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Tata Xenon Review: Quick drive
Tata Xenon Review: Quick drive
Tata Xenon Review: Quick drive

The Tata Xenon will aim to offer an unrivalled blend of toughness and value when it enters Australia’s burgeoning ute segment in mid October.

Pricing of the six-variant Xenon line-up – comprising cab-chassis, single-cab and dual-cab body styles in 4×2 and 4×4 layouts – is still to be finalised, but will fall between $20,000 and $35,000.

At that level, it will challenge the likes of the ageing Mitsubishi Triton and slow-selling Ssangyong Actyon Sports. It will also be positioned above cut-price rivals from China (Great Wall X200) and its own backyard (Mahindra Pik-Up), but undercut the market’s ‘new-generation’ utes (think Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50, Toyota HiLux and Volkswagen Amarok).

Built and sold in India since 2007 and exported to select markets in Europe, the Middle East, Brazil and South Africa, the Tata Xenon will become the first vehicle imported by Fusion Automotive, the new local distributor of the subcontinent’s largest automaker.

Tata Xenon Review: Quick drive
Tata Xenon Review: Quick drive
Tata Xenon Review: Quick drive
Tata Xenon Review: Quick drive

The Xenon will initially launch with a limited safety package featuring only two front airbags and anti-lock brakes, though an upgrade in early 2014 will add electronic stability control, traction control and hill-hold assist as standard. The lack of a proper lap-sash seatbelt for the middle rear seat (it gets a lap belt only) in the dual-cab version is unacceptable in this day and age, however, as is the lack of side and curtain airbags, and Tata has no current plans to amend either situation.

A single engine and transmission option simplifies the tyre-kicking process for potential customers. The Xenon teams a 2.2-litre four-cylinder direct injection turbo-diesel engine with a five-speed manual transmission. The Tata-designed and -built engine produces 110kW of power at 4000rpm and 320Nm of torque at 1700-2700rpm.

Fusion is yet to release official fuel consumption data, though it highlights that the engine complies with Euro 5 emissions regulations. Towing capacity is fixed at 2500kg across the range, which leaves it 1000kg short of the class leaders.

Two laps of Tata Motors compact test track at its development, testing and production hub in Pune, India, is far from sufficient for a thorough assessment of the Xenon’s ability, though it is enough for the engine to prove its competency.

Power delivery is strong across a usefully broad range spanning just south of 2000rpm up to 4000rpm. Whistles and rasps enter the engine note on the approach to its redline though effective sound insulation ensures the cabin is protected from serious aural unpleasantness.

Tata Xenon Review: Quick drive
Tata Xenon Review: Quick drive
Tata Xenon Review: Quick drive

Our two test vehicles were among first Australian-spec cars to roll off the production line, and were yet to complete final tests and alignment checks.

Tata offered this as explanation for inconsistencies in the cars’ steering weight – one was very light, the other noticeably heavier, potentially a side effect of differences in tyre pressures. Despite a slightly notchy feel to the heavier-steering test car, both displayed encouraging linearity as lock was applied.

Limited time behind the wheel on the mostly smooth circuit didn’t scratch the surface of the Xenon’s much-hyped toughness either, though a drive on local roads in October promises to put Tata’s claims to the test.

Despite sharing similar dimensions to the HiLux, the Xenon’s cabin feels tighter; noticeably thinner and offering less legroom for rear-seat passengers.

The utilitarian interior features predominantly hard-wearing plastics, some of which come together crudely with rough joins and crevices between panels of varying depths, though the feel and finish is acceptable for a work ute designed for rough and tumble. A deep glovebox and useful door bins and central cup holders are extra ticks in the Xenon’s practicality box.

The seats are firm and lack side support, though this circa-180cm tester had no problems getting settled behind the tilt- but not reach-adjustable steering wheel.

The standard inclusion of air conditioning, electric windows, one-touch triple-flash indictor repeaters, USB input and Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming is welcome (our test cars were still to be fitted with audio systems), though cruise control is absent from the options list that includes rear parking sensors, a reversing camera and a seven-inch screen with satellite navigation.

The Tata range will be offered with a three-year/100,000km warranty and a free roadside assistance package. A capped-price servicing program won’t be announced at launch, but is expected to be applied to the Xenon’s 12-month/15,000km intervals at a later date.

The Tata Xenon is unlikely to appeal to those charmed by the refinement of Amarok and Ranger class, but it could prove attractive as a budget proposition if Fusion can keep pricing to the lower end of its targeted $20,000-$35,000 bracket.


  • Guest

    I’m looking at that shot of the interior…there is supposed to be a sound system in there somewhere, right?

    • Singh

      It do come with a 2-DIN system.. although this might show one as this was a sample vehicle..

    • horise

      Read the article!

  • LC

    Poor fit and finish, front airbags only, a rear seat not getting a real seatbelt, three year warranty, low towing and load capacities, and no center console as far as I can see from the photos here. And I’m sure there’s more where those came from.

    At least with, well, every other vehicle in it’s market bar Great Wall, you know you’ll get better quality, durability, fit and finish. And with the new models of the HiLux, Navara and Triton due at about the same time this scores ESC, it’s going to be left behind in a year.

    • Singh

      Yes.. there’s lot more coming.. i have seen these vehicles, the finish n fit are fine.. rear seats do have seat belts for all three rear seat passengers…

      • LC

        Then you must’ve been sitting in the wrong car, rear-middle has only a lap-belt, not a full seat-belt.

        • Singh

          i never said its a full seat belt… all i said they have seats belts for 3 passengers… which means by default… 2 3-point seat belt + 1 lapbelt..

          • LC

            Leaving the rear middle-seat passenger in a more vunerable position compared to the ones on the left and right.

            This wasn’t acceptable 10 years ago, and certainly isn’t acceptable now.

          • Singh

            I have seen utes… across countries… across brands… and i understand all provide the same… i.e. lapbelt in the middle seat… lets see if OEM’s comes up with something new in the UTES segment…

          • LC

            I don’t know about overseas, but over here, the last time most dual-cab utes had a lap-sash belt was around 10 years ago. Almost all the current utes I’ve driven, rode in and read about have proper seat belts across all back seats. Triton has a 3-point center seat-belt (the lap belt being removed from the 4×4 variants shortly after release and the 4×2 ones 3 years ago), Ranger/BT50 has one, Colorado has one, Navara has one and safety-conscious VW certainly won’t allow lap belt in the Amarok. Don’t know about the 78 series or the Great Wall. The Hilux still has a lap belt, but the brand new model due out next year will likely be rectifying that.

            And still, considering that dual-cab utes are being increasingly used as family cars on top of their commercial duties, it is a complete disgrace if it still has a lap belt, no matter who builds it.

          • Poison_Eagle

            Middle lap belt has not been ‘default’ in this country for a long time.

    • hehe

      and how much do the hilux, navara and triton costs relative to this?

      • LC

        Base Hilux: $19,000
        Top-Of-The-Line HiLux: $53,000
        Base Navara: $20,000
        Top-Of-The-Line Navara: $48,000
        Base Triton: $20,000
        Top-Of-The-Line Triton: $53,000

        But in paying for those, you get a vheicle with a better reputation, some more luxurious appointments, more interior space, a better national dealer network and for the last two, better load and towing capacities. It’s money well spent over this.

        If there wasn’t more to cars than which one’s cheapest, the Great Wall would be in Hilux’s no.3 spot in the sales charts.

    • Zaccy16

      i agree, it looks horrible inside, looks like from the early 90′s not 2013!

  • Jim

    Anyone that buys this ute over a similarly priced Mitsubishi Triton (or even the Ssangyong for that matter) deserves the headaches it’s bound to give them.

    • Igomi Watabi

      These may not be sophisticated, but they are as reliable as all get-out. Anyone who buys this won’t get fruit, but they will run a far lower risk of being let down than many other brands. Nissan Navara and VW Amarok spring to mind. This is not a new manufacturer, like Great Wall. Tata has been making heavy duty trucks and commercials for almost 70 years.

      • LC

        We’ve had experience with HiLux, Navara, Colorado/Rodeo, BT50/Bravo, Ranger/Courier, Triton and Landcruiser 78 Series since the 80s, and they haven’t let anyone down here yet.

        Both Tata and Great Wall have started out on the wrong foot here with their poor build quality, poor interior quality and tight interior space, low load and towing capacities compared to rivals and questionable reliability.

        • matt

          oh god who are you? this thing tows as much as a hilux and considering its 2.2 capacity, has nearly as much torque, some people want a 4×4 for their intended purpose, not some “look at me I spent 70k just to show im richer then you” vehicle that they will never take off road, coming home through the guts of central queensland just now I was amazed at how many great walls are out there, not to mention… seen ALOT of VF commodores too… city slickers… please… “luxurious appointments” lol you remind me of Mrs Bucket

          • LC

            The current HiLux is at the bottom end of the market for both towing and load capacity. Reputation, resale, plentiful spare parts, extensive modification options and the fact there’s a dealer in 50-or-so% of Australian country towns drive their sales. Based on capacities, it’s not exactly the best standard to build a competitor to.

            If they want to start off on the right foot here, build a ute that’s comparable or better to the one with the biggest payload and towing, the Ford Ranger at 1.4 tonnes payload and 3.5 tonnes towing. And a bigger tray than it has, while they’re at it. People will take them more seriously.

            And because dual-cab utes are being increasingly used as family cars as well as commercial vehicles, some creature comforts won’t go amiss (not to mention a 3-point seatbelt in the rear middle seat).

        • Igomi Watabi

          My response to your post was moderated for some reason, and I’m kind of tired of responding to your industrial xenophobia, but I will say the blokes at my work who come in from site unfortunate enough to have been allocated a Navara are always clamouring for a Toyota. And our company won’t go near Amaroks, based on their reputation.

          • LC

            I see a spade and I call it a spade. Where it’s made is irrelevant. I think Land Rover Discoveries are rubbish 4wds. They’re not made in India or China (yet). Happy now?

            Toyota would give you better reliability and a better dealer network, but the Navara has better load and towing, and more torque.

          • Igomi Watabi

            Better load and towing are pointless if it’s in the service centre. The Toyotas, Rangers and smattering of Tritons have been utterly pain-free compared to the Navaras.
            And no, I’m not happy now, because you’re just trading on another stereotype without due reference to what the analysis is saying. And you still haven’t addressed your “if it’s not designed in Europe and/or built in Thailand, I think it’s rubbish” impression.

          • LC

            I am not aware about there being any bad track record against Nissan, though I am aware of one against VW (and consequently, Amarok) concerning the transmission. Ranger, BT50 and Colorado are all worth a look if you’re that against Nissan.

            I’m not the only one who thinks Land Rover’s are rubbish cars, either. Reliability studies in the US don’t view them favorably, either:
            thetruthaboutcars-dot-com/2013/02/land-rover-and-jd-power/
            Read it…seriously. 38 less complaints per 100 cars JUST to move up to the second worst spot? If that’s not unreliable, what is?

            Rubbish cars can be designed inside or outside of Europe. Rubbish cars can be built inside or outside of Asia.

            Japan has had, well, any passenger car sold locally built pre 2000 (they stripped out most of the goodies that the JDM exclusively got and left us with cars with cheap and bland interiors, like the Tata’s).
            The US has had the Ford Pinto (which would burst into flames in even minor rear-end accidents due to the placement of the fuel tank).
            The UK had had, obviously, the Discovery SUVs, and the Austin Allegro.
            Germany had DSG-equipped VWs.
            Australia had the VB Commodore.

      • 0o0

        your comments just confirmed me that you have no idea what you are talking about , Great Wall has been manufacturing for decades btw the Chinese atleast honest about their pricing and they are wayyy better equip than this

        • Igomi Watabi

          I’m not here to have a go at Great Wall, I’m here to try and counter some of the uninformed negative comment about Tata, a company that has been around for more than 3 decades longer than Great Wall.

  • richieduck

    how high is it jacked up at the rear. They are dreaming at that price.

  • asdf

    A great alternative to a cow cart.

  • chinese driver

    Even at the same price, Great wall ute is much better than this

    • Igomi Watabi

      not even close

  • Jacob

    Why did they take so long to bring this 2007 model car to AUS?

  • MK

    Does it have xenon lights?

  • ricky

    one of the pictures got oil leak

    • marc

      air con. water.

  • GC Dude

    It’s not as bad as most people say…….its much, much worse.

  • Phil

    LOL at the article title. Quick drive? Not in this you won’t. Brief drive I could agree with.

  • Poison_Eagle

    Say, I notice its a 2.2D, not the same donk as Jag? (or Ford)

    • Phil

      says Tata designed and built in the article. Not the same.

      • Poison_Eagle

        OK thanks for clarifying.

  • TG

    Finally, a competitor for the Great Wall.

  • 42 = The Answer

    For a while there I though CarAdvice had branched off into used cars judging by the look of this thing. Yeah, pass

  • loft

    Wonder how this compares to the foton tunland as they came here with high hopes and high prices, now i see our local foton dealer is trying to flog them off for just 27k drive away. down from 38k last year,,,

  • JD

    Lol they hyped this car so much, its going to dismally fail seeing all the poor saftey features, and cheap fit and finish. This ute should be priced similar to the Great Wall ute, and not as a ‘premium’ product.

    Whoever buys this over a Triton has rocks in their head.

  • Sam

    Thumbs up for approach and departure angles and no low hanging side step. These things by themselves should pique the interest of farmers looking for a cheap farm truck to bash.

  • Dennis

    The only difference between these and the ones sold at Upton’s Motors are the front Airbags… Not sure why there charging an extra 5K for it?

  • birdseye

    W0W! If the interior photos are anything to go by, they are unto a winner … That is, the second hand buyer!* (*pending people actually buying them new).

  • birdeye

    With that interior all the arguing about the lap sash seat belt is a total waste of time! After sitting(might be a typo) in it you won’t want to reproduce anyhow;)

Ta Xenon Specs

(4x2) : 2.2L DIESEL TURBO F/INJ - 5 SP MANUAL - C/CHAS
Car Details
Make
TATA
Model
XENON
Variant
(4x2)
Year
2013
Body Type
C/CHAS
Seats
3
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
DIESEL TURBO F/INJ
Engine Size
2.2L
Cylinders
DIESEL TURBO 4
Max. Torque
320Nm @  1700rpm
Max. Power
103kW @  4000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
65.4W/kg
Bore & Stroke
85x96mm
Compression Ratio
17.2
Valve Gear
DUAL OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
5 SP MANUAL
Drive Type
4x2
Final Drive Ratio
3.73
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
DIESEL
Fuel Tank Capacity
65
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
8.5L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1575
Gross Vehicle Weight
4950Kg
Height
1765mm
Length
5125mm
Width
1860mm
Ground Clearance
200mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:2000  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
BALL & NUT - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
12.9
Front Rim Size
5.5x16
Rear Rim Size
5.5x16
Front Tyres
215 R16
Rear Tyres
215 R16
Wheel Base
3150
Front Track
1571
Rear Track
1571
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Standard Features
Comfort
Air Conditioning
Driver
Power Steering
Entertainment
Radio Compact Disc Player
Exterior
Fog Lights - Front, Power Mirrors
Interior
Power Windows
Safety
Anti-lock Braking
Security
Central Locking, Engine Immobiliser
Other
Service Interval
12 months /  15,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
12-P-21
Country of Origin
THAILAND