2023 Tata Nexon.ev: First Drive Review

Saneet Dsilva
Will the new upgrades help the Tata Nexon.ev to maintain its reign as the king of the hill?

Photography: Siddhant Gadekar

The Tata Nexon EV has been making waves as far as the country’s EV scene is concerned. It is the highest selling electric car in the country and has been the preferred choice of thousands of buyers wanting to switch to EVs – it proved to be an instant hit when it was launched early in 2020. Timely updates, including the option of a more powerful version with a larger electric motor and resultant longer range have seen the Nexon EV continue to do well. But this time, Tata Motors has given the Nexon EV a set of updates that are so comprehensive, you would be forgiven for calling this one an all-new model!

In fact, it’s very interesting to see how Tata Motors is now distinguishing the Nexon EV so well from its internal combustion engine-powered versions. Of course, the green number plate always helps in distinguishing it, but there was little to tell the EV apart from the petrol/diesel version until now. And that’s what makes the Nexon very interesting as a model, because it is remarkable how Tata Motors is balancing development of both versions of this uber-popular compact SUV!

Heck, the updated Nexon EV has broken cover just a week after the petrol and diesel versions and clearly, both models were being updated in parallel, with serious efforts to set them apart! This comes quick on the heels of Tata Motors announcing a new brand identity for its EV business and the Nexon EV, like the Tiago EV which is christened the Tiago.ev, also becomes the Nexon.ev now. We spent a fine, but rain soaked morning driving the Nexon.ev in our very own Pune, and there’s a lot to talk about.

Of course, you’ll be quick to spot the design changes – a revamped face with a more angular and aerodynamic front end, split headlights, sleek LED tail lights and stylish alloy wheels. But what also caught my eye was the fact that Tata Motors has done away with the electric blue accents we’re used to seeing on the EV. Viewed head on, the biggest distinction between the ICE and electric versions is the LED strip spanning the front end and connecting the DRLs. It doesn’t just look cool, it’s functional too! It integrates a ‘welcome’ function as well as a ‘goodbye’ one wherein the LEDs showcase an animation that’s quite pleasing to look at given how the LEDs turn on and off sequentially. This LED strip also doubles up as a charge indicator, which is a subtle touch but one that makes quite a statement.

Get behind the wheel and Ed confirms the dashboard design is identical to the ICE versions we drove a week ago. Even the two-spoke steering wheel is the same but with a white-hued rim inside to distinguish the EV. That said, while the illuminated Tata logo does look cool, the gloss black panel it sits on is a fingerprint magnet and highly prone to scratches too. I also experienced that it was very easy to trigger the cruise control function button placed on the steering wheel while taking tight turns. You have a 10.25-inch digital display for the instrument cluster like the ICE variant, but the EV flexes muscles with a larger, 12.3-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system. And guess what, there’s an app suite exclusive to the EV that lets you download games, OTT apps and more!

Of course, you’ll only be able to watch videos or engage in some gaming when the car is parked and typically this should help curb the boredom associated with waiting at a charging station for your car to juice up. It’s not just slick, it’s the promise of more to come – we heard the steering wheel could double up as a game controller in future for racing games! What isn’t different from the ICE versions is the sharp resolution of the screen, the brilliantly detailed and crisp 360-degree views and of course, the 9-speaker Harman audio system with 8 different modes that’s a class act to say the least. There’s the usual voice commands, connect technology and more which further amplify the Nexon.ev’s quotient as more of a gadget on wheels than automobile. Of course, you also get wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and touch-sensitive HVAC controls. The navigation support on the instrument cluster is neat, though it was a bit finicky during our trial run – but Tata assures us it’ll be smoothed out in production.

Taking centre stage on the specification sheet is the second generation or Gen2 electric motor as Tata Motors calls it. There’s juicier battery pack options on offer too and you can opt for a 30kWh or more powerful 40.5kWh pack. You get 129PS with the former, while the latter offers 144PS, which is higher than a lot of bigger and more expensive ICE cars! Now, that’s an upgrade worth noting. What’s also exciting is the range that gets bumped up courtesy the mechanical err… electric changes. The 2023 Nexon EV boasts an ARAI certified 325km per charge with the 30kWh battery pack and a very impressive 465km with the 40.5kWh one.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. The Gen2 motor feels snappier and more responsive off the line. Regen modes have been tweaked too, besides which you get a set of paddle shifters now to adjust regen levels. We’re also told regen efficiency is up by a significant 10 to 15 percent now. On the road, there’s quicker acceleration every single time you step on the throttle and the Nexon.ev is even more convincing now if you’re looking for a really quick urban SUV minus the fuel bills. We’re hoping to get more seat time in the Nexon.ev, but for now, let’s just say the 2023 Nexon.ev conceals serious upgrades beneath its modern exterior.

The Nexon.ev also packs in clever technology now that makes it more practical, in the form of V2L and V2V – the former was demonstrated by a coffee machine powered by the car, while the latter will allow you to charge another EV, a feature only seen previously in far more expensive EVs like the Kia EV6 and in fact, the Nexon.ev is the first Indian EV to get the feature!

To sum it up, the Nexon.ev is more than just a facelift. It’s a testament to Tata’s commitment to the electric revolution, something that makes our hearts swell with pride! It will be interesting to see how much the upgrades affect the SUV’s pricing, which will be announced on September 14. Nonetheless, the all-electric Nexon.ev should continue to lead the way in the Indian EV space as it has done so far.

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