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Tata Zest Overview

We have all heard the classic hare and tortoise story. The bragging hare was taught a lesson by the steadily hard working tortoise. It might be a fictional episode but proved inspirational for Tata Motors.

They have decided to slash all the criticism against them with their next generation products. The Zest, a compact sub 4m sedan, will be the first of many cars to come in the near future. A radical new design, refurnished premium interiors and an all new petrol engine makes sure that it will take competition fiercely.

Utilizing their world class international design facilities and putting countless hours in precision calibration, Tata Motors will not just compete against its rivals but set a new benchmark in the segment. We were in Goa to test drive both petrol and diesel variants of Zest. Did we get Zestified by them? We reveal it in our first impression report.

Tata Zest Exteriors

This Tata car doesn’t look like a Tata car. It might sound confusing but holds strongly for the Zest. With its modern contemporary design language, it looks way different from their portfolio models and it is for the first time a Tata car looks in sync with modern trends in automobile.

Ditching aggression and angry looks, the Zest gets a human touch on its face. It has a humanity line which consists of the smiling radiator grille. The overall shape as many would expect is based on the Indigo but it is the finer details which differentiates the Zest from its siblings.Is if the first car in its segment to offer projector headlights and day time running lamps which can’t be switched off. It is encouraging to see Tata Motors paying attention to features which add to the overall safety of the vehicle. To make sure everyone notices the new engine, the hood has subtle power bulges displaying strength.

Front bumpers are completely new and have a reverse trapezoidal air dam. The petrol variants had the DRLs mounted along with the fog lamp while in the diesel; it just gets a mild chrome strip and no DRLs. Even the detailing on the fog lamp housing in the petrol variant is more than that of the diesel.

Petrol and diesel also have different alloy wheel design. It gets clear 8 spoke 15 inch sporty alloys in the petrol while the diesel gets multi spoke type alloys which look more elegant than sporty. It has a length of 3995mm and a width of 1706mm. They claim the Zest to have the best in class width and wheelbase of 2470mm and it is true when compared with Honda Amaze which has a width of 1680mm and a wheelbase of 2405mm while the Maruti Suzuki Swift DZire has a width of 1695mm and a wheelbase of 2430mm also the height of Zest is greater than the other two meaning better headroom.

A strong shoulder line followed by sculpted wheel arches make the side profile of the Zest look and feel attractive. External mirrors affixed with turn indicators are body coloured. They can be adjusted electrically. Visually the ground clearance looks higher. Height of the Zest has gone up but the slender Diamond DLO design of the side window panel make the roofline travel lower than others.

It gets a sling shot line on the rear profile which flows around the body giving it an in motion look even in standstill position. Wrap around tail lamps with LEDS are modern highlights given to the Zest along with a smart lip spoiler integrated with the rear boot lid. Continuing the theme, the rear bumper gets inverse trapezoidal design with plastic cladding..

Tata Zest Interiors

Tata has ditched the central instrument cluster in favour of one in the right place – in front of the driver. It is, again, inspired from the Manza’s interiors and this is no bad thing. The steering wheel is a new one, which is smaller, and had controls mounted on it for the audio system, phone and voice commands. It even has a couple of toggle-style buttons that aren’t present on any car cheaper than a Nissan Sunny at the moment. The instrument cluster is a much better design with white backlighting, which ignores the current fashion, blue backlighting. It is a clearer cluster, and opts for a twin pod design with the tachometer on the left, speedo on the right and multi-function display in the centre. There is a bar-style instantaneous consumption indicator at the bottom much like the Hondas have. The information displayed is comprehensive, and includes a gearshift indicator that tells you which gear you should be in for maximum efficiency. In the automatic, it shows which mode is selected, including sport mode. As in the Manza, the redline isn’t marked on either cluster, but the tacho needle turns red when it is reached, which is a nice touch.

The asymmetric design of the central vents seem to be a conscious decision to ignore cost in the favour of feel-good factor. They have a thin chrome strip running around them as well, and the hazard lamp switch is placed in between them. Below the vents sits the new Harman-designed audio head unit. It is a comprehensive system, which will support all audio input, even SD cards, which is rare. The diesel had a screen that was slightly smaller, while the petrol had the full-fat large touchscreen that also displayed the climate control settings whenever they were adjusted. Surprisingly, once those settings are on the screen, you can use the touchscreen itself to adjust them – again, something that isn’t available even in a segment above. There was no obvious way to access this screen using only the head unit, but we’ll try it out when we have the car back for a full review. The quality of the audio itself is really very good, especially in the touch screen version. The mirrors are electrically adjustable, and the windows all have power adjustment with the switches in the traditional places. Again, our petrol Zest had one-touch down for the driver’s window while the diesel didn’t.

The AC controls are traditional rotary knobs, and the recirculation toggle is now an electronic switch. There is a similar layout for the climate control controls. Below these controls lie another row of buttons which house the controls for the parking sensors, front and rear fog lamps, and in the case of the Revotron, the different modes of operation for the engine.

On the horizontal section, there is a single cup holder on the driver’s side with the left one blanked out in favour of a 12V charging socket. There is a cubbyhole between the gear lever and the handbrake mount, but nothing behind it.

The seats are large and comfortable, as Tata seats have always been. The Zest is also the widest car in its class, so three abreast at the back isn’t an impossible proposition. The petrol has height adjustment for the driver’s seat. The pedals are not offset any more – something that traditional Tata owners always had a problem with. The boot is big enough to swallow a weekend hoilday’s worth of luggage, which is great. NVH is one area where the Zest is a paradigm shift – Tata has put in a lot of work (not to mention sound deadening) and the Zest has emerged as good as, if not better than, the average in the segment.

Tata has also installed two airbags and ABS, EBD and what they call Corner Stability Control for safety. Tata also claims that the Zest can be installed with dual-stage airbags if necessary, and meets the upcoming Indian frontal offset crash requirements already.

Tata has paid attention to small things like the chrome bezel for the central AC vents, the follow-me-home headlamps whose on-time you can program and the way the gear shift levers look, which makes the Zest’s interiors feel a lot more upmarket than a standard Tata. However, there are a few negative points, like the fit and finish of some bits like the edges not matching between swooping panel that starts out above the centre console and ends on the right side of the instrument cluster.

There is no way to adjust the amount of air flowing through the AC vents; you can only adjust the direction of the air. The door handles have been left matt black and therefore look downmarket. Finally, there is no place to keep a 1-litre bottle anywhere in the Zest. The front door pockets and cupholder can hold 500ml bottles at best. When cars at similar prices are talking about more than five cupholders including bottle holders that can hold bottles bigger than a traditional one-litre bottle, this is a major oversight. The quality of some bits still needs improvement, like the roof liner around the dome light switch that gives the impression that it will crack if you press it too hard. The fog lamp buttons should be higher – to operate them the driver has to take his eyes off the road completely, and a safe assumption to make would be that they will be turned on in low-visibility conditions, so you don’t want the driver to take his eyes off the road at all. There is also no dead pedal for either variant. In the case of the manuals, there simply isn’t any space in the driver footwell, but for the automatic variants, there needs to be a dead pedal for the driver’s foot.

The AMT lever is an electronic switch, and Tata hasn’t put a physical restriction on its movement, either. This can get very confusing for the first few minutes – put the lever in ‘D’ without putting your foot on the brake pedal, and the lever will move to that position but the indicator remains ‘N’ on the instrument cluster. This is something that needs to change; at the very least, there has to be a notification to put it in neutral and the foot on the brake before the car has to be started.

Tata Zest Transmission

This is one area where Tata Motors claimed to have cracked revolutionary changes with its first in class 1.2 litre Turbocharged MPFi petrol engine. So what’s so special one would ask? To begin, the 1.2 litre petrol power plant features shift-on-fly technology which basically aims to provide three different driving modes comprising of Economy, City and Sport. In detail, the petrol variant comes loaded with an 1193cc engine on board that puts out a maximum power output of 89 bhp with 140 Nm of torque.

All of this basically translates to an impressive engine performance which is said to be extracted out of a modern water cooled turbocharger that aims to provide faster, flatter response along with better torque spread. Having said this, there is a bit of turbo lag especially lower down the revs, the presence of a 5 speed synchromesh gearbox catering to smooth shift indicates that the Zest is perfectly packaged and meant for Indian conditions. Its ride quality, we must say is at par with rest of the competition within its segment as going over potholes and broken roads isn’t really an issue. Throw it at corners and curves, the Zest will do its best in providing decent handling as per its ability. Having mentioned all three driving modes earlier, its Sport mode really tinkles the maximum power from the engine making it rev all the way to 5,500rpm where in the needle automatically changes its colour to red indicating ‘redline’. Just to highlight the petrol model runs on ‘City’ which is its default mode.

This is just not it, for the increasingly competitive and growing diesel compact car segment Tata Motors have come out with an automatic diesel option which is again a first for this category. Interested in knowing more, christened as F-Tronic AMT, Zest diesel caters to a 4 cylinder; turbo intercooled 1248cc diesel engine that gives out a maximum power output of 89 bhp with 200 Nm of torque. Featuring a 5 speed F-Tronic AMT with Shift Assist Manual, the manufacturer has tried to address driving comfort for an end consumer considering that automatics are a boon nowadays keeping our traffic conditions in mind. The diesel provides two modes for driving; normal and sport. In normal mode the sedan remains subdued and goes about taking its occupants swiftly to places while the sports is more torque heavy relating to better power for those swift getaways.

However while overtaking within the city or the highway one does require to change to manual to get the extra bit out of this diesel power plant in order to be able to make an effective pass. Considering that this is a diesel, low NVH levels leads to better in cabin experience. Ride and handling is similar to its petrol sibling. For more info on  Tsts Zest check Cmap

Tata Zest Driving

Just like the engines, Tata has tried to keep all the good things that Tatas are known for – namely, great ride – and tried to get rid of the bad things like the look of the cars rolling along on castors, the vibration in the steering at high speed and ordinary feedback from the controls. The steering is now an electrically assisted unit, and Tata has taken care that it returns to the straight-ahead when the driver isn’t turning it. It works well, this system, and the steering assist at low speeds is very well tuned. It is accurate at speed, but doesn’t weigh up very much as speeds increase, but we’ll put off a final opinion about this until we get a chance to slingshot the Zest along our favourite set of corners. However, Tata’s claim about it not having vibration stands true: it is as refined as the petrol engine now.

The brakes also are very confidence inspiring. Bite and progression are good, and outright power is good enough to let you brake late with full confidence. ABS, EBD and Corner Stability Control (what I gather to be an advanced form of EBD) are present on the top-spec variants.

The suspension is the traditional layout of McPherson struts in the front, and twist-beam rear. However, to keep the plush Tata ride intact with the larger wheels, Tata has included a second rubber mount for the front suspension that helps the secondary ride. The traditional mounts are also different to work around this, so if you’re thinking of swapping your Zest front suspension for something else, it won’t be possible. However, this is a very interesting solution for the problem at hand – secondary ride, in case you didn’t know, is the shock absorption done by things other than the actual spring and damper. Usually it is the tyres and the suspension mounts (made of hard rubber) that do this job, which is generally at low speed, and the primary ride is taken care of by the spring and damper at speed, because that is when the tyre starts moving vertically over bumps. Goa’s roads are smooth and flowing, so we didn’t get to verify this fully on our short drive, but I can safely say that both in high- and low-speed ride, the Zest is a traditional Tata. As far as handling is concerned, it is a whole new Tata – it takes the fast with the slow equally well, giving an unexpected level of feedback and therefore driver involvement. Of course, the Zest isn’t at the top of the class in the driver involvement section, but that was never the expectation. Is it much improved compared to before? Definitely.

Tata Zest Safety

Tata Zest comes equipped with Disc brake as front brake while Drum brake does the duties as the rear brake. This primary braking system responds instantly and to ensure much better braking, the company has also introduced the most advanced, the 9th generation Antilock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) as secondary braking system. Tata has also blessed the Zest with Speed dependent auto door lock system and Front and rear fog lamps. But unfortunately, the XE variants in both the guises miss out on these features.

The company in a bid to avoid any mishap and make sure of maximum safety of the occupants, has also incorporated segment-first, the Corner Stability Control feature in the Tata Zest with mid and top trims. There are also dual front airbags and front seat belts with pre-tensioner & load limiter in the top-end trim. However, for the security of the vehicle; the company has come up with Immobiliser with every variant. But, the top-end trim XT also has a Perimetric alarm system that makes loud sound if any attempt of burglary or thievery is made.

Tata Zest Price in Bangalore

Tata Zest On Road Price is 6,72,981/- and Ex-showroom Price is 5,52,910/- in Bangalore. Tata Zest comes in 6 colours, namely Venetian Red,Platinum Silver,Sky Grey,Pristine White,Dune Beige,Buzz Blue. Tata Zest comes with FWD with 1193 CC Displacement and 4 Cylinders with Maximum Power 89 bhp@5000 rpm and Peak Torque 140 Nm@1500-4000 rpm DRIVE TRAIN FWD and reaches 100 KMPH at N/A . Tata Zest comes with Manual Transmission with FWD .Check for Zest price in Bangalore at Tryaldrive.

Tata Zest Final Thought

It is great to see Tata Motors injecting passion and enthusiasm in their next generation cars. It might sound very cliché but then the Zest will indeed take the compact car scene with storm. It gets ultra modern design with amazing detailing. Even the interiors which were never a Tata domain will now make the audience sit up and notice.

The Zest also comes with so many first in class features which include projector headlights, Day time running lights, LED tail lamps, touch screen infotainment system, premium interiors, different drive modes, automated manual transmission etc. Even the driving dynamics does not feel like a conventional Tata car. It gets a ninth generation ABS system with cornering stability for precise handling.

It might appear as a derivative of Indigo but surprisingly it’s not. The Zest was built to appeal the enthusiasts as well as the conventional generation. Answering our queries on reliability, the engineers assured the painstaking efforts taken to ensure the Zest ticks on all the right boxes. Before showcasing at the Auto Expo, the test mules had clocked an amazing distance to get the noise levels down and insulate the cabin from any redundant external noise.

Tata Motors have also worked on improving the after sales experience by providing the sales team with modern gadgets to serve the customers in a better way. Customers can even track the exact progress of their car in the service station with the help of different applications. With this we conclude that the Zest is the correct answer from Tata Motors to competition.

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