Though the entities / departments that work on the ICE and EV vehicles under the Tata Motors umbrella are different, the 2023 Nexon and new Nexon.ev have been developed in parallel. As a result, along with the new “.ev” logo, the Nexon’s electric vehicle version gets an extensive upgrade and refresh though it is still fairly young after its debut in 2020. That is also the reason why much of the exterior and interior design of the new Nexon.ev is nearly identical to the new ICE model.
Design and Build
There are differences between the ICE and EV Nexons that will help identify them, but the basic design refresh remains largely similar. Like with the ICE Nexon, the Nexon.ev also gets only one body panel that has been altered significantly. But the new clamshell bonnet aside, the front has been smartly redesigned to deliver an even better futuristic design impact for the EV. Since there are no breathing needs in the absence of an engine under the bonnet, the front fender gets a completely different design with a sort of slatted pattern that is somehow very apt for its electric positioning.
The rest of the front design is the same, but the headlamps also get the addition of a light bar in the middle that connects the two DRLs on either side and delivers a unique light signature. The connecting portion also doubles up as a charge status indicator with the bar getting lit up progressively as the SOC rises. Sequential turn indicators and the welcome and goodbye light signatures are part of the routine.
The new Nexon.ev design is identical from the side except for the blue ‘EV’ badging. The 16-inch rims look identical to the ICE Nexon, but the tyres are very different. The new low rolling resistance tyres have been jointly developed by Tata and MRF specifically for the Nexon.ev. Tata officials tell me that the new exterior design’s better aero performance and the new tyres contribute to better efficiencies that have lead to an increase in driving range from the same battery pack. The rear design features the X-factor LED connected tail-lamps with the same welcome and goodbye light sequences as in the new Nexon ICE versions. The rear fender sees some changes to match the orientation of the front. The tailgate has the Nexon.ev badge in capital letters and the roof spoiler is the same one with its recessed rear glass wiper. Some of these features are available only in the top trim persona in the EV version, which is called ‘Empowered’.
The Nexon.ev was and continues to be built on the same adapted ICE-EV platform and so the underpinnings for the Nexon.ev are mostly the same. The battery pack sits under the floor of the 2023 Nexon.ev and gets additional reinforcements, both for the long range and the medium range versions. In addition to the teal blue body colour from the outgoing Nexon EV, the new one also gets a new metallic white for the top trim.
Cabin and features
The interior of the new Nexon.ev is nearly identical to the ICE Nexon that I test drove a week ago. The whole digitisation theme is such a big jump for the EV version too and it definitely looks more at home in the Nexon.ev. The steering wheel with its backlit glass for the steering boss, the 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster are both so cool to look at while I’m behind the wheel of the new Nexon.ev. EV-specific data, info and animation for battery usage and regen are displayed on the instrument cluster instead of the usual ICE dials. You can also choose to let the entire digital instrument screen display the navigation á la Audi virtual cockpit.
The floating infotainment screen on the centre stack is, however, a larger 12.3-inch ‘cinematic’ touchscreen. The 2K resolution is the same as the ICE version’s infotainment screen, but the larger display is there for a reason. To help the EV driver who may have to spent time in-cabin during charging Tata engineers have smartly added what they call “arcade.ev” which is a suite of entertainment and gaming apps that can be downloaded onto the system. The viewing/ gaming apps won’t work unless the vehicle is parked, but the music apps can be used on the go. You’ll need to subscribe for a mobile plan, use a dongle or mobile hotspot for streaming services and downloads.
The rest of the cabin is nearly the same as in the ICE Nexon. The seats are comfy both for the front passengers and the rear. Headroom maybe a bit tight for tall passengers at the rear like in the ICE version. And this one also gets seat ventilation for front passengers. The rotary drive position selector has been replaced with a broad, conventional automatic gearbox selector stick with an activator lever that is a bit fiddly. The mode selector is the same rotary dial that was offered in the outgoing Nexon EV. The touch panel for the fully auto aircon controls, and the bunch of others like lock/unlock etc is the same as in the ICE Nexon and the touch controls work flawlessly. The floor at the rear is a bit raised due to the battery pack ; the boot space is a bit lesser at 350-litres compared to the ICE Nexon.
The other features that the Nexon.ev also gets (dependent on persona trim chosen) include a single pane sunroof, soft touch and textured dashboard panels with a contrast blue stitch, the same JBL speakers with the Harman tuned infotainment system, wireless charger and an air purifier.
Battery and performance
The new Nexon.ev gets the same two battery size options as its predecessor. The names have been changed from Prime and Max, to simply Medium range (MR) and Long range (LR). The long range gets the 40.5kWh battery pack and the Medium range gets the 30kWh pack. The LFP (lithium ferro phosphate) battery chemistry for the cells is the most reliable currently and though the new model has the same iVBAC regen control system as the outgoing model, the system has been finetuned for reduced regen losses and improved efficiency. The electric motor has also been changed in the new Nexon.ev. The second-gen motor is 20kgs lighter and uses lesser rare earth materials. It spins at a higher rate and torque at the wheel is a higher 2,500Nm compared to the 2,200Nm, claim Tata EV engineers. But torque generated by the BEV system is a lower 215Nm. The output is the only slightly different with the LR’s motor putting out about 145hp and the MR doing about 127hp.
Tata officials tell me that each of the new drivetrain, regenerative braking and design changes contribute to incremental improvements in the driving range. Also, Tata engineers claim that though the rated range has only gone up about 25kms (465kms now), the actual on-road increase should be better. I spent a full day testing the LR version of the top trim Empowered variant. The change to the BEV system is evident, there is none of the earlier jerky throttle response, and the system controls and eliminates any wheel spin. There are three driving modes to choose from - Eco, City and Sport, with the pedal response and acceleration being quickest in Sport. The addition to the BEV system in the new Nexon.ev is the steering-mounted (+/-) paddles for selective regen. There are four levels to choose from with L4 being the highest regen braking. This is in addition to the drive modes and their preset regen levels, so one can mix and match and personalise even one-pedal driving.
As far as charging the battery pack, the Nexon.ev’s CC2 charging protocol plug can be used to charge via a AC wall socket (3.3kW), with the 7.2kW AC wall box charger (provided with LR only) or can be charged using DC fast chargers. However, the new model only supports DC chargers up to 30kWh capacity. Charging times could vary from about 15 hours to less than two hours (for LR). The new Nexon.ev also gets bi-directional charging with V2V and V2L capabilities. This means you can use a separately sold charging cable to deliver charge from one vehicle to another and/ or from the vehicle to a load (an appliance or other electrical device). Can be handy during driving range emergencies and during outdoor camping etc.
The ride quality of the new Nexon.ev is as good as its predecessor. The lower centre of gravity and balanced suspension set up means that stability on the straights and its poise into corners is good. I was a little curious to find out if the low rolling resistance tyres will squeal or slip during hard cornering, but there was none of that and the MRF rubber offered good grip all along. The new model also gets the entire range of safety features.
The new Nexon.ev can be had in three personas - Creative, Fearless and Empowered. The base Creative can be had only in MR battery size, but the other two can be specified in both pack sizes. There are optional customisable additions within these personas with their own set of features. Introductory prices range from ₹14.74 lakh to ₹19.94 lakh (ex-showroom); this represents only a three to seven per cent increase over the outgoing model’s prices. The best-selling EV in India just got a big upgrade.