Recently did test drive of the Tata Zest with Guhan and Stingray 91.
My review of the Tata Zest from a decently long enough Test drive:
First Impressions: The new dealership for Tata cars is built on Avinashi road here in Coimbatore. There was a Zest in Silver color parked in front of the showroom. Looks quite European and stylish in flesh. There were other Tata cars in there such as Vista and Nano. But it was the Zest which was the crowd puller. Inside the showroom was a Blue one, which was simply fabulous looking. The more I looked at it, the more I was eager to experience it.
Build and strength: I opened the door and closed it, to get a fel of the build. The closing "thud" sound was quite acceptable that shows it is built quite well, at par with Honda, Hyundai and Maruti standards. But the door and bonnet metal seems to be a bit thinner than Maruti Suzuki DZire and Honda Amaze. But given that the Vista recently scored 3 stars in the NCAP crash tests, I assume that the Zest will also be in the same league and will be safe enough.
Design: Like I said, the Zest is absolutely fabulous looking with very European looks. Especially in Bright shades like the Blue and Red. The roof is a bit tall and the boot is short and stubby. But still, the proportions are decent and uniquely eye-catching. It turned heads everywhere along the way. Tata has done a great job, given that how difficult it would be to integrate a seamless boot to a tall and big hatch body! Alloys look good too.
The projectors with LED ring surrounding it is absolutely fabulous!
There are L-shaped LED strips also around the fog lamps.
Interior design and features: The moment I sat down in the driver seat, it was hard for me to believe that I am sitting actually in a Tata car! The design is the best among rivals and the quality was much better than any other Tata and the Honda Amaze. But still the Hyundai xcent has best quality.
If you inspect closer, under the door handles and steering console, there are some minor fit and finish issues. It's not a big issue though.
The steering wheel of the Zest is very stylish and European. The Center console with the Piano black and Faux Aluminium plastics is simply awesome. The audio unit is a touchscreen through which the Automatic climate control, "Follow- me headlamps" timer and other essential bits can be controlled. A very useful and nicely working reverse sensor is also provided. There is a fantastic Bluetooth connection and Voice control system too!
Power Windows and Electrically adjustable Mirrors are standard on most of the variants. Alloy wheels are standard on all variants, albeit the design differs for lower variants.
The boot is fully opened automatically when you pull the boot-release lever as it is spring loaded (Very convenient). ACC can be controlled by the usual set of buttons and knobs below the the Touchscreen unit also. The AC was powerful enough to make me and my friends to shiver.
There is no Rear AC but I think there is no need of it, given that the front blowers are powerful enough. But there is no "seatbelt height adjuster", which will be annoying for tall people. I felt happy as there is no "Start-stop push button" on offer. I find it silly and a feature that makes us lazy to twist even a key! (Have humans become that lazy??) The key hole is LED lit to help in the dark.
Overall I was very convinced and happy about the interiors. Fantastic job Tata.
Practicality: The glovebox is H-U-G-E! The boot has 390 liters capacity, which makes it just 10 liters less than the Amaze and much bigger than the Dzire.
Problem is there is ONLY ONE cupholder in the car! This may be not good as long distance travelers always need at least 4 bottles of water. But there are seat covers with integrated bottle holders offered as genuine accessories by Tata. (Hilarious)!
Only the Manual XT Diesel variant was available for test drive.
the key was of good quality.
Refinement: As we start the engine, there is some very small vibrations. But as the engine idles, the vibrations and noise reduces to almost nil! Even as revs increase, there is no vibes. The noise is bare minimum. Absolutely no suspension or road noise either. It is only when the revs increase above 3000rpm, the noise becomes clearly audible. Tata has done a clearly fantastic job in terms of noise insulation and refinement.
Space and Comfort: Tata cars have always been spacious and comfortable for everyone. The Zest is no different as it is based on the most spacious hatchback in it's segment, the Vista. The all-new "Rugby shoulder seats" are very comfortable and offer fantastic support for long drives. So are the rear seats that are very comfortable and supportive. There is good space in the rear even if I am seated in the driver seat, given that I have longer legs.
There is no rear seat-armrest, which I feel is quite a pinch on long drives and also given that all it's rivals have it. Also I personally felt that the seats are a bit hard compared to the Dzire's seats.
Audio: Now since there are lot of people interested in the high-tech entertainment system and audio, here is what I got to experience.
The system has been designed by Harmann and it sounds AWESOME!! There is crystal clear sound quality and absolutely no noise! Best enjoyed with heavy Bass songs. The resolution and responsiveness of the display is also good. The audio quality is helped further by the impeccable refinement and insulation. This is the best Entertainment system I have ever experienced!
Performance: Since I already drive a Multijet powered car, the bottom-end power is what I have got used to. This is the same Quadrajet (Multijet of FIAT) which is being extensively used for various Maruti Suzuki, Tata, Chevrolet and FIAT cars. This is a bit more smoother to drive in the Zest though, thanks to the refinement.
I was surprised as I increased the revs. The responsiveness is a bit better than other Multijet powered cars. It puts out 88.8bhp and torque of 200Nm @ 1750-3000rpm The Zest can take speeds a bit lower than what speeds my car can take in a gear! Tata has tuned this engine for better responsiveness and low-end power and that is quite evident.
The acceleration is linear and there is very little of that "Turbo-kick" associated with other Multijet cars. This makes city driving easier. after 2000 rpm, the turbo comes into full power and there is a rapid progress in speed. (Typical Mulitijet) The responsiveness increases as it nears 1800rpm. Speeds of 80-140 can be effortlessly maintained all day long.
This engine is quite a very good one and fits all purposes. It's only when it comes to outright low-speed responsiveness, this engine doesn't have the peppiness of the Honda Amaze. Tata's Quadrajet 90 is best as an effortless cruiser.
Transmission: I expected the clutch and gearbox to be heavy as other Tata cars. But to my surprise, the Clutch was lighter than Maruti's clutch! The gearbox also was light enough, but a bit vague and not as good as that of Dzire or Amaze. Quick overtakes were quite easy with good responsiveness and light clutch.
But the clutch felt quite weird as it is slow to re-engage as we take our foot off it. The gearbox lever also had a weird tendency to move back and forth when we change a gear and accelerate again. Seems like that was just a prototype and hope the production (customer) cars get it rectified.
Ride quality and handling: Now this is where the Zest clearly thrashes it's every rival. The ride is absolutely stable and smooth on almost every surface. There is only a slight pitching on long undulating patches. The suspension and the 15 inch wheels absorb anything and everything really well! There is a considerable bit of roll when cornering because of the tall stance, but it is not unsettling or uncomfortable.
The steering is now electric-assisted and it is a bit lighter and easier than the Dzire's. There is good amount of feel and feedback also, in higher speeds. It can effortlessly negotiate city traffic and at the same time can cruise at speeds on highways. This ride-handling balance is very much similar to the Dzire and the best in this segment, according to me!
Safety: Inertia-reel equipped seatbelts, ABS
, Corner Stability System and Dual airbags are standard on the XT variant. There is also a lower XMS variant which focusses on safety and provides all the above safety features, but loses some of the entertainment and convenience features. Given that the Vista has scored 3 stars in NCAP crash test, the Zest is also expected to deliver similar safety.
Price: The Petrol variants of the Zest range from 5.5 to 7.03 lacs.
The Diesel variants range from 6.6 to 8.2 lacs.
(On-road prices Coimbatore)
The prices make the Zest the most affordable and best Value compact sedan, compared to its's rivals.
Verdict: The Zest provides the ride-handling and comfort of Dzire, the performance and space almost equal to the Amaze, the equipment list and value of the Xcent. Although there are some pinches like absence of armrest, rear AC and lazy low speed responsiveness, the Zest provides the ultimate package for a Compact sedan and according to me, is the best in it's segment. Period. Kudos to Tata and congrats too, for creating a fantastic car.
Now all depends on the service and dealership of Tata Motors in making this product successful.
Thank you for reading my review.