With the BS6 mandate, Tata Motors took the opportunity to not only improve on Tiago’s shortcomings but also spruce up its successful little hatchback. While the engineers cast the BS6-spell on its sole petrol motor, the Tiago also received a cosmetic makeover that’s inspired by the Altroz, plus, the cabin has been refreshed for the better. With a four-star NCAP rating and a starting price of Rs 5.85 lakh (OTR Mumbai), the Tiago certainly comes across as one of the most affordable yet safe cars to live with. In this review, we tell you all there is to know about this hatchback.
The nice thing about the Tiago is that it was already cute to look at. With that as a base, I don’t feel it wasn’t difficult for designers to brighten things up. But in its new form, the Tiago looks scintillating; which it has the Altroz to thank for. The newfound sportiness is all thanks to the new raked grille, sharpened headlamps, and edgy grooves on the front bumper. As for the profile and rear section, there’s little to distinguish it, other than the attractive alloys and the restyled bumper. Indeed, handsome it is!
What’s new in the updated Tiago’s cabin is the nice seven-inch touchscreen that’s integrated with Tata’s ConnectNext interface (seen in the premium Tatas), and the contemporary all-digital instrument cluster with white illumination. What I appreciated though, is that the new steering design can now be conveniently adjusted for height. Other minute tweaks include the glossy inserts around the redesigned air-con controls on the centre console and the Tata-family gear lever.
Having said that, designers missed the chance to improve upon the quality of materials used in this cabin, and the cup holders on the centre console should have been able to at least swallow a 500ml bottle. Otherwise, since nothing has changed in terms of cabin space and ergonomics, the Tiago is as practical and usable as its predecessor.
As earlier, the front seats are supportive with generous head and shoulder room. But at the rear, tall occupants could brush their heads against the roof, and seating three isn’t advisable over long journeys, more so in the absence of the much-needed air-con vents. Finally, practicality takes a blow as there’s no split-folding bench to liberate any more than what the 242-litre boot enclosure offers.
This top-end XZ Plus offers 15-inch dual-tone alloy wheels, climate control, body-coloured inserts around the air vents, an eight-speaker Harman player with voice command, and AppleCarPlay/Android Auto connectivity. It also features keyless entry, electric ORVMs with auto-fold, and a rear-view camera with parking sensors. As for safety, the Tiago gets ABS with EBD, dual-front airbags, corner stability control, speed alert, seatbelt reminder, and speed-dependent door locks.
The updated Tiago uses a tweaked version of the outgoing model’s three-cylinder 1.2-litre Revotron petrol engine to make it BS6 compliant. This 84bhp/113Nm motor is offered with either a five-speed manual or an AMT auto gearbox; this being the manual. Although very little engine noise filters into the cabin at idle, this three-pot motor does allow some vibrations on the gear lever, foot pedals, and steering.
At city speeds, it remains fairly silent with only minute throttle inputs required to keep the Tiago running in the 1,500-1,750rpm range. However, the response isn’t as peppy as, say the Wagon R’s 1.2-litre. Now, since the Tiago is light at 980kg (kerb), there’s enough grunt for city runabouts and most highway runs. At the same time, what makes city driving so easy is that one can run in a higher gear almost always without it running out of breath or urging a downshift.
Even on the highway, there’s adequate power on tap to maintain triple-digit speeds, and also for that quick overtake by dropping a gear or two, which the light clutch makes easy. On the downside though, there is some clutch-pedal kickback and the notchy nature of the gearbox needs some getting used to. Above all, these are far from being deal-breakers.
Meanwhile, Tata hasn’t tweaked the chassis layout of the Tiago. So, like the earlier model, the taut suspension setup absorbs even the worst of bumps and irregularities with great composure (for hatchback standards). Surprisingly, while the ample ground clearance allows it to take on the worst of roads, it’s not at the cost of its rock-solid high-speed stability.
On the contrary, there’s considerable body roll as one drives fast around bends. And what makes the experience worse, is that its steering is far from quick with about three turns from lock-to-lock. Apart from that though, the light steering makes it easy to manoeuvre the Tiago in tiny city lanes or into a little parking spot.
With all of its exterior updates, the BS6 Tata Tiago looks superior to its rivals- the Maruti Suzuki Wagon R and Hyundai’s Santro. Not to forget that it also drives reasonably well, thanks to its sound dynamics and the newfound refinement from its otherwise capable powertrain. Now, although the updated Tiago’s cabin feels better than before, the interior space and the quality of materials aren’t something to write home about. Interestingly, the Tiago certainly makes up for all that’s lost with its outstanding four-star GNCAP safety rating. What say?
Photos by Kaustubh Gandhi