A pair of three-cylinder engines – a 1.2 petrol and a 1.0 litre turbo-diesel power the Tiago.
The three-cylinder 1199cc petrol engine produces a healthy 83.8bhp and 114Nm of torque. It is a modern motor with all-aluminium construction and variable valve timing, albeit just for intake port for better breathing. The petrol Tiago surprised us with its smoothness and refinement. You feel some vibrations at idle but as soon as you start moving, the engine smoothens out and as long as you don’t rev it hard, this motor is pretty silent. The Tiago doesn’t hesitate off the line and the engine pulls cleanly from low speeds. The motor doesn’t have a strong bottom end but once past 3000rpm it feels responsive and the motor gets a second wind around 5200rpm. The performance on the highway though feels modest, especially with a full load of passengers. The gearbox is smooth enough but it has long throws and it doesn’t feel as crisp or precise as the diesel unit. We also tried out both the Eco and City modes and at low speeds there is not much of a difference. How much will it improve the fuel efficiency remains to be seen.
The diesel Tiago on the other hand is powered by a small 1047cc diesel motor which is good for 69bhp and has a modest torque output of 140Nm. On most occasions the Tiago diesel feels impressive, right from the time you start it. The engine settles down to a smooth idle, although you do feel vibrations from the 3-cylinder motor.
As soon as we started driving on the narrow Goan roads it was apparent that the Tiago was happy to amble along at slow speeds. While there is no replacement for the capacity, Tata has chosen shorter gear ratios so that driveability at city speeds is satisfying. 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 no punch in the proceedings. Although the NVH levels are impressive at slow speeds, things change once you are on an open road. The three-cylinder diesel thrum becomes apparent and the shortfall in grunt also becomes obvious as quick overtaking manoeuvres require a shift or two down on the gearbox. Revving the engine to its red-line is pointless as it just makes more noise without adding any pace. When driven in Eco mode things get worse and the engine just feels underwhelming in this mode. We found a flat stretch to see how fast or slow the Tiago is on our Vbox equipment and we came away surprised. The Tiago managed to reach 100kph in 17 seconds which makes it faster than the Celerio diesel and the Grand i10 diesel.
In terms of ride, the Tiago really impresses. The well-judged springs rates, tall tyre profile and good damping results in a very pliant ride. Very few shocks filter in from the road and even the largest of bumps are dealt with ease. Up the speed and the Tiago still manages to retain its composure and it rides flat at high speeds too. It only pitches a bit over long undulating surfaces but never to a point of feeling uncomfortable. And straight-line stability is good too, making this car ideal for long distances. Over a set of corners the Tiago feels surefooted too but the steering is slack around the straight ahead position and it feels inert. The brakes though are decent with good progressive pedal feel and the ABS works seamlessly too.