Tata is relatively new to the automotive business but progress has been swift and experts tip this Indian conglomerate will be a powerhouse very soon.
Tata first entered ‘our’ space in 2008 when it purchased from Ford both Jaguar and Land Rover. With diverse interests including steel, power, chemicals, hotels and telecommunications – as well as the automotive division – the family owned multinational based in Mumbai is India’s best-known global brand.
As we’ve seen with the onslaught of new models from Jaguar, Range Rover and Land Rover in recent times, Tata isn’t reluctant to invest in new products. And no doubt there will be some sharing of engineering across its diverse automotive interests…in other words rival ute/pickup brands should be watching Tata very closely.
Tata Xenon Overview
The Tata Xenon first appeared locally in late 2013 but upgrades in September 2014 were significant as these enabled the dual-cab model to score a four-star safety rating in local ANCAP testing (eclipsing the three-star rating of rivals Foton Tunland, Mahindra Pik-Up and Great Wall V240). Included in the extras for the Tata Xenon were Electronic Stability Control (a Bosch system), Traction Control, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, hill-hold assist, hydraulic brake assist and drag torque control.
Local Tata distributor the Fusion Automotive Group (part of the Walkinshaw operation) handed www.carshowroom.com.au the keys to a Tata Xenon 4x2 Dual Cab Pick-up which carries a ‘Driveaway’ price of $25,990. Kicking-off the Tata Xenon range is the 4x2 Single Cab Chassis which is stickered at $22,990 ‘Driveaway’ including the alloy tray.
Extra specifications for Tata Xenon Dual Cab include satellite navigation, a reversing camera and an upgraded audio system (seven-inch touchscreen).
Towing capacity is rated at 2500kgs
Tata Xenon Engine
Tata Xenon is powered by a 2.2-litre DOHC turbo-diesel (designed and made in-house) which complies with Euro5 emissions regulations. Maximum power is 110kW at 4000 rpm and peak torque of 320Nm is delivered between 1500rpm- 3000rpm.
Drive is via a five-speed manual transmission and combined-cycle fuel consumption is rated at 7.4l/100kms
Tata Xenon The Interior
Inside the Tata Xenon presented very well with nice cloth seats (two individual buckets up-front in the dual cab model we tested) and a rear bench seat which folded for load-carrying versatility. Interior colour scheme was ‘Ebony Black’ and ‘Lenin’ and there was a nice quality look/feel for the steering wheel and instruments however some of the other plastics were a tad hard when compared to the likes of say Ford Ranger and Mazda BT50.
We liked the sturdy feel of the steering wheel (tilt adjustment only) and gear-lever (none of the ‘Nancy Boy’ stuff you see in some utes which looks like they’ve come from a small hatchback). And we liked the centre stack and satellite navigation screen – both as good as some other more expensive utes.
Our Tata Xenon 4x4 Dual Cab scored the upgraded audio system with its seven-inch touchscreen. Tata provides Bluetooth capability as well as a CD player and USB input.
Tata Xenon Exterior & Styling
The Tata Xenon delivers a unique look which is muscular and seems ideal for hard work. Up front are a chrome grille and meaty headlights as well as front fog lights.
Side view with our Dual cab model revealed a modern rising waistline, contemporary side mirrors with turn indicator lights, the optional alloy side steps and a alloy sports bar in the tub give the Tata Xenon a tough look.
The 16-inch alloy wheels looked nice and the Tata Xenon comes with a full-size spare wheel (steel).
Tata Xenon Dual Cab’s measures 5125mm in length and the tub is 1429mm in length and 1414mm in width. The Dual Cab provides a rated payload of 1050kgs and our test car came fitted with an optional sturdy black plastic tub protector.
Tata Xenon On The Road
Regular ute buyers will be pleased to hear the Tata Xenon rides on a double-wishbone front suspension and parabolic leaf spring rear. As we know, many commercial buyers in particular prefer the leaf-spring set-up.
Tata’s 2.2-litre turbo-diesel had some punch particularly from low speeds with a purposeful exhaust growl when you cracked the whip. The five-speed manual transmission provided a good ratio spread and was reasonably easy to operate (like all commercial vehicles it’s a tad ‘meatier’ than passenger cars – all that diesel torque needs some strength especially when fully loaded).
And, like all utes, over our high-speed mountain roads test loop with no load on-board the Tata Xenon was a bit bouncy. That said there was plenty of grip, acceptable feedback from the steering and turn-in to the corners was positive.
Around town, the Tata Xenon provided good visibility when parking and the 12-metre turning circle and reversing camera (standard in Dual Cab models) conquered our tight CBD carpark.
Tata Xenon Challenges
Our only points deduction for the Tata Xenon was for that interior plastic. Yes, we know all utes need hard-working interiors but the likes of Ford Ranger and Mazda BT50 show it is possible to introduce some better tactile stuff in this league.
The driving position on long distances became uncomfortable after a an hour or two behind the wheel and the lack of cruise control didn’t help either.
Tata Xenon Verdict
There’s no doubt Tata is on the road to becoming a major player in the global automotive industry – the impression is the Indian giant is just getting warmed-up. Equally there’s no doubt the Tata Xenon Dual Cab 4x4 ticks all the boxes for ute buyers who are on a limited budget.
Locally, appointment of more dealers, the significant achievement of the four-star ANCAP safety rating and the support provided by the new ‘Tata Tough Cover’ (4-years/100,000kms warranty with roadside assistance and 4-years/60,000kms capped-price servicing) shows the Fusion Automotive Group is right behind Tata in Australia.
All things considered if you’re in the market for a ute, put the Tata Xenon on your shopping list – this tough ‘hombre’ is definitely worth a test-drive.
Tata Xenon The Competition
There’s varying rivals for the Tata Xenon. Varying looks and countries of origin just for starters.
Foton has the Tunland 2.8 Dual Cab. It’s a tad more expensive than the Tata Xenon 4x4 Dual Cab at $29,990.
Great Wall chines-in with the V200 priced at $27,990.
And from Mahindra we have the 2.2 Dual Cab Ute which will set you back $25,990.