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    Tata Tiago CNG Review: Pros and Cons

    Authors Image

    Bilal Ahmed Firfiray

    47,964 Views

    Introduction

    Compressed Natural Gas or CNG has been an alternative for petrol-powered cars for many years now. But with the petrol prices skyrocketing each passing day, the demand for CNG alternatives has never been higher. So much so that every car maker is trying to offer a factory-fitted CNG for their popular cars now, and in this review, we are taking a closer look at one such car – the Tata Tiago i-CNG.

    Right Front Three Quarter

    Launched early this year, the Tiago (and its sedan sibling, Tigor) is among the handful of cars that you can buy with a factory-fitted CNG kit in India presently. We had a chance to spend a considerable amount of time with the Tata Tiago i-CNG. So, here, we tell you five reasons why you should not hesitate to buy the CNG-powered Tiago and two reasons to refrain from it.

    Positives

    1. Low running cost

    Grille

    At the time of driving the Tiago i-CNG, the petrol price in Mumbai was Rs 111 for a litre. In comparison, the CNG was Rs 76 for a kilogram. Let’s do some calculations. Consider an average city car that gives a mileage of about 15kmpl for your daily commute. With Rs 111 for a litre, the per kilometre cost of the petrol-powered car comes to around Rs 7.5. For a commute of 50km, it would lighten the pocket by Rs 370.

    Right Front Three Quarter

    While it was with us, we did a real-world fuel efficiency test for the Tiago CNG and found that it returned close to 17km/kg in the city and around 33km/kg on the highway. That gives us a combined efficiency of just over 21km/kg on CNG. The ARAI claim of the Tiago i-CNG is 26.49km/kg. Applying the calculations similar to a petrol-powered car, we get a per-kilometre cost of Rs 3.61 for this CNG version. And if you do a 50km commute, it will cost you just Rs 180. That’s half of what you’d spend for the same kilometres in a petrol-powered car.

    Bootspace

    We also did a range test of the CNG tank in this Tiago. That is, we tanked up the CNG tank to the maximum and drove till the tank ran dry. Driving in real-world conditions, the CNG tank gave us a range of around 227km. And when we tanked it up back again, it took in close to 9.0kg of CNG. For the tank up, it cost us around Rs 684. That’s Rs 684 for 227km. Just Rs 3 per kilometre once again.

    2. CNG options available across all trim levels

    When Tata launched the factory-fitted CNG version of the Tiago, it wasn’t available just in one or two trims or with missing features and comfort. The Tiago CNG is available in four trims: XE, XM, XT, and what we have here – the XZ+. Prices for the XE version start at Rs 6.28 lakh, the XM is priced at Rs 6.55 lakh, and the XT retails at Rs 6.85 lakh.

    Right Rear Three Quarter

    This top-spec XZ+ comes at Rs 7.68 lakh and, if you want, it can also be had in a dual-tone finish. All prices are ex-showroom. Offering a CNG version across all the trims provides more choices to the buyer without being deprived of the conventional feature list.

    3. Feature loaded

    Dashboard

    Talking about the feature list, the fully-loaded XZ+ trim comes with a lot of bells and whistles. This includes projector headlamps, roof-mounted spoiler, 14-inch steel rims with a smart-looking cover, shark fin antenna, handsome-looking tri-arrow grille, rear windscreen wiper with washer, LED daytime running lights, and chrome-finished door handles.

    Rear View

    On the inside, you get a seven-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity by Harman with eight speakers, an all-digital instrument cluster, steering-mounted controls, cooled glovebox, auto-fold ORVMs, tilt adjustment for steering, height adjustment for driver’s seat, all-four power windows, dead pedal, and rear parking camera.

    4. Safety

    Second Row Seats

    As with all modern-day Tata cars, the Tiago is also high on safety. Under the NCAP testing, the Tiago has bagged a handsome four-star rating, even in this iCNG guise. The standard safety equipment includes dual airbags, ABS with EBD and corner stability control, a rear parking sensor with camera, and a puncture repair kit. Also, this being a CNG-powered car, as per the mandate for CNG cars, it has a provision for a fire extinguisher under the front passenger seat. There’s also a micro-switch that automatically turns off the engine when the fuel cap is opened, and the motor won’t start as long as it’s open. The CNG cylinder also gets leak and thermal protection along with a pressure-release nozzle.

    5. Performance – no major drop in CNG

    Right Front Three Quarter

    Lastly, we come to the crucial part of any CNG-powered car – driving. When we first drove the Tigor, we came back impressed with how little difference there is between the CNG mode and petrol mode. And the same can be noticed here in the Tiago as well. When starting up, it starts in default in the CNG mode. No unnecessary business of starting in petrol and waiting for it to switch to CNG, or manually revving the motor to switch it to CNG. Even the switch between the petrol and CNG is seamless and you wouldn’t even notice it.

    Left Side View

    As for the driving, the 1.2-litre engine in this Tiago produces 86bhp and 113Nm in the petrol mode. But in the CNG, these figures drop to 73bhp and 95Nm. But here’s the best part – you barely notice the drop in performance. Sure, it’s a little noisy when driven in CNG, and it’s not only quieter but also slightly smoother when driven in petrol mode. But the difference is barely noticeable for everyday city driving. Even on the highway, the performance of the motor is more than adequate.

    Negatives

    1. Long queue for refills

    Rear View

    Even though it barely takes a few minutes to tank up the CNG at a good, high-pressure pump, what's unavoidable lately is the long queue outside the said pump. Given that so many small car owners prefer CNG. Then there are old, not-so-frugal petrol cars retrofitted with CNG kit to ease their running cost, and lastly, the commercial and cab fleet added to the mix, all of this leads to spending long hours to get your share of CNG filled. And what’s more, for safety reasons, all the passengers need to get out and stay away from the filling station when the CNG vehicle is being tanked up.

    The best way to avoid the long lines at the CNG pump is to go for the CNG fuel up in the wee hours of the day. Very early in the morning, or late at night, when these pumps are less crowded. And with lower temperatures, you are also likely to get optimum pressure when fuelling up the CNG tank.

    2. No usable boot space

    Bootspace

    A standard Tiago has a boot space of around 240litre. Not a lot, but you can use it for luggage of four with a couple of cabin bags, a medium-sized suitcase, or a few duffle bags. But when you get the CNG power, you compromise this boot space. The entire boot is taken up by the tank and hence there’s no usable space for your luggage.

    Even for accessing a little space under the tank, you’d have to fold the seat back which is a bit of a tedious task. Even the spare wheel is placed there.

    Conclusion

    Tail Light/Tail Lamp

    Variant-to-variant, the Tiago CNG is Rs 91,000 more expensive than its petrol-only derivative. But with the extra cost you pay initially, you get a lower daily running cost, especially when the petrol prices are on a rise and don’t seem to be stopping. You also get multiple variants to choose from and a decked-up feature list to go with it. And since there’s barely any drop in performance, it’s surely worth buying the CNG version of the Tiago over the standard one.

    Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi

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