Economical or Cheap? - Tata Tiago EV
The culture of loving Tata as a car maker started 25 years ago with the Indica. It was a dream for an Indian manufacturer to create something for the masses and make it popular to the maximum, and that it did!
25 years later into 2023, Tata is ready to claim the ranks with something more flabouyant. Meet the Tiago, a car who's sillhouette we can recognise from meters away but with a twist under the skin. This is the fully electric Tiago now, the mover and shaker of the Indian Automotive Industry.
An electric car that starts at Rs. 8.49 lakh ex-showroom, has 5-doors, has an NCAP rating of 4 and can take 5 people for around 250 kms in the real world in utmost silence is something foreign manufacturers can only think about as of today. But Tata has not made claims for nothing, and besides being the cheapest 5-door family EV in the world by a mainstream auto manufacturer it has a lot more than what meets the eye. Let's talk about it. Underneath the Skin.
The Tiago EV comes in two flavours, a standard range model which gets a 19.2 kWh battery pack that is mated to a 45 kW ( or 61 bhp ) motor that pulls it with 110 Nm of torque and gives a claimed range of 250 kms ( real world range of approx 170 kms ). And then there is the one that we have which is the Long Range model, gets all the bells and whistles, but essentially gets a 24 kWh battery pack which is mated to a 55 kW ( or 74 bhp ) motor which pulls at 114 Nm of torque and gives a claimed range of 315 kms.
The batteries are liquid cooled and Tata has made sure that the BMS (Battery Management System) is upto the standards of Indian driving conditions which involve a lot of heat during summers, waterlogged streets during monsoons. Also the packaging of the batteries is done in standard of some european cars which is quite a boon considering our roads are the worst in the world and proper packaging of batteries and cables is critical for the success of any EV in India.
The way it looks
Tata has come a long way in the way their cars look, the Tiago EV is a good testament of how a hatchback should be shaped. With sharp muscle lines and aerodynamic elements all throughout, cohesive with some premium paint shades on offer on the Tiago EV, it has an edge over even its petrol powered counterpart alluring the onlookers.
The blue humanity line that is a feature of all Tata cars, as a vision of their ex-designer, Pratap Bose looks rather brilliant in almost all paint shades on offer with the Tiago EV. There are no alloy wheels on offer, not even as an option on the top of the line variants, call it cost cutting or ease of maintainenece.
Tata motors has made sure they save every penny where they can to enhance the experience behind the wheel than to the people beholding the car from the exteriors. Not that the car looks bad at all, but the alloy wheels would have definitely helped enhance the aesthetics of the package.
There is a wide lettering of the Tiago EV at the rear which announces to the traffic behind you that this has an electric motor inside, beside the green number plate ofcourse that will adorn the intern of the zero-tailpipe emission vehicle. Overall, a car that will make you turn again, and again to look back at it and make you realise that you've made the right decision.
On the Inside.
The Tiago EV is a step up from the standardised packaging of the petrol / CNG powered Tiago. The cabin feels like a departure from the dark under-equipped situation to a rich and flabouyant cockpit with bells and whistles to allure your senses.
The ivory and grey interior scheme packed with details in anodised blue trims all across the interiors make you feel richer more important when you're inside the car. I especially like the soft leather covering on the seats and the steering wheel, which makes it feel 2 tiers more expensive than it's price band. The seats are extremely ergonomic too, which is a boon for my rather average 5 ft 8 in body which does about a 100 kms everyday to work and back.
The instruments display is digital by default in all the EVs Tata will sell and here we see a mix of colors in the MID too. The shade of blue is soothing to the eyes and does make it more relaxing to drive at night. As seen here, the range is showing as 170 kms with 96% battery left to drain, and that is because the on-board computer remembers your last driving style and calculates the range in accordance to that. And we were gunning it around Goa through the day like we have 5 star wanted level on GTA San Andreas and are chased by helicopters with machine guns.
The addition of cruise control adds up to the ease of driving off from that wanted level and will help you relax your senses. The cruise control is a bonus feature on the top of the line Tiago EV. The battery management system works at its best capacity to be extremely efficient when one drives with the cruise control activated. Being an EV, the accelerator pedal is directed via electronic signals which are multi-folds faster than mechanical inputs in internal combustion engined cars, henceforth, the cruise control module helps achieve the consumption minimum about of energy from the battery per kilometer of driving.
If you're new to the world of EVs you would love to experience how a 74 bhp motor in the long range Tiago EV reacts from a standstill. The torque down to the ground is instant making it feel more like a Turbo Petrol motor with quite some boost. To enhance this experience further, Tata has thrown in the SPORTS mode to get the maximum juice out of the 55 kW motor making this car do 0 to 60 kmph in about 5.5 seconds. Which for a car southwards of 10 lakh rupees is still healthy.
The acceleration happens with a muted humm, and makes you less aware of the power under the hood than what i really is, all thanks to our sensory system used to the high revving petrol engines to extract the maximum push from these machines. The weight distribution too is brilliant. With 45:55 weight distribution Front to Rear, the Tiago EV is quite a sure footed small car to have fun with. In addition to the excellent weight distribution, the arrangement of the battery pack lower in the structure helps create a great centre of gravity, which enhances road grip and weight distribution on sideways trajectory when cornering hard.
In the straight line, the Tiago EV behaves sedately, even when it is fitted hard compound tyres for minimum rolling resistance, you never get tossed around when undulations come on the surface of the road. The suspension setup although similar to the one of the petrol powered Tiago, has little tweaks done to the spring rates and mounts to make the ride quality feel extra mature.
I particularly liked the ride and noise insulation at 75-80 kmph which is the standard highway speed all across India. There is a european poise in the way this car behaves and it makes me wonder how it all has been put together or if there are some parts on the car from a giant european (read german) manufacturer. An extra layer of foam is added to the wheel wells to cut off the noise from the tyres, which gets me into thinking. How has Tata managed to keep the prices so low still?
The Tiago EV is all the small car you'll ever need for your daily use. Around 90% of the time we do not step outside the city as our lives get busier and our cities get more congested. An excellent secondary car the Tiago EV is to go from point A to B spending as much money as you would so at McDonald's for a Burger and a Sprite. Things don't really get tricky if you are considering this as a primary car, with a tested range of 230 kms on a full charge while being conservative and 170 kms when being an absolute hooligan at the wheel it is an incredible bang for your buck.
Further, you might be wondering what kind of a silly guy would I be to call 170 kms of range good. To be honest, with the kind of inflation that we have been seeing across car prices lately, a Rs. 10 lakh tag gets you a lot of car. And with an 8 year / 1,60,000 km warranty on teh battery and the motor it is a no brainer to not have a car this cheap to live with.
Furthermore, the Citroen eC3 poses a serious threat to the Tiago EV. Would it be a great competition to the Tiago EV? Keep an eye on our website for the comparison test!