When we compared these two cars in petrol guise we had a surprise winner in the form of the Celerio. Its peppier performance, much more spacious and practical cabin helped it defeat the Tata Tiago in a very close tussle. But now this is round two and this time around we are comparing the diesel variants. So will the larger diesel motor in the Tiago help it trump the Celerio? Or will the Celerio sneak a win yet again? Read on to find out if the tables have turned.
Aesthetics and quality
The Tiago looks really attractive thanks to its sharp lines and well-proportioned body. There’s a nice sense of proportion to the sheetmetal and it looks balanced from any angle you see it from. The front looks bold with the signature Tata smiling mesh grille with hexagonal elements and the sweptback headlamps are large but not overtly so. From the rear it looks striking too – the wrap-around tail lamps and the crease running across the boot-lid lends it a lot of character.
The Celerio design on the other hand errs on the conservative side, with only a few flourishes that stand out. The headlights and the part-chrome grille go well together, the 14-inch alloys on this top trim look sporty, and the crease along the doors livens up the sides, but those aside, the overall shape is very ordinary.
Both these hatchbacks use monocoque chassis with MacPherson struts at the front and a non-independent torsion beam setup at the rear. In case of the Celerio Maruti has done a great job of saving weight and even in this fully loaded ZDi trim, the Celerio diesel weighs just 900kg which makes it massive 180kg lighter than the Tiago.
Like the exteriors, on the insides the Tiago looks more modern and the dashboard is tastefully designed and finished. The hexagonal theme from the exterior continues inside with the centre console, speaker grille and the steering boss design. Quality, especially on the upper portions of the dashboard and the door pads, is nice with the fish skin-like graining. Lower down, the plastics do look a bit hard but overall quality is better than the Celerio.
The Celerio’s interior look mature and are very ergonomic. But it lacks the Tiago’s finesse and overall ambience is a bit too dull and generic. The quality though not as good as the Tata’s it is more consistent and panel gaps and quality even in the lower portions of the cabin is quite good.
At first glance the Tiago’s heavily contoured front seats look very welcoming but once inside the cushioning is too soft which makes it quite uncomfortable over long journeys. Also the driving position is a bit flawed as you sit a bit too high, the pedals are a bit off-set and the steering is placed too low. The firmer seats on the Celerio are more comfortable and they feel larger and more accommodating too.
Even at the rear the Celerio offers more kneeroom and seat back angle is spot-on and underthigh support is good too. Celerio’s tall proportions also mean you get 20mm of extra headroom. On the flipside the Tiago has more shoulder room which makes it better for three passengers at the back and there is more thigh support too. But headroom is in short supply and the seat back is a bit too reclined. While the Tiago’s boot can hold 242 litres, seven litres more than the Celerio’s, it is the latter’s boot that is more usable due to the overall shape of the enclosure. It can also be accessed without a key, unlike the Tiago’s.
A look at the features list of the Celerio ZDi (O) reveals two airbags, ABS, fog lamps, alloys, driver seat height adjust and a four speaker music system with USB AUX and Bluetooth operations. One also gets central locking with an external handle for the boot, power windows for the front and rear, electric mirrors, steering mounted controls and tilt adjustable steering. There’s also a trip computer with distance to empty and instant fuel efficiency indicator, rear wiper, rear defogger, turn indicators on the mirror and a 60:40 split rear seat. What the Tiago XZ gets over the Celerio are theatre dimming lights, a Harman eight speaker music system with navigation features, rear parking sensors, EBD and corner stability control, a cooled glove box and a gear shift display. However, the boot opens only with the key or through the internal boot release, and split rear seats are absent.
Ok these engines with their low capacity are designed more for kmpl than kmph. As a result none of these cars will thrill you as far as performance is concerned. The Celerio is powered by a 793cc two cylinder diesel engine that makes a modest 46bhp and 125Nm of pulling power. It’s got a bit of throttle lag below 1800rpm but after that, power delivery feels perkier than the Tiago’s, and it moves forward easily as soon as you take your foot off the clutch. However, if you push it a little hard, the engine feels out of breath. The biggest disappointment though is its refinement which borders on the line of being unacceptable. At idle it feels like you are sitting inside a tempo and on the move though things improve, it is still very audible and this is mainly down to it having two cylinders and aluminium construction.
The Tiago on the other hand, gets a bigger 1047cc diesel motor. The power output of 69bhp and 140Nm torque is also higher than the Celerio’s. The power delivery is very linear, with minimal delay, and it pulls nicely from as low as 1500rpm. Refinement wise, the Tiago is much smoother, and the three-cylinder motor retains its composure even when worked hard. But you do get lot more vibrations through the steering, gear lever and pedals than in the Celerio. With turbolag well contained, the Tiago diesel motor feels great for city commutes with a linear clutch action. There is enough grunt from the word go and you don’t have to constanty use the gearbox to make brisk progress. Out on the highway the motor feels at home while cruising. The engine gets into its sweet spot around the1900rpm mark and the power delivery remains linear up to the 3000rpm mark, giving it a useful mid-range. It’s just that there’s only a mild punch in the proceedings. Eco mode feels usable in the city but out on the highway we recommend to stick with City mode as it gives you the much needed grunt for that occasional quick overtake.
On our Vbox equipment the Tiago diesel posted decent times. The 0-100kmph sprint takes 17.3 seconds which makes it much faster than the Celerio which posted a time of 22.73 seconds. Thanks to shorter gearing and lighter weight, the Celerio managed to pip the Tiago as far as in-gear times are concerned. In the sprint of 20-80kmph in third gear the Celerio was minutely quicker (0.17second). But the gap was surprisingly wider in the 40-100kmph fourth gear sprint with the Maruti being 1.5 seconds quicker than the Tata.
In our series of fuel efficiency tests the Celerio, thanks to its lighter weight and smaller engine, was the more efficient of the two. In the city we got a very impressive figure of 16.5kmpl for the Celerio and the Tiago returned a much lower 14.8kmpl. On the highway, it was much closer where the Tata gave us 19.8kmpl while the Celerio went slightly further by delivering 20.5kmpl.
The Celerio thanks to the well judged spring rates rides really well at low speeds. The pliant suspension soaks up potholes with ease and only even sharp ridges can be felt inside the cabin and it’s fair to say the Celerio has the better low-speed ride in this test. Straight-line stability is impressive, but show it an undulating road and it doesn’t feel as flat or planted as the Tiago. In fact, the Tiago’s overall ride is even better than the Celerio’s. At any speed and on all surfaces, the ride is flat with very little vertical movement and it has the all important big car feel at any given speed.
The Tiago surprised us again with its steering, which has never been a strong point of Tata cars. Thanks to it being precise (although a little slow) it turns into corners quite well. Sure, you do get some body roll and squeal from the tyres when you push it hard, but the steering feels well weighted and the car feels secure and predictable. The Celerio’s steering in comparison feels vague and there is some inconsistency in the way it weighs up. Thanks to its tall proportions it also tends to roll more and mid-corner bumps tend to unsettle it too. The brakes on both cars are quite decent but the Celerio’s pedal has a more linear feel progressive feel.
Maruti Celerio ZDi (O)
Final score: 353/600
Price: Rs 7.10 lakh, On-road Mumbai
The Maruti Celerio has lost to the impressive Tiago this time around but only just. The Celerio’s strength lies in its very efficient engine, spacious cabin, spot-on ergonomics, pliant ride and ease of use. But the main reason it loses out to the Tiago is because of its puny 0.8 litre engine. Although it has good drivability, outright performance is a bit disappointing and refinement levels are one of the worst we have experienced on a passenger car. Also its lack of design finesse, ordinary interior and higher asking price, further go against it.
Tata Tiago Duratorq XZ
Final score: 358/600
Price: Rs 6.81 lakh, On-road Mumbai
In this rematch of the Tiago and the Celerio in diesel variants, the Tata comes out on top. It offers the best combination of acceptable performance, great driving dynamics and a big car feel. But the biggest attribute of the Tiago is despite its affordable pricing it doesn’t feel like a compromise. The cabin quality is impressive, it feels well put together, has accomplished road dynamics and the engine has more grunt and is refinement is much better too. The icing on the cake is the pricing, which is a substantial Rs 31,000 cheaper than the Maruti Celerio. The Tata Tiago is our choice if you are looking for a small diesel commuter.