Tata Nexon AMT
Could be smoothest AMT so far
The first thing you should know about t he automated manual transmission for the Nexon is that, for now, it’s only available on the top-of-the-line XZ+ variant, though you can choose for it to be mated to the petrol or diesel engine. Secondly, it is the only automatic compact SUV with drive modes. With this 6-speed AMT box, now the drive modes also affect shift points and how long gears are held onto.
Before we get into how the AMT performs, there’s a new colour for the Nexon HyprDrive (that’s Tata marketing for the AMT) variants. Etna Orange actually goes well with the Sonic Silver on the trim detailing. This makes the already funkylooking Nexon stand out even more and it is a handsome car, especially when viewed from the front. Also, finally available is the activity key wristband, which was first showcased on the manual variants. With it, customers with an active lifestyle can leave their key fob behind and still lock/unlock and start the car.
With no changes to the mechanicals apart from the AMT gearbox, we expected both petrol and diesel Nexon AMT to drive pretty similar to their manual counterparts. The 1.2-litre turbo petrol, for example, makes 110bhp and 170Nm torque and mostly everybody agrees the 1.5-litre turbo diesel with the same power figure and 260Nm torque feels the sportier of the two. However, going by what we experienced with the AMT, the petrol feels more sprightly now.
We had a chance to drive a route comprising city, highway and hill usage and in all three we preferred the petrol car. In the city (using the aptly named City mode) and under partial throttle, shifts are smooth, mostly unnoticeable and while not lightning fast, they don’t need to be. The diesel, in these same conditions, offers more noticeable shifts with a slight jerk on the upshift/downshift. Importantly, both variants take off from standstill without judder or hesitation. We haven’t addressed the Eco mode for either because while it’s perfectly acceptable for low speed city commuting, we could feel the engine struggle when a little more is asked of it.
When we hit the highway, we switched to the Sport mode. In it, both variants will shift right at the redline. Both sit at 100kmph in sixth with a shade under 2,000rpm on the counter. Kickdown for overtakes is again, smoother on the petrol than the diesel. Tata says they have also tuned the drivetrain to provide less lash during on-off throttle transitions.
The hill section of our drive is where we really appreciated the smoothness of the petrol AMT over the diesel, especially with the gearbox serving up the right gear for corners. In the diesel AMT, City mode actually felt more natural because Sport mode would hold onto gears for too long. Of course, you could take shift manually if you wanted to, since the AMT does have tiptronic control. Both AMTs also come with a hill start feature that we can say does work well.
With the Nexon HyprDrive, we feel Tata adds value to a burgeoning segment. At a premium of Rs 60,000 over the manual topof-line XZ+ variant, it’s the most affordable automatic crossover available (but not by a huge margin). What you do get is a fully loaded car with a fairly smooth AMT which promises a good city-driving experience.
No changes inside the cabin, still feels fresh and modern. Being based on the top end XZ+, it gets a very premium feeling headliner, apart from touchscreen infotainment