TATA TIAGO - A New hatch from TATA - A distinct option
Tata's new small car TIAGO, which was earlier codenamed Kite. The car is likely to replace the Indica hatchback in the Indian market. Although official launch dates were not revealed, we expect the car to be launched in the first quarter of 2016.
The Tata TIAGO gets sweptback headlamps that resemble the ones we’ve seen on the Zest/Bolt. The sharp nose gets a radiator grille with honeycomb mesh structure anbd looks attractive. Like the Bolt, the rear-end of the vehicle does away with the Christmas tree design for the tail lamps and instead get a conventionally styled wrap around unit.. The new car will be available in India soon and will be marketed using legendary footballer Lionel Messi.
The new car will looks completely different when compared to anything else from the Tata Motors model range. Expect a very edgy look that will voo an all new group of audiences and car buyers in India. The elongated grille and sharp headlamps combined with a set of well proportioned tail lamps will make the new hatchback appealing.
On the engine front, the TIAGO will get two brand new engines that have been made inhouse by the Tata Motors engine works. The TIAGO will get a 1.2-litre petrol engine that is expected to make in the region of 85PS of peak power and about 110Nm of peak torque. This naturally aspirated engine could be used in other future products too in parallel to the turbocharged Revotron engine.
The TIAGO will also get a 1.0-litre turbocharged diesel motor that is said to make just under 70PS of peak power and about 140Nm of peak torque. The engine will essentially be a three cylinder of the tried and tested 1.4-litre turbo diesel that has been doing its duty in the Indica and the Indigo CS for the last few years. The diesel is expected to return over 25kmpl in terms of fuel mileage.
The TIAGO gets a new diesel and a new petrol engine. The petrol is a 1.2-litre mill that makes 85PS of peak power and 114Nm of peak torque. The engine is essentially the non turbocharged version of what you get in the Bolt but is not as refined as the same.
The Tata TIAGO will be launched either later this year or early next year. With competition like the Wagon R and the Celerio from Maruti, the i10 and the Grand i10 from Hyundai and even the likes of the Renault Kwid, we expect it to put up quite a brave fight.
The cabin layout and quality is a massive step forward for Tata Motors. The materials used are of appreciable quality (for the segment the car is intended to be positioned in) and the space is about enough for four average sized adults. However, for tall people seated at the rear, the headroom and under-thigh support might seem lacking. The front seats are very accommodating for most body shapes.
Looking at the features list of the TIAGO, it may seem that Tata has emptied its ammunition stock on this one product. It’s heavily packed with comfort and convenience enhancing items. There’s a Harman infotainment module with eight sound output units that can play through systems including Aux-In, USB, and Bluetooth streaming and can be operated via controls mounted on the steering wheel. Of great benefit is the navigation system that gives turn-by-turn guidance on the screen when connected through a phone-based App (available for only Android OS currently). There’s also a special feature called Juke Car app which can sync up to ten phones where one master phone can share its internet with others and be host for playing music from any of the synced phones.
At the top end of its trim classification, the TIAGO comes with reasonable levels of safety features that include airbags for the driver and front co-passenger, anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and corner stability control. It also gets rear parking sensors with a rather medieval looking display on the infotainment screen.
The TIAGO comes with an option of either a 1.2-litre petrol engine or a 1.05-litre diesel. On paper, the 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine develops peak power of 84bhp@6,000rpm and a maximum twist force of 114Nm@3,500rpm. The diesel en-gine is rated at 69bhp@4,000rpm and 140Nm@1,800-3,000rpm. Both engines feature a dual overhead cam design and breathe via 4 valves per cylinder.
While both the engines are good enough to handle the bulk of the car (1,012kg for petrol and 1,080kg for diesel), they aren’t really going to score big on entertainment. The Zica is a regular city car and it makes no claim of being an enthusiast-pleasing set of wheels. It gets a drive-mode selector which switches between normal and Eco modes. The Eco mode can get a bit frustrating even when going about at slow city speeds, so it’s best to stick to ‘normal’ which is the default driving mode. The mid-range in the diesel is strong and with the gearbox in third, it’s a very flexible drive that lets you go from low double to low triple digit speeds without getting irked about the rate of progress. Drivability and less frequent gear changes are a characteristic of diesel engines, but the Zica’s petrol engine has been tuned in such a way that it seemed to be the better motor here. It’s as flexible as the diesel while being smoother and more linear in its power delivery and the range of speeds it manages in different ratios was just as high.
The gear shifts are fairly smooth, but the throws are slightly long through the gate and ratios are biased more towards fuel efficient driving. The clutch action is very progressive and well calibrated for both the engines. There is a gear indicator that flashes the gear you are driving in up on the screen and advises to shift up or down depending on the speed. It is seemed to have been mapped to the throttle position and would not show an ‘up’ arrow sign to get into a higher gear if you are giving the accelerator pedal a bit of a heavy workout.
Tata has packed the TIAGO with a load of features, so it is rather disappointing to see a very important element missing — telescopically adjustable steering. The driver’s seat is adjustable for height, so that might help matters for the tilt-only unit here, but a telescopic steering wheel would’ve been ideal. Manufacturer must realise that a tilt-and-telescopic steering system isn’t a convenience or comfort enhancing feature, but more as a safety feature and a must-have item, and should be made mandatory in all cars.
The TIAGO suffers on dynamic abilities because of the steering. While the steering wheel is a small-diameter unit and is great to hold, the steering ratio is quite high and it lacks directness and precision. It is fairly light (a boon in the city), but the steering in-put and the resultant directional change isn’t greatly proportional. Additionally, the steering response on the petrol model seemed slightly more responsive than on the diesel — that might have been due to slightly higher front axle load in the diesel car.
The highlight of the car will be its suspension setup. The ride quality in the Zica is of high order and can even rival some cars from a segment above. The front is all independent while the rear features a twist-beam with dual path strut design which channels spring load through one path and damper load through the other resulting in better vibration control and load management. It’s not exactly an engaging driving experience though, and the handling is sedate at best.
Overall, the TIAGO is the refreshing change that Tata needed in its product portfolio for a long time. It’s packaged intelligently with a folder of first-in-segment features that lend it a novelty factor. Crucially, the TIAGO flaunts good grades of materials and the interior quality is unlike any Tata hatchback before it. The engines are good for their intended use and the NVH levels, while could be better, are acceptable for a car of this size. It is also reasonably spacious and the suspension setup is worthy of praise. It’s a genuinely pleasing product and it’s all down to Tata to price and place the TIAGO intelligently in the market to give it a competitive edge.