Like the proverbial cat that fights hardest when its back is up against a wall, desperate times at Tata Motors have got the company’s creative juices flowing to produce a torrent of brilliant new designs. That Tata Motors has upped its design and styling ante was clearly evident at this year’s Auto Expo, and the Nexon was arguably the show stopper which got the general public swooning over the car manufacturer’s first shot at a compact SUV. The questions weren’t the typical “How much will it cost?” but instead “When can I buy it?” and for both, Tata Motors had no real answers but, we’ll get to that later. Also giving credence to the Nexon was the competition that quietly admitted that Tata just maybe onto something big.
The Nexon is the culmination of a radical shift in thinking that began just before the 2014 Auto Expo. For many years now, Tata Motors has been struggling to appeal to trendy, new-age buyers for whom a Tata car is as cool as square-toed shoes. Unlike Maruti, which prefers to be square (the Vitara Brezza) and play safe to avoid any risk of alienating its massive customer base, Tata had to come up with something dramatic to get back on the customer’s radar. And why not with a compact SUV? It’s a segment that has a strong pull in the market which makes the battle that much easier.
Tata Motors wanted to break convention from a segment that inherently has boxy forms. “If you look at an SUV under four metres, they are basically scaled-down versions of larger SUVs and somewhere, I felt the paradigm had to change because the compact segment itself is large enough to define an aesthetic of its own,” said Pratap Bose, head of design, Tata Motors.
However, breaking the mould also has its risks. Customers associate SUVs with space, an upright stance and not a coupé.Which is why Tata decided to the test the concept of an ‘SUV Coupé’ with well, a concept.
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