Farewell Kevin – Tata Zest Long Term Review Final Report

With the Tigor set to launch later this month, it will be interesting to see how the Zest is placed / marketed in the company line-up here on.

The Tata Zest did not see as much action as it did previously on daily runs due to other machines in the RushLane garage as well as a lot of travel. However, when it did, it brought with it some festive cheer. The car managed to break its fuel efficiency jinx, with fuel consumption improving to the range of 11.9 to 12.2 kmpl in pure city traffic conditions.

I suspect this ‘surge’ in efficiency has to do with lesser engagement of the ‘Sport’ button (curses!), combined with more nimble use of the gas leg. The drive experience too changed, with the 1.2 Revotron petrol engine functioning a tad differently in the ‘City’ mode. We did resort to engaging the ‘Eco’ mode for a few seconds periodically, and the resultant lull in performance demanded too much driver input to keep the car lively in stop-go traffic situations.

Although, we gather the ‘Eco’ mode will bring the efficiency figures a kilometre or two per litre higher. And with ‘cashless’ being the theme these days, the extra distance on the same drop of fuel would have been really welcome. Running in and out of town this past month meant that we rarely drove it, however. So when we did, the joy of a no-nonsense drive experience in the chaotic lanes of Pune was very welcome. The braking, which seemed adequate earlier, now shows fade compounded by the wear on the tyres.

Something has to be said about the electricals on this vehicle though. While the Zest is blessed with a bright strip of day-time running LEDs (DRLs) surrounding either foglight on the bumper, its parking lamps are dull yellow single bulbs which give out lower lumens than a matchstick. Hence actual parking light duties have to be handed to the DRLs. What’s up with that, Tata Motors?

Then there are its parking sensors with their double perfect 40/40 vision. Earlier this month, I was backing up the Zest into a roadside parking when the warning beeps suddenly turned to a scream. I got out to check, only to find that there was a small shrub popping out of the planter next to the parking area. But hey, the sensors’ noise can be turned off with a convenient button on the centre console. Phew.

The Buzz Blue colour of our long-termer is a delight to watch, whether the Zest is in motion or stationary. But try leaving the car without a wash for any duration longer than a day. There are only two disparate stages of dust-gathering ability with this shade – washed in the morning, or recently dug up among pre-historic ruins. The colour still shines bright, having just completed 18,000 km on the odo and that is remarkable.

Summing it up, the Zest looks to be one of the minions from the ‘Despicable Me’ animated series – a googly-eyed, cheerful sidekick that falls over itself trying to bring a smile to the car driver’s face. Add a few dashes of yellow to the Buzz Blue, and it might even look the part.

And so we bid farewell to our long-termer, Kevin.

Going into 2017, this Tata Motors product from 2014 is certainly a sign of times to come. Its loaded nature combined with a too-cute-to-care personality certainly brightens up one’s day. With the launch of Tata Tigor imminent, we look forward to an even better rounded vehicle in the sub 4-metre compact sedan space from the Indian brand.

And these vehicles will have to work really hard as the segment is also competing with the growing mini-pseudo-utility vehicles (mini-PUVs) segment. Throwing in a couple more cup holders, a cubby hole or 2 can prove more of a task than it seems, or is it?