“Next time you are shifting home, consider employing the movers and packers” I took a jibe at Narendra, pointing at the Tata Hexa that he stepped out from. To say it was heavily loaded would be an understatement. I could see that the third-row space was crammed from floor to ceiling with every kind of bag and baggage. “Never imagined that 671 liters of space could hold so much”I murmured under my breath- but evidently it was still not enough since some of the luggage had apparently found its way upon the roof of the vehicle too.
From the lightly tinted windows I could make out moving shapes inside- soon the passenger doors opened and out spilled the travellers Adi, Ravi and Sandeep. And then the co-driver door opened and Ashish stepped out.
We greeted each other under the light Delhi monsoon as the travellers stretched themselves. These men with their room-full of luggage had just driven from Mumbai to Delhi in the Tata Hexa. They had travelled the distance without a stop, taking turns at the wheel.
We spoke about the weather, the roads and the journey- and more I heard the gang speak, the more I was impressed with the Hexa. As per plan, a few more vehicles joined us at Delhi and now with plenty of wheels between us, we were all set to head into the distant Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh.
Until now, I only had a passing acquaintance with the Hexa- but after the recent stories, I decided that it deserved closer attention. The next morning as we rolled out the caravan of vehicles, I chose the Hexa as my preferred steed for the drive into Ladakh.
Behind the wheel
The Hexa is a car that is easy to get used to and keeps you comfortable as I learnt during my long days behind the wheel. The 8 wayadjustable driver seat helps you settle-in fast and easy. The controls are placed where you would expect them to be- and soon, with my phone paired to the Bluetooth, the navigation mirrored on the screen and the 10 speaker JBL sound system belting out my favourite tracks, I was cruising down the road towards Rohtak and beyond.
The greater part of the next few days were spent behind the wheels of the Hexa- and it gave me a sense of the comfort and interiors of this vehicle. The head and shoulder room in this vehicle is simply fantastic. No more flimsy plastic parts- the buttons and knobs have a premium feel. Though the touchscreen is small in comparison to the rest of the vehicle, yet navigating the settings are easy and intuitive.The dashboard is soft-touch, its gentle curves camouflage the large width of its interiors while the piano black centre console and the metal accents add a touch of sophistication. Tata has indeed come a long way and the Hexa as their flagship model epitomises this journey.
The cabin is remarkably quiet. Features like the cruise control, reverse parking camera, auto headlamps, and several other functions add that extra edge of technology. With six airbags, ABS with EBD, traction control, hill-hold control and hill-descent assist the Hexa is equipped with the necessary safety features expected from a vehicle in its category.
Stretched for More
Powered by a 2.2 liter engine, the Hexa doles out 156hp and 400Nm torque. But it is a large and still a lot of bulk to power. Unsurprisingly, engine felt sluggish at lower revs- but it became more fun when the turbo kicked in. The steering offered good grip but don’t be confused… this is not a nimble vehicle. At higher speeds the steering tends to load up more.
On the plus side however, the 19 inch alloys even out every road bump. The disc brakes at front and rear give it a good bite when the need arises. With the plains of Chandigarh and Jammu giving way to the mountains of Patnitop and Srinagar, the Hexa started to feel at home taking corners. Its well planted stance and very little roll despite its bulk and weight. The various drive modes significantly alter performance of the vehicle while there is also the option to switch to the manual six-speed transmission.
As the hours blended into days, the plains and the green mountains gradually made way for the barren desert of the upper Himalayas. We finally reached Leh and the Hexa had managed this journey quite well. Could it manage the final test? I wondered. The final climb up to Khardung-La laid ahead.
Well the Hexa did manage to crawl its way till the top- but just barely so. As we neared the highest motorable road in the world, the road turned steeper.With little oxygen in high altitudes, the vehicle lost power drastically. Those were the moments I missed a manual transmission- because I could have managed to squeeze out a few ounces of torque with a manual clutch. But finally, after several nail-biting moments and patiently urging the beast to rise up to the occasion, the Hexa finally made it to the mountain top.
Moments to cherish
As I climbed down the slopes headed back for Leh, there was a sense of satisfaction and relief: satisfaction that the car had somehow made it to the roof of the world; relief that rest of the way back to Leh was downhill and I could immerse myself in the barren world around me.
The Hexa did a good job throughout the trip and this beast did not give up even at the hardest moments. It is a vehicle that endears itself to you and even though it has been a few weeks since that drive, the memory of those special moments experienced behind its wheels often bring a smile to my face.