It takes all of two blinks of an eye to stare this car down, seeing as how it’s posterior has suffered a tight trim to stay within the sub 4-metre length parameter and hence ends abruptly. But hey that means easier parking and more wiggle room in Pune’s traffic, which, suffice it to say is cosy as a jockstrap and offers similar levels of personal space invasion. Terrific!
The Tata Zest began its long-term tenure with RushLane.com just shy of the 16,000-kilometre mark on the odo, last month. Now, with a small 1.2 litre Revotron petrol engine serving horsepower duties, we were not much enthused by the idea of taking this vehicle out on longer runs. The Zest was hence relegated to city plying duties. However, the zeal with which it has performed this duty is something to note.
You only need step in it, think about whatsoever busy part of the city you intend to reach and Baburao’s your uncle. As long as your right knee loves some company, that is. With a not-so-large 5-foot-9 frame, this reviewer has a close to average build. However the key fob, once inserted in the ignition slot behind the steering wheel, positions awkwardly downward and protrudes a fair bit – allowing for knee impact during accelerator leg movement. This proves especially annoying in stop-go conditions, during constant movement of the ‘gas leg’. With Ratan Tata back at the helm of the Conglomerate for a short while, we can hope for this annoyance to be ‘Istry-ed out’ soon too.
All is not lost though. The Revotron engine comes with 3 driving modes – City, Eco, and Sport – selectable via push buttons under the Climate Controls on the centre console. Yes, you read that right, Sport. And the change in the engine response is immediate and apparent. Enough for one to just love looking for excuses to press the subtle Sport button which glows orange when engaged.
Reminds one of Bavaria’s M-marked offerings that turn from stiff upper lip, white-collared executive cocoons to speed freaks without a leash at the press of the M-button. With the Zest though, let’s say the freak volume is turned down from the Bavarians’ 500 to about 2. And if you love your morning fix of chai or soaked Luwak dropping as much as the next guy, you’ll want to use every pony in this thing, because cup holders in this cabin are rarer than the last steak I had.
The Zest obliges and aids your rush with clever technology. The stereo’s Bluetooth integration is phenomenal for the money you’re paying. The XT variant’s powered-by-Harman touchscreen system simultaneously connects my phone and my iPod – for calling and music playback, respectively – for that essential mix of Bob Dylan interspersed with the boss’s morning rant. Audio controls are mounted on the steering too.
The steering is light, effortless when navigating traffic. It weighs in well as speeds increase and the car feels tauter to handle at this point. Top that off, the steering wheel design even helps with the Noise Pollution plaguing all major cities! How, you might wonder? Well, the designers at Tata Motors made the horn difficult enough to reach with your fingers around the wheel that you need to raise a hand, slide it to the centre, and press down hard just for a casual honk while crossing a junction. There, noise pollution solved. Thank you, Tata Motors!
Most of time we spent with the Zest was in the rains and it also gave us a chance to check the softly-sprung suspension. This setup might lead to body roll, but the way it takes on surprise potholes in puddles without letting you know what punishment it endured is remarkable. That coupled with the 175 mm ground clearance and grippy tyres meant monsoon was as good a time as any for the Zest to go out.
On the economy front, fuel consumption ranged from 10.8 to 11.8 kmpl (indicated) in a run of 605 kms, primarily in the city with the AC on 70% of the time. This might have had something to do with Mr. Leadfoot befriending the Sport mode. Next month, we try Eco mode (sigh), or not! Stay tuned to find out.
Update – Tata Zest Long Term Final Report
Customized Tata Zest – Photos