Why would I buy it?
- Practical CNG-powered city runabout
- Seamless transition between petrol and CNG
- Lower running cost
Why would I avoid it?
- Compromised boot space
- Slight power loss compared to petrol mode
With the new i-CNG range, Tata Motors has also added a zest to the Tigor line-up, pun unintended. This bolt-on (err, well this time it was intentional) CNG kit helps the Tigor, and Tiago, get newfound attention from buyers who had limited options getting a factory-fitted, alternative-fuel car amidst the rising fuel cost. Tata claims to have done exhaustive testing of the CNG kit and it shows. The transition between petrol and CNG supply is seamless and the loss of power is barely noticeable, and that should be a good enough reason to buy one.
Perhaps there’s a difference when it’s fully loaded going up a hill, but we'll check that out extensively some other day. In first impressions, the Tigor i-CNG looks like a no brainer. Especially when you get one in fully-loaded variants and not the stripped-down entry-level ones like in the case of Maruti and Hyundai offerings.
Engine and Performance
7 / 10
As expected, there's a dip in the power output when switching to CNG mode. Where the standard 1.2-litre Revotron three-cylinder petrol engine makes 84bhp/114Nm, switch a button on the dash and the CNG mode is good enough for 72bhp and 95Nm. For now, there's only a five-speed manual as the sole option for the CNG version. The ECU is tuned in such a way that it allows the Tigor/Tiago to be started directly in CNG mode. No old business of waiting a few seconds before the switch from petrol to CNG kicks in or revving the engine a bit to make the switch.
On idling, there are a few vibrations that are felt on the gear lever and steering wheel. But these aren’t very prominent, and won’t be bothersome especially when you are aware that it's a three-cylinder. Secondly, even on idling, the engine resonates slightly higher when in CNG mode compared to when it's in petrol-only mode. On the move, there's no noticeable difference. It might show up on our tested VBox figures, but for an average Joe, it’s no big deal. Even if the CNG button is pressed on the go, one would barely feel a difference of which fuel is being burned at the command of the right foot.
When pushed hard, there's a sluggish response from the engine accompanied by a coarse engine sound. But for a sedate everyday city driving, we couldn't ask for anything more. It's a fairly silent motor with good linear power delivery. There's no apparent stutter even when you are left a gear too high. Going over steep flyovers and not-so-severe ghats won’t be any trouble too. On the flipside, the lack of outright grunt, especially in CNG mode, means there's a need to constantly work the gear to get the right amount of push in moderate city traffic. Luckily, the gear stick is smooth shifting and not notchy and even the clutch feels right and fairly comfortable for everyday driving, courtesy of its smooth and light pedal travel. So, spending needlessly long hours in uncalled for traffic won't stress you out – neither physically nor mentally, worrying about burning the expensive liquid gold.
As for the figures, the CNG tank in the boot takes in 60 litres of water capacity, the Aura gets 65 litres. A realistic efficiency of around 25kmpl on CNG should give an achievable range close to 300 kilometres. And these kilometres will be far lighter on your pocket compared to the ones driven on petrol.
Ride and Handling
6 / 10
Now that there's a large cylinder taking permanent housing in the boot, the rear suspension of the Tigor seems to have undergone some tweaks. These reworked suspensions prattle more than usual over bad and unpaved roads, but you can hear them more than feel. Over rutted and irregular surfaces, the Tigor CNG goes over like any other Tata ought to. Despite the added weight, the ground clearance is fairly good at 165mm and this is one sedan that you won't have to think about when encountering larger speed breakers. Meanwhile, going three full turns lock-to-lock, the steering is smooth and progressive but isn't something that would be happy on fast twisties. But that's alright, this car isn't meant to offer driving dynamics, but is a comfortable runabout and does that job fairly well.
Interior Space and Comfort
6 / 10
Not much has changed in the cabin of the refreshed MY22 Tigor. Even in this i-CNG, there's a CNG button added to the strip of buttons on the centre console and a new CNG fuel bar added to the all-digital instrument cluster. Moreover, the cabin now adopts a new dual-colour black-beige theme. That's where the changes end. So, the Tigor's cabin continues to be a spacious and practical one. There's right support offered from cloth-draped seats with good visibility all around. It's got a surprisingly good amount of headroom both in the first and second row.
The seats at the back are soft and might sink in the longer run, but otherwise, they have good support for three people. There's no adjustable headrest at the back but the ergonomics won't give a reason to complain.
You do get a cup holder and folding armrest, but no seatback pocket. Lastly, the boot space was one of the highlights for the Tigor. At 419 litres, it was commendably more than what was expected from the segment. And now, with the instalment of CNG tank in the boot, it has gone for a toss to an extent. But it’s still not meagre, offering 205 litres, which is more than ample for a couple of duffle bags with little room to spare.
Features and Equipment
7 / 10
Apart from the inclusion of i-CNG in the line-up, Tata has also upgraded the variant offering of the Tigor (and Tiago). The pair now gets a new range-topping XZ+ trim with a whole lot of new features added to the already long list. This includes rain-sensing wipers, auto headlamps with projectors, black-roof with spoiler, and 15-inch alloy wheels (i-CNG gets 14-inch steel rims). Other than that, there are bits and pieces added to the top-spec XZ+, like shark fin antenna, tri-arrow grille, LED daytime-running-lights, a seven-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, automatic climate control, digital instrument cluster, cooled glovebox, auto-fold ORVMs, engine start-stop button, and more that make the Tigor stand out.
As for safety, the Tigor is already a four-star NCAP rated. With the iCNG, there's a provision of a fire extinguisher under the front passenger seat as is mandatory for all CNG cars. There's also a microswitch 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 a leak and thermal protection along with a pressure release nozzle. Other standard safety equipment includes dual airbags, ABS with EBD and corner stability control, a rear parking sensor with camera, and a puncture repair kit.
7 / 10
Instead of offering the CNG option in a lower-spec version, Tata has opted to go for the higher two specs, so the pricing might be a put off for some. But we think the additional Rs 90,000 for the CNG version over its equivalent petrol variant is definitely worth it. With the extra money paid for the CNG version, you get a lowered everyday running cost, extended range, and a cabin that's not 'bare-essential' but fully loaded, spacious and practical. It's even high on safety and there's not a considerable engine performance dip either. What more could you possibly ask for?
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi