2022 Tata Nexon EV Max review, road test - real-world range tested!
The Tata Nexon EV is one of the more significant cars that Tata Motors currently makes. On the back of this electric SUV, Tata Motors is by far the largest EV maker in India with over 85 per cent market share and the Nexon is now the best-selling SUV in the country. So it was only a matter of time before we saw this car, the Nexon EV Max or the long-range version of the Nexon EV.
2022 Tata Nexon EV Max battery, range, charging
The Tata Nexon EV Max has a larger 40.5 kWh battery pack, good for an ARAI range of 437 km. This is up from the 30.2 kWh of the standard Nexon EV and its 312 km certified range. The pack itself continues to be a lithium-iron-phosphate one but Tata Motors claims it has done work to improve its energy density. This has led to a 40 per cent increase in range from a 33 per cent increase in size.
But as our real-world range test showed, the changes run deeper than that. We managed 275 km of city driving range and 241 km of highway range. This may not seem a significant increase from the combined 230 km we got from the standard Nexon EV but a key difference here is that we made no concessions to the fact that we were driving an electric car, quite unlike the significant hypermiling we had to do when we range tested the regular Nexon EV.
We put the Nexon EV Max through the heavy usage cycle we put any other ICE-powered car through, more than what you would put it through as a daily driver, with bursts of hard acceleration, long idle times, triple-digit cruising and used most of the gadgetry on board. Tata Motors says it has reduced drag and energy losses in the drivetrain and this was apparent by the noticeably milder drop in highway range than in the regular Nexon EV. The new power electronics and the i-VBAC braking system have helped with this, making Tata Motors' claim of over 300 km of real-world range a plausible one.
Despite the increase in battery size, charging times have dropped with the Tata Nexon EV Max. The electric SUV can now accept up to 50 kW of DC fast charging from the earlier 30 kW, enough to get up to 80 per cent charge from a flat battery in 56 minutes. You can now also option a 7.2 kW AC charger that tops up the battery fully in 6.5 hours, a Rs 50,000 option that may be worth the price if you rack up quite a bit of weekly mileage.
2022 Tata Nexon EV Max driving impressions, regen modes
The Tata Nexon EV Max gets a more powerful 143PS and 250 Nm electric motor, and the effects of this are immediately apparent on the move. Even in the new, most conservative Eco drive mode, the electric SUV makes for steady progress in start-stop traffic. There's quite a bit of the electric torque already available off the line and there's none of the slightly laboured progress you would find in the low-power mode in the standard Nexon EV.
So the Eco mode is a perfectly acceptable default driving mode for the Nexon EV Max, the steering feels quite light and effortless and the usual tight-turning radius of an EV is always a boon. The suspension set-up has been reworked to account for the 100kg weight gain with the Max but this is barely noticeable. If anything, Tata Motors seems to have improved the fairly stiff low-speed ride of the standard Nexon EV, which paired with the hushness of an EV, makes for quite a comforting city car.
Interestingly, there's no difference in outputs in the Eco or City modes. You get about 98PS and 170 Nm in both, the only difference being a slightly sharper accelerator response in the City mode. In the real world, this seems to free up the Nexon EV Max in its motions a touch more but this is a minimal change that doesn't significantly alter the driving experience.
A commendable addition is the four selectable regen modes. These make for more predictable driving than the earlier dynamic regen modes, helped by their thoughtful tuning and the easily accessed physical buttons.
Even in the highest Level 3, deceleration is never abrupt and the Nexon EV Max slows down quite similarly to how an ICE car would off-throttle. But unlike Tata Motors' claim, there's no one-pedal driving, the Max will slow down to a 10 kmph crawl and you will need to use the physical brakes to bring it to a complete stop. The new drive selector with its slick display makes it much more intuitive, and safer, with there now finally being a Park mode. But the noticeable delay in the switching of the functions is still present, which can get a touch frustrating say while making three-point turns.
But now with the flexibility the added range offers, you might be tempted to use the Sport mode more often, where the full outputs are available. The Nexon EV Max is a rapid car here as our tested 0 to 100 kmph time of 8.8s shows, over 4 seconds faster than in the Eco mode. This makes the Nexon EV max faster than most of the turbo-petrols it competes with on price and should make for some great traffic light thrills. There's some torque steer and tyre squeal with heavy throttle inputs before the newly added stability control kicks in, adding to the drama. A more practical use for this mode is the immense overtaking power. With its sub- 2s rolling acceleration times, very few cars its price will be able to out-overtake a Nexon EV Max.
At higher speeds, the low centre of gravity and the generally sound dynamics give the Nexon EV Max a solid feeling on the move, helped by the pliant ride. Expectedly, there is some pitch and dive as well as some roll around bends. But this isn't disconcerting as long as you keep speeds within check. The physical brakes are well-tuned as well, the switchover from regen to these is fairly straightforward and there's quite a bit of bite, thanks to the new rear disc brakes.
2022 Tata Nexon EV Max exteriors, interiors
Somewhat disappointingly, there's no clear way to differentiate the Tata Nexon EV Max from the standard car. You only get a new dark teal paint shade and a different set of alloys. We think some Max badging would have gone a long way to help this version stand out.
That's not quite the case on the inside. The Nexon EV Max gets some well-done gloss-black panelling on the dash with its subdued teal motifs, complemented by the beige. But most striking is the redesigned centre console.
This console has been completely redesigned and accommodates most of the new feature additions. There's a new drive selector dial with its crisp animations that don't leave you second-guessing like earlier. The buttons for the drive modes have also moved here as has the new wireless charger and the electronic parking braking. But a drawback is that now there's little in the way of storage space, especially for water bottles or cups. The small space underneath the armrest and the slim door bins is your lot. Another quirk is that you only get one USB port and a 12V socket in the front for your charging needs.
But commendably cabin space has taken only a marginal hit with the increased battery size. Tata Motors has made thoughtful underlying changes to the structure and improved energy density to pack in the larger battery. So aside from a small hump in the rear footwell, which put you in a slightly more knees-up seating position, the Nexon EV max still has one of the best rear seats in its class. The backrest angle is just right and the new leatherette seats are soft but still supportive. The boot space too remains identical at 350 litres but ground clearance has dropped to a still useful 205mm.
The Max is based on the standard Nexon EV's top XZ Plus and XZ Lux variants, so you get quite a long list of features that includes a 7-inch touchscreen, part-digital instrumentation, climate control, auto headlamps and wipers, a sunroof along with the newly-added air-purifier and cruise control.
2022 Tata Nexon EV Max safety
In what is now the norm, the Tata Nexon EV Max brings with it a strong suite of safety equipment. Having said that, we would have liked to have seen six airbags at least as an option but the EV scores with some thoughtful new additions like the rear disc brakes and hill-descent function we've already mentioned, along with hill-hold and an auto-dimming inside mirror.
2022 Tata Nexon EV Max price, verdict
The roughly Rs 1.8 lakh you spend over the standard Nexon EV, and the added Rs 50,000 for the faster AC charger, may seem like quite a hike over the standard Nexon EV. But if you plan on using your EV for longer road trips, picking the Nexon EV Max is a bit of a no-brainer. Even if you don't, the added range and the more efficient drivetrain bring with them a much less anxious driving experience in urban conditions. You'll be less wary of your driving style and plug it in less often over a week. The added features, despite some of the practicality misses, also seem to compensate for the price hike in a way the invisible range improvements don't. Looks like Tata Motors has another strong seller on its hands.
2022 Tata Nexon EV Max real-world range, performance
0 to 100 kmph - 8.8s
30 to 50 kmph - 1.5s
50 to 70 kmph - 1.7s
60 to 80 kmph - 1.9s
100 to 0 kmph - 52.5m, 3.3s
Images by Anis Shaikh
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