I’ll be honest, I was sceptical of the new products that were coming out of Tata’s stables in the recent past. The Bolt and Zest were new but not completely, and they were packaged well, yet there was a hint of the old Tata Motors in them. With the Tiago, Tata was caught with a big marketing challenge. Its earlier name was Zica and no car could carry that name after a virus. But the Tiago impressed me. There was an air of freshness in it that was blowing straight from the design studios of Tata Motors. That air was blown into the Aria too, and the outcome is the Hexa, a car that will make an impact at first glance, irrespective of the badge it carries.
The Hexa was dropped to my parking lot at night and the first bit I liked was the LED taillamp. It looked expensive enough to make me go – wow that is fancy for a Tata! The next thing I noticed were the floor mats, thick and soft with a plushness that only comes with a need to impress. I sat in the driver’s seat and held the steering and the leather wrapped wheel reminded me of BMWs (no exaggeration here). The quality of the leather and its softness was just right for a firm grip. The infotainment system was intuitive and easy to use, the Hexa even has mood lighting with more colour options than a BMW X5 does. There are soft touch materials everywhere your hands reach and turn up the volume and the quality of the Harman music system will turn you into an audiophile.
Once I cranked up the SUV’s engine, NVH levels were low enough to be a marked improvement over the Safari – which has the same 2.2-litre diesel mill, and at cruising speeds it stays that way. The car that came to us had already clocked 10,000km on the odo. It didn’t rattle and everything seemed bolted tight. This was the 4WD variant, and going by the thrashing it has received from over-enthusiastic automotive journalists, it should be showing its age by now. So quality is a major step up.
The next morning we drove the Hexa out of town. Ride quality has been a Tata USP among its recent cars and with the Hexa, it’s no different. In fact, it is better than I expected, and the weight is masked well too. I remember Sirish mention this in his review. He also said that the Hexa automatic is the one to buy and I can’t wait to drive it after taking the manual for a spin.
And that is why it deserves more attention. It doesn’t feel like an MPV, and the SUV styling isn’t just for show. It has a 4WD system for some soft-roading if you feel adventurous and an automatic that’s good for a mix of city and highway driving. More than that, for all that you get in one package, it is a whole lot cheaper than a Innova Crysta. You miss out on a few features but Rs 3.7 lakh between the two is a lot of money. If 7,000 Innovas are sold every month, that’s 7,000 people who have overlooked a Hexa, probably because it wears a Tata badge. After driving the Hexa, I think it deserves at least a visit to the Tata dealership, if not a purchase.