Automatic hatchback cars are all the rage at the moment, especially from Maruti, which sells almost 40 percent Celerio automatics every month. Being nimble in town along with the hassle free nature of an automatic gearbox makes these cars a great bet for city dwellers. So is the Tiago a better choice than the manual version and worth investing the extra cost in? That’s what we will answer by the end of this review.
The design on the outside is pleasing on the eyes and the nicely balanced silhouette will go down well with conservative Indian tastes. The front end is unmissable as a Tata car. The big smiling grille is the main talking point flanked on either side by well-shaped headlamps which look like someone’s eyes filled with a mischievous smile. The car looks identical to the manual version and there isn’t any exterior difference where you can tell it’s an automatic. But that is really the norm now, so we have no complaints.
The quality of the cabin is easily up there with the class best, Hyundai Grand i10. There are no bad patches of plastic or upholstery or any issues about build quality either. Tata engineers seem to have done a good job with the overall build, it is nearly faultless. The only small issue is that the front door bins aren’t large enough to house big 1-litre bottles – only 500ml bottles will fit in there.
Seat comfort as well as cushioning both in the front and at the back is absolutely brilliant. In fact, Tata Motors could teach a lesson or two to rivals when it comes to seat cushioning. Space in the back is good for two occupants but three can sit as well. Overall, it’s a nice car to be sitting in for a relaxed journey.
Engine, performance and gearbox
Tata uses the same 1.2-litre petrol motor with 82bhp that does duty on the manual version. This motor feels flexible enough for city use and has decent refinement too. It’s only when you really rev it hard that it becomes a bit loud but that’s only after 3,500rpm, so in the city it’s not an issue.
The engine and gearbox seem to be mated really well. Infact, the automated manual transmission (AMT) doesn’t feel like an AMT at all, it drives more like a conventional automatic gearbox. The AMT doesn’t have the traditional jerkiness associated with these gearboxes. Yes, there is the odd-jerk when you want a quick overtaking move but for the most part things are nice and smooth. This gearbox is ideal for the city. Using it in manual mode is also good enough, the shifts are quick and there’s minimal lag in them.
Ride and handling
Tata Motors are one of the best when it comes to ride comfort and the Tiago AMT is no different. Slow city rides are nice and absorbent, with hardly much entering the cabin in form of road undulations. Highway ride is good too with the little Tiago offering exemplary stability. ‘Exemplary’ because this car has a very small wheelbase but outshines cars bigger and more expensive that it when it comes to sheer ride comfort.
Buyers will enjoy the light steering as well while manoeuvring this car in the city. Though it is light to operate, the steering has decent feedback and is accurate to operate. It doesn’t feel lifeless like some other cars in the competition.
The addition of the AMT makes an already good car even better. The Tiago AMT is not only one of the best automatic hatchbacks in this price segment but also one of the better automatic cars you can buy in India today. Tata Motors has really worked hard on this car and it shows.
Photography: Mohd. Nasir