Tata Motors invented the compact sedan with the Indigo CS and has now reinvented it with the Tigor. Rather than just simply tacking on a boot to a hatch, the manufacturer has instead given the Tigor (its third model in the segment) a swooping coupé body style which the company has dubbed ‘Styleback’. Based on the popular Tiago, Tata’s new sedan is extremely well-priced and has a strong foundation too. But can this combination of a premium body style and a hatch work?
The Tigor wears the coupé styling quite naturally, and if you didn’t have the Tiago for reference, you’d be oblivious to its hatchback origins. Both the Tiago and the Tigor look identical right until the B-pillar but beyond that they are vastly different. For starters, the compact sedan gets smoked projector lens headlamps, some new chrome bits, a 50mm longer wheelbase, different rear doors and a windowline with a nice, sharp upward kink at the rear quarter glass.
The roof section has a small hump to free up headroom. It’s cleverly concealed under a lip spoiler which houses an LED brake light stretched across the entire width. At the rear, the tail-lights are split units with neat-looking LED strips, and the boot lid has a chunky chrome band adding some visual width.
Besides the ‘sedan’ status, buyers in this segment are also looking out for extra space. While the Tigor isn’t the most spacious, it isn’t too cramped either. Up front, the seats are generous and offer good space and support. The only complaint here would be that the seats’ firm recline mechanism is hard to use and that makes finding an optimal position a task.
At the rear, the roof hump does liberate headroom that’s good enough for average-sized Indians, but those closer to 6ft will find it tight. Also, you sit a fair bit lower than you do in other compact sedans. Kneeroom, too, is adequate thanks to the scooped-out front seatbacks, and the rear seat width
is comfortable enough for three. A nice bit is the well-sized head restraints for the outer two rear passengers.
As far as storage space goes, the Tigor has you well covered. There are plenty of cupholders and pockets around the cabin, and a class-leading 420-litre boot. For perspective, the new Dzire’s larger boot is still smaller at 378 litres. And it’s not just that, instead of the standard gooseneck hinges that foul with your bags, Tata has used an external hinge and damper arrangement, giving you more usable space in the boot.
Look around the Tigor’s cabin and you will be quite pleased. The styling has a nice premium air about it and the quality of most of the materials is acceptable. However, a few places around the dashboard do have alignment gaps. The Tigor gets an auto AC unit which does not have its own display but you get all the information on the touch-enabled infotainment screen. The system also displays the reverse camera, but, though feature-packed, the screen is not very responsive to touch and, at five inches, it is also quite small to use. You get phones with larger screens, but the good thing is that you can download an app which makes your phone screen an interface for various systems, including the air conditioning. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity are missing but the app is quite handy and has functions like 3D maps and a jukebox that lets those travelling with you add music from their personal devices. A host of other options – like Bluetooth, USB, SD Card, Aux, and iPod connectivity – are also part of this Harman-sourced unit. The sound quality from the four-speaker and four-tweeter setup is excellent.
Powering the Tigor is the same set of engines from the Tiago, the 1.2-litre petrol and the 1.0-litre diesel. The diesel, the one we tested, puts out 70hp and 140Nm of torque from its three cylinders. This makes it the least powerful in its class and it tells on the performance.
Standstill to 100kph comes up in a leisurely 18.42sec and 20-80kph in third gear takes 15.69sec. It is efficient in the city, though, with a figure of 14.2kpl. The highway figure, however, isn’t much of an improvement at 16.9kpl. Power delivery is nice and linear all through the range but isn’t very exciting. Post 2,000rpm there is a slight increase in pace but you do miss that strong mid-range surge typical of most diesels. The first two gears are short, and you will find yourself shifting quite early, while the third is nicely balanced, letting the Tigor pull happily even from low speeds.
Two drives modes are on offer – Normal (‘City’ in Tata speak), and Eco, which, thankfully, does not come down too heavily on performance. In Eco, the run to 100kph is done is 20.57sec and 20-80kph in third takes 18.04sec, both just over 2.0sec slower than in Normal mode.
Performance isn’t the only let-down here, refinement, too, leaves you wanting. Sound levels are well contained, but the engine isn’t very smooth and revving beyond 3,500rpm produces a coarse sound. On the whole, the 1.0 diesel does what you want it to do, but you have to work it very hard. It is certainly the Tigor’s Achilles heel, and Tata would do well to address this.
Driving redemption, however, comes from the ride, which is excellent. It soaks up most bumps and potholes easily. Undulations do give rise to a fair amount of body movement but it never feels unsettled. The steering too is a delight – the feel is light at low speeds and nicely weighted up at higher velocities.
While the petrol Tigor gets new 15-inch diamond-cut alloys, the diesel gets the Tiago’s smaller 14-inchers and a larger 65 aspect ratio tyre. Tata needed the additional cushioning to maintain the ride quality of the heavier diesel.
Like the Tiago, the Tigor could have been the much-needed balm in a tough marketplace, but there is a fly in the ointment. The engine just isn’t up to class standards. Performance could be described as adequate at best, and refinement tolerable. However, all is not lost; driven sedately, it can pass muster and if you’re willing to factor in the lower price, the compact sedan could make sense. Starting at Rs 5.6 lakh and topping off at Rs 7.09 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), it is priced a segment below. For reference, the Dzire costs between Rs 5.45 lakh and Rs 9.41 lakh.
Moreover, Tata’s new sedan has a whole lot else going for it. There’s the gorgeous styling that’s quite eye catching, the ride and handling easily eclipses most of its rivals and the steering feels nice and weighted at high speeds. Space and comfort leave little to complain about and the boot offers segment-leading storage. Equipment levels, too, are high and you get a terrific sound system.
So, while the Tigor isn’t perfect, it’s got enough to be a strong contender in the segment and deserves serious consideration.