Finally it—— is here and we have driven it. After the Auto Expo reveal we have been drip fed info and various developments regarding the Zest and we have been itching to discover more about this car. The air of excitement was visible at the launch amongst us journos as this is easily one of the most anticipated cars of the year. It is without a doubt the start of a very important chapter of Tata Motors and it could not have come at a better time.
The Zest has had over 3,00,000 hours of testing and research and Tata Motors has done everything it can for this car to be a sales success. So what is the Zest all about? Sit back and relax while we tell it all.
Let us get straight to it. We first drove the Zest diesel. The diesel Zest makes 89 bhp and 200Nm of torque. As you know the Zest diesel will also have the much talked about F-Tronic 5-speed Automated Manual Transmission (AMT). There are city and sports mode plus there is also manual shifting. Yes it's got the usual plus points and minus points of an AMT but in auto mode the sift quality was acceptable but not very smooth or slick. Manual shifting was more engaging and certainly more fun and the diesel motor performed well here. There is enough performance and in Sports mode.
Later we switched to the petrol which we were looking forward to and we have to say this engine is our pick of the range. This is a segment first Turbocharged Multi-point Fuel Injected (MPFi) Petrol Engine, Revotron 1.2T engine developing 89 bhp at 5000 RPM and peak torque of 140 Nm at 1750-3500 RPM. The Revotron engine has three modes Sport, City and Eco which alters the throttle response accordingly. We tried all three and we liked it in Sport mode but there not a massive reduction in response in the rest of the modes as well.
You do not require frantic downshifts in the city but once at high speeds the performance is quite good. The Zest drives better than any other car Tata Motors have ever made. The EPAS (Electronic Power Assisted System) is light and direct without feeling disconnected. The Zest has dual-path suspension with a zero-pivot sub-frame and anti-roll bar. The grip and stability at high speed is very good and during our drive we managed to attack corners at high speeds and not even once the Zest skip a beat. The brakes (with ABS, EBD) did a stellar job as well.
At the first glance it looks like a Tata but it is easily also the best looking car they have made yet. There are shades of the Vista design is there (it is based on the Vista platform) but everything is changed and everything just looks better. It is a good looking design and has presence. Tata Motors says there is ——Humanity line—— and the ——Trust line—— at the front and these lines join the headlamps and the grille. The front bumper is sculpted and the projector headlamps along with the day-time running lights look good.
Move to the side and it gets bold character lines and unlike some of its rivals the boot is a flowing design and ends up not looking like an afterthought. The LED lamps and the obligatory chrome provide a premium look to the car. The Zest has 15 inch alloys. Build quality is also something we looked out for and we were happy that it is a massive leap forward to the previous Tata cars and the same goes for the paint finish (we love the Buzz Blue colour though the silver also looks good).
Inside, the quality has gone several notches to being among the others cars and in-fact it——s even better than some of its rivals. The dual tone interior imparts a premium feel and looks/feels good. Tata Motors have nailed the design bit with an attractively designed centre console with piano black finish and three-spoke steering. The dials are well designed and easy to read. The AC also worked well in the slightly humid Goa weather. While the front seats are comfy the business end are the rear seats which offer good headroom and legroom. The angle of the rear makes it more comfy than the Manza. The boot though is smaller than some of its rivals.
Tata Motors have stuffed the Zest with a lot of features and the talking point here is the 5-inch touch-screen Harman infotainment system. This system has various features like voice controls, touch-screen AC controls and there are even SMS notification and read-outs. There are of course features like climate control, steering mounted controls for Bluetooth and audio, power windows, follow me headlamps and parking sensors. The Zest also features Dual Airbags and a feature called FATC (Fully Automatic Temperature Control). One thing we would say that the audio quality from the 4 speakers + 4 tweeters was excellent.
We were expecting a lot and the Zest has delivered on this short drive. It is a world away from the previous Tata cars be it in quality, engines or design. The Revotron is our pick of the range but the diesel auto would no doubt pull customers into the showrooms also. Pulling customers into the showrooms- that is what Tata Motors needed to do and the Zest will do that.