• Tata Tigor EV: First Drive Review

Is the most affordable consumer-centric EV in India also the most sensible of them all?

While the world is moving towards electric mobility, mainstream Indian carmakers are yet to warm up to the propulsion of the future. You might say that Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz have electric offerings for India but they are all niche products. If you want the masses to warm up to the idea of owning an electric car, you first need to have an affordable electric car on sale. Mahindra was the first to do it years ago with the E2O. Tata Motors followed it up with the Tigor EV that was directed towards fleet owners. However, the Nexon EV has caught the imagination of mainstream consumers and has been bringing in good numbers as well. Thus, it was obvious for Tata to bring the same package in an even more practical form. Now, the facelifted Tigor EV has been launched for consumers and it not only features the same architecture as the Nexon EV but is priced more leniently as well. The daily running costs are almost comparable to that of a premium entry-level 350cc motorcycle. Does it make for a more sensible package then?

Now, coming to the design, it looks rather conventional, sharing all the bodywork with the ICE-powered Tigor. Almost everything is the same except for the closed grille and electric blue accents that can be spotted on the grille, the wheel caps and the bootlip. The cabin too is identical to the regular Tigor save for the blue accents on the air-con vents and instrument cluster surround. There are sporty black fabric seats and a rotary gear-shifter dial instead of a conventional lever. While fit-finish levels are good, I would have loved the selector knob to have a more ‘clickety’ feel.

The fully-digital instrument console is quite informative and shows charge level, range, power meter and battery regen level as well. The top-spec XZ+ variant we drove is equipped with a seven-inch touchscreen Harman infotainment system. It also gets Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Tata’s IRA connected tech that offers geofencing features such as remote locking, vehicle tracking and even helps you locate the nearest charging station.

The new-generation Tigor EV gets the new Ziptron architecture, first seen on the Nexon EV. It packs in a new powertrain, larger battery pack and a more efficient battery management system and of course, fast charging as well.

Propulsion comes from a Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor that delivers 55kW (75PS) and 170Nm. The USP of an electric motor is its ability to offer maximum torque from zero rpm onwards. As a result, the Tigor EV feels sprightly in traffic. It has a creep function which is very useful in stop and go traffic. It gets two driving modes — Drive and Sport. Drive mode offers upto 75 percent of the performance and softer throttle responses for better range efficiency. In this mode, performance feels substantially blunted while battery regeneration feels more intrusive. To better enjoy the car, it is best to stick it in Sport mode. In this mode part-throttle responses are immediate and performance is more zestful with very little intrusion from the battery regeneration system. In terms of performance the Tigor EV feels more powerful than regular, ICE-powered compact sedans. Out on the highway, there is enough juice to overtake vehicles at speeds of 80kmph. 100kmph is easily achievable and the top speed is capped at 120kmph.

The Tigor EV gets a new 26kWh lithium-ion battery pack and more efficient battery management system. Tata Motors claims an ARAI tested range of 306km which is 6km short of its larger EV sibling. In the real world though the Nexon EV delivers around 220km of range so expect a range of around 200-210km in the Tigor EV. You can recharge it via a regular 15-ampere household socket but the fastest way is the DC fast charger which will charge your car from zero to 80 percent in 65 minutes, which is time for a cup of coffee and social media browsing. Out on the road, you will have to rely on one of the few fast charging stations. Charging stations can also be located via Tata’s ZConnect app.

An impressive aspect of the Tigor EV is its comfortable ride. Low-speed ride feels supple and the Tigor EV takes care of ruts and speed breakers without bothering occupants. On the rare occasion when the suspension bottoms out you hear the thud, but don’t really feel it. However, the supple ride comes at the price of handling. Though it is fairly stable at highway speeds, the Tigor EV exhibits body roll around corners despite having a low centre of gravity. The electric-assist steering feels light at city speeds but feels vague so changing lanes at high speed can feel disconcerting. Brakes have a good bite and despite the Apollo Amazer XP low-rolling resistance tyres, the Tigor EV stopped well even on the soaking wet roads we drove on.

The Tata Tigor EV looks attractive and boasts a good list of features. It even scores four out of five stars in Global NCAP safety tests, the same as its fossil-fuel powered sibling. In fact it is the first EV in the world to achieve a four-star rating! The electric powertrain offers good performance (in Sport mode) and delivers an acceptable range too. There is also the lightweight steering and compact dimensions that make it easy to drive and park in tight spaces. However, the problem here is the price that starts at ` 11.99 lakh and goes up to ` 13.14 lakh. The larger, quicker and better-equipped Nexon EV starts at ` 13.99 lakh and makes for a far better proposition. The Tigor EV is definitely a great EV for the urban jungle although Tata seems to have missed the mark when it comes to the pricing, for now.

Cars First drives

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