2023 Tata Tiago EV first drive review: India’s most affordable electric car tested!
This is significant. Tata Motors has gone and priced the Tiago EV at a cool Rs 8.5 lakh. Yes, I know these are introductory and prices will see a mild bump soon, but… you’re looking at India’s only sub-Rs 10 lakh electric car at the moment. Which makes it India’s most affordable electric car! EVs are expensive, that’s what we’ve always been told. And to be fair, that’s what we’ve always been shown. But here we are — an EV that is genuinely affordable, that blows open these cars to a whole new segment of buyers. It is exciting! Much like the Tigor EV, the Tiago remains the same one the face of it but has its ICE guts ripped out and replaced with electric ones. But is it as simple as that? Far from it.
2023 Tata Tiago EV styling
The Tiago EV looks very obviously like the regular Tiago but there are a few critical changes. The light blue ‘Humanity line’ runs the width of the car — a defining feature on Tata’s electric cars. The grille is replaced by a glossy black panel with an ‘EV’ badge, while the bumpers have been changed — the get Tata’s tri-arrow pattern neatly integrated in to it. From the side, not much has changed, the only bits worth mentioning are the 14-inch wheels get a new wheel design (blacked out, no less) and there are more EV badges on the flanks. The rear has no real changes save for the badge. In terms of dimensions, nothing changes. The Tiago EV retains the same 2400mm wheelbase as before, and the exterior dimensions are identical as well. The paint is new though — I love how the tropical mist paint of our test car looks. So refreshing!
2023 Tata Tiago EV interiors and features
On the inside, there are a few changes compared to the standard Tiago — the blue accents being the most obvious. There’s a digital instrument cluster which packs all the important information about your charge levels, range, speed, odo and trip meters, efficient, drive modes, regen modes — the works. It’s a lot to take in initially, but after spending some time in the car, you do get used to it. You’ve got an 7-inch infotainment screen that comes equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wired, though a single USB A port, mind you). You get a new gear selector — a rotary one, much like the Nexon EVs and a couple of new buttons here and there — mainly for the regen modes and for the charging system.
Tata seems to have also made a conscious effort to not skimp on equipment — this XZ+ Tech Lux LR variant gets leatherette seats, auto headlamps, auto wipers, cruise control, an electrically operated tailgate and even TPMS. Let that sink in — this is a Tiago, Tata’s entry level car. I think the reason for packing in all this is fairly obvious — the Tiago EV is going to be a secondary car to many people with more expensive metal in their garage. And sitting in the Tiago EV, you do not get the sense you are sitting in a car built to a cost. It feels like it does enough to keep you comfortable, even if you’re accustomed to bigger, more expensive cars. That is not something that the regular Tiago needed to do with as much urgency, and I think they’ve got the equipment levels spot on for this car.
One thing worth noting — boot space is a little less at 240mm. You see, the batteries sit under the rear seat and extend in to the space under the boot. This has forced the floor of the boot higher. Another casualty of this the spare wheel — you simply do not get one. There’s no room for it. What you do get is a puncture repair kit, and that’s a compromise that you’re just going to have to deal with.
2023 Tata Tiago EV range
First things first — the Tiago EV gets two battery specifications. The first, and more affordable one, is 19.2kWh. The second, the long range version we are driving, gets a 24kWh battery pack. If you’re a nerd with the numbers, you would have already noticed that the Tiago EV’s battery pack is smaller than the Tigor’s. Couple of reasons for that — first, the space required to package the battery pack was less what with the Tiago not having those few extra inches at the back. More pertinent though, was the price. The Tiago EV is more affordable that the Tigor EV and the cost savings have to come from somewhere!
Claimed range on the long range model is 315km. By now though, we’re very aware that these ARAI certified range figures are nowhere close to real world figures. When I started the car up early in the morning, the indicated range on the car was 227km, with 98 per cent charge in the battery. Then I turned the AC on. 227km dropped instantly to 204km.
Is the 204km possible in the real world? I suspect it is. With our driving on the test route, we drove a little over 100km while about 65 per cent of battery charge. But this was with photography and idling, and doing all sorts of bursts of acceleration for the video camera — hardly representative of real world driving conditions. I think in a city, 200km should be doable if you’re intelligent with your regen. Highway driving may sink that number a little bit. I’m looking forward to driving the car over a couple of days to get a clearer idea here.
I’ll quickly touch upon the charging as well — it takes 8.7 hours on a regular wallbox, but you can get a faster 7.2kW wallbox that reduces the time for a full charge to a mere 3.6 hours. It does accept DC charging up to 50kW and that takes an hour from 0-80 per cent.
2023 Tata Tiago EV performance and motor
The Tiago EV gets a moderate 74bhp and 114Nm — these numbers aren’t outlandish and I raised an eyebrow wondering what performance would be like especially considering it has gone up in weight by 150kg. Turns out, not bad at all! There are two drive modes — the default drive / City mode and Sport, selectable on the rotary gear selector. In City mode, performance feels more than adequate. It doesn’t have any neck-snapping acceleration, the likes of what we’re used to in most bigger, more powerful EVs, but it feels appropriate for the sort of car the Tiago is. The throttle has been calibrated nicely as well, with the delivery being relatively gentle in the initial part of the throttle travel. Sport mode makes it more sprightly — throttle responses are instantly sharper and it gets moving a little more energetically as well. Tata Motors claims a 0-60kmph time of 5.7 seconds, but I struggle to put that in to perspective because we test our cars to 100kmph. That said, while it does feel quick at lower speeds, it doesn’t feel as quick to 100kmph as a Hyundai i20 turbo does.
You do get regeneration settings to influence how the driving experience feels. You’ve got four settings — 0, where there is no regen and the car just coasts off throttle, and then three modes from 1 to 3 that get more aggressive as you move through them. 1 is the default setting with low regen, and I found myself most comfortable in 2. 3 is a little more aggressive with how it slows the car down and is useful, but just not in all situations. It’s well calibrated and genuinely works nicely — and what I like is that Tata Motors is bringing its learnings and updates from cars like the Nexon to this entry level EV as well.
2023 Tata Tiago EV ride and handling
Tata Motors has always aced it on this front and the Tiago is no difference. It rides with a sense of plantedness over most roads, while dealing with bumps and potholes capably. The additional weight has required engineers to change the suspension and brakes, and the changes work well. You can’t really feel the weight of the car when it pitches or rolls, in fact, there’s a maturity to the way the Tiago behaves on the road. It’s a small car with a small wheelbase, and despite that, it doesn’t get unsettled by undulating surfaces. Ground clearance hasn’t changed much so it’ll go anywhere without trouble. It remains composed through bends as well — good steering and a willing chassis means you can drive it enthusiastically. Despite the batteries being in the rear, they have managed to keep a 45-55 weight distribution and it shows. However, you do run in to understeer and squealing tyres fairly early and I suspect grippier tyres may just do the trick there. That said, this is not a car you want to go corner carving in. Start driving it too hard and the range will plummet. For the sort of driving that it will be put through, this set up works well — comfortable, stable, planted.
2023 Tata Tiago EV price and verdict
Introductory prices for the Tiago EV start at Rs 8.5 lakh ex-showroom and the XZ+ Tech Lux LR variant we’re testing comes in at Rs 11.3 lakh ex-showroom. I think that makes the Tiago EV great value for money. It’s about Rs 3 lakh more than the standard Tiago, but you’re getting a completely novel driving experience, not to mention the real savings you get from driving an EV. I can totally see this well-kitted out EV fitting perfectly in to the lives of so may people I know. Heck, I can see it perfectly in to my life. If you’ve been on the fence about an EV for a while now, the Tiago EV might just be the car to get you off that fence. Just be prepared for the long wait periods!