Photographs by: Anup Lakra
Tata Motors has been a market leader in the EV space in India since it debuted the Nexon EV. Recently, they unveiled the Avinya concept as well. Social media was bombarded with this new concept's images, walkarounds, and videos. And, staying in the news the brand got back with a new product, the long-range iteration of the Nexon EV – the Nexon EV Max. The Nexon EV Max technically is the mighty twin of the Nexon EV with fewer technical and cosmetic upgrades. We all know that the Nexon EV was and is still a successful nameplate in the EV business. And the biggest testimony to this fact is the sales numbers. As a result the Nexon EV single-handedly post its launch in 2020, contributed to the maximum share in EV sales. But even after this, many prospective buyers hesitated to buy one and stepped back. Why? The reason is primarily the shorter electric range, followed by fewer features compared to cars around that price range.
But now, I guess that won’t be a concern anymore! Why? Because Tata Motors has resolved a few of these issues with the Nexon EV Max. It is still a tad expensive up-front. But hey, that's up to you to decide if you can account for the savings that will be generated with an EV over the coming years. And what I am here to help you with is, whether the Nexon EV Max deserves your garage space or not and are the new changes worth the price tag or not.
What’s new with the Max?
The Nexon EV Max, with the Max word added to the successful Nexon EV nameplate, translates into a more premium version of the Nexon EV. This version comes equipped with a bigger lithium-ion battery pack of 40.5 kWh. The battery pack in overall has gone up by 10 kWh over the standard Nexon EV, which actually makes the battery bigger by 33 percent. And as we say this we would like to mention that with the bigger battery comes a longer range, which is an ARAI-claimed range of 437 kilometres. Impressive! Isn’t it? And what follows next to these impressive figures is the significant bump in power and torque figures, which on paper looks to be 14bhp and 5Nm over the standard Nexon EV. That means the Nexon EV Max makes an output of 143bhp and 250Nm in total with this variant. The power delivery is still sent to the front wheels only via the Permanent magnet synchronous AC motor.
Now, you see everything is getting bigger and better in the EV Max, which means there have to be some technical changes. And there are, the Nexon EV Max is now 100 kgs heavier than the outgoing Nexon EV. Thanks to the bigger battery pack for this, which not only reduced the ground clearance of the Nexon EV Max by 15mm but also decreased the knee room by 20mm on the inside, at the rear. But hey that's not all! There are some changes for good too. And, guess what despite this additional weight, the Nexon EV Max is claimed to be 0.9 seconds faster than the Nexon EV, and can hit a ton in a flat 9 seconds. Wish I could have tested this if I had the testing gear because I felt the Nexon EV Max to be quicker.
With the increase in weight, the power and torque figures have also gone up marginally, meaning there is no stress for the motors in propelling the Nexon EV Max. Secondly, Tata Motors with the Nexon has always led the segment with the highest ground clearance. And, post this dip, the EV Max still stands tall at 190mm, making it still on par with its rivals. But, what about the decreased knee room? Well, it won't be a concern too, if the occupants at the rear aren’t giant frames like me to be honest, because this marginal decrease translates to a not-so-comfortable position for some, with your knees in an upright position.
How far can you take the Max?
Well, this one will take a bit longer to understand. Why? Because this iteration of the Nexon EV has grown in terms of battery size and electric range. Of course, the real-world range will differ in comparison to the ARAI claimed range, but what I noticed while testing was 330 kilometres on the system display at a full charge. Now, switching on the air con and some spirited driving with the Sports mode active gave me a range drop of 6 percent at the first few kilometres only. Now, these figures are subjective to individual driving manners and conditions. But what impressed me was the range left, while handing over the car after our test. Now, we drove the car for a good 80 to 90 kilometres, while testing all levels of regenerative braking, different modes of driving, and switching on and off the ventilated seats at intervals to avoid range drop. Even after all of this, when I handed over the car, the system showed the range left to be 174 kilometres with 54 percent of juice still left.
Now, these figures look quite appealing for the prospective buyers, as they not only are great but are decent enough for an EV under the 20 lakh price bracket. The Nexon EV Max for now has no such direct rivals, and if we consider the Hyundai Kona and MG ZS EV as rivals, then you are saving six to seven lakh rupees.
Next up are the charging times! When the Nexon EV Max needs to be juiced up, you have three charging options. First is the standard 3.3 kW charger that takes around 15 hours to completely charge the EV Max while being plugged into a 15A socket. The second is the 7.2 kW wall box that claims to bring down the charging times to approximately 6.5 hours. But, to save time, you end up spending money. Because this 7.2 kW charger is not on offer as standard and demands a premium of rupees fifty thousand. And, if this isn’t what you still require? Then, you can definitely head to your nearest charging station and use a 50 kW fast charger to juice up this EV, which is claimed to charge from 0 to 80 percent in 56 minutes. Mind you all this information can be accessed through the ZConnect app on your phones-smartwatches, and you can also have access to all the designated controls of the car, charging statistics, and driving scores in a single place.
And, before I progress towards the cosmetic updates, I would like to mention the four different levels of regen. The Nexon EV Max as said earlier offers you four levels of regenerative braking - level zero which lets you coast it when you step off the throttle, and level 1 which gradually decelerates the EV at a slow pace. Then follows is the level 2 which decelerates the EV Max at a little faster pace and the last & efficient one is the level 3 which brings the Nexon EV Max to decelerate quickly without bringing it to a complete standstill until the brakes are applied. To sum it all up, these levels aren’t as uncomfortable to drive in as they seem and take no time in getting used to. But, to have a brief understanding of it you would have to wait until we do a thorough road test soon.
How different does the Max look?
For this, you need to pull out your magnifying glasses. On the outside, the overall silhouette of the Nexon EV Max is identical to the Nexon EV. Upfront and at the rear, nothing has changed at all. It still retains the same look as the standard Nexon EV with blue accents sprinkled smartly all over. But, when seen in the profile from the sides, you notice something new and that's the only distinguishable change. What? Well, there's a new design for the 16-inch diamond-cut alloys and complimenting them are disc brakes at the rear replacing the drum. Now, you may ask why these changes are the only distinguishable changes. And, to answer this, what I noticed at the first glance was that you cannot differentiate at all between the Nexon EV and EV Max. Except for the intense-teal paint finish that's exclusive for the EV Max, there is no other cosmetic factor to differentiate the two cars except the aforementioned changes. Even there is no evident Max badging on this iteration. Yes, you read that right! Not even once in the Nexon EV Max, you would notice the Max badge or lettering. And, to be honest, that’s a smart move, because I guess that’s what Tata Motors wanted you to think of the Nexon EV Max as not a completely new car but a step up or an improved version in a slightly premium variant.
Following this in the cabin are some evident changes. Step inside and you notice the identical cabin layout of the outgoing Nexon EV. This time you do not need those magnifying glasses. The reason is, distinctive upgrades on the inside that include a revamped centre console, a wireless charging dock, an electronic sunroof, ventilated seats in the front, an air purifier, and a premium finish for the signature rotary gear knob. Now, the gear knob looks more premium and has something new for you. Tata Motors have actually integrated a display to it, which indicates the engaged gear at that moment bold and clear with drive mode backgrounds. These colourful backgrounds are calibrated with the three different driving modes. Yes, the Nexon EV Max unlike its standard twin, has three driving modes – Eco, City, and Sport instead of two as the Nexon EV. Mind you these modes only alter the throttle response and engaging these modes has their respective effect on the electric range of the car.
Well, safety is a priority for Tata Motors. And keeping safety paramount are the newly added safety features. The Nexon EV Max now comes equipped with safety features like hill hold assist, hill descent control, ESP, electronic hand brake, reverse park assist, and the important and a must in EVs, the tyre pressure monitoring system to avoid rolling resistance in case of low tire pressure. These all features do account for keeping you safe in the Nexon EV Max, and above all what will incline most prospective buyers towards considering the Nexon EV to be a safe car, is the five-star Global NCAP rating of its ICE sibling. Now, the Nexon EV or the EV Max have not been sent individually for these safety tests but considering the structural integrity to be the same, you can assume it to be as safe as its sibling.
How is it to ride and handle?
Well, knowing about the weight gain with the battery pack, I thought I would have a lot to talk about, on this front. But, like always Tata Motors has done a commendable job again on this front by tweaking the suspension. And, to my surprise, what I experienced was a well-balanced ride and handling like the standard Nexon EV. Driving the EV Max you find the ride quality slightly on the stiffer side. The undulations and bumps are ironed out well and are almost negligible inside the cabin. Whether you are doing high speeds on highways or low-speed runs through rough patches, the Nexon EV Max tackles them all. Whereas, when handling is concerned, the Nexon EV Max gets a certain amount of heft to the steering. The body roll is well controlled and when paired with the low centre of gravity, it gives you great confidence while going aggressively through the corners. And above all of this, impressing you on this front is the new safety feature, the ESP that regulates wheel spin and allows you to maintain much cleaner lines. Overall as the younger twin the ride and handling tick the right boxes in the EV Max as well.
Should you buy this one?
The Nexon EV Max is on offer at a sticker price of Rs 17.74 lakh for the entry-level XZ+ variant and goes up to Rs 19.24 lakh for the top-of-the-range XZ+ Lux variant. These variants certainly demand a premium of Rs 3.45 lakh over the base variant which is the XM variant of the standard Nexon EV, and Rs 2.04 lakh in the case of the top-end XZ+Lux variant. These differences are surely hefty, but what you get by shelling out these few lakhs of rupees is the extra range, bigger battery, and a plethora of features and safety kit. Now, the Nexon EV Max in my opinion can easily do around 340 kilometres on a full charge making your commute hassle-free without range anxiety, while in the Nexon EV it is difficult to attain anything above 240 kilometres. Also, if you have the Hyundai Kona or the MG ZS EV on your list while buying an EV, mind that the prices of these cars go above the Rs 20 lakh bracket. And, not only this, what you get after paying this premium considering the ex-showroom (Delhi) price is either a bigger battery pack, some extra kilometres as per the claimed range figures, a torquier motor, or some extra cabin space, and a few extra features. But, what you don’t get is Tata Motors' legendary reliability. And, if that’s not all, we will soon give you a winner amongst the three when we get to drive the three back to back.