Auto focus

Answer to the affordable EV conundrum?

S Muralidhar | Updated on September 23, 2021

The tail lamps are clear-lens type

Can Tata’s new Tigor EV be the one that fuels the electric ambitions for both the masses and the company?

Tata Motors has taken big strides in its path towards electric mobility. It has had the advantage of an early start in the fleet space and is now well on its way to transform the individual EV ownership segment.

The Nexon EV launched in January last year has seen remarkable acceptance and, in many pockets of the country it has become the first EV for many families. It won the Green Car Award 2021 by ICOTY for its ability to bring a reliable EV proposition which doesn’t feel like a compromise. Now, the Tigor EV will rejoin a growing electric portfolio bearing the Tata logo; and will attempt to bridge the yawning gap between affordability and going green.

 

The Tigor EV has been around as a fleet vehicle for a while now; and for a brief spell it was available for individual owners too. Recently, Tata has announced that the facelifted version of the fleet model will hereafter also be renamed as the Xpres-T and sold under the new brand ‘Xpres’ set up exclusively for fleet operator vehicles. That will also enable them to distinguish the new, longer range and more powerful Tigor EV, now being offered to individual car buyers, from the lower range fleet models. Before you ask, the dark metallic blue with the matt aluminium electric light blue accents body kit you see in these pics for the Tigor EV, similar to the Nexon EV, is the signature colour combo being offered only for regular customers.

Design

The Tigor EV’s basic design is a carry over from the ICE model. One of the first models to sport the progressive design language that has become the standard now for Tata models, the Tigor’s pleasing proportions and coupe-like stance has been a hit with buyers. Mind you this is despite its compact-sedan size and hatch-based cab-forward design. The Tigor EV’s familiarity is one aspect, but the dual tone colour scheme and some of the design tweaks that it gets manage to make the exterior interesting. The front fender gets the brand trademark ‘TriArrow’ design for the airdam section and a variation of that for the bonnet grille. The electric blue accent garnish that spreads across the bottom of the grille and under the headlamps gives the Tigor EV a smiling face.

 

There is the ‘EV’ badge in the same bright blue in multiple locations. And there are more accents in the same finish like the one in the alloy wheels. At the rear too the fender garnish is an electric blue; and the ‘ZipTron’ badging identifies the Tigor EV’s newer, more powerful avatar. The tail lamps are clear-lens type and the stubby boot lid adds to the vaguely couple-like stance. The only design element that I didn’t like was the puny 14-inch rims; but is explained by the fact that there are efficiencies to be gained with a lower contact patch from a smaller wheel. The 175/65 Apollo Tyres that you see them shod with are also low rolling resistance rubber.

Cabin

The new Tigor EV’s cabin is not different from the ICE model in its overall layout and design. That is both good and bad — good because it is a fairly simple, yet appealing dashboard, but bad because it seems like it is from a lower price segment and also misses quite a few features for a vehicle in the ₹10 lakh plus category. But before we can jump into conclusions, it must be remembered that a few compromises and sacrifices are necessary for going electric. The high price of the battery pack and other components make EVs extremely price sensitive.

Tata Motors’ engineers say that the company has done extensive customer clinics to understand which features may be considered non-priority and can be eliminated. So, while the Tigor EV may be comparable in price to the top-spec Hyundai i20 N Line, which we reviewed last week, in terms of the features list it will fall short significantly.

But it still manages a decent level of kit with a Hartman audio system, a 7-inch infotainment system and digital instrument cluster with multiple information read outs and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

The gear stickin the IC engine model has been replaced with a large rotary selector knob in the EV, that simply lets you choose between reverse, neutral, drive and sport mode. There is no electronic parking brake it gets only a handbrake. Lots of electric blue accents for features on the dashboard and the blue tri-arrow pattern woven into the seat upholstery elevates the overall appeal of the cabin.

Performance

The new Tigor EV gets a larger battery pack compared to the lower spec Xpres-T (fleet version). The 26kWh battery is part of the new package under the ZipTron branded EV system, which now is a 350-volt electrical system compared to the fleet model’s 72V system. The Tigor EV, as a result, gets a longer range; it is rated at 306 km for a full charge. You should remember that rated driving range per charge will tend to be higher than real world range just like rated mileage versus real world mileage would be for IC engine cars. My test mule’s digital instrument cluster displayed a range of 255 km at the start of the test drive with the battery fully charged.

But again, there the system calculates range based on the previous usage cycle. At the end of the day, after clocking nearly 210 km in city and on the highway, my test mule till showed a range of about 30 km.

The Tigor EV features an electric motor that generates 75hp of power and 172Nm of peak torque. All the torque is available from the moment you hit the accelerator pedal, like is the case in all electrics.

But the Tigor EV has been tuned, or should I say programmed, to behave like a practical, everyday use electric and not like a sports performance car. So, power delivery is calibrated for city driving and for preserving the driving range. Thankfully, the regeneration levels are also not too strong and there is no way of changing that with steering mounted paddles too. Taking my foot off the accelerator leads to regen charge being fed to the battery pack, but the impact on the Tigor EV’s cruising on road is not heavy. There is a sports mode in which acceleration is quicker, but not blisteringly fast. Of course, the impact on the driving range will be more in this mode.

On the road, the Tigor EV comes across as being extremely refined. In city speeds the cabin is extremely quiet with a complete absence of powertrain noise or vibration. On the highway, only tyre noise is a bit intrusive. The steering feels light and more than adequately assisted in city speeds, and weighs up on the highway. There is no significant difference in steering behaviour in sport mode. The suspension set up manages to deliver a comfortable ride even on bad roads. Tata Motors is consistently managing to engineer a good suspension set up for their cars. The only places where the Tigor EV thuds through and feels a bit pitchy was on really bad, pot-riddled roads, and that is mostly due to the limitations of the smaller wheel size.

Bottom line

The Tigor EV feels like a refined compact sedan and there is no real difference in its on-road performance compared to the IC engine counterpart. With the battery pack located under the floor of the car in two locations — under the driver’s seat and in place of the conventional fuel tank at the rear, weight distribution is nearly 50:50 and helps lower the centre of gravity too.

Consequently, high speed stability and segment-relative cornering ability is excellent, with no sense of it being a compromise from any perspective. The Tigor EV is being offered in 3 trim levels and prices start at ₹11.99 lakh. It is expensive if you consider this as a choice in the generic compact sedan segment. But, in the EV PV segment, it is India’s most affordable yet.

Published on September 23, 2021

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

You May Also Like