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Tata Zest 1.2 Revotron Petrol Review

The excise duty incentive for cars less than 4 meters means that the prices of compact sedans are mouth-wateringly near their equivalent hatchback siblings. This has prompted carmakers to juice up their offerings in this segment with features which, earlier, could be found in the premium sedan category. Some features which customers have come to expect in this segment are daytime-running LED lights, two-tone interiors, touchscreen infotainment system, height adjustable driver seat, projector headlamps, turn indicators on rear view mirrors and rear passenger AC vents. Among fierce competition from European and Japanese carmakers, the Zest from the new ‘design revolution’ revamp of Tata passenger vehicles does well to tick most of the boxes in this segment. Though the sales have not been setting the counters on fire as was expected with the sort of strong competition, it is nowhere any less competent than its rivals as we found out.

Looks, design 
The Zest is the first to be introduced with the new design philosophy and it shares the same front with its hatchback cousin, the Bolt, which was launched few months down the line. What is most noticeable when we first see the Zest is the ground clearance. It shows that the car is ready for all sorts of horrors the Indian roads throw up to it and should take care of the nerve-jarring underbody scrapes which sedan drivers live in constant fear of. 

From the front, the car looks wide and spacious. The headlamps and the wide smile grille clearly are inspired by the looks of the Indica and it remains to be seen if this works for or against the Zest and Bolt cousins.

The designers definitely deserve a pat on their backs as the sedan does not look like hatchback with an attached boot. There is a good use of chrome on the grille which adds a dash of premium feel. The projector headlamps are big and swooping and merge well with the bonnet lines.

The daytime running LED lights are integrated with the fog lamp assembly and look pretty sharp. They lend a very nice personality to the overall look of the front.

The rear has also been given equal attention and looks muscular and uncluttered. The chrome on the boot door is a clear effort towards making the car match up to the competition. The lower portion of the bumper is black plastic and houses the rear fog lamp.

The front and rear windows are quite big in proportion adding to overall visibility for driver as well as passengers. There are two parallel lines running along the sides which give the Zest an aggressive stance even when it is standing still. The rear view mirrors have turn indicators on them. The standard alloy wheels look decent.

The overall build quality feels solid and doesn't come at a compromise with style.

The interiors is where the Zest seems to have been worked upon a lot. The black and beige two tone combination works well with the entire setup. The plastics do not feel cheap and are matching up to European standards. The steering wheel is a three spoke design and has been provided with ergonomic contours for a comfortable grip. The top end versions get steering mounted controls.

We find the rpm meter and speedometer at the right places and a small display unit in between them which gives out the display for range, trip meter and other important statuses.

The armrests are long and wide which increases driver comfort on long journeys. The gear knob is well positioned and has a smooth finish. The glove box is big and also has a special provision to keep your car documents firmly in place.

Seating comfort is another area where the Zest impresses with bucket seats in the front. The driver seat is adjustable for height and it is a boon for finding the right posture for the driver. The rear has adequate room for three people as has been the case with all theTata cars.

The infotainment system is from Harman and available with the top end version. The touchscreen is something which provides a lot of possibilities for control and entertainment. This system nicely integrates climate control, mobile Bluetooth connectivity, music player and radio and a host of other goodies together. It is a kind of system one may get so much used to that it would be difficult to imagine not having one in your car.

The car has an adequate boot and two medium sized luggage can be accommodated with ease.

Engine, Ride quality and handling

The test car we received was a 1.2 litre Revotron petrol engine developed by Tata themselves. The maximum output is 90bhp at 5000rpm. 

The engine is smooth and provides linear torque at rpms above 1500rpm. Low rpm torque is adequate if not the highest in this category. The maximum torque output is 140Nm in the range of 1500 to 4000rpm. The clutch is light and well adjusted for foot comfort. The accelerator and brake pedals are sufficiently apart.

The ride quality is where the Zest will score a notch above its rivals. The design team has ensured that the Zest will make easy work of any type of road surface across the geography of India. From dusty mud roads in rural India to expressways connecting cities to potholed city roads, the Zest gobbles up all challenges given to it without a whimper. The handling is not the best among current carmakers present in India. The steering is a bit light and one may wish for some more feedback. The higher ground clearance also means that this car cannot be thrown into corners recklessly. However, considering the segment in which this car is competing, this hardly seems to be the deal breaker.

Closing words
Try as we might, it was hard to not have preconceived notions about a Tata car. Surprisingly, we found that the Zest is a worthy competitor in the segment if a buyer looks at the entire package with an unbiased mindset. 

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