UPDATE – Tata Motors recently changed the name of their Zica hatchback to Tiago. We have updated the review accordingly.
Original Story – 13th Dec 2015
Homegrown automaker Tata Motors is on a revival mode. It all started under the reign of their former CEO Karl Slym who launched the HorizonNext campaign back in 2012. Thanks to this campaign, the past 18 months saw three new car launches from Tata – Zest, Bolt and the GenX Nano.
The plan is to offer consumers cars which are best in the segment, be it price, features, design, etc; yet not the most expensive in the segment. Somehow, the three new cars they launched, failed to bring expected results. The reason, Tata cars are not even considered as an option by their target consumers.
Research has revealed that on average, a buyer has 4 cars shortlisted before finalizing on buying a new car. Cars from Tata hardly features in the list as of today. Their immediate aim is to climb up in this list, and this is where the Tiago comes in.
An all-new car which is built for the global market and is being promoted by none other than Lionel Messi, Tata Tiago will be launched in January 2016. Once launched, it will compete with the likes of Maruti WagonR, Maruti Celerio, Hyundai i10, Chevrolet Beat, etc – a segment which sees over 30,000 units in sales every month. This makes Tiago a very important car for Tata Motors. We were in Goa recently to test drive Tata Tiago , and here is our drive review.
Built on a modified XO platform, Tata Tiago has been styled by designers at Tata Design studios in the UK, Italy and India. The first thing you notice about Tiago is that it does not look like a regular Tata car. Gone is the age old Indica’s silhouette, which can still be seen on Bolt and Zest; what comes across is a car that has been designed to impress young generation.
Tata Tiago gets a honeycomb grille finished in glossy black paint with 3D Tata logo in the centre. Below it is a chrome slat, which forms the border between the grille and the lower bumper. Connecting the grille on either side are headlamps housing turn indicators. The same honeycomb grille is also seen in between the circular foglights on the lower bumper. Together, this gives a smiling face effect in the front.
Moving to its side, you can notice a few dynamic lines which give Tiago a sporty look. Then there are large windows, 14 inch stylish new alloys, body coloured ORVMs and door handles.
The rear gets a stylish roof spoiler, giving the hatchback a sloping effect on the C-Pillar. This roof spoiler gets an LED stop light in the centre and a black panel on each side. Adding to the car’s sporty rear, is a rear windscreen wiper. The rear hatch carries a dynamic line across, which forms the center. At either end of this line are angular taillights, Tiago badge, variant name and in the centre is a Tata Motors logo. Lower bumper houses the license plate in the black background while reflectors are nowhere to be seen.
Overall, the new Tata Tiago brings style and sportiness to a segment which currently offers dull looking cars. Other good fact is that Tata Motors have done away with those uneven body panel gaps, which were seen in their earlier models.
Tiago’s dashboard gets a dual tone finish, giving the car a contemporary feel. The stylish three-spoke steering wheel feels good to hold while the center console gets ergonomically placed controls to AC and infotainment system. Though there is no touchscreen on offer, it does have a TFT display which shows FM/AM Radio stations, MP3 song playing, and AUX-IN song in the play.
Apart from this, you can also connect the system to your smartphone phone via Bluetooth to stream music or to talk seamlessly. In order to activate navigation, you will need to install NaviMaps app by MapMyIndia from Play Store (Apple phone support was not on offer at the time of media drive). Once this app is installed, Tiago owner will get full version activated free of cost. When a phone is connected, the system will integrate itself with NaviMaps app and deliver turn by turn voice assist navigation via car’s speakers. You can also see notifications on the car’s display screen.
Powered by Harman, this infotainment system comes with 4 speakers and 4 tweeters – 2 speakers + 2 tweeters in the front and same arrangement in the rear. This system not only offers best in the class music experience but an experience which is similar to that of an INR 10 lakh car. There is also a Juke-Car app. The phone connected to the car acts as the master phone and via this phone’s WiFi, you can create a network of up to 10 phones. All these phones on the network can now stream music to the car’s audio system. A great way to share music when travelling together on a long journey.
The instrument panel consists of twin circular pods – one for the tachometer and the other for the speedometer. They also show engine temperature and fuel tank level respectively. In the center of the two pods is a rectangular TFT multi-information display. This one shows gear engaged, door open, trip meter, instant fuel efficiency, distance to empty, etc.
Above this screen is where you can see the mode you are driving in. Yes, Tiago comes with two driving modes – ECO and CITY. You can select the driving mode by pressing the button below the display screen on the center console. ECO mode is for when you want more mileage while CITY mode is when you want more performance.
Though a small car, Tata Tiago cabin is very spacious as compared to the competition. Wide doors make ingress and egress easy while seats offer enough comfort for up to five adults. Legroom and headroom for all five passengers is not a problem while there is enough storage space inside the cabin to store cups, water bottles, documents, etc. It also has a cooled glove box and a 242 liter boot space.
Color options on offer are – Platinum Silver, Pearlescent White, Sunburst Orange, Berry Red, Espresso Brown and Striker Blue.
Engine, Transmission, & Mileage
Tata Tiago will be offered in a choice of two 3 cylinder engines. These are completely new 1.2-liter petrol Revotron and 1.05-liter diesel Revotorq engine. A complete aluminium block, the 1.2-liter petrol generates 85 PS at 6000 rpm and 114 Nm at 3500 rpm. The diesel engine generates 70 PS at 4,000 rpm and 140 Nm torque in between 1800-3000 rpm. Both engines are mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. Tata Motors has confirmed that an AMT option will also be launched a later stage.
Official mileage claims were not revealed at the media drive. But during our test drive, we managed 20 kmpl on board the diesel variant and 12 kmpl on board the diesel mill on the manual variants. On the petrol automatic, mileage was about 8-9 kmpl.
Driving Tata Zica
Of the two, we started the day with Tiago petrol variant. The instant we switched the engine on, there was this question on our face – is this really a petrol engine? Yes. It was. The three-cylinder mill is noisy at idle but there are no vibrations which get filtered inside the cabin. Even at high rpm, the steering wheel and the gear lever are steady, and not vibrating. In fact, when you cross the 5,000 rpm mark, the exhaust note gets addictive.
Pick-up is impressive for a car that weighs over 1.2 ton (including passenger weight + luggage). The three-cylinder petrol motor loves to be revved and is best enjoyed in between 3000-5500 rpm. Overtaking on the highways too is done very smoothly, without the need to downshift – which is very impressive as this is only a 3 cyl motor.
On the other hand, Tiago diesel motor is not as peppy as the petrol motor. It does not feel under-powered nor has unimpressive acceleration under normal circumstances. But when you are trying to overtake a long vehicle on the highway, and if you need to accelerate, pushing the pedal hard or downshifting will not give you the desired result. Most of the times we had to brake or take the foot off the accelerator pedal and plan our overtaking move carefully. We felt much more confident when performing the same overtaking maneuver in a petrol Tiago.
In both petrol and diesel variants, gear shifts happen smoothly but does have a rubbery feel. This does not mean that shifting gears often is not a pleasant feeling, in fact, its quite the opposite. Power and torque delivery is linear and refined.
Steering response is decent, and you can feel everything on the road via your bare hands on the wheel. Ground clearance of 170 mm takes care of everything the roads in India have to offer. Ride quality is also impressive as the McPherson Struts in the front and Dual Path Struts at the rear are tuned to offer a comfortable ride. NVH levels are good enough as there is hardly any road noise or wind noise that seeps into the cabin even while travelling at three digit speeds.
The 175/65-R14 inch tubeless tyres offer optimum grip on the road. Even during fast corners, the tyres did not lose grip on the tarmac. Braking performance is courtesy of front ventilated discs and drum brakes at the rear – which have enough bite to bring the car to a halt. Overall, a very good car to drive around with ease.
To be slotted a segment below the existing Tata Bolt, official pricing of Tata Tiago will be revealed at the launch in January 2016. We expect the price range of Tata Tiago to be from INR 3.8 lakh to INR 5.5 lakh (ex-showroom).
Built for the new generation of first-time car buyers, Tata Tiago is not only an attractive looking car but is also high on features. Though there are a few issues which Tata needs to work on – for example, the inconsistency in quality. Of the three cars, we had the chance to drive, two of them had a problem with the rear hatch not opening with the key while one had a glove box which would not shut. The other thing which we did not like was the thud sound when you close any of the doors. The sound made us feel that the doors were not strong / thick enough.
Overall, Tata Tiago ticks all the right boxes for a buyer who is looking to buy a small car which is stylish, low on maintenance, sporty, high on features, peppy, and fuel efficient. We do believe that the Tiago will add a new chapter in the revival journey of Tata Motors.