2022 Tata Tiago iCNG: First Drive Review

Published On Jan 26, 2022 By Rohit for Tata Tiago

Tata’s given the Tiago a model year update, and with it the much awaited CNG option. We find out how affordable it is as compared to petrol and what are its limitations

Back in January 2020, Tata launched the facelifted Tiago. Fast forward two years and the compact hatchback has just got a model year update. With this, the Tiago has received multiple cosmetic changes and probably the biggest update in the form of a factory-fitted CNG kit. Although Tata’s late to offer a CNG in this segment, there are a few strong reasons for which you may consider it. And because this review will be focused on the CNG side of the Tiago, let’s start there. 

Engine and Performance

The Tiago still comes with the same 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine with a 5-speed manual and an optional 5-speed AMT. In the CNG variants, however, you only get the manual transmission. The good thing is that the 86PS/113Nm tune of the petrol is carried over to the CNG’s petrol mode as well, while the reduced output (73PS/95Nm) only applies to the CNG. Also, Tata has added the functionality to let the car start in CNG mode rather than petrol, which is a segment first. 

Despite the lower tune, what Tata has managed well is the engine feel between the two fuel modes. In motion, the CNG powertrain feels as refined as the petrol, with only a minor difference creeping in at higher revs. Until and unless you are a keen observer, driving on petrol and CNG power will feel nearly identical. That said, the Tiago’s engine was never the most refined in the segment and we would have appreciated a bit more of fine-tuning to make it smoother running and reduce the engine noise creeping into the cabin.

If the majority of your usage is going to be within the city limits and in CNG mode, the Tiago CNG will perform its duties without breaking a sweat. Getting off the line and making progress is effortless thanks to the ample low-down torque. Even when it comes to going for gaps and making overtakes, the Tiago manages to get a move on if you are in the right gear. The strong midrange of the engine lets you cruise in 2nd and 3rd gear in the city without having to shift much. A quick overtake will require a downshift and that too, with its easy shifting action and a light clutch, happens effortlessly. 

The power delivery in CNG takes place in a very linear fashion which is more than suitable for daily commutes. But yes, it will leave you wanting for a bit more punch. Even in the petrol mode, the experience remains similar with linear acceleration. In our performance test, there was just a 1 second difference in the 30-80kmph acceleration in 3rd gear. An impressive feat for a CNG.

Acceleration

On Petrol

On CNG

Difference

0-100kmph

15.51s

17.28s

1.77s

30-40kmph (3rd Gear)

12.76s

13.69s

0.93s

40-100kmph (4th Gear)

22.33s (BS IV)

24.50s

2.17s

Where the CNG mode falls short is acceleration at higher rpms. That is where the petrol mode holds a distinct advantage and during highway overtakes. It's better to switch to the petrol while you are trying to pull at higher rpms as there is a clear change in acceleration. That is why in outright acceleration to 100kmph, the difference between the two fuel modes is nearly 2 seconds. This is the only time however that you would need to switch to petrol. And that is when the mode switch button on the dashboard really comes handy. Every other time, the CNG mode feels as good as the petrol and you won't even notice that the car is running on CNG.

Running Costs, Mileage, And Range

As per our in-house test, the Tiago CNG returned a mileage of 15.56km/kg in the city. We drove the CNG-powered hatchback in Pune where the rate of the cleaner fuel is Rs 66/kg. Based on these figures, the running cost comes to Rs 4.2/km. The same test on the petrol-powered Tiago returned a fuel efficiency of 15.12kmpl. Price of petrol in Pune is Rs 109/litre and the running cost comes to Rs 7.2/km. This means when you use the Tiago CNG, you are saving Rs 3/km.

Tata has priced the CNG variants at a premium of Rs 90,000 over their petrol counterparts. So, your first 30,000km in the Tiago CNG will be spent in recovering the additional cost, after which you shall start reaping the benefits of the Rs 3/km difference. However, there is one issue. 

The Tiago CNG’s water-equivalent capacity is 60 litres and it has a holding capacity of 10.8kg. With a mileage of 15.56km/kg in the city, it should offer a range of around 160km. So if you drive 50km daily, you will have to refuel the CNG tank every third day! And it will cost you around Rs 700/refill. In comparison, the petrol-powered Tiago has a 35 litre tank, resulting in a range of 530km. One of the biggest advantages of the hatchback is that even if it runs out of CNG, it will continue to carry on with just petrol power. But given the shortage of CNG fuelling stations in India, you may have to wait in a queue to fill it up, depending on your location.

Boot Space

As you can probably guess, one thing that’s taken a huge blow with the introduction of the CNG kit is the boot space of the hatchback. The non-CNG variants have a storage capacity of 242 litres, but those with the cleaner fuel option literally have space only to keep your laptop bags. Also, keeping the bags won't be possible from the boot but rather by folding down the rear seats and then accessing the storage area under the CNG tank. That is also how you access the spare wheel which is quite a task. Good thing then that Tata is giving a puncture repair kit with the car as well.

If you consider Maruti’s CNG models, their boots offer more storage capacity. It is because the carmaker has smartly placed the spare wheel vertically and the CNG tank is located further below and inside the boot. This allows owners to place their soft or duffle bags in the available area. Tata should have come up with a similar solution as well. 

Ride and Handling

The Tiago, like all Tatas, has a comfortable ride quality. It absorbs potholes and rough surfaces well and keeps the cabin away from the harshness of the surface. Inside the city, the broken roads and speed breakers are dealt with ease. To accommodate the 100 extra kilos in the boot, the rear has been stiffened a bit and it can be felt on the sharper potholes, but the ride mostly remains stable and comfortable. 

As for handling, the Tiago remains as neutral as before. It feels safe when pushed into corners and body roll is kept under check as well. However, with the added weight in the boot, it's better off commuting in the city rather than picking lines through a corner. 

Looks

Back in 2020 when the facelifted Tiago was launched, it got a host of cosmetic upgrades including the Altroz-like sharper front profile and Tata’s tri-arrow detailing both inside and out. This time around Tata decided to add some more chrome on it which is done subtly, and add a bit of class to the hatchback. The 2022 Tiago also comes with projector headlights and LED DRLs, the latter placed near the fog lamps. There is also a new Midnight Plum shade on the compact hatchback which helps fill the void of a Dark Edition Tiago.

In profile, the only two new changes you will spot are the chrome garnish on the door handles and new 14-inch stylised wheel covers which make the steel wheels look like they are dual-tone alloys. While the Tiago does get alloy wheels in this variant, the CNG variants don't. The Tiago’s rear profile also gets a few differences now including a chrome strip and the ‘iCNG’ badge on the boot lid. Overall, it is still the better hatchback of the segment. 

Interior

Right from its inception, the Tiago has always been a well-loaded compact hatchback in India. Until now, the Tiago was only offered with a black and grey dashboard layout. However, with the recent update, Tata has tried to freshen things up a bit as the top-spec XZ+ trim now gets a dual-tone black and beige cabin setup. A new seat upholstery sums up the changes on the inside.

The build quality and fit-finish of the interior is impressive as well. The seats are also well padded and have proper contouring to hold you in comfort for longer journeys. Also, while the driver gets a height adjustable seat, the passenger’s seat feels a bit tall and is not adjustable for height. Taller passengers will feel like sitting over the car and not in it. 

At the rear, the bench too feels well cushioned and contoured. While it is suitable for two people, seating three would not be a big problem for city stints. However, the rear headrests are non-adjustable, which hampers adequate neck support. If Tata would have added an armrest or a mobile charging port here, the experience could have been a lot better. 

If cabin practicality is considered, the Tiago gets two cup holders near the handbrake, a cooled glovebox, a space to store your phone and a cubby hole on the driver’s side of the dashboard. It also has map pockets and bottle holders on all four doors. However, the map pockets are slim and aren’t suitable for anything other than paper and cloth. 

Features and Technology

The Tiago comes with a decent feature list including a 7-inch touchscreen system which works well, Android and Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity, and is paired with an 8 speaker (4 speakers, 4 tweeters) setup which sounds very good. If you are someone who prefers using voice commands, Tata has taken care of that as well in the Tiago. The touchscreen unit also doubles up as the display for the reversing camera and even gets dynamic guidelines. You also get steering-mounted audio and calling controls, auto climate control, digital driver’s display and electrically adjustable ORVMs.

Safety

The Tiago’s standard safety features include a tyre puncture repair kit, dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, corner stability control, and rear parking sensors. And because this is a CNG variant, you also get a fire extinguisher near the passenger seat. Another big advantage for the Tiago is that it is the only compact hatchback to have a 4-star rating in the Global NCAP crash tests.

Verdict

Is the Tiago CNG the right car for you? Well, that depends. If you often load the hatchback with items in the boot, then the Tiago CNG definitely doesn’t have much to offer. There are two more issues which don’t work in its favour. Firstly, the long waiting lines at CNG fuelling stations and second, the Rs 90,000 premium over the corresponding petrol variants which push this Tiago into the territory of larger hatchbacks. Aftermarket CNG kits usually cost upto Rs 50,000 but here you are paying a premium for the neat integration of the additional items. 

When it comes to the affordability of the CNG, you will be spending Rs 3/km less as compared to petrol. And this cost could take around two and half years to recover, depending on your usage. On the upside though, the Tiago CNG doesn’t let you feel that you are in a CNG-powered hatchback. The driving dynamics, ride comfort, and features list is similar to that of its petrol counterpart and quite commendable. If that is what you are looking for, a low compromise drive experience with a CNG powertrain, then the Tiago CNG can surely be a strong contender.

Tata Tiago

Variants*Ex-Showroom Price New Delhi
XE (Petrol)Rs.5.38 Lakh*
XT Option (Petrol)Rs.5.80 Lakh*
XT Limited Edition (Petrol)Rs.5.79 Lakh*
XT (Petrol)Rs.5.95 Lakh*
XZ (Petrol)Rs.6.35 Lakh*
XTA AMT (Petrol)Rs.6.50 Lakh*
XZ Plus (Petrol)Rs.6.78 Lakh*
XZ Plus Dual Tone Roof (Petrol)Rs.6.90 Lakh*
XZA AMT (Petrol)Rs.6.90 Lakh*
XZA Plus AMT (Petrol)Rs.7.33 Lakh*
XZA Plus Dual Tone Roof AMT (Petrol)Rs.7.45 Lakh*
XE CNG (CNG)Rs.6.28 Lakh*
XM CNG (CNG)Rs.6.55 Lakh*
XT CNG (CNG)Rs.6.85 Lakh*
XZ Plus CNG (CNG)Rs.7.68 Lakh*
XZ Plus Dual Tone Roof CNG (CNG)Rs.7.80 Lakh*

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