In the world of trucking there are a few brands which are instantly put into the “not good” category and don’t even get the chance to prove themselves. Of course that everyone loves the well known and proven European models from DAF, Mercedes, MAN and so on, but what about the less known trucks? Are those trucks that bad to deserve to be treated with ignorance?
Let’s take a closer look at Tata’s Novus model, which is part of the heavy duty league and it’s the first Indian truck that passed the 300 hp barrier and went against the legendary European giants.
After has acquired the truck section from Daewoo, the first model launched by Tata was the Novus. The new truck is based on the Daewoo Novus model which is sold in South Korea.
The Tata Novus features a cab over engine configuration and is available in a wide range of version being able to suit various heavy duty applications. The truck is powered by a Cummins C8 engine which develops between 320 and 420 hp.
Despite its mixed exotic origins the Tata Novus looks pretty European, mostly due to its cab over engine configuration. It’s true that the Novus won’t win you any beauty contests, but the overall design copes well with the main purpose of the truck and we like its robust stance.
Viewed from the outside, the truck’s build quality isn’t as confident inspiring as the one from its European rivals, but it isn’t that bad either.
At the front we find a simple “V” shaped grille flanked by two corner deflectors which seat on top of the rectangular turning signals. The Tata badge is placed in the center of the grille, while on top of it we’ll find the TATA name embossed with shiny letters.
The bumper is part of the heavy duty league and features a solid construction, looking ready to endure the punishment of harsh working conditions without whining. The main headlights are mounted deep into the bumper and come with extra strong lenses which were designed to resist to various small impacts.
The truck is offered with a wide range of axle configurations including 4x2, 6x4, 8x4 and 10x4 versions. Depending on the model, there are also various GVWs (gross vehicle weights) available that range between 18000 kg and 45000 kg.
Thanks to the wide opening doors and the well placed steps, access inside is made without too much drama.
The wraparound dash offers easy access to the numerous controls and the overall ergonomy is better than expected. The materials and plastics used for the dash and door panels are part of the hard class and sound hollow when tapped with a finger. AS it was expected the build quality isn’t exactly top notch either.
On the other hand the interior is very functional and it’s fitted with plenty of cubby holes, consoles and cup holders to store your things safely.
The seats however, are a bit strange and they don’t offer that excellent support found at other long haul vehicles from the market. Despite the fact that they are air suspended and there is a fair amount of adjustments available, they’ll still remain a bit uncomfortable, especially on a long run.
The steering is also a bit strange and the design could’ve been better, as it’s a bit difficult to use. The good part is that it can be adjusted for both reach and rake, enhancing the comfort.
Fortunately, we don’t have any complains about the straight road visibility and the side visibility is also first class, thanks to the deep cut offered by the door windows.
There are of course acres of space available and the truck can be also fitted with an optional bunk bed placed behind the seats.
Engines and performance
The Tata Novus is powered by a range of Cummins C8 Euro II diesel engines which develop 320 hp, 340 hp and 420 hp with maximum torques of 1323 Nm, 1422 Nm and 1668 Nm, respectively. All engines are mated on a fully synchronized gear box with 10 forward and 2 reverse gears.
The 320 hp and 340 hp units are perfectly qualified for the task of lugging a loaded Novus. Throttle response is a tad sluggish, but after a quick beat, the Euro II engines will lean back and power forward. The 420 hp engine, however, is a very different breed and responds instantly to a light touch of the accelerator pedal. It sounds different too, but we can’t say that it’s refined or smooth, as its roar will fill the cabin like it owns the place.
As most vehicles in this class, access to the engine is easily gained, as a result of the efficient electric cab tilting system.
Ride and handling
On the road, the Tata Novus is well mannered and despite the fact that it’s not fitted with an air suspension system the front and rear semi-elliptical leaf springs and the full floating cab coil suspension will keep the ride quality on a proper level.
The vehicle also acts satisfactory when cornering and the body roll is well kept in check. The steering however isn’t as refined as expected and will need numerous adjustments to keep the truck on a straight line when riding on the highway.
Though, we like the tight turning circle radius which is only 7.5 meters and permits you to deal easy with tight working conditions.
Stopping power comes from dual circuit full air service drum brakes which aren’t as capable as the disc brakes, but they are able to do their job with dignity and are also more reliable and better suited for construction sites. The service brakes are assisted by the dash operated engine exhaust brake and the standard ABS system.
Despite its doubtful origins, the Tata Novus is able to make a compelling case for itself. It’s available in a wide range of versions with various axle configurations and is powered by fairly strong lineup of engines which have already proven their value in other trucks from the market. Despite the fact that the Euro II Cummins engines aren’t as efficient as the newer Euro 5 models, they won’t break the bank when it comes to fuel costs.
The ride and handling are average, but the cabin offers a proper comfort and plenty of space. A significant advantage of the Novus is the non-computerized engine which can be easily serviced almost anywhere.
It’s true that we can’t talk about the same level of refinement found at the European trucks, but the Tata Novus it’s able to keep its head up against most of its competitors.