It’s been about two months since the Tata Tiago entered our long-term fleet, but every time I step into it, I can’t help but touch the roof and run my hand through the dashboard before I drive off. No, it’s not some kind of a nervous disorder, but a sense of deep admiration (and disbelief) I have for the Tiago’s top-quality cabin. Who would have believed that Tata could do quality? This maybe a budget car, but it feels anything but budget. Forget similarly priced rivals like the Maruti Celerio and WagonR, which are as posh as a cave in comparison, the Tiago feels more premium than even pricier cars like the Honda Brio and Toyota Liva. The plush seat fabrics, richly textured dashboard top and the woven roof lining are some of the quality bits that belong to far more expensive cars. In fact, the new Toyota Innova, which costs over four times as much, uses a cheaper knitted roof liner.
Yes, Toyota can get away with doing a few things on the cheap, whilst Tata, to win hearts, has thrown serious cash into the Tiago. And it shows – in the overall quality, in the sales figures and, sadly (for the shareholders), on the balance sheets too! I have to stop wondering how much Tata spent on the Tiago and get down to the business of driving it.
Tata’s all-new, all-aluminium, 1.2-litre, three-cylinder Revotron engine made its debut in the Tiago when it was launched in April this year, but somehow I’ve never warmed up to it. No doubt, it does the job quite well but as far as I’m concerned this engine is still a work in progress. Fire up the motor and it’s quite smooth, and it doesn’t rock on its mounts like a typical three-cylinder unit. It is fairly quiet too, and again, points to generous (and expensive) amounts of sound-deadening material used. My beef, however, is the hesitant power delivery, which has lots of flat spots and the odd hiccup at really slow speeds. It’s most obvious leaving home every morning when I have to cajole a cold Revotron up my steep exit driveway. Once it’s up to operating temperature, the Revotron improves, but the jerkiness at lows speeds – exacerbated by the ten-day Ganesh festival in Mumbai which dragged traffic down to a painful crawl – doesn’t go away. Poor calibration is the culprit and tuning the ECU further is something Tata needs to work at.
Soldiering slowly up Peddar Road in third gear is my real-world test of any engine’s torque. The Tiago didn’t quite pass it with flying colours, which meant frequently downshifting to second. No, this isn’t a torquey engine with loads of grunt but if you don’t ask too much of it, you won’t find it underpowered either. It’s surprisingly responsive off the line and with gentle throttle inputs you can comfortably keep up with steady flow of traffic.
Our editor has been writing about cars for over 30 years. He has driven everything on wheels from a 65-ton battle tank to a Formula 1 car and still can’t get enough. His dream is to drive from the Autocar UK office to Autocar India HQ.
Send a message to Hormazd Sorabjee
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Issue: 209 | Autocar India: January 2017
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