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2022 Nexon EV Max test drive review - Yay or Nay?

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Tata Motors has recently been on an EV streak, starting with the unveiling of the concept EV Curvv and then moving to the unveiling of the Avinya EV concept. After creating a lot of hype, the company wrapped it up with a modest but substantial launch of the Nexon EV Max. TOI Auto drove the Max around the outskirts of Delhi for a day and experienced the Max features of this upgrade. Here is how it went…

The ‘Max’ angle:
As product nomenclatures go, the Nexon EV Max stands for more of what the standard version already has and then some extra features (30 to be precise) to sweeten the deal. The battery has grown from a 30.2 kWh to a 40.5 kWh pack. The 105kW motor makes 143PS power and 250Nm of torque. A 0-100kmph time of under 9 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 140kmph. The brakes too have now been upgraded with discs on all four wheels. And an ARAI certified range of 437km sums up what differentiates the EV Max from the standard in terms of hardware and performance.

It is inside the Nexon EV Max, where the more noticeable upgrades greet you. As soon as you sit in the driver’s seat you will notice that the centre console has a lot more gadgetry going on than before. The first thing that will grab your eye is the new drive mode selector that now features a bright new digital display and a chrome selector dial ribbed with Tata’s tri-arrow design. Right beside it are two buttons. One for sport mode and one common button for city and eco mode. These are finished in piano black and blend well with the surrounding plastic that extends up to the air-conditioner controls sporting the same finish. An inch below you will find the new electronic parking brake and auto hold controls, that work as expected. Then you have a slot to keep your phone that is embedded with a wireless charger. Then on the left, there are the two buttons for the new 4 mode brake regeneration system, which we will address more extensively in a bit.

While one is busy with everything in the centre console they might skip over the fact that they are sitting on one of the EV Max’s key features, which is the new ventilated seats. The seats and door panels are wrapped in what Tata is calling a Makarana Beige coloured leatherette. The colour also extends to the lower parts of the dashboard and helps brighten the ambience inside the compact SUV. By this time it was getting hot and we activated the ventilated seats, which immediately kicked into action and made us thank Tata for adapting to this trend. However, the button to activate the ventilated seats does lack any form of audible feedback which would be very useful during driving as one would not need to look down to gauge whether the LEDs are on or off. The EV also features an air-purifier, the controls for which can be accessed on the 7-inch touch screen placed centrally on the dashboard.

Driving experience:
When we started our drive, the EV Max’s digital driver information display showed 99 per cent of battery power and a range of 282 km. Power consumption at the time was at 113Wh per kilometre. During the course of our drive and as the heat peaked, the EV was consuming between 151 to 157 Wh/km. Keeping regeneration and other factors in mind, it is safe to say that the vehicle was good for 300+kms for the day.

The EV Max is a very friendly car to drive right off the bat, for someone who has prior EV experience and even for someone who may have only driven an automatic. In city mode, the power delivery is smooth and would not take one by surprise but we recommend trying out the sport mode on a fairly empty road for first-time users. While the difference between city and eco can only be noticed when putting your foot down it is the new 4 mode of brake regeneration that is more noticeable, when you take your foot off. The new system has 4 levels while at level 0 the system shuts down completely. Level 1 is the least interfering at coasting speeds. On levels 2 and 3 one can noticeably feel the brakes grabbing on the discs and anchoring out the momentum of the car.

While the kerb weight of 1,400 kg has remained unchanged, the EV Max’s floorboard is now 10mm higher than its counterpart and compromises on under-thigh support. Something that is not as noticeable when sitting upfront but gets a lot more obvious when at the back. That said, the EV zips around town easily, thanks to its compact dimensions that make it easier to navigate through traffic. Over bad roads, the EV Max remained well composed at city speeds, even when we took it off the road on a bit of a rough patch, the car did not feel uncomfortable at any point.

What would it be like to live with a Nexon EV Max?

Fast charging:
The Nexon EV Max now features fast charging of up to 50kW. While the basic 3.3kW portable charger is a standard issue and can give a zero to full charge in 15 to 16 hours. Tata Motors this time is also offering the option of a 7.2kW fast-charger at an additional Rs 50,000. When using a 50kW charge point, the EV Max can reach 0-80 per cent of charge in less than an hour.

Cost of a full charge:
At an average cost of Rs 6.90 per kWh in Delhi, it will cost a buyer under Rs 400 to fully charge the Nexon EV Max keeping energy loss and other factors in mind. Electricity costs are likely to go up a little when the EV is charged using a 7.2kW or 50kW charger.

Cost incurred per 1kWh of 40.5kWh:
During our drive, the EV consumed between 113Wh to 157Wh of power per kilometre, depending upon driver behaviour, brake regeneration mode and outside temperature. At this consumption rate, the Nexon EV cost roughly a rupee per kilometre and for every 1kWh of the total 40.5kWh battery power, we ran approximately 7.4 kilometres.

While the media car we drove was sporting the new ‘Intense-Teal’ dark blue colour, the EV Max is also available in two other colours called the Daytona Grey and Pristine White. Tata is offering the Nexon EV Max in only two top trims, the XZ+ and XZ+ Lux. What’s extra in Lux? That will be the addition of an electric sunroof, ventilated seats at the front, auto-dimming IRVM, air-purifier and leatherette upholstery.

The XZ+ variant has an ex-showroom price of Rs 17.74 lakh and the XZ+ Lux demands one lakh more at Rs 18.74 lakh. These prices will further be bumped by Rs 50,000 for those who choose to opt-in for the 7.2kW fast-charger. For those who might question Nexon’s value as an almost Rs 20 lakh car, they should also consider the massive savings in fuel and maintenance that an EV platform offers. However, this makes sense only as long as their runs are long enough to make these savings offset the higher purchase cost.

It should be noted that with the new upgrades, the Nexon EV has now come closer to being a rival to the MG ZS EV, a car that has better specs but a bigger price tag and dimensions as well. For reference, the base excite variant of the ZS EV has an ex-showroom price of Rs 22 lakh.

After all considerations, the Nexon EV as a package is designed to give consumers bang for their buck. It is feature-loaded to the brim, can tackle Indian road conditions well, runs cheap and promises massive savings over a long-term period. But at a real-world range of 300kms, it would be hard to say that the EV Max has successfully leapt out of the ‘city car’ sandbox. Many discredit EVs based on assumptions without having even driven one. We suggest you drive the Nexon EV and understand the platform and Tata’s value-added services such as its existing charging infrastructure and more. If you are looking for a second car or even wanting to switch to electric altogether, the Nexon EV Max is definitely a step beyond a good starting point.

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