Tata Xenon jumps the track
Confident that its new Xenon 2.2L DLE is capable of handling any dirt road, Tata recently gave members of the press an opportunity to test the vehicle on the demanding Bass Lake 4×4 trail just outside Johannesburg. GG VAN ROOYEN put it through its paces.
While Tata’s new Xenon 2.2 L DLE still sports the same basic design as other Xenon models, a closer look reveals a multitude of subtle changes in style. The Xenon is moving up in the world. With this latest model, Tata is hoping not only to attract prospective buyers looking for an affordable workhorse, but also to offer potential customers a trendy sports utility vehicle (SUV) at a competitive price.
The Xenon 2.2L DLE may not be as established in the local market as some of its competitors, but it does come at a significantly lower price. Currently, the single-cab 4×4 Xenon sells at R206 495, while the most expensive model goes for R229 995.
At these prices you get a SUV that can take on the toughest 4×4 trail. To prove it, Tata invited journalists to test the new Xenon at the Bass Lake adventure trail near Johannesburg on an obstacle course that would challenge any SUV. The overall consensus was that Tata’s new bakkie offered exactly what was promised: a reasonably-priced SUV well-suited to off-road conditions, with the option of doubling up as a leisure vehicle.
Key to these attributes is an engine that performs well on relatively low fuel consumption. Unlike other workhorses in the Tata stable with 3 l engines, the Xenon 2.2L DLE is driven, as its name suggests, by a 2.2 l direct injection common rail (DICOR), turbocharged and intercooled four-cylinder diesel engine. This engine is capable of creating 103 kW of power at 4000 rpm and 320 Nm of pulling-power at between 1700 and 2700 rpm. Together, power and torque at these levels enable the new Xenon to carry a hefty payload of 1 200 kg.
The Xenon’s 5-speed, all-synchromesh manual transmission features electronic, on-the-fly switching; a low-range transfer case with self-locking hubs at the front; and a limited slip differential to further improve traction on the rear wheels in all conditions. Well-spaced ratios make for an ideal combination of excellent low-down shove, while an overdrive top gear delivers ultimate fuel-economy for highway cruising.
To ensure both a comfortable, composed drive and superior carrying capacity, the Xenon combines independent double-wishbone front suspension with a torsion bar, matching these with a sturdy parabolic leaf-spring arrangement at the rear. This provides drivers with excellent feel and control from behind the wheel, without any compromises when the going gets tough or the load is particularly heavy.
In addition to its upgraded engine, the new Xenon 2.2L DLE also features exterior styling enhancements that give it a sturdier, generally more appealing look. Blistered wheel arches make for a purposeful stance, while the solid tubular rear-bumper with its integrated step provides practical loading benefits and an imposing rear-end appearance. Depending on the specification level, new front and rear foglamps are available to further enhance the Xenon 2.2L DLE’s visual impact, with chunky side-steps as additional optional extras. The bumpers are colour-coded and blend well with a stouter, upright grille.
Inside the Xenon’s cabin, a surprisingly comprehensive standard specification sheet includes a pollen-filter-equipped air-conditioner, electric windows, powered and heated mirrors, and a radio/CD-player audio system complete with versatile USB port. Thanks to a height-adjustable, tilting steering column the driving position can be customised for comfort by moving the power-assisted wheel into precisely the position required.
Overall the Tata Xenon 2.2L DLE provides excellent value for money. Prospective buyers looking for a dependable bakkie that can seat four people and handle difficult terrain should not ignore the Xenon; they’ll be pleasantly surprised by what it has to offer.