When I was a school going kid, I remember back in 1999, I used to see Tata Indica doing testing rounds near their factory which was apparently very close to my home. Those were times when the company was using multicolour shades instead of camo that we see recent days. I was always fascinated by Indian cars that time as the market was very immature for passenger cars and we all know the history Tata Indica and Indica V2 created in the Indian automobile market. That was back in 1999-2000.
The story was supposed to end or evolve on Indica or its facelifts, but as years passed till 2015, the product looked the same like the first generation Indica with minor tweaks in the bumper and headlamps and a few changes in the grille. The basic shape remained same, the curvy profiles of the car, typical bug-eyed headlamps till Mr. Karl Slym joined the leadership team of the company.
As things moved on, Vista changed its shape to Bolt and Manza gave birth to Zest during Mr. Karl Slym’s tenure. The aggressive man created history in Tata Motors by bringing products from design to production stage in just a span of a year. Unfortunately, his death slowed down the launch of products Bolt and Zest.
In his tenure, he also worked on two more products and named them Kite4 and Kite5, internally codenamed as X01 and X02. Based on Indica (X) platform, the design of this product was a lot different than the old looking Indica and taxi market image of Vista. Thanks to HOD of design Mr. Pratap Bose.
Based on Impact design philosophy of Tata Motors in Horizonxxt, X01 came out as a car named Zica which was also a short form of Zippy Indian car. At the same time world faced an issue with a virus named Zica, so the company wanted to change its name from Zica to Tiago. A few months ago Tiago was launched in the market with target segment of Celerio, Grand i10, i10, and not into much competition of Chevy Sail.
Tiago from Tata Motors changed my perception about Tata cars. My perception was, Tata Motors makes cars that look like Indica or Manza which was not really of my taste and the cars are only specious and bad in terms of design (looks are subjective). As I saw Tiago, everything changed and I really found Tiago’s design was a next level in Tata Motors design language. In terms of exterior, grille, body panels, roofline and even the tail lamps were not typical Tata Motors. I am comparing everything with Indica just because the car I have seen for so many years on the road hasn’t undergone major change and even other cars which were not similar to Indica carried similar design language.
Well, the looks of Tata Tiago were completely new, the interiors of Tiago were again completely new and maintaining a huge interior space in its segment the exterior were also new. A vertical shaped honeycomb grille, wraparound headlamp, sharp character line and wraparound tail lamps give this car a very modern yet future look. Even though this car is from small car segment, the front flat grille and wide looking tail lamps make this car look bigger than its actual size. Smartly articulated lines make this car look beautiful yet sporty at the same time.
The interiors of Tiago are brand new for Tata Motors, it looked more of Hyundai inspired from i20 and i10. This is a good bit of design as it completes the exterior looks. The infotainment system is really new and it follows the ConnectneXt philosophy from Tata Motors. Coupled with Harman Kardon audio unit, the infotainment system gets everything except a touch panel. This infotainment system is way beyond what its competition can even think in this segment and Tata Tiago has the best of everything for it. The speedo and odo are cone shaped and a small display unit between those cones shows real-time fuel economy to trip meter. The interiors of the car are well thought and even get a dead pedal for long drives.
Height adjustable steering is small in size and even the lowermost position of the steering wheel is really high for an average Indian person. The steering wheel looks like its straight out from Nano and feels very tiny but gives the feel of go-kart while driving this car. The steering wheel of Tata Bolt would have been much better for driver’s comfort for this car. The driver seat gets height adjustor but this seat lacks shoulder and thigh support and is really bad for long drives. It just doesn’t feel right for a person of 6 ft tall like me.
Tata Tiago also has got two new engines when it was launched. So, all in all this is a completely new car. A 1.2 liter Revvotron and 1.05 Liter Revotorq. Our test car was equipped with a 1.2 liter 3 cylinder Revvotron engine that produces a decent 85bhp and 114Nm of power and torque. For a 3 pot petrol motor 85Ps is really a good number for power. The gearbox is designed in such a way that all the gear ratios are comfortable for city as well as highway drive. The car gets two driving modes: City and Eco. For city mode, you get more amount of power and torque and for Eco mode specifically designed for highway driving, you get a bit less power but more fuel economy. We drove this car from Pune-Mumbai-Mumbai-traffic-Mumbai-traffic-Pune and we got a total fuel economy of approx 19-20kmpl for a petrol car which includes a spirited driving in ghats of Mumbai-Pune expressway. The fuel economy number is really impressive with the handling package of this car.
Tiago gives very good feedback on the steering and a good confidence with the suspension and handling package. Tata Tiago suspension are more suited for city driving so the high-speed drives on a highway make you feel like you are jumping on a big balloon and the video is played in slow motion. The car is peppy for city drives but feels a bit underpowered for highways to reach numbers of 120kmph. The best part of the car is rear suspension and the safety kit it gets.
Usually, all cars under 10 lakhs get a twist beam suspension at the rear even Honda City, but Tata Tiago gets rear independent suspension setup which is way beyond the competition can offer in this segment. Another feature for safety is the CSC- Cornering Stability Control, this is the very own version of Tata Motors for Electronic stability Program. For a car that is priced almost equal to Maruti Suzuki Celerio, so many features is a great steal deal for both petrol and diesel variant of the car. The petrol top end variant with all bells and whistles cost approx 5.5 lakh on road Pune and 6.5 lakh for diesel top end variant.
In the Indian market, people still think that Tata Motors make cars like trucks and all look the same. Well, this is just the start of revolution from Tata Motors to change that perception and offer better products for a better value. Most of the customers I know are reluctant to visit Tata showroom to buy a car in this segment and prefer Celerio or i10 over Tiago. There is a gap between bringing customer to the showroom and then making a buying decision. When it comes to Celerio or i10, the visit to the showroom is simply for paper-work, the car is already mentally finalised by them. This is the big gap that Tata Motors is trying to close in terms of customer experience in showrooms and services. I am sure, once the customer comes in to look for Tiago, he/she will surely prefer Tiago over its competition.
The only bits to improve is bigger steering wheel and better seats for the driver and co-driver with good thigh and shoulder support for long drives.