The Kwid’s 799cc engine, on paper, should be a strong contender, its light 669kg kerb weight. But when you drive it, you come away unimpressed. The power output of the motor is a meagre 52bhp. It responds well and the Kwid keeps up with traffic easily, but ask any more of it and you will be disappointed.
Once past 2,500rpm, power delivery is quite weak and you need to down-shift quite rapidly to keep progress respectable. As a result, flat-out acceleration to 100kph takes a leisurely 17.93 seconds. The gearbox too is notchy and you have to give an extra push to slot in the gear.
Even in terms of in-gear times the Kwid struggles with times of 17.08 seconds in the 20-80kmph third gear dash. On a positive note, the Kwid feels quite relaxed while cruising around 100kmph. But it’s when travelling with a full load that the Kwid’s motor feels strained and this makes overtaking a tricky affair too.
The Tiago’s larger 1199cc motor, on the other hand, understandably feels much more responsive at any given speed. The all-aluminium motor feels peppy and quite flexible from the word go and, despite also being a three-cylinder motor, vibrations are kept in check.
Since its engine is larger than the Kwid’s, the Tiago has better pulling power too. It pulls quite well from low speeds and spins quite freely to its redline. As a result the Tiago is much faster in every acceleration test we conducted. The 0-100kmph sprint takes 16.32 seconds and the Tiago reached 140kmph ten seconds before the Kwid. On the downside, there is a fair bit of engine noise when the motor is worked hard.
Thanks to the great visibility, compact size, small turning circle and light controls the Kwid is the easier car to drive of the two. But if you enjoy driving, the Tiago is the one to go for. The steering is more direct and weighty, the car has more grip and it feels more secure at speed as well. The ride is mostly brilliant too. You do get the occasional thud from the suspension over sharp edged bumps, but it is generally pliant at low speeds and a lot more composed at higher speeds, and it has that all important big-car feel. Sound insulation is top draw too and the Tiago feels quiet and relaxed at any given speed.
The Kwid’s low-speed ride is softer and more absorbent than the Tiago. However, go faster and the car gets skittish and doesn’t handle bad bits with the authoritativeness of the Tiago. It gets thrown off by bigger bumps as well, and this forces you to exercise caution. The Kwid doesn’t feel as secure as the Tiago as this light 669kg hatch gets affected by strong crosswinds quite easily. Even when it comes to handling, the Kwid simply doesn’t make the cut. The steering is too light and vague, it runs out of grip faster and the brakes aren’t as good as the Tata’s. When you push hard into corners there is considerable body roll (Kwid doesn’t get antiroll bars) and you have to stick to moderate speeds to appreciate the Kwid.