICOR in Tata speak makes 140 Ps of peak power and 320 Nm of maximum torque. It is enough to propel this vehicle from 0-100 kmph in 16 seconds flat and achieve a top speed of 157 kmph. The car even on part throttle moves forward with a sense of urgency. The 5 speed gear box, a Tata trademark, is still rubbery in its feel and execution. Turbo lag is minimal and the variable geometry turbo aids the engine in this. Access to the huge torque is available from as low as 1700 rpm. The power band though is narrow and extends only till 3200 rpm. It is also 310 kgs less than the similarly motored Tata Safari and hence feels more lively to drive.

Tapping this performance is the 4 wheel disc brakes aided with ESP, ABS and traction control. The brake pedal modulation however left much to be desired though and I would suggest Tata Motors to fix this gremlin at the earliest. It requires more than a shove to achieve respectable stopping distance. Safety is taken care by three point seat belts for all the passengers, collapsible steering column and also 2 air bags for the front passengers.

Coming to the all important fuel efficiency, I expected it to be more than the Tata Safari however somehow this car returns only 9.6 kmpl in the city and 14.2 kmpl on the highway, less by 1 kmpl than the Tata Safari. It is however more than the Mahindra Scorpio Getaway.

Verdict

Tata Motors are planning to launch niches and ones which other manufacturers would definitely follow through. They first launched the world’s cheapest car, the Tata Nano. Then came the quality revolution with the Tata Indica Vista and Manza. Later on the Tata Xenon XT was launched. Finally the Tata Aria also came into being. The Tata Aria heralded the start of the new quality materials from Tata Motors. The Tata Xenon XT in question now is one of few vehicles which wouldn’t sell well in the Indian market. The primary reason is no many think that a pickup truck is a good idea in India. It may sell well in the rural areas though. The farmers would have an alternative to their tractors for bringing in the farm produce. Urban people would appreciate the utility and flexibility offered by this vehicle. This is been promoted as an urban, upmarket lifestyle vehicle and this would mean much to those adventure seeking, moving away from the run of the mill work individuals. It has got the Tata Motors service backup and a fairly reliable DICOR engine under its hood. There are some gremlins though and those would be the still yet to be desired cabin quality, slightly more refined engine and the final thing, the sticker price. There are two trim levels been offered. The Tata Xenon LT retails at Rs. 8.57 lakh rupees for the base variant and Rs.9.14 lakhs for the 4 wheel drive variant Tata Xenon XT. A costly indulgence indeed but it may not matter for those high heeled people out there in India.

Technical Specifications of the Tata Xenon XT in India

Engine Displacement: 2179cc, DiCOR, DOHC with variable geometry turbo
Engine Type: Diesel
Maximum Power: 140 Bhp @ 4100 rpm
Maximum Torque: 320 Nm @ 1700 rpm
Length: 5135 mm
Width: 1862 mm
Height: 1765 mm
Suspension: Parabolic leaf Springs, Independent Double wishbone
Gears: 5 Manual
Brakes: Front ventilated Disc, Rear solid disc
Kerb Weight: 1900.00 kgs.
Steering: Hydraulically Power assisted with variable ratios
Tyre Size: 205/80 R- 16
Ground Clearance: 200.00 mm
Turning Circle: 6.00 meters
Cargo capacity: 1320 cc
Fuel Tank: 65.00 liters
Seating Capacity: 5

Tata Aria review


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Tata Motors have been on a roll since the acquisition of Jaguar Land Rover and also the launch of the Tata Nano. Though a small car, it has captured the world’s attention and also has projected Tata Motors and India into the world’s view. People who believed that India can only work in conjuction with MNCs need to bite the dust as the Tata Nano proved to the world that all it takes is some dedication and vision to make the things the way they are intended to. Not quite content with the success of the Tata Nano, Tata Motors have moved on to the other spectrum of the automobile industry. This one is an all unabashed pricey, spacious and premium crossover called the Tata Aria. First showcased as a concept car in the Geneva Motor Show in 2005, few thought that it would be a production car 5 years down the line and more since it was a premium car. Tata Motors in India are not known for cars having classy interiors, low NVH as well as good design cues. They are best known for delivering bang a buck in their cars and the tag line for the Indica “more car per car” is apt for all the cars from Tata Motors stable.

Looks

Now, Tata Motors cars look okay but not segment defying. They have been at best inoffensive. The new Tata Aria changes that all. It is a radical looking car or should I say SUV. It is one of the most eye catching designs from Tata Motors. It is what you would call a proper crossover. Penned from IDEA design house from Italy, the same one which penned the earlier version of the Indica as well as the new Indica Vista, it is a sure shot design. This car is huge meaning the Toyota Innova looks pint sized in front of it.

The head lamps are double barelled and it has a roofline swoop similar to the newly launched Mercedes R-class. Nowhere does it look boxy like the other MUVs in its class.The front grill is all highlighted in chrome and the paint job is also quite glossy. The Tata logo is fitted into the horizontal slats. The wind screen area is also big and has a Civic like kamikaze wipers. The air dams are wide and gaping. They are a single piece unit and house the fog lamps in them.

Viewed from the side, the first striking feature in the Tata Aria’s 2850 mm wheel base is its 17 inch tubeless alloy wheels. They fill the wheel arches well and give the MUV a good ground clearance of 205 mm. This vehicle is after all intended to be used for some off-roading as well and hence the ground clearance is on the higher side. Wonder of Wonders, there are no quarter glasses for this huge cabin and the swooping cabin meets the tail of the car. The door handles are body colored. Special mention must be made of the big outside rear view mirror. They have the turn indicator lights embedded onto them. The mirrors though seem a bit big for their own liking and its very likely that they would brush against the other cars or bikes in the city.

The rear throws a coupe like roof line and has those same vertically stacked tail lamps. Tata Motors could have done well to give it some other kind of look however the current arrangement looks classy as well. The rear windscreen is also huge like the rest of the car and has a lone washer and wiper doing duties. A step forward for Tata Motors is the twin tail pipe unit which are also chunky and first for a MUV in India. There is a chrome strip running along the length of the tailgate handle.

Interiors

A big change and a leap ahead for Tata Motors for what they done with the Tata Aria’s interiors. There are those perfect seats and even leather as an option. Not one thing looks out of place and the cabin has that ambient quality elements in it. It’s loaded to the gill with features like GPS navigation system, cooled glove box, rain sensing wipers, auto head lamps, climate control, Bluetooth pairing, 6 CD changer system with 8 speakers, reverse camera, parking aids and electrically controlled rear view mirrors. There is also no dearth of cubby holed around the dash. There are seven of them on the roof and there are also many bottle holders. There are twin glove boxes on the well sculpted dash. Everything has a soft and premium feel to it. Gosh! We never thought we would be saying this about a Tata vehicle and that too an Indian spec one.

The steering wheel is a new unit and has cruise control, Bluetooth pairing and the audio controls added to it. It feels chunky to hold however could do with some more weight. The steering is rake and reach adjustable. The seats are comfy and have pretty of travel. Even the second row of seats is quite comfortable for seating three upright. The third row of seats can be accessed by pulling a lever next to the second row. Seating at the third row though is not upto the mark and would only be fit for kids. There is plenty of boot space even with the 3rd row of seats in place and flopping over the second row shows a big storage space. All row passengers are pampered with pillar mounted aircon.

Handling and ride quality

Tata Motors passengers cars have been always appreciated for their ride quality and this stands good even for the Tata Aria. It has a pliant ride quality and those independent double wish bone suspensions in the front and 5-link suspension at the back do a great job of isolating one from the road irregularities. It is only jolted by some sharp irregularities at low speeds and rest everything is smothered by the huge tyres.

The handling is also well sorted out with Electronic Stability Program{ESP} which cannot be turned off. Aiding it is also the traction control and the 4 wheel drive system. The new Tata Aria doesn’t do anything funny and is quite sorted out. The lifeless steering is something which Tata has to improve in this MUV. It detracts from enthusiastic cornering. It is too light and this aids in parking speeds. Also Tata Aria feels quite composed even on high speeds and there is no road or wind noise inside the cabin. There is also Automatic Level ride control that keeps the suspension stable, irrespective of the vehicle load. To ensure that things don’t go out of control, Hill Descent control system and Limited Slip Differential are also present. Though it isn’t built for off-road travel, the Tata Aria can fairly well handle the rough with its wide array of off-roading equipment. It actually mates the convenience of an MUV with that of a SUV.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The Tata Aria uses the same 2.2 liter DICOR engine from the Tata Safari. This means that the Tata Aria gets the same power output of 140 Ps and 320 Nm of torque as the Safari. However due to use of dual flywheel, a cast aluminum stump and fitting of rubber mounts has enabled the Tata Aria to be a better performer. Those mounts ensure that the engine noise is down to minimum. The Aria is quite a performer with 0-100 kmph coming in at 14.3 seconds. This is commendable for a MUV weighing more than 2200 kg. The Tata Aria is also quite sprightly to drive and much in likeness to the Suzuki Swift. The gearbox is also a nice shifting unit with no extra nudge required to slot the gear into its gate. The floor pedals are also aluminium drilled however since the foot well is small, there is no place for a dead pedal.

Brake pedal modulation is also good and features a segment first, disc brakes on all 4 wheels. These are assisted by ESP, ABS and traction control. All these electronic nannies haul the MUV safely without any drama or fuss. Safety is taken care by another segment first, 6 airbags, Hydroformed body chassis, collapsible steering column, seat belt pre-tensioners and active head restraints.

Fuel economy so paramount to Indians is also well taken care of with the Tata Aria returning 9.8 kmpl in the city whereas these figures rise to 14.6 kmpl on the highway run. This makes it one of the better performing MUVs with decent fuel efficiency to boot for.

Verdict

The Tata Aria in India is a giant step for Tata Motors image.  They have been usually associated with low rent interiors, cheap cars. However with the Aria, Tata Motors have changed it all. It has the usual Tata strengths like a good packaging, extensive features list, fuel efficient engine, loads of space in the cabin and good road presence. However the one thing missing is the price quotient. The Tata Aria is offered in 4 variants namely Tata Aria Pride, Tata Aria Pleasure, Tata Aria Pleasure Leather  and Tata Aria Prestige. The price start from 12.4 lakhs {Ex-showroom, Delhi} for the base variant to 16.1 lakhs {Ex-showroom, Delhi} for the topmost one. The price is the fouling factor here as none of the MUVs are so costly in this segment. Moreover, Tata Motors are gunning squarely for segment leader, the Toyota Innova and pricing is in the Ford Endeavour’s territory. We would recommend that you settle for the base variant of the Tata Aria and you still have more equipment on hand than the Toyota Innova.

Tata Aria specifications

Displacement: 2179cc, DiCOR, 16 Valve, 4X4
Engine Type: Diesel
Maximum Power: 140 Bhp @ 4200 rpm
Maximum Torque: 320 Nm @ 1800 rpm
Length: 4790 mm
Width: 1885 mm
Height: 1770 mm
Tyre Size: 235/65 R17 tubeless alloys
Suspension: Independent Double Wishbone at front and 5 Link Suspension at the rear
Turning Circle: 5.80 mtrs.
Steering: Hydraulically assisted and tilt adjustable
Brakes: Front Ventilated disc, Rear solid Disc
Gears: 5 speed Manual
Ground Clearance: 205.00 mm
Fuel Tank capacity: 60.00 liters
Seating Capacity: 7

Tata Indica Vista Electric Car

Tata is one of the indigenous car manufacturers across the world. From the first home-grown car in the form of the Indica to the ultra-low cost car in the world- the Nano, they have come a long way. A few days back, Tata launched its much awaited cross-over the Tata Aria. Now Tata is looking out to be environmentally conscious. That the manufacturer already has an electric car in the form of the first generation Indica in faraway Norway is testimony of the fact how Tata wants to percolate its know how all across the world. Tata winning and subsequently annexing the Jaguar-Land Rover deal was an icing on the cake which helped them get access to world-class technology.

The Maini and now Mahindra Reva was always an electric only car with a limited range of about 50 Km. Any chances of increasing the range were met by stiff resistance in the form of no government concessions for reducing the price of the car and battery ineffectiveness. Tata thought of a novel way for this. The new Tata Indica Vista Electric car is an all electric car like the Nissan leaf. It uses a special Prem Magnet Motor which was made in Norway by TM4 and gives 55kw of power and the peak torque of 160 Nm. It is made up of super polymer lithium ion batteries and not of the lead acid types that the Reva uses. In addition to their been light in weight, the batteries have a greater storage capacity and life. They are maintenance free and highly capable.


Been an all electric car means zero emissions and also less of expenditure on petrol or diesel. Regenerative braking takes care of maintaining the battery level. Been an all electric car means zero emissions and also less of expenditure on petrol or diesel. Regenerative braking takes care of the battery charging however before embarking on a journey, you have to ensure that you charge the car for about 8 hours by a plug-in. When you start the car, you would be shocked by the absence of NVH and even when the car is in motion, you would barely notice it.

The car’s instrument panel is a vast change from the normal Indica Vista. The dials have been moved from the center position to the line of the driver now. Instead of a fuel gauge, you get a battery reserve pod. The interiors of the car are now two tone and externally there is not much except the electric badge and body colored alloys to distinguish it from the normal Indica Vista. The range mentioned for this car is an unrealistic 200 Kms on a single charge.

Tata Indica Vista Electric price might range from Rs 5-7 lakhs and launch it around May 2011. This would be a viable transportation option without having to worry about polluting the environment.

Tata Prima Preview

Tata motors have established a name for themselves in the automotive industry world-wide. They started out with been truck manufacturers{they still do} and been a desi company, thought of launching their first car. Their efforts bore fruit and the Indica was launched amidst much fanfare on 30 December 1998. There were many gripes with the earlier car which was subsequently ironed out in the V2 version launched in 2003. Tata motors have come a long way from that time and now have launched much modern cars like the Indica Vista, Indigo Manza and the new Tata Aria crossover. They also gave the world its own wonder car which sells for as less as Rs.1.30 lakhs and that is the Tata Nano.

Not content with all this laurels, the Indian car maker has been eyeing the luxury car segment. They displayed the Prima sedan first at the 2007 Geneva show. Since then Tata have been hounded with requests from the car buying public to put the Prima into production. Tata has now heeded to this requests by announcing that the Prima would be produced and marketed by mid of next year. Having acquired Jaguar and Land rover, Tata have used their know how and engine technologies in the Prima. The Prima would compete against the likes of Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and the Chevrolet Cruze.

It has been designed this time not by IDEA house{which designed the Indica} but by Pinnafarina. He, who of Ferrari fame, has given a coupe like silhouette to the sedan. It looks a bit like the Grande Punto from Fiat stables{when viewed front on}. The biggest attraction in the front is the LED lights and they have a blue hue about them. This would make it one of the most sought after car for all those night jaunts. It has a big honey comb grille and has a smiley of an air dam set up lower. The wheels are of those 15 inch types and the C-pillar{a Pinnafarina trademark} has been given a low roofline akin to a coupe. It integrates smoothly to the big but stylish boot. The boot is a masterpiece with LEDs staring out of it.

The interiors would also be high-tech with lots of gizmos to please the geek headed young executive who has been just promoted to the status of Jr.Manager. As with all Tata cars, interior packaging would be top notch and it can seat 5 in reasonable comfort. The choice of engines has been boiled down to a new 1.6 or 1.8 liter petrol or a 1.8 liter diesel. Both the engine types would incorporate Jaguar’s technical know how and would be very efficient in their class. The Tata Prima India has a wheel base of 2.72 metres. The Tata Prima launch in India would have Mcpherson strut with stabilizer at the front and Four link Coil spring as the rear suspension. Remove the Tata badge from the rear and stick on a BMW one and the car would very much be mistaken for a BMW. At this point, we can dare say that this is the best looking car from the Tata Motors stable so far.

Safety has also been taken care of with the base versions offering 4 airbags alongwith Rain-sensitive wipers, night sensing lights, Adaptive cruise control, reverse camera and energy crumple zones.

Braking is handled by advanced disc brakes all round with 4 channel ABS, Electronic Brake Distribution {EBD} and traction control {TCS}  as standard. Higher versions would get cornering lights, bejeweled effect fog lamps and reverse parking sensors.

The Prima gets a twin silencer effect and the silencers are similar to the one found on Jaguars. It has been embedded neatly into the rear bumper.  This lends it an overall sporty stance. The driving pleasure for this car would also be highly enhanced if Tata sources are to be believed.

Tata Prima price would be in Rs11- Rs.13 lakh. This would be one of the most expensive Tata cars to be on sale alongside the Tata Aria and expect a launch around October 2011.

Tata Prima price