As our cities start to spill over at the seams, the automatic car that was restricted to the upper reaches of society is slowly finding a growing fan-following in the mass market. This is more than understandable considering that even us hardened lot of enthusiasts often find ourselves craving for one less pedal. The problem up until recently was that all automatic technology was not only expensive to buy, but also to fit and maintain. This meant the entry-level hatch could not afford the luxury. Automated Manual Transmissions then was the game changer. It’s a slightly modified version of the standard manual gearbox that allows for automatic shifts without having to build a new gearbox for each new model. Now the catch is that AMTs are not quick, not even close to telepathic. It is more like a senile British butler, “Second gear sir? Why certainly!”
*two lifetimes later*
‘That gear you ordered’
My usual hyperbole aside, at this price point the best two-pedal you're going to get is an AMT. Which brings us to the recently introduced Tiago XZA AMT. The Tiago only gets the AMT with the cylinder 1199cc petrol engine that makes 85bhp and makes about 114 Nm in terms of twist force. We’ll skim over the intrinsic details, as they are mostly the same as the standard Tiago and get straight to the gearbox.
The 5-speed AMT is rudimentary with four driving positions, Reverse, Neutral, Automatic and Manual. It misses out on the park function, probably to save cost. There’s also a blink and you’ll miss it S button tucked away behind the shift lever, that seems unprecedentedly small. Now from rest in auto-mode, there is noticeable lag and could take some getting used to, but this is something that we have found across the segment in AMTs. On the trot, the car moves smoothly only to be briefly interrupted every time the gearbox shifts up or down. However o, the plus-side there is no rubber band effect to be reported, per say. The gearbox also gets a creep function which allows the car to slowly crawl through traffic while you modulate the brake, although in my eyes it “the creep functions” seems more like the absence of a “hold function”. While this is a boon in crawling traffic it can get a bit annoying if you're used to hold function of automatics.it is important to note that over time these characteristic problems will slowly fade as you learn to manipulate the throttle and brakes to make changes to gears.
If that doesn’t do it for you either, you could switch to the manual mode where the shifts can be controlled, well, manually. Again don’t expect manual gearbox crispness from the shifts, but it does allow you to rev all the way to the redline at 5500 rpm. After which it engages an automatic shift up. Sport mode, changes the engine map to give you, all the power on tap. However, with 85 bhp and 114 Nm on tap, you’d be mad to expect a cyclone. It is sufficient for a quick hustle through the crowded metropolis though.
Tata has the AMT Tiago in both the XT and the XZ trims, at a premium of 35k, and while it may not be the most refined automatic in the world. It is possibly one of the most reasonable ones. If a large part of your driving is through city traffic, and you’re looking at a reasonably priced automatic hatch the Tiago might just be the one for you.
Tata Tiago AMT 1.2 Revotron XZA price: Rs 5.26 lakh
Tata Tiago 1.2 Revotron XTA price: Rs 4.79 lakh