Road Trips anywhere, are a perfect way to travel and discover places. I absolutely love them as it allows me to discover so many smaller places along the way. I love stopping by those small little restaurants and dhabas for some authentic local food. Some road trips have such gorgeous landscapes that you would otherwise miss if you take any other mode of transport. Having said that, one of the most essential things that allow you to enjoy a good road trip is a good vehicle. For me, a good vehicle for a road trip needs to have certain specific criteria and those are what I have used to evaluate the new 4-wheel drive – Tata Hexa.
Just last weekend, along with 59 other bloggers, I was invited to the launch of the new Tata Hexa in Hyderabad. Besides getting information on the new Tata car, I had the opportunity of a mini road trip to try out the vehicle. We were divided into teams of three and handed over a Tata Hexa for a test drive. Each team was to drive around 85 kms to a resort and then switch over to another car to drive back. That way, we got to experience both the variants – the manual transmission and the auto transmission ones.
The road trip allowed the three of us – Rajiv Verma, Maitreni Mishra and yours truly to drive as well as sit as a fellow passenger in the new Tata Hexa. Given that I am considering this vehicle as a possible option for a road trip, I have evaluated my experience on 5 basic parameters – Vehicle design & structure, Driving Comfort, Safety Features, Entertainment & Navigation system and Vehicle Interiors and Space. So here goes, my impression of the new Tata Hexa.
1) Vehicle design & structure of Tata Hexa
When I first saw the Tata Hexa, I was quite impressed by its shape and overall look. I particularly loved the midnight blue color that they had. Keeping in mind the narrow roads that one might encounter on road trips, I did feel that the vehicle was a little wide. However, once you get tuned to the drive, that feeling of extra wide also, disappears.
The ground clearance of the vehicle is around 200 mm which is pretty good but the flip side to that is that the doors and the vehicle floor is quite high. For shorties like me, it requires a steep step up into the car and a leap down. A bit of a negative if you have kids and elderly people traveling with you.
The picture above you is one of a fully-equipped Tata Hexa. As you can see, you can have accessories in the rear and the top to carry the extra load or equipment one may need for camping or sports.
2) Driving comfort of Tata Hexa
I frankly was a little nervous about driving a “big vehicle” and thought I might just be able to handle a few kilometers only. However, once I was behind the wheels, I was pleasantly surprised with the light feeling that the Tata Hexa gave me. The steering was so easy to handle, the gears were quite smooth and the best part, I could see the road really well. The driver’s seating too, was extremely comfortable with well contoured seating system that seemed perfect for any person of any size and height. Sharing more details on this section –
Given the difference in heights between my hubby and me, it is always that we find that some vehicles are suited to either me or him but rarely both. However, Tata Hexa seemed to be perfect for both as the driver’s seat can be adjusted manually in 8 ways – horizontal, vertical, angular recline or lumbar. This helps you get the best and the most comfortable driving experience that is required on long road trips – one that gives you the best view of the road, enough leg room and a good back rest!
Rajiv and me deliberately drove into pot holes, rough patches and sped our way to see the stability of the car. The Tata Hexa zoomed through all these while Maitreni in the rear seat remained blissfully unaware of the torture that we were putting her through. Very confidently, we took the car upto 120 kms and not for a moment, did we feel the loss of control or stability.
This was the best part of the drive experience. The manual variant of Tata Hexa comes loaded with 4 drive modes – Auto, Comfort, Rough Road and Dynamic. Each one is designed to get you the best stability and speed on different terrains. The automatic transmission has Sports and the Manual shift mode. The sports mode gives you a race car like feel – something that we experienced with Bharat from Tata Hexa. He floored the vehicle to 160 kms – speed that is unbelievable on the Indian roads and none of us sitting in the car even realized it. What is more is that he gave us the demo of the braking system at that speed and Wow! The car was stable enough! You can take a peek at this demo through this video.
These are best seen through this demo video. Be it inclines, pot holes, rough roads – Tata Hexa seem to breeze through it. For someone sitting in the car, the ride was a lovely and safe roller coaster experience. I particularly loved the part where Yogesh (a 9 times winner of Himalayan rally), our demo driver raced through the dirt track and stopped suddenly. After this experience, I think it would do amazing well in the deserts of Rajasthan or the hilly terrains of Ladakh.
3) Safety features of Tata Hexa
Safety is the most important feature for me. Road trips are far more enjoyable once that is in place – be it drive safety of the safety of the co-passengers. It is heartening to know that Tata Hexa has thought this through and included the following in the car –
- Airbags – 6 of them
- Seat belts for all the seats
- ABS with Electronic Brake-force distribution (EBD). This ensures that when you brake, your vehicle stops optimally and does not cause an instability. This one I can personally vouch for as I did try it out to give Maitreni a shock and to save myself from a vehicle coming on the wrong side of the road!
- Hill Hold and Descent control.- So that you can climb those amazing Ladakh mountains or the steep Nilgiri roads without any fear of rolling back while climibing or rolling back when descending.
- Traction Control System – to bring wheel slips, especially if you are going to encounter wet and dry terrains in your road trips.
4) Entertainment & Navigation system of Tata Hexa
What is a road trip without some good music! At least for me, the music really enhances my mood. Tata Hexa comes in with this awesome infotainment system that seems to address some of these needs. I loved the 10 speaker JBL system that enhanced the whole music experience. The sound quality and the placement of the speakers really turned the car into a mini disco – which frankly is an extreme for me, but I do know of many who loved it.
The other aspects of the infotainment system included a whole suite of smart phone apps – the navigation app, the juke-car app, smart remote app and the TATA smart manual app. While it is good that these come as a suite, I did not really find them any different from the other apps that we have on the Google Play Store. Either way, these can be linked to the infotainment system through a USB cable or a bluetooth. And that is a function that is pretty handy for all road trips.
5) Vehicle Interiors and Space in Tata Hexa
I am a bit of minimalist and given that, I loved the interiors of the Tata Hexa. The plush seating systems, airy atmosphere, enough leg room and a high roof are some big pluses for me. Besides this, in terms of the seating capacity, the 2nd row of the Tata Hexa comes with a flexible option – of having a bench or bucket seats. Both the 2nd and 3rd row can be folded to give you good amount of space.
In terms of boot space, I was a bit disappointed. If you are off on a road trip for many days and say 6 – 7 people, then the only option is to load your luggage on the carrier atop the vehicle as folding seats may not be feasible.
The Tata Hexa comes with a small cool box in the front, apt to carry a few water bottles for your trip. The vehicle also, has some thoughtfully placed USB ports for quick charging. These are available even for the rear seats.
The dashboard of the car is quite minimalist and nice -with well placed controls. There are quick access controls on the steering wheel, which is another big plus.
In terms of the air conditioning, the Tata Hexa has an automatic climate control system that once set, ensures that the in-cabin temperature is maintained as desired. There are controllable AC vents in the rear seats, making it easy for all to have a comfortable temperature on a drive.
Summary of my review:
Here is a quick table to summarize my review of the Tata Hexa –
What is missing is the price on road and the service capabilities. This information is yet to be divulged by the Tata Hexa team and will be announced at the time of booking. The booking is expected to start around the 1st of November and the on road date is around mid January. For more information on the vehicle. click here.
I am not an automobile expert and I cannot deeply analyze the technical aspects of the car. However, I am a frequent road-tripper and given my experience of this mini road trip with Tata Hexa, I think I am all set to take it on the roads that lead to Ladakh. 🙂 With a family of three, I think I just might like a trip in the Tata Hexa.