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by Tim Beissmann

The Tata Xenon will aim to exploit the bottom end of Australia’s popular ute segment when it arrives locally in October.

The Xenon will be the first vehicle imported by Fusion Automotive – the new local distributor of Indian automotive powerhouse Tata Motors – and will be uniquely specified to meet the demands and preferences of Australian customers.

Powering the Tata Xenon is a 110kW/320Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine that teams exclusively with a five-speed manual transmission. Fusion is yet to confirm official fuel consumption data, but says the engine meets Euro 5 emissions regulations. Fusion says it would like to offer an automatic option to Australian customers but says there is not one available from the factory at this stage.

Six variants will be offered in one specification level, including 4×2 and 4×4 versions of cab-chassis, single-cab and dual-cab body styles.

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Fusion is targeting sub-$35,000 pricing for the entire Xenon range, positioning it above the Chinese-built Great Wall X200/X240 but below the segment-leading Toyota HiLux, Nissan Navara and Ford Ranger.

More than 209,000 light-commercial vehicles have been sold in Australia over the past 12 months by just 13 different brands.

Fusion Automotive chief operations officer Oliver Lukeis believes strong fleet and private buyer demand and room for growth in the sub-$35,000 ute segment present exciting opportunities for Fusion with the Tata Xenon.

Air conditioning, electric windows, USB input and Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming will headline the Xenon’s standard equipment list, and a range of accessories will also be available.

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All models will come with two front airbags and anti-lock brakes from launch, and all will be upgraded with electronic stability control, traction control and hill hold assist in early 2014. The centre rear seating position features only a lap seatbelt, however, and Tata Motors engineers say there are no plans to upgrade it to a lap-sash belt at this stage.

Customers will also be able to option in a reversing camera that displays in the rear-view mirror, or for around $2500 a technology package incorporating a large infotainment screen with satellite navigation and enhanced reverse camera display.

Fusion plans to have the Xenon crash tested by ANCAP and be awarded a star rating, but at this stage will not speculate how it may perform in the assessment.

The Tata Xenon dual cab is 5190mm long, 1860mm wide, 1765mm tall and rides on a 3100mm wheelbase, making it similar in size to the HiLux.

The 4×4 dual cab has a towing capacity of 2500kg, trailing the best in class by 1000kg. All Xenons will be fitted with a 70-litre fuel tank.

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The Tata range will be protected by a three-year/100,000km warranty and a free roadside assistance package.

A capped-price servicing program won’t be announced at launch, although Fusion says it is assessing its options to determine the best way to serve its customers and service their vehicles over its 12-month/15,000km intervals.

The Xenon launched in India in 2007, and since then more than 40,000 units have been exported to Brazil, Italy, the Middle East, South Africa, Spain, Thailand and Turkey.

Fusion plans to have 13 dealerships open across the country – including at least one in every state – by the end of this year and 25 before the start of 2015.

Full specifications will be revealed closer to the product launch in October.




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