The Zest is a hugely important car for Tata Motors. And, fortunately, it’s not at sea on the track.
The Zest and Bolt seem to have brought Tata Motors back into the game. The resulting sigh of relief at Bombay House is palpable. You can’t blame them really, there was a lot riding on these two models. And there’s a lot more to come as well from the Indian manufacturer. These two models are just the start, and herald a new era at Tata Motors.
And, while they’re a good starting point, there are more than a few areas in which Tata Motors has to work that little bit harder. The plastic quality in some cases, for instance, is pretty poor. But, from behind the wheel, things are quite well under control in the Zest. In fact, you could even say that it’s a pretty keen handler.
The first thing you notice, in fact, when you get into the Zest is that the seats are actually quite nicely sculpted. In most of the cars here, you have to hold onto the steering for dear life in the middle of a fast bend – for fear of ending up in the passenger seat. The seats in the Zest, though, actually have enough side bolstering and support to hold you firmly in place. The second thing that you notice is that the steering wheel is just the right size – it feels sporty and actually quite nice to hold.
Then you crank the motor and wake the familiar 1.3 Fiat Multijet diesel engine – which strangely still feels decidedly more refined when used by Maruti Suzuki than any other manufacturer (Fiat included). Once you get going, you get a familiar surge in the mid-range from the diesel motor. It pulls till 5,000rpm, but you can’t really be sure because instead of a redline the tach needle glows red to indicate when you need to change up – which sounds straightforward enough, but isn’t so in practise. At any rate, save for a sloppy gearshift and no place to rest your left foot, the Zest is actually not bad at all on the move. Ride and handling are impressive, and quick direction changes are handled with a fair amount of composure. The Achilles heel of this car is a few errant pieces of trim, not necessarily the driving experience. So, if it’s a spirited Sunday drive you’re after in your brand new Tata sedan, go straight ahead…
- Tata Zest Quadrajet 90PS
Engine: 1,248cc / 4 Cylinders / 16 Valves / Common Rail Direct-Injection / Turbocharged
Transmission: 5-Speed Manual / Front-Wheel Drive
Power: 89bhp @ 4,000rpm
Torque: 200Nm @ 1,750-3,000rpm
Price: Rs. 7 lakhs (Ex-showroom, Delhi)