As you might be aware from my previous post, I was in Hyderabad last weekend to experience the Tata Hexa. The brand new SUV from Tata Motors that goes with the tagline ‘Power-packed, Feature-loaded, Adrenaline-pumped’, is definitely a vehicle that is going to set new standards for the competition in the growing mid-range SUV segment. This post details my driving experience of the Tata Hexa over 45 kms of roads early one Sunday morning.
Our 170 km drive was to begin from the Novotel Hotel, Hyderabad Airport. The route to be taken began on the airport road that connects with the Hyderabad-Bangalore 8-lane highway for about 11 kms, followed by a brief stretch of 4-lane divided road and finally a 40 km stretch of undivided 2-lane road.
When we were briefed about this the previous evening, I had decided I would take up the initial bit- the safe zone of the highway, considering how narrow roads make me nervous. It didn’t take me long to convince my team mates Arvind Sir and Sam.
Early Sunday morning, the flag off happened and the drive began. Getting used to the automatic setting didn't take me more than a minute, although it was the first time that I was driving an automatic gear-shift car. Getting used to the bulk of the car did take me some time, although the bulkiness of the car wasn’t felt. I didn't just drive through the airport road and the highway but also a few kilometres in the 2-lane undivided road. And this was with absolute ease in the various drive modes. For the first time in all these years probably I had enjoyed driving a car so much and didn’t want to give the driving seat to others! Hahaha!
Sports and Auto-sensing Race Car Performance modes
The automatic version of the Hexa boasts of a 'sports' mode- effectively it is similar to the 'nitro booster’ from Road Rash- and I was prompted to use it as much as possible. So while Arvind Sir and Sam on the backseats were having serious afterthoughts about having let me drive (probably due to my dangerous turns), I was having an absolutely 'I am the king' feeling with the race car mode on.
Atul, the representative from Tata Motors accompanying and guiding us, kept assuring that there was nothing to worry with the sharp turns and sudden breaks- the car is built to withstand it all and we should try it out. He prompted me to touch 170 kmph on the highway. Considering it was early morning, the road was almost empty and I did manage to clock 165 kmph in the race car mode.
The auto-sensing race car mode can be activated when you are already at a high speed and want to accelerate further. Just leave the accelerator completely and immediately re-press it. The race car mode automatically gets activated (and you can actually feel the boost in power).
As we took the exit from the highway, the speedometer was still around 100 and at the end of the turn I spotted a queue of vehicles at the toll. I applied the brakes and the car very smoothly came to a halt- no jerks, no tension. I was impressed!
We intentionally didn't avoid the potholes, but the effect was hardly noticed inside the vehicle (Even in the backseat).
Further down the road, we tested the sports mode even more while overtaking. Overtakes that would be absolutely impossible or too risky to undertake otherwise, the Hexa's sports mode did with absolute ease.
Features worth mentioning
Taking the middle seat, the coolest feature in sight was the exclusive sun blinds on the rear windows. No more playing around with suctions to avoid those harsh sunrays. The air-conditioning vents seemed abundant even in the middle and back seats, along with USB charging points.
In the manual variant, we tried the various Super Drive Modes the Hexa boasts of- Auto, Comfort, Dynamic and Rough Road. The difference was definitely felt.
Ambient mood lighting in the car was another impressive feature. As per your preferred drive mode, the lights can change colour, or as per your mood you can set a colour.
'Can they change colours as per the beats of the music played?' I asked half-expectantly.
‘No. It would make it a psychedelic car!’ came the amused reply.
The music system is perhaps one of the best I have ever seen. With 10 JBL branded speaker system that you can pan around as per your need from front to back, driver to passenger- this is absolutely brilliant.
The noise and vibration cancellation is amazing inside the car and the interiors are definitely highly spacious.
The cruise mode
A brilliant feature of the Hexa while you are perhaps lazy to control the car for too long on a smooth stretch is the cruise control mode. You can set the cruise speed by the tap of a button on the steering wheel at your current speed and leave the accelerator and brake and relax. The car will continue cruising at the same speed until you press the accelerator or brake. More importantly, if you want to increase or decrease the cruise speed, you can do it by toggling the switch that changes the speed by 2 kmph per toggle.
The off-road experience
Once done with the drive, we were taken for the off-road experience of the Hexa. Although the track was artificially created, the task in hand wasn't easy. Only a Tata representative did the driving in this part. The car was taken through deep ditches (where one wheel was suspended in the air but the car didn't feel nervous and easily moved on), on steep side inclines, 60 degree uphill climb (activating the Hill Hold Control), steep downhill blind turns (with Hill Descent Control), on an ice sheet (seamless movement of the wheels) and more. The car easily brakes in about 20 yards even in superbly rough roads without flipping over.
The Hill Hold Control (HHC) and Hill Descent Control (HDC) are probably life saviours for all of us who get stuck on inclines and the engine oozes off. The HHC automatically activates so as to prevent the car from sliding backwards while on an incline, while one has to switch on the HDC.
During our drive of the car earlier in the day, I did get a chance to drive it through a puddle of water through rocks on a patch of grassland. This moment gave me complete freedom to experiment with the off-roading capability of the car. The Hexa didn’t disappoint us. It would be an understatement to say that the power packed abilities of the car to turn, accelerate and brake, actually impressed us although after a highly adrenaline rushed adventure moment for Sam and me- the former videographing the latter who was driving.
Who should buy?
The Hexa is definitely a car for long drives on-road and for off-roading. Adventure seekers would love this one. You would feel you are torturing the car if you take it on your drive to work in the city traffic, although the car would perform amazingly. It is a ‘lifestyle vehicle’ that doesn’t just look aspirational and stylish, its 19-inch alloy wheels make you feel like the king on the road.
And for people like me, who get nervous holding the gear-shift in hand, the automatic variant of the Hexa is absolute brilliance. No wonder, my reaction after getting out of the driver seat was 'I just had the smoothest and most amazing drive experience of my life'.
The 170 km drive done. Both automatic and manual models tested. Let's just say I have found a new love for auto SUVs! #HexaExperience pic.twitter.com/jFrX9L3WXu— Antarik Anwesan (@antarik) October 23, 2016
Tata Motors and Indiblogger invited me to Hyderabad to experience driving the Hexa as part of a bloggers drive. All views and opinions in the post are completely personal. I am not an automobile expert and everything in this post is based on my driving of the car.