TAJ Auto Group (TAG), the exclusive distributors of the TATA brand of vehicles in the country, joins the truck wars with their face lifted TATA Xenon 4WD and 4×2 pick-up trucks. Definitely not to be considered an underdog in the pickup truck segment in terms of engine performance and durability, TAG recently subjected their vehicles to harsh driving conditions found in the hinterlands of Rizal province.
The terrain selected for both variants was chosen for its severity. For the 4WD variant, the Xenon was driven to every conceivable harsh terrain that can be encountered by the truck in the Philippines. From rocky river banks ,where the average rocks size is as big as a man’s head, thigh-deep river waters, steep corrugated red clay climb–that got sprinkled with water, as well as tight cambered and rutted trails. The route cannot be more isolated from civilization, in this day and age, electricity has not even reached the parts of the test drive leg for the 4WD variants.
So how well did the TATA Xenon 4WD do in the trails of Rizal province? Quite well, actually, with the help of its aggressive Limited Slip differential and a modern 2.2 liter common rail diesel engin—with its torque and horsepower; in the range of its American and Japanese competition. And why shouldn’t it be? After all, this truck was developed to provide rugged and reliable 4WD pickup truck performance in probably one of the most hostile environment known to men, the Himalayan mountain range; the same mountain range where the tallest peaks in the world can be found, which just happens to be the back yard of the TATA brand in India.
In one section of the test, the Xenon climbed a long, steep, rocky hill–sprinkled with dry dust to make it more slippery, and managed the ascent by just idling up the hill in 1st gear, without need for the driver to step on the accelerator. Without any sign of difficulty, the Xenon practically drove though the whole 4WD test drive section on idle.
Meanwhile, while one group was tackling the 4WD trails, another group was driving the 4X2 variants, both on the winding paved roads going to Pililla town in Rizal and make the winding road climb up to Tanay and Rizal town’s new tourist attraction; the power generating wind mills similar to the once found in Bangui, Ilocos Norte. The roads to the windmills are long sweeping climbing roads that are evenly surfaced, but packed with a ball bearing like gravel surface. The roads and the mills are still in the state of construction which was perfect for a pickup truck that was made to do this kind of work.
It was no doubt that at the end of the test drive, the well-seasoned media participants got the surprise of their lives that the truck was able to deliver what it has promised, with reliability and performance. It has proven that it is no push-over in the utility truck segment. It makes no claim of being a pretty-boy pickup truck, but is bent on impressing the lifestyle type of truck owners. The TATA xenon is just pure competence in its utility role. It doesn’t even have an automatic transmission variant so there is no doubt that this truck knows where it stands in the whole scheme of things for the segment. It would be no surprise then that it should do well in what it really is a truly work horse of a truck bristling with real value for money.