Tata Tiago: Expert Review

Words & Photography: Atul Bandhu

Tata Motors are India’s only end to end vehicle manufacturer. The earliest memory I can recall of a Tata passenger vehicle is of the Tata Sierra and their latest offering is the Tiago. Their journey in the Indian market has been a mixed reaction so far. Reviewing my first Tata vehicle as a professional had to their best product and Tata did not disappoint me, they sent in both versions of the Tiago. This car is a perfect example of what hatchbacks in future should be i.e. small, practical, contemporary, elegant, sharp, comfortable, well-mannered with host of features and above all made in India.

The Tiago is nowhere close to the cars manufactured by Tata until now. This car takes a major leap ahead in all aspects in the Tata family of cars. One can’t just resist the temptation of singing praises for the Tiago, the market reaction is enough to back me up. Tiago is one of the fastest selling cars in the segment today with the demand being way more than the current supply. It competes with the likes of Hyundai, Maruti, Chevrolet and others but the reaction to Tiago has been such that Maruti is considering to end the diesel version of the Celerio……yes that is something unheard of!!!! Tata pushing Maruti’s product out of the market. I hope you get the somewhere in your head to understand the magnitude of my words.

Tata has built the Tiago on an all new platform which has brought in revolutionary change in the way we see the Tata hatchback segment, earlier Indica dominated this segment and there were more than few things wrong with the car but the one which blocked Tata’s path more than anything else was the “Desi Cab” image that it was associate with. Surely the car was a hit among transporters but not so among individual buyers. Tiago designed on an all new platform helped Tata shed this image in a big way.

Exteriors

Look at this car and you will satisfied that it is something different from Tata. The size, shape, design, lines, headlamp cluster, grill, colour options, finish, rear spoiler and rear profile distinguishes the Tiago from all other Tata cars we have seen till date. It just can’t go unnoticed when around. The lines are clean, the wheel arches are flared, with 14inch alloys wheels. Upfront the swept back headlamps give it a sporty character, the large honeycomb grill sports the Tata logo. Come to the side and the lines run cleanly and you realise how a clean hatchback design should be, the 14inch alloys further add to its side profile appeal. The rear design of the car seals the deal, it is so European back there that you might even find Emila Clark back there, just don’t go looking for her…….the rear end of the car is wide and round, with protruding bumpers housing the parking sensors. The rear glass does provide an adequate view behind and there is a rear wiper too and defogger as well. Above the glass sits the rear spoiler which gives the sporty touch back there.

Interiors

The exteriors did have resembling shades but step in and you will be blown away with the interiors. The all black theme is a change in this segment after all that boring beige pretending to be plush……The new-gen Tata steering has made it here, which is very upmarket and chunky along with audio and telephone controls. The steering is only adjustable for rake and not reach, addition of reach adjustment would have stepped up the driving experience even more but not to worry the sports avatar might get that. The front seats need a special mention here, they are quite adjustable but the support they offer needs to be applauded, they hold you in place even when you push the car hard or throw it around the corners. Space at rear is cramped for three but two grown-ups back there would be comfortable with ample head and shoulder-room, however don’t bargain for ample legspace here. The central console is finished in piano black, well that seems to be a trend on most new cars but here it gets enough space to flaunt its gloss. It’s a fingerprint magnet though. The music system and aircon are brilliantly integrated and flow from top to bottom. The dials and knobs feel premium because they are of superior quality here. There are innumerous storage spaces and cubby holes in the car to accommodate more than you can ever need, maybe its future ready for all that you might needs as the years pass and utilitarian stuff you carry increases. If you though that’s it about the cabin just turn on the music system, to take Tiago’s game to a whole new level. Harman Powered music system is a bliss, this is one thing which is very hard to match in the market today and will definitely make you reconsider Tiago if at all you were still pitching it with others.

Safety & Features

Tata has paid special attention to the safety and has equipped the car with dual airbags, ABS, EBD and Cornering Stability Control to make sure you are in total control of the car even in difficult situation. The feature list of Tiago is a long one with several segment first and class leading features like steering mounted audio and telephone controls, Harman entertainment system with 8 speakers, smartphone powered turn by turn navigation, CONNECTNEXT technology supported by Juke-Car app that enables to connect 10 smartphones, gear shift indicator, infotainment system for average and instant fuel economy, door ajar warning with open door indicator, rear wipers, electronically operated outside mirrors and cooled glovebox.

The Drive

We generally post this segment as ride and handling but here we had to make it special for Tiago. We love this car and that is evident from the very first line.

Tiago from Tata motors has been crafted for the love of driving on which I believe Tata will improve, our expectations have suddenly gone Mount Everest level from the Tata products now. They better live upto it, for their benefit and our end to end smile.

The car currently sports two power mills i.e. the 1.05L 3-cyl REVOTRON diesel unit churning out 70PS power and 140nm of torque and 1.2L 3-cyl naturally aspirated REVOTORQ petrol unit churning out 85PS power and 114mn of torque. Both versions are equipped with CITY and ECO modes. CITY is the default mode and ECO is a mode which changes the power delivery to increase the fuel economy. We made good use of both the modes, ECO mode is good for heavy traffic conditions whereas I won’t advocate its use on highways. Talking about the different power mills, personally I have never liked 3-cyl engines and the Tiago doesn’t convince me enough to change that. Out of the two available power options it is difficult choice when you like both but when you don’t like either of the available option its hard to make choice. What I will do here is to put light on both the options with a critical eye. The 1.2L petrol engine has good power delivery when you put your foot down, the output is among the best in the industry but the inevitable noise of the 3cyl engines is awful, the TATA 407 like sound from a petrol unit makes me hate every second of it. The company claims the Top Speed to be 150kmph but we believed the car was capable of much more so we took it to a private road and pushed it to 160kmph in 4th gear, with 5th gear to spare and the stretch of private road running out I believe the car can be pushed more. (We do not endorse high speed driving, always follow the speed limits) 

The important thing to focus here was that the Tiago wasn’t one bit uncomfortable when being pushed, Yes the climb was slow beyond triple digits but again the capability of the chassis and suspension did win us over. That is the primary reason why I am eagerly waiting for a sporty version of this car. The diesel on the other hand is far more eager to move but runs out of bandwidth when you put your foot down, you really need to calculate the gearshifts while overtaking. The diesel unit is noisy but surprisingly better compared to the petrol on offer. The fuel economy returned by the petrol was around 18kmpl and 26kmpl by the diesel. Excellent music system does great to counter the engine noise, thumbs-up for that.

Tiago isn’t just that, it is more about the way it drives, the ride quality, the steering feedback, the cornering ability, high speed stability, the confidence it instils in you when you drive it is unlike any other car in its segment.

Specs

Petrol: 1199cc, 84bhp, 114Nm, 1012kg; diesel: 1047cc, 69bhp, 140Nm; wheelbase: 2400mm, ground Clearance: 170mm, fuel tank: 35 litres, boot capacity: 242 litres

Rating

Petrol- 7.5/10

Diesel- 7/10

What’s My Take

I did have my doubts on the durability and quality of Tata products but the “made of great” endurance did prove the mettle of Tata products. Now that the word is out bookings seem to pouring in and the smile on the Tata people is getting wider with every sunset. Monthly sales and bookings report are making the competitors sweat. On top of everything the announcement of an upcoming frugal petrol sports version of the Tiago has got all the auto jornos excited and I have already started saving up for it too. There is no other way I can express how I feel about the entire Tiago scene till I get to drive the sports avatar of the new Tiago.

So the heck did Tata do? How can I be singing all praises in a non-sponsored review? Well blame it on Tata, they have actually made a product worth more than you pay for. Yes there are many cars in the market that are value for money, they are leading the market for years but this car definitely has more than penny for penny value. Take word on this, if you are looking to buy a car in this segment just go for Tata Tiago you won’t be disappointed. Don’t be surprised if the Tiago walks away with “Car of the Year” title for this period.