The Tata Tiago is set for launch on the 6th of April. And apart from a name change (from Zica to Tiago), this new small car from Tata Motors has made news on other counts as well. It has been touted as the best ‘Tata’ yet. Not in terms of performance or a fun to drive hatchback, of course, given it gets small engines (both diesel and petrol) tuned mainly for fuel economy. But, the Tiago has been applauded for its quality, its robustness, and great attention to detail. It is also one of the better-looking Tatas, and ergonomically, it’s finally well sorted. We at CarWale liked it as well. Here is what we had to say after we drove it. And then we compared it to its closest rivals. You can read more about it here.
But, why is the Tiago a make or break product for Tata Motors? Here’s a short explanation.
Tata Motors transformation began with the Zest. It was well finished, boasted of good interiors, had lots of equipment, and it wasn’t ergonomically a nightmare. It also had good ride and handling, but then that’s been a Tata strong point forever. Furthermore, the Zest was so much better than Tatas of yore, that many (including us) thought the compact sedan should have been launched under a new sub-brand. Just to convey the transformation to the public at large.
That didn’t happen. And neither did the Zest fly off the shelves, it being a good product notwithstanding. Then came the Bolt – the hatchback version of the Zest – and its sales performance was worse still. Even though many appreciated the two cars (the Zest in particular), the people willing to bet their money on a Tata car when one could buy the Maruti Swift and its sedan twin, the Dzire, were very few. This was, of course, all down to perception.
Now, with the Tiago, Tata Motors can break the perception of Tata cars being unreliable, poor on quality, and being mainly for fleet operators. The small hatch gives the company all the ammo it needs to create a new one; one that talks about modern design and sound engineering and bulletproof reliability.
For starters, Tiago enters a space that isn’t exactly crowded. There’s the Chevrolet Beat (which doesn’t sell), the Hyundai i10 (which is losing sales hand over fist), and finally, there’s the Maruti Celerio. Logic dictates the Celerio should pose the same problem to the Tiago as the Swift and Dzire did to the Bolt and Zest given it is a Maruti. But, here’s the thing – the Celerio is nowhere as strong a brand as the Swift or Dzire. Plus, the Celerio isn’t as strong a product either. Take styling, engines, dynamics or overall comfort, and this Maruti has some ground to cover.