Review by Mike Potenciano First published in Speed January 2015
Tata Motors from India is advancing quite rapidly. Having made the most affordable car, the Nano, for their home country, Tata is now out to conquer new, emerging markets such as the Philippines. Tata has recently launched their top seven diesel models, including the Tata Xenon XT pickup. Its rugged design and very affordable price has made it an instant hit. Read on and see why I was impressed! The test unit that I drove had 138hp but the production model available in the market is the 148hp version with 320Nm torque. Still, the test model’s engine power was more than enough to make this pickup move. You can feel the power when the turbo kicks in to move it forward easily. The best thing: it is very fuel efficient and can get more than 15kpL. With heavy load on the pickup bed, the handling was good. The Limited Slip Differential worked well to prevent the rear tires from slipping on wet roads. However, when the load was taken out, the pickup had big understeer. Definitely, good tires will be needed if you like to explore the power of the engine around the curves. But the brakes were good enough even in late braking, especially with the ABS present. Even with a fully loaded bed, the pickup never complained going up the mountains and overtaking slower vehicles. The transmission ratios are well matched to the engine torque that harnesses the engine’s characteristics. What the Xenon lacks in bed space fortunately does not reflect in its passenger compartment. Five adults can fit comfortably with enough legroom. There is good visibility when you sit in the driver’s seat and the glass area is more than enough. The seats have loose side support and can use some more padding after a long trip. The dashboard is basic and has that plastic feel, which is not up to par with the other pickups. The center console design is not too inspired and doesn’t excite the passengers to try the audio equipment, which is only a DIN unit. The redeeming factor is the proper tachometer and speedometer gauges that are big and well-lit. Some interior quirks bothered me a lot. The switches for the front windows are found on the center console instead of the door, and the Xenon lacks a centralized power lock switch. The visor glass’ design is outdated and the gear knob looks more at home with an automatic transmission than a manual one. The alarm system would sometimes kick in after you stop and open the door. You would have to press the button to unlock the door and wait for the flashers to stop while rebooting, then it will start again.