It probably got overshadowed by the nostalgia-evoking Sierra Concept at Auto Expo 2020, but the Tata HBX Concept was one of the most important unveils at the show, as it was a close-to-production version of the H2X Concept showcased in Geneva in 2019. Tata Motors has now confirmed that the final, production-spec mini-SUV, based on the HBX, will be launched in FY2021 (between April 2020 – March 2021). The production Tata HBX was originally expected to be launched in the second-half of this year, but the shutdown caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic could potentially delay the introduction of Tata’s smallest SUV.
Another fact worth highlighting is that the HBX could also debut the direct-injection version of Tata’s 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine. While the base engine option is expected to be the same 1.2-litre, naturally-aspirated petrol also found in the Tiago, Tigor and Altroz, the 1.2-litre turbo-petrol with direct injection will be a significantly more powerful alternative.
The HBX will become the second Tata model, after the Altroz, to be based on the carmaker's new ALFA platform. Notably longer and taller than the Maruti Suzuki Ignis, the HBX has an upright stance, a beefy front end and muscular wheel arches – touches that will appeal to the SUV-loving audience. The HBX will be the entry-level SUV from Tata Motors and will slot in below the Nexon in the company’s range.
Much like the exterior, the production-spec HBX's interior, too, is likely to remain largely the same as that of the concept, minus some of the trinkets. Talking about features, the Tata HBX is expected to get a part-digital instrument cluster, automatic climate control and a free-standing touchscreen for the infotainment system. Gearbox options for the Tata HBX will likely include a 5-speed manual and an AMT. There will be no diesel engine on offer, but Tata is working on an all-electric version of the HBX, which should arrive in a couple of years.
At this point, there are no real rivals for the HBX, but the ones that come closest to matching the mini-SUV for what it is are the Ignis and the Mahindra KUV100, which is also set to go down the petrol-only route. Expect Tata HBX prices to be in the range of Rs 4.5 - 7.5 lakh (ex-showroom). With the introduction of the HBX, Tata Motors will have an extensive line-up of SUVs, including the flagship three-row Tata Gravitas, which is also set to be launched later this year.