Third time’s the charm, they say. But Tata has been riding on EV success already with their two models – the Nexon EV and Tigor EV – before the arrival of their third – the Tiago EV. And now, with the Tiago EV, the Indian carmaker is looking (and is capable too) to pull more car buyers on the electric brigade than any other EV has managed to do before. Launched in India for a starting price of Rs 8.49 lakh ex-showroom, Tiago EV has already garnered 20,000 bookings proving that the masses are ready for affordable electric mobility. But is the Tiago EV the way forward? We find out.
Like the Nexon EV and Tigor EV, the Tiago EV doesn’t get a heavily revamped cabin compared to its standard version. There’s a circular gear selector dial in the centre console while the rest of the cabin is familiar finished in a black-beige. This also points towards the fact that the cabin design has been the same since Tiago was introduced in 2016. The facelift did bring in some changes, but with the advent of EV, revamping the dated cabin would have made a huge difference. Sure it gets a coloured TFT driver’s display but the console looks dated in a modern electric car.
That said, the leatherette upholstery looks good and feels premium thanks to its fit and finish. Some soft-touch materials on the door pads would have been a nice touch. But apart from that, the cabin of the Tiago EV remains familiar, spacious and practical. There’s good support from seats up front and I didn’t find my shoulders rubbing with a fellow passenger.
Moving to the second row and I was pleasantly surprised that despite the battery underneath, the floor height hasn’t changed much over the standard Tiago. The leatherette upholstery at the back also makes it feel plush, but no adjustable headrest is a bit of a bummer. There’re no seat back pockets (despite the posh-looking seat covers), or folding armrests at the back, but the door pockets are large enough for one-litre bottle. The headroom appears to have taken a hit to accommodate the batteries under the seat as its just enough for me and taller passengers might find their heads brushing against the roof.
Lastly, we come to the boot space, which at 240litres isn’t compromised much over the standard Tiago (which is 242litres). Unlike the Tigor EV, there’s no spare wheel hindering the space – because, well there’s no spare wheel here – just a puncture repair kit. Beside the protruding battery pack in the boot, there’s still some space next to it.
In terms of features, the Tiago EV in this ‘XZ+ Tech Lux with 7.2 kW AC Fast Charger’ variant (yes, that’s the name of the range-topping version) offers a lot. It’s also high on safety, as it is based on Tiago’s four-star NCAP rating architecture. We also sampled ZConnect mobile app which offers all possible modern-day connected car tech. It also gives remote access to vehicle controls and a (new) driving behaviour report; the latter will surely help new EV buyers to adapt to EV driving techniques.
There are two battery packs on offer with the Tiago EV. The smaller is a 19.2kWh unit that powers a motor with an output of 45kW (around 60bhp) and 110Nm. What we are driving here is the bigger 24kWh battery pack. It powers the motor with an output of 55kW (that’s close to 74bhp) and 114Nm. So the power figures you get in the Tiago EV match the petrol-powered version. This also means that the electric Tiago is as conventional and familiar to drive behind the wheel as its ICE counterpart.
But unlike the three-cylinder petrol counterpart, the e-powertrain is vibration-free and noiseless, something that first-time buyers would surely appreciate and will need to get accustomed to. Off the mark, the momentum from the electric motor is smooth sans any jerks or unwanted hiccups. The delivery is linear and unhurried too, except in the Sport mode. Shift to S on the dial and the acceleration is brisk – 0-60kmph-in-5.7-seconds brisk. The character surely transforms when in S mode where the e-Tiago wants to scurry quickly everywhere you point it.
And we’d be more than happy to potter around everywhere in the S mode, but the D mode isn’t half bad either. The Tiago EV gathers speed in a sedate manner which is ideal for driving in the city while it can easily keep pace with traffic, be it at city speeds or out on the highway. Even with sudden throttle inputs, the response is quick – not neck-snapping quick by any means – for when there’s a gap to wade through in traffic. Even at highway speeds, the stability and road-holding capacity of the Tiago EV are commendable. It can comfortably cruise at 70-80kmph without underplaying.
The steering – which goes three full turns lock-to-lock – is well-weighted at city speeds and has smooth progressive nature without any uneven movements. But it does lighten up when the speed increases. And like the standard Tiago, the EV has also nailed the suspension setup. Even the ground clearance hasn’t been compromised with the battery sitting below. So the Tiago EV takes in the harshest of bumps and potholes and even when the speed increases the vertical movements are kept well under control.
Like the Nexon EV Max, there are three regen levels here with a provision to completely shut it off. Tata officials mentioned that above 90 per cent, the difference between the regen modes won’t be as apparent. But as the battery will deplete gradually, each regen mode will be distinctive. And although we won’t deem the level 3 regen to be a one-pedal setup, it does have a strong retardation capability. In fact on one of the downhill slopes, with level 3 regen, the Tiago EV manage to shunt speed rapidly – from 70kmph down to 35-40kmph while on the downward slope when lifting the foot off the throttle.
For the long-range version (which would be the sensible choice to buy), the 15A charge point will take around nine hours, while the 3.3kW charger would charge it in 6.4 hours. The pragmatic option would be the 7.2kW charger which takes 3.5 hours. And if you do stumble across a DC fast one, it will go 10-80 per cent in just 57 minutes. With a full charge, the long-range version we have here has a claimed range of 315 kilometres. What will be its real-world range? We’ll surely know that in our CarWale Range Test soon.
At Rs 12.50 lakh on-the-road Mumbai, this range-topping ‘XZ+ Tech Lux with 7.2 kW AC Fast Charger’ version would seem excessively priced. Yet the Tiago EV remains the most affordable EV in the market today. And for those on tighter budgets can go for the smaller battery pack and lower variants. It makes for a very compelling first buy and would encourage those who want to go the EV way, but couldn’t before thanks to its extravagant price. It might also be a viable good second car in the family.
On things it could improve, there’s the dated cabin and the fact that battery range isn’t promising – especially for first-time EV buyers. But being an India-bred EV, the Tiago EV is tailor-made for our conditions and requirements. Add to it the familiarity factor backed up by Tata’s EV ecosystem, and the Tiago EV comes across as a no-brainer, small EV solution for our ever-emergent urban requirements.
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi