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Tata Tiago AMT First Drive Review

What is it?

Why I would buy it: You get all the convenience and good looks of the Tiago but with an automatic transmission to give your left foot some free time. 

Why I would avoid it: Quality is still an issue with Tata and this Tiago will struggle in terms of quality over a sustained period.  

The Tata Tiago AMT, as the name suggests,is the automatic version of the Indian automaker’s popular hatchback. Launched in 2016, the Tiago is Tata’s fledgling child star which has brought it back into the volumes segment game. It rivals the Maruti Suzuki Celerio whose main selling point is the AMT box which Tata has now brought in to match it option for option.

On the outside, there is no difference between the AMT spec model and the standard manual variant, apart from the AMT specific badging at the rear. For an entry-level B-segment hatchback, the Tiago is actually quite a good looking car. Standout elements include the head lamps, grille, flared wheel arches, strong shoulder lines, tail lamps and subtle use of chrome on the front bumper.

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How is it on the inside?

The Tiago’s cabin is a grey and black affair with glossy black plastic bits for the dashboard and centre console. This version that we drove was a top of the line XZ model which gets a 2-DIN music system with Bluetooth, steering mounted audio controls and USB connectivity. Our two long term Tiagos have shown us that, for a budget model, the sound from the Harmann music system is actually a pretty damn good.

Also included in the package is standard AC system, electrically adjustable ORVMs, seat height adjustment, decent number of storage spaces both in the front and rear, and finally body coloured AC vents to add some zing to the whole package.  

The AMT specific changes are down to a modified gear lever and a revised instrument cluster. The lever has been wrapped in fabric and been given a chrome bezel to match the base and enhance the overall appearance. The dials still have big displays and clearly stenciled fonts while the upper-most section of the trip computer’s display now accommodates the gear readout.

How does it drive?

Here is where the essence of the matter is when it comes to the Tiago AMT. It is offered with a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine producing 84bhp/114Nm of torque and of course, the five-speed AMT which sends power to the front wheels. Given that the engine remains unchanged in terms of what is on offer, the response feels quite similar to that of the manual powered variants.

The back and forth rocking transition commonly associated with earlier Tata AMTs has reduced significantly to the point where at higher speeds it is hardly noticeable. However, lower down you do feel the jerkiness especially when crawling in traffic.

Tata has programmed the gearbox to shift up as quickly as possible to reduce engine load and at the same time increase efficiency. This can be a bit unnerving sometimes as it feels like the engine has moved into coasting mode. However, if you aim for a quick overtake and mash the throttle, the gearbox will drop one or two cogs (depending on how deep your right foot goes) to get you into the meat of the torque band to perform the overtake.  

The car runs in City mode on default but unlike the manual variants, this AMT spec car gets a sport mode to access more power on the tap. It allows you to hold the revs for a longer period and build up more steam if required. However, when you hit the redline in sport mode, the system automatically upshifts to the next gear. There is a manual mode which allows you to shift the gear by yourself and this is a useful tool when you want to have some fun on the road or need a bit of engine braking to slow down. 

Finally, Tata has also included a creep function which will inch the car forward just a little when you take your foot off the brake. This is a very useful tool when you have to potter around in heavy traffic scenarios. While it would seem like a good idea to use this when you are attempting a hill start, we would advise you to use the parking brake as there is a delay between engage and disengage, which will result in the car free-rolling backwards.

Given its diminutive proportions, light steering and relatively slick gearbox, we have always found that the Manual Tiago was great fun to drive. However, to become an automatic Tata has had to trade some of this driving fun for the ease of use that is offered by a two pedal setup.

The ride quality is on the stiffer side and you can hear the suspension going about its business when the bumps or ruts get really sharp. However, this is hardly a deal breaker thanks to some good spring rates and a decently tall tyre profile. At three digit speeds, the Tiago is quite stable and composed, making it good for lengthy journeys. This, in combination with automatic gearbox, should make it quite easy to eat up the kilometres.  

Why should I buy one?

It’s a small automatic, petrol hatchback with good looks and decent comfort. This is a growing choice among first time car buyers as our roads have become incredibly cluttered and in many places, are being used far beyond their built capacity. Thus the variant makes a good case for those who would be ready to trade some efficiency for ease of use.

Where does it fit in?

The Tata Tiago AMT in this XZA variant takes on the likes the Maruti Suzuki Celerio in the ZXI AMT ABS trim as well as Maruti Suzuki Wagon R in the VXI AMT (O) trim. It is priced at Rs 5.35 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). 

Photos: Kapil Angane

Tata Tiago Road Test Review

Tata Tiago Expert Reviews

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