The small car market is one among the most exciting and fast growing sectors in India. The reason being over 60% people in India have at-least one small hatchback in their garage. There is now an amazing level of heat in this segment in which Maruti and Hyundai were the only players a couple decades ago.
While these two giant foreign brands battled it out with their relatively small cars, Tata Motors were silently observing and developing a new player, the Indica. Once launched with the “More car per car” tagline, the car was flying off the shelves due to its “BIG” small car feel and fantastic efficiency figures. The people loved the concept of getting an Indica for the price of a Santro. It was such a breakthrough for the Indian manufacturer that they decided to make various body-styles on it
But after couple years, the flaws started to pull away the Indica away from the private buyers sector, leaving it only for the Taxi market. Eventually due to heavy competition from Maruti’s stable, the Indica had to be put to sleep. The Vista was supposed to carry the flag of the Indica further, but didn’t seem to overpower the Maruti dominant market in India.
Come in 2016 and Tata Motors surprised everyone with their new sleek and stylish TIAGO (named ZICA initially) which simply won over everyone with it’s new Impact design philosophy and segment-besting interior quality. The claimed efficiency figures of 23kmpl (Petrol) and 28kmpl (Diesel) were too good to be true and finally with the pricing starting from just 3.2L (ex-showroom for the non-AC XB variant) the Tiago became an instant hit in the Indian market, finally rejuvenating the legacy of the Indica.
Numerous positive feedbacks from owners and better quality and safety aspects helped Tata Motors grab away a good share of sales from the then very dated Wagon-R and Celerio. Sure, there were some initial glitches and quality inconsistency with the product which Tata tried and rectified soon. The addition of Automated Manual Transmission equipped variants made it an even more desirable car for everyone and the option of a Sedan body-style in the name of TIGOR increased the sales further.
Later on, a new premium variant, the XZ+ was introduced; adding a big 7 inch touch-screen system, new color options,Projector headlamps, bigger 15-inch alloys and Automatic Temperature control from the Tata Tigor.
Now, in 2020 Tata motors have launched the Facelift version of their best selling Tiago while also upgrading the Petrol engine for BS6 compliance. The car looks more mature now, with better quality interior. The rather weak 1.05l diesel engine has been discontinued, however the 1.2L Revotron petrol engine has been made much more refined and responsive than ever before.
All these improvements over-time have made the Tiago an even more stylish and desirable small car in India; adding up to the strengths of the Tiago which are as mentioned below:
- The looks: The Tata Tiago has been one among the best looking cars in this price point, with classic timeless elements and clean proportions. It remains to be the best in looks with these updates when you compare with cars from even a segment above.
- Interior quality and design: The feel and quality of the interior is still one among the best in its segment and a bit better than Maruti’sBaleno itself, which is a whole segment higher in pricing. The design, although not radical in any way is very like-able and easy to live with on a daily basis.
- Space and comfort: The Tiago may not be as spacious as the Indica but it’s definitely more spacious than some of its competitors. The width of the cabin and seat comfort and support is easily segment-besting.Height adjustment for the driver seat is available on the XZ, XZA, XZ+ and XZA+ variants.
- Practicality: With 242 litres of extendable boot space and more than enough storage spaces inside the cabin including a big chiller glove-box and cup-holders, the Tiago is a very practical small hatchback for a family of
- Safety and Build quality: The Tiago has always been one among the best in terms of build quality and strength, as observed and heard on various news and media platforms; and the standardizing of ABS and Airbags across all variants has made it one among the safest small cars. The new Tiago &Tigor have scored 4 stars at the Global NCAP crash tests. This makes the Tiagoeven safer than the Baleno, Celerio and the Swift.
- Ride quality and stability: The Tiago has been highly praised for its ride quality and highway stability by various critics and owners and this is further carried on by introducing 15-inch wheels on the XZ+ and XZA+ variants. The Corner Stability Control feature really aids cornering confidence and handling.
- Infotainment experience:The Tiago’s audio system has been and still is easily the best sounding stock units under 10L. The XZ, XZA, XZ+ and XZA+ get a 7-inch unit with 8 speakers; the XT gets a touch-based monochrome 2 DIN audio system with 4 speakers.Both types of systems and all the speakers are from Harman and they sound fantastic. The 8 speaker unit is the best though. All Variants get reverse parking assist sensors as standard along with various car related controls.(Central locking, follow-me-home settings) The 7 inch touch-screen on the XZ+ gets Android auto and Apple Car-play connectivity though. A reverse Camera is available only on the XZ+ and the XZA+ Variants though
- Ease of daily usage: The Electronic Power Steering on the Tiago was developed by Bosch and is really a joy to use. Even though being light and smooth in city, it provides decent feedback on highways, improving driver confidence. This EPS on the Tiago has 95% auto-return function which seriously reduces driver fatigue in city driving.
- Petrol Engine: 80% of Tiago sales have been of the petrol Revotron engine variants and that’s really commendable for a manufacturer who had been successful only with diesels. The Tiago’s BS6 compliant Revotron 3-cyl Aluminum petrol engine produces 86PS of power and 113NM oftorque which are one among the best figures in its segment and almost equal to the Swift’s K12 engine. Tata also boasts of a linear torque on theirrange of Revotronengines.
- AMT variants: The Tiago is available with two Automated- Manual transmission equipped Petrol variants, namely the XZA and the XZA+. The AMT units are sourced from Magnetti-Marelli and are smooth to respond, despite being slightly slow.
- Economy: Despite the impressive specs of the Revotron engine, the Tiago is claimed to provide an economy figure of 21KMPL. Although these figures seemed too good to be true, there have been few ownership reports where the owners themselves were shocked to get way higher economy figuresthan the claimed numbers! However it is safe to expect around 14kmpl for city usage and around 21kmpl at highway speeds. (In CITY drive mode)
- Toughness: The Tiago has got some solid underpinnings and mechanicals which according to Tata motors and even the owners can easily withstand abuse which no other car in this price can. Tata motors themselves had proven this at the 2016 ENDURANCE RUN where all the small cars from Tata Motors’ stable were made to complete a 15000km run at maximum speed possible, around a speed track in just 10 days; And all the cars including the Tiago Petrol and diesel came out with flying colors!
- Service and warranty: The Tiago has a service interval of 15000kms or 6 months, for which the average cost per service is around 3000 Rupees. You can even opt for an AMC package for around 4000 rupees which makes it one of the cheapest cars to maintain and use. Standard warranty is for 2 years or 75000kms, which can be extendable for another year or a full 1 lakh Kms.
- Price and Value: With the AC equipped Tiago Petrol XE variant starting from around 4.6L rupees and the top-end XZ+ petrol retailing at 5.9L rupees, the Tiago offers a whole lot of equipment, comfort and quality for the price. The AMT range includes only the XZA at 6.2L rupees and the XZA+ at 6.49L rupees. The prices of Tiago really make the all-new Santro over-priced; the Tiago still takes the crown as the best value for money car.
While the Tiago has it’s long list of Positives, it also has a few negatives, just like any other car.
- The Tiago is not the most spacious compact Hatchback. In fact, it is a bit less spacious than the yesteryear Indica. The reason being preference of Form over function. But it is nevertheless adequate in space and comfort.
- There are few ergonomic flaws such as the overly high positioned driver seat on the lower spec models (XE,XT) and the front doors do not have sufficiently sized bottle holders.
- The touch-screen Infotainment system although sounding fantastic, isn’t the best in response and has some glitches while being overloaded with commands. The non touch-screen unit used to hang sometimes while operating or switching the car on and off. No in-built GPS navigation feature available. You have to rely on either the Android auto/ Apple carplay featuresor the NaviMaps feature on the XZ and XZ (o).
- Quality of the interiors, though really good for most part, isn’t the best when you start noticing in minor details. There have been plastic rattling issues, bonnet rod holder breakage and AC vent knobs breakage reported a lot by owners.
- There have been a few feature-cuts from all Tata cars and the Tiago was one among the first to get under the knife. The new Tiago XZ+ now loses Projector headlamps as against to the previous one. All Variants miss out on certain minor features which the initial Tiago range came standard with; namely the Multi drive mode options, Back-lit power window buttons, a better finished 12V charging socket cover, Boot parcel shelf hanging cord, a full size spare tire (The XZ+ gets 14 Inch and the XZ, XZ(O) get 13 inch spare tires respectively). Though most of these are minor features, it seems a little silly to see such cost-cutting measures by Tata.
- Lastly, the service part. Like any brand, Tata Motors also have their fair share of good customer-friendly dealers and not-so-good ones. But being a company which already didn’t have a good history in terms of overall service experience, we expect Tata to really pull up their socks and tighten up their sleeves when it comes to service.
Tata Motors as of now is one among the most rapidly developing automotive brand names in India and the Tiago followed by other Tata cars are a proof of that, going by the consistent sales figures. The Tiago was the car which started this successful lineage of desirable quality cars from Tata Motors, who were known as cab manufacturers until a few years ago. Still, the Tiago is the better car over a few rivals such as the Suzuki Celerio, the Renault Kwid and the new Santro. When it comes to service, you can see more than a few dealerships improving drastically with stricter norms, but on the whole, especially in the North, Tata needs to work harder to improve the customer experience. Find a good dealer with good customer reviews and experienced personnel and you will be happy for years. As for the car itself, the Tiago is one among the best small hatchbacks in the current Indian market.