The Zest is without doubt a crucial car for Tata Motors and it wants to get everything right with this car. So the company has done nearly everything possible and by that we mean putting a turbocharged petrol and also a diesel automatic plus of course the new styling and features.
Our first drive involved driving the diesel Zest first and then driiving the petrol later. You can read our detailed feature report and styling analysis on the Zest for all info while here we talk about how the Tata Zest diesel drives.
While the Revotron engine in the new Tata Zest is hogging all the limelight we bet the diesel automatic Zest could turn out to be the star of the range. Now we do not need to tell you why as the Zest diesel equipped with the AMT F-Tronic gearbox would be India's cheapest diesel automatic sedan when it goes on sale next month.
We all know about how much of a success the Maruti Celerio has been with the AMT gearbox and now everyone is keen to jump on the AMT bandwagon. However it will be Tata Motors who will first fit an AMT gearbox with a diesel engine. AMT technology presents many positves namely cost and fuel efficiency- both of which are important. The F-Tronic 5-speed Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) has been developed with collaboration with Magneti Marelli.
The diesel engine is the familiar 1248 cc 4 cylinder with 89 bhp and 200Nm of torque. First impressions at the drive proved to be positive and mimicking the daily traffic scenario that we all deal with. There is 'R' 'N' and 'A' plus a button marked as 'S' for the Sports mode (no park mode). We first tried it in auto and the shifts were decent if not the smoothest.
There is some jerkiness at low speeds but all melts away at high speeds. However for swift progress we found ourselves constantly reaching for the Sports mode as it gives the much needed oomph. In manual mode it was decent but we say stick to sports mode.
Fact of the matter is that for most the Zest with this F-Tronic 5-speed Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) does the job and the main reason for buying autos is for the convinience that it offers and you get that. In the city the Zest AMT does fine and that will be enough for many. Is it better than the Maruti Celerio AMT? Yes for sure.
Now the advantages here as efficiency and cost which means Tata Motors will price it aggressively and also offer it not just in top-end trim but in other variants also. When it comes to efficiency we got 17 kmpl though mind you that our drive was short and we need a proper test for the numbers.
When it comes to refinement the petrol was more refined but at low speeds both are remarkably quiet. What we really enjoyed were the handling and steering.
The Zest surprised us with its ride and handling. The ride is not as soft as other Tata cars and it handles well. The grip and stability were impressive and in the rain soaked roads of Goa, it did not lose grip at all. The steering is light and on an another level when compared to other Tata cars with its precise nature. Oh the brakes were good as well..
As you can see we are impressed and we think the Zest as a package is right up there at the top of its class. For me more than the looks or features it is the new found dynamic polish that is most impressive. Well done Tata Motors!