How I replaced my old Fiesta with Nexon EV Max: 7 days & 300 km review

Among all the electric vehicles that I have tried, it is better than the Tata Tigor EV and maybe slightly better than the Nexon Prime and Hyundai Kona.

BHPian wocanak recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Would you believe it if this story started with school bus pricing? Yeah, right. Well, that was the reason why we were hanging onto our Fiesta for too long. It was very much cheaper for a few kids in our community to share the car with a part-time driver, than pay for the school bus. The school had a flat bus fee, irrespective of distance, which made it great for people living across the city and not so great for folks like us living just a couple of kms from the school. So, every year kids living closer would drop out, forcing the school to raise the school bus fee, leading more kids to drop the bus and the cycle continued. Those who forget economics are doomed to repeat vicious cycles. Okay, I promise, there will be no more *econ* jokes.

The trusty Fiesta fell into disuse during the corona lock-down, I did what I could to use it minimally and keep it running, but two plus years of reduced use took its toll. Despite full servicing in the summer holidays, it had a couple of breakdowns within a few months of school opening. And that triggered the search for our next car. I had been merrily following the chip shortage-induced crisis on the sidelines, pitying the poor sods who were scrambling to buy a new car in this market. But now, I had to join the long queue.

We started test driving any reasonably safe car that was available for delivery within 2 months, in the 10 (±2) lakhs price range. We started with Kiger, Baleno, i20, Amaze and Tigor EV! We were pleasantly surprised and relieved to know that in reality, many cars were available for delivery within a month, especially if we were flexible with colour and variant. Our nearby Honda dealer offered white Amaze (manual or CVT) delivery within a week or so. They must have had many in stock, as multiple SAs were calling me every week. Baleno manual was also readily available, and so was the i20. Only these three dealers, would follow up regularly and seemed interested in selling.

The initial urgency subsided, as we knew we had a few good options in case we had to buy quickly. Meantime, our Fiesta also looked to have settled down and was doing okay. We now switched to a more relaxed and systematic search mode, but we knew we had to buy sooner or later as our Fiesta was nearing 14 years and even our S-Cross crossed the 6-year mark.

This is a good time to segue into a bit of background. I am what I would like to call an auto-competent, i.e., something between an auto-ignoramus and auto-enthusiast. I know the basics of cars (and a bit of bikes) and I love driving (quite a bit), but I don’t live and breathe cars or bikes. Our current cars, when they were new:

I have no strong affinity for Petrol, Diesel, Electric or any other technology though I got used to the low-end torque of Diesel after our Fiesta and S-Cross, both manual Diesels. But we were not so keen on getting a Diesel again. Primary car usage is 80% city, mileage was 18,000 kms/year pre-corona, but is now 13,000 due to partial WFH. Secondary car is all city and is 10,000 kms/year. I drive the primary car, and the secondary car is driven by part-time driver. Our community is on the outskirts of Bangalore, where many cab and bus drivers live. They often pair up and offer to drive as a package for nearby school/office trips and it works out well for all. I am flexible to either continue driving the S-Cross or the new car.

I am quite conservative while buying cars, and not that keen on the leading/bleeding edge. But I have a lot of respect for friends and colleagues who bought the early Reva/E20 cars. While buying S-Cross in 2016, there was news of e-Verito launch, I wanted to at least test drive it before deciding, but there was nothing till the end. When I saw the Nexon EV reviews, I was clear I have to at least test drive an EV before buying my next car. That is how Tigor/Nexon EV got into the list, otherwise, I wouldn’t even have called Tata dealerships, as I had no intention of buying any Tata ICE cars.

Few things that came out of the initial test drives:

  • Baleno had the best fuel efficiency. No surprise, Maruti retains the kitna detha hai crown.
  • Kiger Turbo CVT was quite fun to drive in sports mode
  • i20 and Amaze, CVT was pretty good
  • Tigor/Nexon EV, damn, electric cars have come a long way from Reva/E20

The first thing we notice in an EV is obviously the reduced NVH, and then the great no compromise auto gear experience. Then finally, I was thrilled to see how the sports mode really turns them into a sporty variant. It is like S-cross 1.3 and 1.6 or i20 and i20 N-Line in one car, at least within reasonable speed limits like below 120 kmph. All this can justify the EV premium somewhat, but I was not fully convinced. There is around 4.3 lakhs (~43%) premium between Tigor XZA+ and Tigor EV XZ+ (OTR Bangalore). Even if we assume 2 lakhs for the sporty/refined car, the remaining 2.3 lakhs is not justified by the fuel savings. It will take Rs 5/km saving X 46,000 Kms (in 3.5 years with my usage) to break even, and that is not considering any interest. While there are other benefits to EVs, like lower emissions it was not that much. If we consider Petrol Vs Electric Tigor, and stick to the southern region, it is only 14% lower. From the paper often cited in this forum.

I did a lot more searching, read way too many “what car” threads on the forum. In the first cut Baleno manual seemed to be the best of the lot, and Tigor EV was at best an okay option if we are particular about buying an EV. But neither was fully convincing and it seemed best to wait and watch, as we knew a few new car launches were coming.

Among them was the Tiago EV, which changed this analysis quite a bit. The premium between the Tiago XZA+ and Tiago XZ+LR is only 2.5 lakhs (~27%). If we split this as premium for sporty/refined cars and premium for cost savings, then the breakeven comes down to within 2 years. Even the interest can be recovered within 3 years or so. Of course, it is a smaller car, but it is basically the same car without the boot and that doesn’t matter much for city usage.

This seemed like a good option, we have to wait to see and drive the car, but it made sense to book and put ourselves in the queue. The suddenly responsive SA also assured us we can switch or cancel and get a full refund. So, we booked Tiago EV and waited for the test drive.

Along with the Tiago EV launch, there was the XUV 400 launch, but no price or date was given. It also had an NMC battery, which is not a great option for a hot climate. There was a rumour about Citroen C3 electric, but it fizzled out. Even if launched, I was not so sure about buying from Citroen which is not well established in India. Then there was the Grand Vitara/Hyryder, but the cheapest Strong Hybrid was in the same ballpark as Nexon Prime/Max (thanks to taxation) and the mild hybrid did not really look that interesting. If our usage was primarily outstation or if it was a PHEV, then it would have made sense to take a closer look. There was nothing much coming in the near future, so it came down to Baleno (ICE) or one of the Tata EVs. I think I have complained enough about there being no non-Tata EVs below 20 lakhs. One thing that seemed clear was, we didn’t want to invest further in ICE vehicles beyond Baleno, as that was perfectly adequate for our needs.

Let me now bring in the views of the other characters in the family. My wife and at least one of my two teenage sons were there for most of the test drives. My wife was okay with Baleno, but was not so happy with the Tigor EV interior or ride quality. My sons didn’t have any strong views initially, they care and argue heatedly about Bugatti, McLaren and Tuatara-level supercars. Their car world extends down, at best to Tesla Roadster-level electrics and stops!

The elder one is like, “this is all good time pass, but buy whatever.” The younger one did a facepalm after seeing Baleno and Tigor EV on the shortlist, and said “at least buy Nexon EV.” Then, when I booked Tiago EV, he was like, “oh, come on that is just a cheap trick to make us accept Tigor EV”.

My wife wanted to see Nexon EV, as she missed that test drive. When we went, we got a Max and had a reasonably long drive. The ride and handling was really good, it seemed better than Prime, but I cannot say for sure as my earlier test drive with Prime was quite brief. In any case, the biggest benefit was the real-world range of 260 to 280, along with a bit faster DC charging, which made it more workable for long distances. As fast chargers get added and the bugs get worked out, there was a good chance of it being practical in 3 to 5 years for even the less adventurous. I think the Tigor or Prime with 200 to 220, fall just short of the minimum comfortable range for India, But the Max was well above our initial budget whereas Baleno and Tiago EV fit perfectly, and we were not so sure about extending it so much. My younger son cooked up some fancy logic to justify how an EV with a longer range will work out better in the long run, but no dice.

Instead of Snow White and the seven dwarfs, we had Baleno and a few EVs and were stuck. This is how far reason could take us, after that something else has to take over and decide. People often refer to this as mind (reason) and heart (for something else). The most lucid explanation I have heard is on this podcast, where Pratap Bhanu Mehta says for most of the things that matter to your life, reason will underdetermine your choices. This is referring to choices like, what carrier? what job? what hobby? what car? Reason can at best make a good shortlist, but something else has to take it from there. If you are interested in this sort of thing, here is the link to the podcast, this portion starts around the 26-minute mark. The title of this thread is inspired by this.

For me, the best way to move forward in such situations is to stop thinking about it and just wait for clarity to come. Meantime, there was a parallel effort in our community to add rooftop solar to our houses. Once again the Team-BHP thread on this was a great help. I will make a separate post on this later, but here I just want to mention that I added around 150 units/month while planning. It came at an additional cost of ~70K, but it’s good for 1000 kms/month for EVs. This addresses the concerns I had about clean electricity and also protects me from any future price hikes.

It was clear that things were drifting towards the Max. Terrified at the prospect of dropping 20 lakhs on Tata and their terrible ASS, reason tried a last-ditch effort at pitching Kona and MG ZS Excite. The Hyundai SA was most professional, he immediately explained the offers they had and readily offered a test drive, even if I am not very likely to buy it. But in my mind, I had drawn the risk line at LFP and was not very inclined to take on risk beyond that. There were no Excite variants to see or test drive and it had at least 2 months of waiting time, and MG announcing price hikes didn’t help. In the end, these were all good options at somewhat similar price points and we were just rationalizing. I can hear you going, “dude, you are way overthinking this.” I agree, but it is very much fun if you enjoy the process and not stress over it!

When the Tata SA (finally) called in early December to check on the Tiago EV booking and basically gave a non-update, I asked him if they had Max available, he said yes and that started the process. We quickly looked at what color and models were available, the dealer was kind enough to allow us to go to the yard and look at the cars and decide. My wife liked the Teal Blue colour best, but they had only XZ+LUX 3.3 KW in that colour, so that was that. The dealer threw in some discounts for exchange, dropped the insane insurance premium to reasonable levels and then Tata also added a free extended warranty, adding up to a more than 1 lakh reduction. This was the carrot, the stick was the potential withdrawal of EV tax concession in Karnataka. This was enough to finally make us decide and go ahead.

It was soon time to say goodbye to our Fiesta.

While this was ongoing, another Team BHPian in a similar situation contacted me to discuss and also see if we can take some test drives together. By this time I had confirmed to the dealer and had just finished my PDI. I had not test driven any EVs beyond the Max price range as it would have been way beyond my budget. But I felt it was a good chance to test drive Kona along with him. I had a good long test drive with him and we also quickly checked out MG ZS EV and Nexon EV just after the drive. It was an enriching experience to see the cars with a knowledgeable enthusiast. I will leave it to him to tell his side of the story.

Meantime, the paperwork was proceeding smoothly. I remember that back in 2016 I hardly had any involvement in the process, but now insurance, registration, Zconnect, all had some mobile OTP-based verification. So throughout the process, I got informed indirectly and was reassured that things were proceeding steadily.

In all it took around two weeks after deciding, finally, the day arrived and we took delivery of the car, just before the end of the year.

These are some shots of the exterior, taken the day after delivery on a foggy morning in the outskirts of Bangalore. This is one favoutire spot for our Saturday morning walk. I am not too particular about the looks, but my wife is quite happy with it and I credit her for insisting on this colour.

The fog clears up pretty quick in Bangalore, these were taken just after half an hour.

It has now been around a week since we took delivery, I have been driving it almost every day and covered close to 300 kms. Most of it has been in the city, with the longest being a ~50km trip to the airport. I like to soak it in before forming any opinions and this has been just enough time. I am not going to cover the basics, as they are well covered in the various reviews of the many Nexon variants. Instead, I am going to focus on what stood out for me and a few points which may not have been covered so far.

Let me start with the likes

  • The ride feels butter smooth and quite planted for this height. They have done an excellent job with the suspension and overall handling of the vehicle. Between the EVs I have tried, it is better than Tigor and maybe slightly better than Nexon Prime and Kona.
  • High ground clearance and low centre of gravity combo. I like the secure feel of low-slung cars like Matiz and Fiesta. While the S-Cross is pretty good, it never felt as secure, and my highest speed has been in the Fiesta. The taller the vehicle, the less secure it feels and it was one reason to avoid the otherwise excellent Ecosport and Creta in favour of the S-Cross. This time I felt the same issue with Kiger, but thanks to the low center of gravity, the Max feels better, even though it has similar height and ground clearance. I am not sure if it will reach the feel of a hatchback/sedan and I am certainly not going to set any records with the speed limited to 140. But it certainly feels better or at least on par with S-Cross with the advantage of higher ground clearance, coupled with a lower wheelbase.
  • Next is the automatic/no gear experience. I have stuck to manuals so far, as I have used them all along and they give a great sense of control. It didn’t make sense for me to pay extra to put up with the annoyances and risk expensive failures. I have briefly driven DSG/DCT, CVT and AMT, but this feels best among them without any of their drawbacks. Have not faced any rollback so far within the city ups and downs, but I am yet to test it out on steep slopes.
  • Simple and clutter-free interiors with most of the essential controls.

  • The energy line-graph showing instantaneous energy spent/recovered in the recent past is a great visual aid. The smoother the graph, the better the ride and efficiency. We have to anticipate and drive to avoid rapid braking and acceleration and this provides the best feedback on that.

  • The kick in the Sports mode, this is the one that brings in the wow factor and makes you grin. I have been showing this off to everyone who has taken a ride and it never fails to impress. It has been surprisingly easy to demonstrate it in the city at very reasonable speeds and limited road clearance. Wish it comes with computer controlled “Hyperthrust” to clear a route through the traffic (see Overdrive/Hyperthrust on this page: Street Hawk).

Now the dislikes

  • The backseat legroom is an issue with batteries under the floor. This is the leg room for the tallest person in the family at ~5’8″, only manageable by putting the leg under the front seat. This is difficult in the Kona as the seats are a bit low, but works in the ZS EV. I feel like if they avoided having a sunroof, they could have given a few more centimeters with a higher seat, without any reduction in the headroom. But both vehicles have sunroof variants and they have not bothered with different seat heights, at least in the Max. As of now this looks manageable but could become worse as the boys grow.

  •  Visibility is not great with the thick pillars, I have to consciously look carefully when turning and changing lanes. A related issue is due to the lack of noise more two-wheelers are drifting in and out, as compared to ICE vehicles. The combination of me having problems seeing them and they not hearing the vehicle is not so great. While there have been no close calls so far, I have been surprised a few times. Maybe it will get better as I get used to the vehicle.
  • The annoying animation and a few seconds of delay while starting up. Well, I have changed my behaviour to first press the start button and then put on the seat belt and plug in the phone, by then the car will be ready. Alas, there is no such workaround for the lag when changing the gear knob.
  • The request sensor button is a bit recessed, making it difficult to press. Most of the time I miss pressing it in the first attempt and have to retry. I never had this problem in S-Cross, where it has worked nicely all these years.

Other points of interest

  • The Eco mode is like a cheat mode for ICE drivers. This is the easiest way to adapt, as I can just drive it like any ICE car, the muted response smoothes it out and as a bonus, you can hit ~135 W/km without too much effort. In the City mode, I have to consciously be gentler to avoid being aggressive. So, I am mostly driving in Eco mode and have not felt any lack of power, wish there is a way to set it as the default. Maybe once I get used to the EV style of driving, City mode will be useful. In contrast, the Eco mode in Kona feels like a true Eco mode, and is very useful to drive efficiently. But you can at times feel the lack of power.
  • The higher seating does make it difficult for older people to get in and out. Unfortunately, the state of roads in Bangalore is pushing us in the direction of higher ground clearance, more so for EVs as we don’t want the batteries to be hit. This is a compromise we have to live with, I have told my mom to think of it as an exercise to keep herself healthy. The Kona is definitely better in this regard, but the flip side is we have to be really careful with large speed breakers. During the Kona test drive, the SA said “dead slow” and “as slow as you can”, when we encountered one of them.
  • There is no single-pedal driving. Even in Eco mode with the regen level set to 3, the car will continue to creep forward at low speeds. Single pedal with accelerator works down to speeds of ~10kmph, then for below ~5kmph bumper-to-bumper traffic single pedal works with the brake pedal. There is a position in the brake pedal where the vehicle will stop without the Auto hold kicking in for a few seconds, so you can move after a stop by just releasing the break. If we press too hard or stay stopped for longer, then the Auto hold will kick in (as desired). It is only annoying when the traffic condition forces you to frequently switch between these regimes, otherwise, it works great. In the Kona pulling and holding the left paddle will stop the car, thus enabling proper single-pedal driving. I wonder why the Nexon can’t come to a stop with regen level 3, at least in Eco mode with the foot off the accelerator.
  • I use wooden bead mats, as they improve blood circulation and help avoid stiffness after long drives. I shifted them from S-Cross to check if they affect ventilated seat cooling and was happy to find the cooling to be still effective and they work well together. What can be better? First and foremost, they should fix the basic QA, so that people don’t get new cars with major defects. I would have bought it much earlier if there weren’t so many horror stories. I tried to do a thorough PDI, this was the longest I had done, yet it felt like playing Russian roulette. Next, they are unlikely to improve the fit and finish in the near future, as even if they want to, it will take time. Instead, they can make a few low-cost changes to make it feel worth the price.

  • The dummy panel below the back row A/C vent would be the perfect spot for the charging port, but instead, that is given behind the seat on the left side. Hope they had some compelling technical reason and it is not just a stupid design.

  • No back seat pockets, wonder if this is to make the backseat legroom seem better.
  • A simple display in the blank space between the A/C controls showing temperature and A/C settings would have been great. When the phone is connected and the map takes over the screen, quite a bit of settings info is hidden and this dedicated display would have been very useful.

  • Speaking of the display, they could have easily fitted a slightly larger screen with reduced borders. The screen does feel a bit inadequate, it is scarcely bigger than the one in the original S-Cross, which is a 2015 model.

Few simple things like this would have made it worth the premium. Although the few friends and colleagues, who checked out the car were pleasantly surprised to hear the price, maybe because most of the cars seem overpriced. Looks like we are among the few complaining about this.

I have noticed just a couple of niggles so far

  • The inside keeps fogging even in this dry Bangalore winter, when there are two or more people in the car. It goes of when I switch on defogging, but I have not seen this when it is not raining. Need to check if there is any problem with the A/C or if it is some settings issue.
  • The iTMPS gave a warning in the middle of a late night drive, but the tires looked normal. Next day morning I checked the pressure when I filled air and it was hardly 1 psi lower. Don’t know if the iTMPS is so sensitive or so random. Good that they have given a pump with the puncture repair kit, to quickly check and fill.

The main unknowns as of now are highway handling, highway range and DC fast charging. Once I have done a highway trip, I will give an update if I have something interesting to share. But I am not too worried about that, I only worry that the after sale service is at least at a reasonably acceptable level, like the delivery experience. Even there they are of course living up to their reputation and have not yet come to install the charger. Luckily our house has a 15 amps plug in the garage, so I can charge the car.

Overall, it has been a great experience so far and I eagerly await any excuse to drive the car. I would be thankful for any tips and tricks from the experienced folks here. Hope this review will be useful to people in similar situations and I would be glad to answer any specific questions.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

Source: Read Full Article