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Tata Tiago AMT review: Is it time to take this automatic upgrade?

The impressive little Tiago now gets the convenience of an AMT automatic gearbox on its fully loaded variant.

business Updated: Jun 24, 2017 18:05 IST
Saumil Shah
The latest car to receive an AMT gearbox is the Tata Tiago.
The latest car to receive an AMT gearbox is the Tata Tiago.(Autocar)

The ever-increasing traffic jams are slowly making more Indian car buyers shift to automatics. This trend has been hastened by the advent of the AMT, or automated manual gearbox, which offers the clutch-less convenience of an automatic in a much more affordable package. The latest car to receive an AMT gearbox is the Tata Tiago. The automatic has been introduced as an option only in the top-spec XZA variant.

Except for the XZA badge, there’s no telling the automatic variant from the manual car on the outside. Interiors too remain unchanged, which means it still gets high-quality plastics and the superb Harman-developed sound system, along with all the other features of the XZ variant.

Even the 85hp, 1,199cc, three-cylinder engine remains unchanged and, with 114Nm, there’s decent pulling power from the start. The biggest change here is the five-speed AMT. While chugging along in traffic, gearshifts are surprisingly smooth, especially if one isn’t really paying attention. At crawling speeds, however, progress feels a bit jerky, especially while modulating the throttle. Also, when you drive in a relaxed manner, the auto ‘box seems to be programmed to shift to a higher gear at the earliest to maximise fuel economy. But, if you want to overtake, just tap the accelerator once and the gearbox will drop down a gear, bringing the car in the powerband from a low, cruising rpm.

By default, the car drives in ‘City’ mode like the manual variant. Though Tata has dropped the ‘Eco’ mode and given it a ‘Sport’ mode instead. The performance feels livelier in this mode and the AMT even holds gears for longer when accelerating. However, this engine doesn’t like to rev and, with several flat spots across the rev band, progress is slow. There’s also a manual mode to change gears that’s useful while driving enthusiastically.

It also gets the very useful ‘creep’ function, which moves the car forward/backward each time the brake is released in auto, reverse or manual mode. There’s a bit of a delay before it begins to crawl and the sudden manner in which it moves from a standstill does take some getting used to. It’s also advisable to use the handbrake before starting off on an incline; else the car will roll back on a steep hill.

The ease of driving that the AMT brings along has made the already competent Tiago even better. Sure, the shift-logic could have been a bit better, but for what it is, the gearshifts are quite smooth. Plus, with a price tag that’s just Rs 35,000 more than the manual, the AMT-equipped variant is fantastic value for money.