Living with the Tata Zest Petrol

  • Feb 11, 2016
For the uninitiated, we have been carrying out our 'Living with a Car' series regularly over the past few months. The latest entry to our fleet was the Tata Zest Revotron XMS

[caption id="attachment_94171" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Tata Zest Exterior Tata Zest Exterior[/caption]

Other 'Live-In' Cars:
Maruti Suzuki Ciaz RS Diesel Hybrid (SHVS)

Day 1 – 16 (25th January to 10th February 2016)

Odometer reading: 3444 kilometres
Kilometres driven: 1368 kilometres

Post the odd-even trail run, Bunny asked the team that the Zest is available for a long term review. I, having recently sold my Zen was without a car. The choice was clear. A Tata Zest petrol version! Now, my last encounter with a Tata was a year ago when my brother-in-law moved abroad and handed me the keys to his Indica Turbo. Nice car overall, however, the one major complain I had with the hatchback was the niggles in the quality of plastics that were accompanied with squeaks while driving every now and then.

I was skeptical while taking the keys of the Zest, particularly from the refinement department, but let me tell you, Tata has really worked hard in taking out all the downsides involved with the brand image of the Indian car maker. For starters, the plastic quality and the feel of it is very premium and can be compared to a segment above. Everything is so well bolted and feels solid!

[caption id="attachment_94172" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Tata Zest Interior Tata Zest Interior[/caption]

Continuing about the interiors, I have no clue how Tata does it, but the space is immense. Of course, not for five adults over six feet but enough to accommodate five average sized passengers. Headroom at the rear might feel a little intimidating but is enough to accommodate tall passengers comfortably. Under thigh support is actually very good and again with my frame of six plus feet, driving the Zest was, even on 100 kilometres plus hauls was not at all tiring.

To accompany a comfortable drive, Tata has equipped the Zest with climate control in the top-end version which cools the cabin effortlessly. Although the compact sedan is not equipped with rear AC vents, there were no complaints from the rear passengers while driving. The best part! The climate control can be interacted with via the touchscreen infotainment unit and gives information on all the settings of air flow, temperature, etc. Another nice touch in the HVAC unit is an 'ECON' mode where the air conditioning runs in a way that it assists in improving fuel efficiency. Along with the touch controls, the Zest also features all buttons for the air-conditioning unit.

[caption id="attachment_94173" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Tata Zest Interiors Tata Zest Interiors[/caption]

Continue to talk about the infotainment system, you also get a class leading sound quality, thanks to the 8-speaker setup. I must commend on the packaging of the components as the sound does not feel it is being delivered only from the door speakers and what you get is a surround sound similar experience. A very big selling point of the compact sedan.

So, all you need to do is pair your phone with the 'ConnectNext' infotainment and you're done. In fact, pairing is very easy. I have been using Saavn Pro (An understated mobile app similar to Wynk Music) for quiet sometime now, particularly because of my habit of listening to latest numbers. The pairing in fact is so smooth that there is no lag while audio streaming.

[caption id="attachment_94177" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Tata Zest Flip Key Tata Zest Flip Key[/caption]

The exterior design is very neat with broad shoulder lines and big wheel arches accommodate the 14 inch wheels. I must commend that Tata has equipped it very well with projector beams and a dual headlamp on each side with fog lamps and DRLs. So, if someone unfair is coming from the opposite direction, you can give it right back to them. Another nice touch is the key, which besides the lock/unlock buttons, has a headlamp button. In case you are looking for your car in a crowded parking, press the centre button and the headlamps turn on making it easier to find the car.

Now, the crucial part for any Tata motor is the drivetrain. Particularly recalling my previous experience of the Indian car maker's drivetrains, I was not expecting it to be a refined one. But, Tata has put attention to detail in the engine and transmission department as well. The 90PS motor has a decent rev range, however, it takes sometime to get used to it as the petrol unit is a bit too responsive (not that we are complaining in any way). Mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, the gearshift is really precise and very light. There was no trouble while in stop-and-go traffic or while maintaining three digit speeds on the highway.

[caption id="attachment_94176" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Tata Zest Odometer Reading Tata Zest Odometer Reading[/caption]

Ride quality is very good for a car of its class. The Zest offers a very well planted ride with the suspension setup slightly on the stiffer side. Having said that, it is not too uncomfortable on undulated roads. The steering is slightly heavy but well weighted and offers great feedback.

All said and done, there is another very intuitive feature that puts the Tata Zest ahead of its rivals in the segment – selection of driving modes. For the uninitiated, three modes namely City, Eco and Sport are incorporated in the car to offer better responsiveness from the engine. When cranked, the compact sedan starts in 'City' mode which is best for everyday traffic conditions while driving in the city. Switch over to 'Sport' mode, the Zest becomes a completely different car. Throttle is more responsive and fuel delivery to match for better acceleration also increases. This makes getting to point B from A faster. Switch over to 'Eco' mode and throttle response reduces with fuel delivery decreases to improve economy.

[caption id="attachment_9473" align="aligncenter" width="900"]Tata Zest on the move Tata Zest on the move[/caption]

I always thought why Tata has been promoting the driving mode function with Eco being used on the highway while Sport mode for city use. So, after trying the Eco mode in the city and vice versa, I realised that the Eco mode is for the time when you're driving with a light foot at a constant speed for example on the highway (since I kept stalling the car when in stop-go traffic). The same way, Sport mode is best left to non-highway use as the fuel efficiency drops significantly. Trying both modes in the city as well as highway, Sport mode delivered a fuel efficiency figure of 8 kmpl, while in Eco mode, the Zest delivered 14 kmpl as per the DIS box. This is for a car that is practically brand new. Another really clever touch is when the car is idling. The engine stays around 600 rpm but when the clutch is depressed, turbo kicks in and the revs automatically increases to 900 rpm. This is useful while idling on a traffic light intersection.

The extensive drive brought me to the million dollar question. Should one buy the Zest? It is functional, practical, comfortable and powerful enough to take you from one corner of the city to the other, good highway mannerism and different driving modes. Albeit this is where some of my grouses start.

[caption id="attachment_94174" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Tata Zest Projector Headlamps Tata Zest Projector Headlamps[/caption]

Firstly, although there is enough space on the inside, there are no cubbyholes to store your knick-knacks. And there is only one cup-holder that too for the driver. Seems like the interior designer at Tata did not think it through for the Zest which is why Zica (or so the news is Tata may change the name) is equipped with a number of storage spaces.

Secondly, the boot space which is big for a compact sedan has a very high loading lip. The Zest easily accomodated three big suitcases in the boot but getting them in and out was a task.

Thirdly, there is a vast difference between driving modes. This would want you as the driver to adapt as quickly as possible if you are changing the driving mode while on the move. We suggest to drive it in City mode while encountering traffic, Sport if you are in a bit of a hurry and Eco on the highway.

So, overall, the car is a very refined unit, has an extremely light clutch, NVH levels are very well kept in check and is an effortless car to drive. Should one buy it? Minus the few basic things missing, I would surely say yes!

And just to make things a little more interesting, watch the comparison between Tata Zest, Ford Figo Aspire and Honda Amaze in the video below.


Tata Zest Videos

Watch latest video reviews of Tata Zest to know about its interiors, exteriors, performance, mileage and more.

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