Second Innings With Tata’s Finest - Hexa XTA in Tungsten Silver


Thread Starter #1
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Background

Since the Pajero Sport was sold in 2017, we primarily had only one SUV (Endeavour) which hampered family travel. With growing kids, the urge to buy an additional family vehicle only increased.

As it had to be a family vehicle, comfort was of paramount importance closely followed by space on offer. An automatic transmission was must have due to the comfort in driveability it offers. Following vehicles were considered:

A. Mahindra XUV5OO: On paper, it was a sure shot winner and we practically went for the showroom with a mind to buy it after test drive. Key reason for this mindset was the availability of AWD with Automatic transmission. But it changed dramatically after the test drive – the ride was never settled and the vibrations accompanied with drone sound from the powertrain around 80 Kmph were a real dampener. Add to that the usual Mahindra perks of a squeaky cabin in a new vehicle. It was clear that only something else will do.

B. Tata Hexa: Having lived the service horror of Aria, considering the Hexa even on paper was a challenge. But surprisingly I registered for a test drive of the Hexa on the website immediately after returning from the XUV5OO test drive as that was the first name to pop-up in mind. The test drive was tough to get as the local dealer brought the Manual transmission XT and closed the lead with Tata Motors with the remark of having offered a test drive. It was hard to explain to Tata Motors customer care again that the test drive of automatic is desired while dealer had offered the same on a manual transmission vehicle. Once the customer care people understood, they arranged a test drive from a nearby dealer for the XTA. In the first drive of the Manual XT it was clear that just like the Aria, the ride comfort was at a different level altogether.

C. Toyota Innova Crysta: With-in 5 minutes of sampling the Hexa XT Manual, called-up my cousin and took his Innova Crysta GX Automatic for a very short spin. In that hardly a km long drive, it was clear that the Innova Crysta can only be bought for the Toyota brand value leading to higher resale. As a product, it did not have merits to beat the comfortable ride and opulence of the cabin of the Hexa. With Rs. 50K separating GX and XTA and the exorbitant pricing of the ZX, the Innova Crysta was out of contention by the time it was returned from the short spin.

Briefly considered the Hyundai Creta, Jeep Compass and even the Isuzu MUX but the Creta was simply overpriced, Compass lacked the space and Diesel-automatic option while the MUX was almost in the Endeavour 2.2 territory.

Zeroing on the Hexa was a tough task after the horrific ownership and resale experience of the Aria. A quick chat and call with friends from the forum regarding Hexa was enough to conclude the search. While I personally was never inclined towards the captain seats variant, it was this call which incepted this idea of going for the captain seat variant. Surprisingly, this was the configuration everyone at home had in mind with colour choice being Tungsten Silver.

The Dealership experiences were quite varied. The local dealer was adamant on dictating his terms on the most important factor of how old vehicle would be provided upon booking – they couldn’t even provide in writing that a vehicle manufactured with-in 3 months would be provided. Their best offer was a 2018 manufactured vehicle and upon explicitly asking if they got a 01 Jan 2018 manufactured vehicle from the plant, the response was I will have to buy it. While they had the second best offer, this approach was a real dampener. More surprising was the push from Tata Motors to buy from the local dealer. The other near-by dealer could not even match their quote.

Started calling the dealers in NCR and only Concorde had the captain seat variant in ready stock. They had 2 infact – a Jan 2018 manufactured XTA in Tungsten Silver parked in showroom while other was a May 2018 manufactured Arizona Blue. Despite having old stock, the discount they offered was the worst.

Thanks to the friends from the forum got to know that Sagar Motors, Noida is a recommended dealer. An old friend from the Aria days gave the same name. With both these right references, met the GM at Sagar Motors on 10 Dec and without haggling, we concluded on a number before we finished a cup of tea. Booking done and the wait started as this colour and seating combination was rare.

With the stars aligned, the Hexa reached the dealership on 22 Dec – right before I was going to start a vacation. I and a fellow friend from the forum did the PDI and finally delivery was taken on 04 Jan. In between, the Sales Executive kept me updated and executed everything to perfection on the paper work front.

The dealership experience at Sagar Motors was entirely transparent to the extent that they themselves even informed about refunding the minor difference in payment and invoices. After a long time I had a timely vehicle delivery though missed a couple of friends who couldn’t come. To nit pick, there was excessive use of polish in the interior which has now become a dust magnet.

Thanks again to the friends from the forum and the team at Sagar Motors who helped getting the Hexa home.

Pictures from the PDI
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Ready for Delivery
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Sharing space with the Endeavour
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Thread Starter #2
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Initial Ownership Impressions

Exterior and Design: The design is more of an evolution of the Aria and not something entirely new. The curves have been replaced by edges, the smiling grill is now replaced with a more mature design finished in piano black which is no longer integrated with the bonnet and is fixed on the bumper. The squarish & raised bonnet with mildly restyled lights having piano black top and fog lamps with integrated DRLs lend a SUV-ish stance. On the side, the MPV like silhouette has been toned down by the black skirting & thick cladding on the doors. The black inserts in wheel arches and lower portion of the bumpers with blacked rear pillar and HEXA embossing between the chrome window line are nice touches. It is hard to miss the stunning 19” alloy wheels which fill the wheel arches well. The only thing which is exactly the same on the side as the Aria is the ORVM. Even the door handles have a slight modification as earlier the chrome strip was held by locks and now there is a screw. However, the door handles do not align properly. The departure of the rear from the vertical lights to wrap around units having LED illumination and the integrated spoiler in the tail gate are nice touches. While the slab of chrome on the tail gate is too thick, the small touch of connecting it with the chrome shoulder lines of the sides look nice as do the dual trapezoidal exhaust finishers.

Front looks more matured with raised bonnet, piano black grill and fog lamps with integrated DRLs. However at 35W each, the stock fog lamps are poor.
P2_1.JPG


Grill extensions running over smoked head lamp
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Front three quarter showing the continuous matt black plastic running across (Side steps and Door visors with chrome are add-ons)
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Side view now having reduced bulk due to thick cladding and skirting finished in matt black
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19” dual tone wheel look the right size and fill-up the wheel arch well. The kink in the black cladding reminds of the Discovery Sport
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HEXA motif nicely placed on the rear glass in between the chrome strip which runs on both sides joined by the tailgate mounted chrome slab
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Rear shows a welcome departure from the vertical tail lights. The thick chrome slab connecting on both sides above the tail lamp. Even the loading lip is finished in chrome. Only 1 reverse light on left and 1 fog light on the right.
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Trapezoidal exhaust finisher while the actual exhaust pipe is puny. Notice the rear towing hook.
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Blackened pillar and integrated spoiler look good. The bumper connects the matt black cladding of both sides and houses 2 of the 4 reversing sensors
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The DRL
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Front with all the lights turned ON minus the DRL which turn off when parking lamps are ON robbing the Hexa of some character
P2_11.jpg


Wraparound LED parking Lamp in action
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LED brake light with white LED number plate light
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Thread Starter #3
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Interior and Features: The doors open wide and it’s easier to get into the cabin as the height is just right even with the 209mm ground clearance offered by the Hexa with 19” wheels. Once seated, you find the seats to be very comfortable and supportive with the use of premium perforated material. But the armrest over the storage space in the middle is unusable due to its odd shape and is inferior to the earlier individual armrest of the Aria. The dashboard again retains the old silhouette with the center console and instrument cluster being new, the latter having an integrated coloured display. The upper Glovebox, which has HEXA embossed on the top right of the cover and a brushed aluminium strip at the bottom, is cooled while the lower Glovebox is large enough. The middle cup holder is pretty useless as it is too shallow. The steering wheel is the right size and is great to hold. It comes with tilt adjustment and houses audio, phone and cruise control buttons. However, there is no indication on the dashboard if the cruise control is ON till a speed is actually set or resumed. The Endeavour is clever here – when the master control for cruise control is turned ON, a white symbol appears and when the speed is set or resumed, it displays the speed and turns the symbol to green from white. Climate Control for HVAC, Automatic Wipers and Automatic headlights are also present.

Well contoured and supportive seats
P3_1.jpg


Legroom with front passenger seat pushed all the way backward
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Dashboard with familiar silhouette having redesigned central vents and Harmon ICE
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Right size steering wheel with good quality leather which feels nicer to hold than even the Endeavour
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Redesigned instrument cluster housing a coloured screen. Shown here is the needle salute on start-up and different door open warnings. Interestingly, there is no warning for the bonnet open
P3_5.jpg


Different Trip modes on the Instrument Cluster
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Fuel info on the Instrument Cluster
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Gear selection information on Instrument cluster
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Center armrest is not useable by driver and cup holder is too shallow
P3_9.JPG


Climate Control with 12V power, USB and Aux-in ports. Notice the HEXA motif and leather wrapped gear lever…
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…which has illuminated gear shift positions on the lever
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Top portion is illuminated and cooled while lower Glovebox is decent size
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The ambient lights can be turned on with parking lights. Shown below are the colour options which illuminate the footwell as well as door pocket
P3_13.jpg


Moving to the rear, the first grouse is why is it so hard for Tata Motors to redesign the center console / seats in the bench variant that the larger seat cannot still tip forward completely? Only consolation is that the captain seats are even worse – they don’t tip forward even that much. Otherwise the captain seats are brilliant and offer very good comfort due to their higher back and overall design which is supportive with right cushioning. The Lumbar support for the back and the dedicated armrest add to the comfort. The best part is the pillar mounted air vents which have dedicated blower speed control in roof. The vents in the center console are linked to front controls but have manual air volume control. The ambient lighting in rear footwell as well as doors is a nice touch which even the Endeavour misses out. The center console gets a USB port for charging and cup holders.

Middle row individual captain seats are very supportive and have lumbar support with individual armrests. The front seats are scooped out for increased legroom.
P3_14.jpg


Maximum legroom in the middle row with front passenger seat pushed forward and middle row backward
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Minimum legroom in the middle row with front passenger seat pushed backward and middle row forward
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Pillar mounted vents have air volume control and are effective
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Center vents are linked to front HVAC and the console has USB power and 12V socket with pop-out cup holders.
P3_18.JPG


Collapsible sun shade is a real boon
P3_19.JPG


The rear too has ambient light in the door. Shown below are the front and rear lights in action
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All doors have red marker as well as puddle lamps
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The 3rd row has improved over the Aria with more legroom and slightly more reclined back. The vents are on the pillar and cup holders are present too. You still sit knees-up and there seems to be no change in seat base height. The worst bit is that the seats don’t fold completely horizontal and stay a bit inclined which is weird compared to the Aria. To access the 3rd row, it is better to pass from the space between the captain seats as the seats don’t liberate much space after tipping them forward.

The maximum position to which the middle seats can tip forward after removing headrest and reclining the back
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3rd row seats
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Minimum and Maximum legroom in the last row. Also notice the scooped out captain seats for increased legroom in 3rd row.
P3_24.JPG


AC vents for the 3rd row are also pillar mounted with dedicated air volume control. Covered cup holders on both sides above the wheel arch
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Decent space with all the seats in place
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50:50 split 3rd row
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Space with 3rd row folded
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Despite the 3rd row not folding down flat, it was able to swallow 5 full size check-in luggage with a couple of bags and still had space to spare
P3_29.jpg


While it is not a feature but more than that, it is worth mentioning that the company which had provided India with the first 5 star NCAP rated vehicle is compromising on safety by omitting ESP, Roll over mitigation and TCS on their flagship product.
 
Thread Starter #4
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The Harmon ICE: The Connectnext music system from Harmon with 10 JBL speakers is a disappointment but atleast lives up to the name on the sound front. The sound is clear and the center speaker helps a lot in elevating the experience. On the opposite end, the subwoofer takes care of the Bass duties. However, the touchscreen is smaller than even my phone, the screen lacks fluidity and ergonomically it is placed lower from the field of view. It would have been better if atleast the climate control, which is set even lower, could have displayed info on this screen. Further, while the Bluetooth functionally works flawlessly for calls and music, the Connectnext app does not work at all with no support from Tata Motors on this issue. Navigation is by means of app on phone which again is not working. Surprising that in today’s day Tata has chosen ICE without Android Auto for their flagship offering.

JBL logo displayed on the dashboard mounted center speaker
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Welcome splash screen
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Home screen
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Various options in Media player and settings
P4_4.jpg


Vehicle settings and sub-menus
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Audio settings
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The tiny screen showing the reverse camera in action with parking sensors but it does not feature directional guide lines available on XT
P4_7.JPG


Analog clock on the screen looks classy
P4_8.JPG


Non-working Connectnext app
P4_9.jpg

 
Thread Starter #5
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The Drive Experience: Press the brake and turn the key to fire the engine. The first thing I notice is that the VARICOR 400 unit feels quieter and has less vibrations at idle both inside and outside as compared to the old 2.2 DICOR. Infact on the outside at idle, the VARICOR 400 feels quieter than the Endeavour 3.2 as well. However, the VARICOR 400 is quite vocal beyond 3000 RPM to the point of being intrusive, more so after experiencing the quite cabin of the Endeavour which is aided by active noise cancellation. In general, the cabin NVH is quite good controlled and is silent even till 120 Kmph.

The real gem in the powertrain of the Hexa is the automatic transmission. The Punch Powerglide sourced 6L50 transmission is rated for 550 Nm torque from Diesel engine and has been around since a decade in various other vehicles. It is safe to assume that it is a reliable unit. While the transmission is AWD applications, it is surprising that Tata has not offered the same with this gearbox. The 6 forward gear unit has overdrive in 5th and 6th gears and while the 1st gear ratio is 4.060, Reverse is just 3.200. With capability to shift even at 7000 RPM, the shifts are smooth and jerk free even when the transmission upshifts at 4000 RPM or downshifts at 3000 RPM. It is possible to start in 2nd gear from standstill by manually selecting the same. The transmission is eager to lock-up the torque converter and while this implies into fewer losses and more engine braking, it sometimes gets caught when the engine is in the turbo lag zone.

With light throttle in D mode, shifts happen below 2000 RPM and it builds pace at acceptable rate possibly due to the torque multiplication offered by the torque converter masking the turbo lag. The enthusiastic transmission doesn’t disappoint when accelerator is pressed – the transmission downshifts without any hesitation taking the engine back into the powerband and beyond. Depending on speed of vehicle and the amount of throttle pressed, it won’t hesitate in downshifting again and again by which time the engine would be screaming around 3500 RPM and would upshift above 4000 RPM.

Only on a rare occasion when accelerating lightly right after lifting off the throttle from say 1500 RPM, the transmission doesn’t downshift even when the revs falls to around 1300 RPM and doesn’t seem to disengage the lock-up clutch. This simply lugs the engine with shudders being sent through the body shell in protest. Only work around is to press the throttle more to get a downshift. That’s where the 3.2 simply outshines and when it falls prey to such situations, the torque in the lag zone of the engine is more than enough to get it back into the turbo power band. While the VARICOR 2.2 is no slouch once in the turbo zone, there is no replacement for displacement. Period.

In S mode, the sense of urgency is increased and the transmission holds the gear to around 2500 RPM even with a light foot. While the running-in had already been spoiled by the enthusiastic behaviour of the transmission, the Race mode is yet to be experienced. But certainly the transmission playing with the engine above 3000 RPM is not something I would want to experience in my own Hexa. Also, gear shifts can be done manually in S mode by pushing or pulling the gear lever. It is possible to start the Hexa in 2nd gear by manually selecting the same. But on the move, it refuses shift too often.

An issue noticed constantly is right after releasing brakes in D mode and putting the foot down, it seems the engine cuts power to prevent wheel spin and only after getting the move-on it unleashes its potential. This behaviour of pseudo traction control forced me to check the documents and brochures again to see if it has been quietly introduced only to be disappointed again.

Engine bay
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Bonnet with Hydraulic struts and sound deadening
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Underbody protection seems to have been removed from below the gearbox while provision is still there. Engine gets full cover though
P5_3.jpg


A closer look reveals sound deadening material is present here too
P5_4.JPG


Braking is handled by discs on all 4 wheels. Braking action is good till 100 Kmph and is better than the competition. However it could have been better as the discs are designed for 16” wheels which limit their size there-by limiting braking capability. With the performance on offer, better brakes should have been provided. The pedal feel is okay for now which has a slight free play before brakes start to work and I hope it does not deteriorate with pad wear. There is no hiding the fact that the ESP and TC are missing robbing of some confidence while driving.

The brake disc looks tiny as they are designed keeping 16” wheels in mind
P5_5.JPG

 
Thread Starter #6
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The Ride Experience: Where the ride of the Aria was so comfortable that it set an unbeatable benchmark for comparison with all the vehicles purchased after that, the Hexa beats it and elevates it to another level even with the 19 inch wheels. This is the best ride on this side of a good 50 Lakhs. Even the sharpest bumps cannot find their way into the cabin and the suspension does its work in a hushed manner. Only in the interest of tyres with short sidewalls on those 19” rims does one need to slow down otherwise it can iron out anything at fairly good speed.

While cornering, the body roll is on the higher side and could have been better controlled. The steering to me feels quite vague at the center position and is a tad heavy at standstill.

Front double wishbone suspension
P6_1.JPG


Surprising to see the 2 hoses visible in the bottom left corner of the above picture touching the bottom shield

Fantastically tuned Rear Suspension
P6_2.JPG

 
Thread Starter #7
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Finer points:

Improved door handle chrome design which now features a screw instead of lock to prevent it from falling
P7_1.jpg


Extendable sunshade a real boon with large windows
P7_2.JPG


Mats have the same design as grill. All the doors get the HEXA scuff plate. Notice the thick skirting just above the footstep
P7_3.JPG


Underbody coating has lot of overspray
P7_4.jpg


Gaps in the thick cladding…
P7_5.jpg


… with misaligned door handles …
P7_6.JPG


… and missing trim screw
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Tail lamp extending to the side as well
P7_8.JPG


Jack is more conventional scissor type while the Aria had the hydraulic bottle type
P7_9.jpg


R16 Spare wheel could atleast have been from MRF itself
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The tread pattern of the 235/55R19 MRF tyre looks so similar to Pirelli Scorpion ATR
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Chunky rotary knob for Headlight controls
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Center console at night with illuminated buttons
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A few pictures with the American cousin
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P7_16.JPG

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Video of Engine start-up sound

Video of Underbody

The Good:
1. Supremely comfortable ride.
2. Automatic gearbox offers smooth shifts and extracts good performance from engine.
3. Well contoured seats with good quality material used.
4. Spacious and squeak free cabin.
5. Value for money price.
6. Classy styling, both inside as well as outside.

The Not so Good:
a. Safety and features cut down on XTA as compared to XT
b. No AWD with automatic transmission.
c. Steering heavy at standstill.
d. Brakes, though better than the competition, could have been better.
e. 19” wheels hamper the usability of suspension in the interest of tyre life.
f. Design of middle row seats which don’t fold or topple completely hampering access to 3rd row.
g. ICE is a let down with small screen and non-availability of Android Auto.
 
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Congrats for your new Hexa.Very crispy pics,and very detailed review.
I liked all of your pics but the 1st pic of your second post is the best.It shows that headlights (and not the bonnet)actually make the borders, after the bonnet is finished 2 inches earlier.Nice design and beautiful car.
 
Last edited:
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Hearty Congratulations...!!!
The Hexa is indeed one well engineered vehicle which deserves to sell much more than it does. Hope your review sways a few fence sitters in the right direction.
The one thing that I would call cost cutting however, is the omission of ESP & TC.
 
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Congrats on buying one of the best AT vehicle available in the market! By March 2019 I am going to complete 2 years of my XTA ownership. Have been through the same journey as yours, was a Aria owner before. Now having completed 25k in my car still keep loving it after every drive. I would suggest you to buy a good TPMS as soon as possible since with the low profile tyres driving with less pressure will damage the side walls. I am very particular about tyre pressure and till date haven't faced any tyre issue till now.
An issue noticed constantly is right after releasing brakes in D mode and putting the foot down, it seems the engine cuts power to prevent wheel spin and only after getting the move-on it unleashes its potential. This behaviour of pseudo traction control forced me to check the documents and brochures again to see if it has been quietly introduced only to be disappointed again.
This delay in acceleration is the characteristic of this gearbox where the torque converter takes a wee bit delay in power delivery. This happens when we shift to D from N and give throttle immediately. But if we stop in D and then take of in same mode no issues. I got this doubt clarified from a service engineer and he explained that the torque converter has to get sufficient fluid pressure to transfer power. But this delay does reduce once we pile some KM's.
 

Akash1886

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Wonderfully written buddy. It was a pleasure interacting with you and glad to know the overall experience with the dealer was brilliant. Have a great time with the new one and hope you enjoy driving it as much as the FORD. PDI was very important hence had to make sure of it. It was important for you also to be fully convinced of the car allotted to you.

Regards

Akash
 
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Some wise man once said never say never!
I can imagine after the Aria how much strength is needed to plonk in 2 million rupees on this.
But as i was always saying Hexa is worth it, its a tata product i really wish to own - wish you many many safe miles !

will look forward to regular updates -- cheers!
 
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