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How different could yet another sub-4 metre sedan be? One rule change in the automotive industry led to a sea of average looking cars flooding our streets and here’s another one, but you know what, this one is far from average. This is the Tata Tigor, the sub 4-metre sedan version of the Tiago, but it isn’t exactly a sedan. Tata Motors calls it a Styleback. In common automotive parlance, a notchback or a fastback would be easier to describe Tata’s newest offering, but segment demands of the need of a 3-box kept Tata from opening the boot with the rear windshield. It still looks unique and attracts eyeballs, as we noticed on our drive. A smart move probably by the Tata team to organise this drive in and around Manesar, a place where more Swift Dzires are seen than people on the road.
An all new car, yes, but it is obviously derived from the Tiago. The Tigor doesn’t just get a sedan’s boot but a longer wheelbase too, and that increases cabin space. It is 50mm longer than the Tiago and all that goes in to the rear seat of the car. Scooped out front seats, armrest for the rear passengers, the Tigor gives the sedan experience. Boot space at 419 litre is best in class and space on the inside is genuinely impressive considering its small footprint. Space is what customers buy these sub 4-metre sedans for over their hatchback versions but the Tigor’s USP in this segment is also its style. I am not of fan of cars in this segment for their obvious design limitations, but with the Tigor, I’m impressed by efforts made to turn a handicap into its USP. It looks nothing like its competitors in this segment, and nothing about the Tigor gives the impression of being built to cost.
The petrol Tigor gets larger 15-inch wheels compared to 14-inchers on the diesel. The larger alloys have a nicer design too, and I think those should have been offered in the diesel. 70 per cent of the Tiagos sold however are the petrol variants, and so it seems that it gets more importance as a result. Tata Motors expects similar sales percentages for the Tigor as well. On the styling front, the smoked headlamps make it look more premium compared to the Tiago, and in profile, everything from the C-pillar is different. On the inside, the Tigor gets a touchscreen infotainment system and a suite of applications that mirror the phone screen on the car. Navigation works well, as does the music. Tata’s focus on providing a comfortable and convenient cabin shows. There are plenty of cubby holes to store everything from bottles to books to loose change everywhere. It gets four speakers and four tweeters, which is a segment first too.
What about the drivetrain?
The Tigor shares the 1.05-litre Revotorq diesel and 1.2-litre Revotron petrol, both mated to 5-speed manual gearboxes, with the Tiago. No surprises there. The diesel makes 69bhp and 140Nm and the petrol makes 84bhp and 114Nm. Both engines are tuned for efficiency, which is the need of the segment, so don’t expect much in the higher reaches of the powerband. Both engines have a good midrange though, with the petrol being quite sprightly off the block. It isn’t too rev happy so it is best to shift up at no higher than 4000rpm because above that, there’s more noise than momentum to be gained. The diesel has weak low end, till the turbo spools and the car gathers some pace above 1800rpm. Neither engine however suffers from relative performance in our Indian traffic conditions. You can keep pace with other vehicles and hold 100-120kmph comfortably on highways.
Ride and handling
A big part of maintaining triple digit speeds is stability, and that’s the Tigor’s USP too. The Tigor rides like a big car, easily a segment or two above it. The damping is just right for our roads, soft enough to soak in everything at low speeds and stiff enough to feel planted at high speeds. Direction changes don’t unnerve and brakes have a nice progressive feel to them. Height adjustable driver’s seat and a dead pedal adds to driving comfort. If there’s one grouse, it’s the spacing between the pedals which could have been a little more.
There are so many sub-4 metre sedans in India. Every manufacturer has one, and Tata is the carmaker that started it all with the Indigo eCS. Now the company has the Zest in its stable too, so the Tigor has been differentiated as a styleback to keep it from cannibalizing the Zest. The Xcent, Amaze, Swift Dzire, Ameo and Figo Aspire are part of the competition. The car will be launched on the 29th of March so you will have to wait for the prices till then.
A final verdict can only come with the price since this segment is so price-sensitive. That aside, the Tigor feels like an impressive all-round product. The styling to my eyes is the best in this segment, and it comes packed with features, is spacious and comfortable. The petrol engine is a strong competitor but the diesel feels underpowered compared to other compact sedans. It rides well, which on a short test drive, buyers will find instantly impressive. If Tata can undercut its rivals with the price, the Tigor could prove to be a huge success.