Last time Tata Motors tried its hands at getting a slice of the compact sedan market with the Zest, things didn't turn out to be to their desire. The Zest, despite indicating a transforming Tata Motors, failed to grab the consumers' attention, primarily due to lack of a totally fresh design. Now though, Tata Motors is having another go at the segment with the Tigor, which was earlier known as the Kite 5. We've driven the Tigor and its different variants to find out if Tata Motors has the right ammunition this time to go against the likes of Maruti Suzuki Dzire, Hyundai Xcent, Volkswagen Ameo and Ford Aspire. The brief drive around Delhi NCR turned out to be quite a revelation in itself and you might be surprised to find out why.
Tata Tigor Design
They say 'first impression is the last impression' and by that yardstick the Tigor looks unlike earlier Tata cars with a fresh and unconventional design language. The first thing one would notice is the rear, wherein the key difference lies in the way the boot runs from the C-pillar to the bootlid, more like a notchback. Hence, the rear section of the Tigor looks neatly integrated into the rest of the design, unlike other compact sedans, which have boots that look like aftermarket fitment with the exception of the Ford Aspire. At the front, the styling is similar to the Tiago but that's not a bad thing since it's common for carmakers globally to now have a homogeneous design language across models with some differentiators. The front fascia at first look is the same as the Tiago but then one notices the blacked-out projector headlamps with a different cluster design inside and that is the only significant change you'll find at the front. While some carmakers even in the premium bracket tend to overdo the homogeneous design bit across the car, Tata designers stopped at the front.
Tata has ensured the silhouette of the Tigor is different, lending it a visual character of its own. The only part, which I found a bit out of place was the tip of the arc created by the roof as it looks a bit small and a bit too round for my taste. But then again, design is a subjective thing and often my wife loves what I dislike and dislikes what I love. The double-spoke alloy wheels wear a gunmetal finish and are aptly sized at 16-inches for the top variants. The lower ones get 15inch wheels. Overall, the design team at Tata Motors has managed to do an impressive job with the Tigor, especially at the rear. Only thing is that from many angles the Tigor looks as if it could've been more wow but things were held back a teeny weeny bit. It's always the minor differences that separate greats from the goods so it'll be interesting to see how the consumers react to it.
The Tigor features a similar cabin to what one finds in the Tiago, albeit with some additional features. Infotainment system is an important consideration while buying a car these days in urban areas and Tata has addressed that need very well. The Harman infotainment system comes with a touchscreen and eight speakers (4 speakers, 4 tweeters). It can mirror navigation from your smartphone and offers Bluetooth, Aux-in, USB and FM radio as well. The sound quality of the system is possibly the best in its segment and the touch response too is good.Seats too are good in the front and back and headroom and legroom is ample at both ends. The rear seat is quite wide and flat, which makes it easier to seat three people, if needed. There are two 12V sockets in the front, out of which the 2nd can be used by the rear passengers too. While the door pockets on the rear door are large enough to hold 1 litre bottles, the front door pockets can only store small bottles. Essentially, the bottles we have mostly at home just won't fit in.
Plastic quality is good in most places but the lower dashboard could've done with a little bit better plastic quality. Another problem I faced was that the driver-side sun visor does not have a cover for the vanity mirror. When using the visor, the reflective surface of the mirror can be quite distracting as it's on the border of the driver's field of vision. The boot space at 419 litres is the largest in the segment and it has been designed smartly too. Instead of using, gooseneck hinges, which intrude into the luggage space, the Tigor makes use of a four-link setup. This ensures all links remain outside the boot compartment and hence do not eat away any of the space.
The Tigor compact sedan is powered by the same powertrains found in the Tiago and before you get worried about the lack of performance due to the additional weight of the boot, the Tigor only weighs 50 kg more than the Tiago. Hence, the effect of weight isn't much on the overall performance. The 1.2 litre Revotron petrol engine develops 85 hp, while the 1,050 cc Revotorq diesel is good for 70 hp. The diesel motor looks underpowered on paper but in the real world, it has just enough power to move the Tigor with ease. While performance isn't brisk, once past 1700 rpm, the engine delivers better power but tapers past 4,000 rpm. This motor is meant for city usage primarily and occasional highway runs only. The petrol motor is the more lively of the two and lets one have some bit of fun as well. Power delivery is linear and beyond 3,000 rpm is when the power surges in. The engine is a refined mostly but feels rough towards the top end of the power band.
Watch the Tata Tigor video review:
Both engines are mated to a five-speed manual transmission, which offers easy shifts and coupled to the light clutch, driving the Tigor in heavy traffic won't be tiring. Both versions also come equipped with City and Eco driving modes, alter the engine mapping to perform as the name suggests.
Ride & Handling
Tata has always delivered well on the ride quality part in the past and the Tigor is no different. Road undulations and potholes are dealt with ease and the occupants mostly remain in comfort. Even at high speeds the car feels stable and doesn't feel as if it's floating, like it happens with many cars with a soft suspension setup. Around corners too, the Tigor remains composed, although body-roll is evident when pushing hard. However, the car isn't positioned as a sporty vehicle so for its target audience, the Tigor shouldn't pose any stability problems.
Overall, the Tigor is an impressive product on many accounts, especially exterior design and the infotainment system. Smart features such as the smart four-link boot too reflect the focus on providing functionality to consumers. There are bits that could've been better but most of them aren't going to make any major difference to the cabin experience.
Where the Tigor stands out is its design because in a segment challenged by dimensional restrictions, we've become used to seeing ugly vehicles mostly. The Tigor on the contrary comes across as a handsome vehicle despite the challenges.
Design is one of the first impressions that a consumer gets about a car and the Tigor creates one better than any other car in its segment. It's got other areas too covered well so in the end it boils down to pricing. The car will be launched towards the end of March and if Tata Motors can price the Tigor competitively, there's no reason why it can't become the a major contender in the sub-compact sedan segment.
With its fresh design and impressive features, the Tigor after the Tiago and Hexa is a strong signal to the change that's taking place within Tata Motors. The company is becoming young and that's the only way forward in the Indian market given the fact that more than 60 % of our population is under the age of 35 years.