Tata Nexon EV Max: Yet another reason to go electric

Author: Yuvi June 14, 2022


A perfect marriage between style and efficiency, even colors on the display board change based on the driving mode

A perfect marriage between style and efficiency, even colors on the display board change based on the driving mode

Review

The Tata Nexon EV has been a blockbuster, and for all the right reasons — cleverly packaged in terms of size and space, it sensibly balances affordability and premium features as well as battery size and overall performance.

Contrary to the notion that its use will be limited within city confines, owners are using their Nexon EVs to the fullest for both intra-city and inter-city commutes, courtesy its lower running cost (compared to internal combustion engine vehicles). It is no surprise then that this all-electric SUV is one of the bestselling EVs in the country and it plays a key role in accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles in India at a mass-market level.

Tata has now gone a step further and launched the Nexon EV Max, which gets a larger battery, is packed with more safety and premium features, and promises a better range. All these come at a premium of ₹ 1.54 lakh over the standard version, which continues to be sold alongside.

It takes a keen eye to distinguish this long-range version from the standard car. Prominent visual differentiators are the EV Max’s new 16-inch diamond-cut alloys and the new Intensi-Teal paint shade, which is one of the three exclusive options, the other two being Daytona Gray and Pristine White; all of which come with a two-tone roof as standard. There isn’t a specific ‘Max’ badging or livery, and just like the standard version, it continues to feature blue highlights all across.

The Max version’s light-colored cabin with blue highlights remains almost similar to the standard car; the key word being ‘almost’. On closer inspection, one can spot a tri-arrow pattern on the black dashboard applique, which tastefully fades into a lovely dark shade of blue towards the sides. The drive selector rotary knob feels premium with a knurled texture, and it also operates with a satisfying click. Even though its touch and feel have been enhanced, the selector is still slow in operation, and this can get particularly annoying while making quick three-point turns or while parking in a tight spot.

Thankfully, this time around, it embeds a nice and clear display, which indicates whether you have selected P, R, N or D, and it even changes color based on the driving mode you have selected — red for Sport, blue for City and green for Eco, with the last mode being a new addition. An electronic parking brake switch replaces the handbrake; There is an auto hold function, as well as switches to adjust the regeneration levels. Cupholders have been replaced by a wireless charging pad, and an air purifier is now integrated into the infotainment system.

What takes comfort up several notches on the inside is the new seat ventilation function — it is a welcome addition in a tropical climate like ours and is pretty effective too. In the fastest fan speed setting, however, the seat blowers can get a tad too loud. Now, with the larger battery, the cabin floor has been raised by about 10mm and, as a result, rear passengers are seated in a knees-up position, which is not the case with the standard Nexon EV. This seating position leaves taller occupants with no thigh support, and is not very comfortable. What is nice is that there is abundant knee and head room with ample space for three.

The talking point of the Nexon EV Max is the all-new 40.5kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which is 33% larger than that of the standard Nexon EV. In its sportiest setting, the Nexon EV Max’s motor produces 143hp and 250Nm, a gain of 14hp and 5Nm over the standard version. Despite being more powerful, it has also gained 100kg of weight, and this results in the Sport mode’s performance feeling quite similar to the standard version. It is certainly the most entertaining mode on offer, but it also drains the battery’s charge quicker. Its sprinting abilities remain identical to the standard car, with a 0-100kph time of 9.4sec. However, it now hits a top speed of 137kph, which is 17kph ​​higher than the standard EV’s 120kph.

While the standard Nexon EV has just two modes — City and Sport — the Max adds in a third one, Eco mode. What is interesting is that Tata has limited both, City and Eco modes to approximately 97hp and 170Nm of torque. The difference between these two modes is their throttle responses, with Eco being a tad duller than City. Owing to the EV’s instant torque delivery, the two modes feel more than adequate for the daily urban grind and to keep up with fast moving vehicles on highways.

There are four levels of regenerative braking to choose from, including a level zero or regeneration off, which allows users to lift off the accelerator and let the car coast without any sudden deceleration or loss in momentum. For buyers switching over from ICE vehicles, level one will feel the most natural, as deceleration is gradual when you lift your leg off the throttle. Level two feels stronger and level three is the strongest, the latter feeling as though the brakes have been applied gently. It even comes to a crawl of 6-7kph using regen only, but does not allow for complete one-pedal driving, as it does not bring the car down to a complete halt without depressing the brake. These regeneration levels work independent of the drive modes.

The springs and dampers have been reworked to manage the extra 100kg weight. Even though its ride is a bit on the stiffer side, it continues to flatten imperfections and potholes well. Although, side-to-side or rocking movements on broken roads feel more prominent now. While the steering is a tad heavier, the turn-in remains sharp. Couple that with tight body control and a low center of gravity, and it makes for a fun handler. You can now tackle corners with a greater degree of confidence, especially because the newly added ESP regulates wheel spin and helps the driver maintain a much cleaner line around long, fast corners. The hill-hold and auto hold functions work well too. When at a standstill and in Drive, they prevent the car from rolling forward or backward once you have lifted your foot off the accelerator.

In addition to all-wheel disc brakes, the Max also features an iVBAC or intelligent Vacuum-less Boost and Active Control device, which electronically controls the brake pressure, thereby ditching the standard brake booster set-up. In the real world, that translates into a very consistent brake pedal feel, and zero pedal vibrations under hard braking even when the ABS kicks in.

Coming to the range, we managed a rather respectable 263km of overall range, which is 55km higher than the standard Nexon EV’s average range, but is only 60% of Tata’s advertised figure of 437km.

The efficiency we achieved is 6.6kWh per km in the city and 6.4kWh per km on the highway, translating to a range of 266km and 259km, respectively. The test was conducted in Eco mode, with regenerative braking set to level two, and climate control at 22degC in full-automatic mode.

As standard, the car is available with a 3.3kWh AC charger that will take the battery from 0-100% in 15 to 16 hours. This time around, customers get the option to purchase a 7.2kWh wall-mounted AC charger, at a premium of ₹ 50,000, which charges the battery from 0-100% in 6.5 hours.

For a price premium of 9 to 9.5% over a 30.2kWh Nexon EV, the Max packs in a 33% larger battery, which offers 26% better real-world range, and ups the safety game with crucial kit such as ESP, hill- start assist, rear disc brakes, etc. In addition, the XZ+ Lux variant also features upmarket kit such as ventilated seats and an auto dimming mirror, which are not available with the lesser battery version of the Nexon. All these neither come at the cost of performance, nor at that of ride comfort.

So, what is not to like then? Tata’s advertised range of 437km seems far too optimistic in real-world driving conditions; the larger battery pack creeps into cabin space and results in a knees-up seating for rear passengers (which is not the case with the 30.2kWh version); the drive selector is slow to respond; and despite being so well equipped it misses side and curtain airbags. Are these deal-breakers? Not at all! In short, this range extender (pun intended) simply builds onto the existing strengths of the Nexon EV’s winning formula and broadens its appeal further by giving buyers yet another compelling reason to go electric.

14 June, 2022, 5:54 am

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Tuesday, 14th June 2022

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