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Tata Tiago iCNG AMT First Drive Review: Is India’s First Automatic CNG Hatchback Both Fuel Efficient & Convenient?

Tata Tiago iCNG AMT

Tata is one of the leading car manufacturers in India, known for its sturdy build quality. Like many carmakers, Tata also considers customer feedback and improves based on it. The recently launched Tata Nexon, Safari, and Harrier are examples of this. This year, Tata has introduced another industry first by offering the convenience of an automatic transmission with the CNG fuel option. A couple of weeks ago, Tata launched the Tata Tiago and Tigor iCNG variants with the AMT gearbox option. We had the opportunity to drive the entry-level hatchback Tiago iCNG AMT a few days ago, and here is what we think about it.

Does it look different?

Tata Tiago iCNG AMT First Drive Review: Is India’s First Automatic CNG Hatchback Both Fuel Efficient & Convenient?
Tata Tiago iCNG AMT

On the outside, the Tiago iCNG looks the same as the regular version. The hatchback we drove was finished in a beautiful shade of blue that Tata calls Tornado Blue. Other than this new color option, everything else remained the same. The Tiago iCNG features the same projector low beam and halogen high beam headlamps, tri-arrow design elements on the front grille, LED DRLs, fog lamps, halogen tail lamps, and so on. We were driving the XZA+ variant, which came with features like rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlamps, and 14-inch hyperstyle wheels, which are basically wheel caps designed to look like alloy wheels.

Tata Tiago iCNG AMT First Drive Review: Is India’s First Automatic CNG Hatchback Both Fuel Efficient & Convenient?
14 inch Hyperstyle wheels

On the inside, we saw the same cabin as the regular Tiago. It had black fabric seats with a beige dashboard. The dual-tone treatment gave the cabin an airy feel. However, it was missing a few features like a push-start button and an armrest for the driver or passenger. The cabin felt spacious enough for four passengers. While you could squeeze in a fifth person, we don’t think they would be comfortable. The 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is the same as the regular version. We also saw steering-mounted controls and a fully digital monochrome instrument cluster. So, to answer the question we asked earlier, does it look different? The answer is no; it looks like a regular Tiago except for the badges on the tailgate.

What has changed?

Tata Tiago iCNG AMT First Drive Review: Is India’s First Automatic CNG Hatchback Both Fuel Efficient & Convenient?
Tata Tiago iCNG cabin

The main talking point about this Tiago iCNG is the AMT gearbox. It is India’s first automatic car to be offered with CNG from the factory. The Tiago is designed as a city car, and in city traffic conditions, people often prefer automatic cars. With the introduction of iCNG technology in the Tiago, it has now become a lot more appealing to customers who were looking for an automatic car that is fuel-efficient too. When the Tiago iCNG was initially launched, it came with a large CNG cylinder in the boot, and accessing the spare wheel was a task as you had to fold the rear seats. However, in the new version, Tata has solved this problem by introducing twin-cylinder technology.

Tata Tiago iCNG AMT First Drive Review: Is India’s First Automatic CNG Hatchback Both Fuel Efficient & Convenient?
Twin CNG Cylinders in the boot

This means you have the convenience of CNG without compromising on your boot space. You can easily carry a couple of medium-sized trolley bags in the boot as the two 30-liter water capacity CNG cylinders are neatly placed on the floor of the boot. The spare wheel is now placed under the car. The Tiago iCNG also features a single advanced ECU, which means you can seamlessly shift between the CNG and petrol modes. You can also start your vehicle directly in the CNG mode. Tata is also offering a modular fuel filter that requires you to replace the cartridges instead of replacing the whole filter.

Tata Tiago iCNG AMT First Drive Review: Is India’s First Automatic CNG Hatchback Both Fuel Efficient & Convenient?
Usable bootspace

As before, the car would automatically turn off whenever the fuel lid is opened. Also, in case of a leak, the iCNG technology would immediately switch from CNG to petrol mode to keep occupants safe. In case of a fire, the CNG supply would be automatically cut, and the gas stored in the cylinders would be released into the atmosphere. It is definitely a well-thought-out product and not just a Tiago with CNG cylinders in the boot.

How does it drive?

Tata Tiago iCNG AMT First Drive Review: Is India’s First Automatic CNG Hatchback Both Fuel Efficient & Convenient?
Tiago iCNG instrument cluster

The most important question. On paper, everything remains the same. It is still powered by the same 1.2-liter, 3-cylinder petrol engine. This engine generates 86 PS and 113 Nm of peak torque in petrol mode. The same engine generates 73.4 PS and 95 Nm of torque in CNG mode. The engine in CNG mode is actually tuned to return better fuel efficiency and usable power for city roads. We drove the car from Delhi to Noida and back to Delhi for around 100 km. The first thing you notice about this car is that it is a great city car. You can squeeze it through narrow gaps and park it almost anywhere. While the car may look the same as the petrol version, it is definitely heavier now that it has 2 CNG cylinders and other components for the CNG system. To manage this added weight, Tata has retuned the suspension.

Tata Tiago iCNG AMT First Drive Review: Is India’s First Automatic CNG Hatchback Both Fuel Efficient & Convenient?
Tiago iCNG engine

The suspension, like the previous version, is slightly on the stiffer side. It is not too stiff to make you uncomfortable while driving in the city. The steering is extremely light, which is again a good thing for a city car. The AMT gearbox does feel a bit peppy initially, but once you start driving it in city traffic conditions, you realize why AMTs are the most affordable automatics. You can feel the gearshifts, and after a point, the head nods become irritating. If you are in a traffic jam, the car comes with a crawl function. However, if you get stuck on a flyover, there is no hill hold assist, which would prevent your vehicle from rolling back. You’ll have to use the handbrake and gradually release it as you push the accelerator. If you are cruising on a highway and want to overtake a vehicle in front, we would recommend you plan the overtake in advance.

Tata Tiago iCNG AMT First Drive Review: Is India’s First Automatic CNG Hatchback Both Fuel Efficient & Convenient?
Tata Tiago iCNG

This is because the AMT gearbox needs some time to process the input from the driver. If you press the accelerator hard intending to overtake, the gearbox would think for a couple of seconds, shift down to a lower gear, and then start gaining speed. It may feel odd when you drive the car initially, but you get used to it after some time. Once you start driving an AMT car, your driving behavior changes accordingly. During our 100 km drive, the car was displaying a fuel economy of 20 kmpl; however, in CNG mode, the car doesn’t show the fuel economy on the display. The Tata Tiago iCNG has a claimed efficiency of 28.06 km/kg.

Should you buy one?

Tata Tiago iCNG AMT First Drive Review: Is India’s First Automatic CNG Hatchback Both Fuel Efficient & Convenient?
Tata Tiago iCNG AMT

Why not? The starting price of the Tata Tiago iCNG AMT is 7.90 lakh, ex-showroom, and goes up to Rs 8.80 lakh, ex-showroom. It is definitely more expensive than regular petrol AMT version but, what makes this car interesting is obviously the combination of CNG and automatic. Tata has done what no other manufacturer has done so far. They are offering the convenience of an automatic with the efficiency of CNG. Many manufacturers do not offer CNG and automatics with the top-end version; however, Tata is different in this case too. They are offering the CNG & AMT option with the top-end variant too. If you are looking for a small car that offers good fuel efficiency as well as the convenience of an automatic transmission, the Tiago iCNG AMT is a good option to consider.