The sub-4 metre SUV segment has witnessed some tremendous growth in the past few years and Tata was relatively the last entrant in the market. However, with the Nexon, it managed to prove that the wait was worth it. The 28,000 sales-figure in the first six months of launch is just a testimony to the love and support that the Tata Nexon has received from its customers.
To sustain the momentum, Tata has now introduced AMT options on both, the diesel & petrol versions, and in-fact has managed to become the first OEM to do so in India. Tata calls its AMT technology as Self-Shift Gears or SSG. The AMT unit sits over the regular 6-speed gearboxes which are available on both petrol & diesel variants. The AMT option is available only on the top spec trim, which is the XZ+, and hence the AMT variant becomes the XZA+ variant with the addition of the AMT.
Apart from the XJA+ badge on the rear, there is visibly no change on the car. However, with the AMT option, Tata has added a new dynamic color combination which it calls the ‘Etna Orange’. The bright orange & sonic silver dual-tone roof combination is lively and vibrant and would certainly get you and your ride some second looks in public (in appreciation) i.e. if you intend to purchase it.
The interiors too don’t get any additional gadgetry with the AMT version. However, the regular gear lever is replaced by a traditional AMT unit, which provides the option to choose between Manual (tip-tronic) and Automatic modes.
Tata Nexon’s Smart Shift Gear – AMT
Tata has installed the AMT unit over its regular 6-speed gearboxes, for both the petrol & diesel variants. The AMT unit comes along with the Drive mode selector option which allows the driver to choose between Sport, City and Eco modes. The three modes as the names suggest provide different ECU configurations, resulting in varying performance, power & fuel efficiency combinations (Sport providing the most spirited drive, while Eco providing a good fuel economy).
The AMT is usually set-in the Automatic mode where the shifts happen automatically via the controller, but there is also a Manual (tip-tronic) mode where the shifts are controlled via the driver, however, beyond a certain range, the shifts do take place, albeit at a higher RPM (around 4.5k RPM in diesel & 7k RPM in petrol), compared to the regular Auto mode. The driver gets information related to the engaged gear & the current driving mode via the instrument cluster.
The AMT comes along with the Creep function which comes in very handy in bumper-to-bumper traffic, allowing the vehicle to maintain low speeds of around 5-7 kmph, with just the use of the brake pedal. The Smart Hill Assist is useful in case of avoiding the car to roll back on an incline, like a fly-over etc. Tata also mentions that the Intelligent Transmission Controller (AMT’s ECU) has some smart features like anti-stall, kick-down & fast-off which help the car to perform smoothly in all kinds of traffic conditions, like overtaking manoeuvres or quick acceleration requirements. Overall functionalities of the AMT unit remain same for both Petrol & Diesel variants.
Driving Dynamics – AMT Diesel
The diesel Nexon is powered by a capable 110 PS diesel motor and with the addition of the AMT, the comfort of having the power at your command doesn’t go away. The car drives comfortably in the Automatic mode, with the up-shifts being subtle while down-shifts being barely noticeable. A hard-press on the throttle makes the car understand the need of sudden burst of power and it doesn’t disappoint. Triple-digit speeds too come comfortably and the availability of 6 gears further helps the cause.
Ride, Handling & Braking – AMT Diesel
As discussed in our full-blown review of the Tata Nexon (manual variants), we liked the ride & handling of the car. The 16-inch wheels and 215 section Goodyear tyres work in tandem to ensure that the ride quality is good and the experience is comfortable. The feedback from the steering is good too and it provides the driver with the required confidence to push harder in tight corners. The brakes have a good bite and work fine on the highways however, in the stop-and-go city traffic, the combination of brakes & AMT wasn’t a very pleasant experience. We hope that with some software updates, Tata will improve the tuning between the AMT unit & the brakes.
Driving Dynamics – AMT Petrol
The turbocharged petrol motor is peppy and supports the driver throughout the drive. You can count on it in case you intend to make an overtaking manoeuvre on the highway or are trying to be the first one to clear-off from the traffic signal. The shifts are timely and aren’t too frequent. The car manages to easily crawl in 3rd gear in regular city traffic, without frequent up-shifts/down-shifts.
Ride, Handling & Braking – AMT Petrol
Similar to the Diesel variant, the Nexon AMT petrol performance meets expectations. The car feels planted on the road and is fun to drive. However, just like the case for the diesel variant, we felt that the braking & AMT configuration for slow speeds could be relooked for the petrol variant as well.
Launch, Bookings & Pricing
The Nexon AMT first debuted at the 2018 Auto Expo in February, 2018 and it is expected to be launched in the coming weeks, possibly during the ongoing IPL, as Tata Motors would like to leverage their brand-partnership with the current version of IPL. Pricing hasn’t been disclosed as of yet, however we expect Tata to charge a premium of around INR 50k over the regular top-end variants (with dual-tone finish) which retail at INR 9.02 lakhs for petrol & INR 9.89 lakhs for the diesel variant.
With the Nexon AMT, Tata has expanded its appeal to a wider range of buyers, which want a lively looking compact SUV but have a tough time in their daily commute. The AMT solves the problem of regular usage of clutch and brake in the typical bumper-to-bumper city traffic and still manages to provide the enthusiasm which an auto-buff looks forward to while the car is being used in the manual tip-tronic mode.
Since its launch, the Nexon has continued to provide a great value for money proposition, and the addition of the AMT option further helps it to accentuate its appeal to the customers. The Maruti Brezza, Ford Ecosport & Mahindra TUV300 (only other compact SUV which offers AMT option, however only diesel option is available) should now get ready for a stiffer competition from the new boy in town.