- Published On: 21 June 2017
- 4 min read
Tata’s impressive little Tiago gets the convenience of an AMT automatic. Has the new gearbox made it better?
The ever-increasing road traffic has resulted in a rise in demand for automatics. With the advent of the affordable AMT (automated manual gearbox), carmakers too have stepped up to the occasion and have started offering a lot of their cars with the option of an automatic gearbox. The most recent car to receive an AMT is Tata’s little Tiago. It gets the option of a five-speed AMT on its fully loaded XZA variant that’s priced at Rs 5.40 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
From the outside, there’s hardly anything that tells the automatic variant apart from the manual, save for the XZA badge at the rear. The high-quality interior too has been carried over unchanged, and it still packs equipment like the brilliant sound system by Harman and all the creature features that the top-end Tiago XZ variant comes with. Of course, there’s now the tip-tronic gear-lever in place of the manual car’s gated shifter.
From behind the wheel
The AMT gearbox is paired with the same 85hp, 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine as the regular car. The motor pulls quite neatly from low revs, and the gearbox swaps cogs surprisingly smoothly for an AMT. It’s not as smooth as a conventional torque-converter automatic though. It also feels a bit jerky and hesitant at crawling speeds. When you’re smooth with the throttle, the gearbox shifts to high gears quickly, and that should be good for fuel efficiency. What’s nice is that when you prod the accelerator for a quick overtake, the gearbox readily shifts down a gear to bring the motor into its powerband.
In place of the manual car’s ‘Eco’ mode, the AMT Tiago comes gets a ‘Sport’ mode. In this mode, the hatch feels sprightlier and more responsive to the accelerator. The gearbox even holds gears when accelerating hard. But the motor isn’t much fun to drive hard, and doesn’t offer strong performance. But in case you want to drive enthusiastically, it’s best to manually change gears using the tip-tronic lever.
The 'creep' function of the gearbox comes in handy. It moves the car forward/backward slowly, every time you release the brake in A (forward) or R (Reverse) mode. The sudden manner in which the car moves forward takes getting a bit to, though. Also, it’s safer to keep the handbrake engaged when starting off on an incline, else the car will roll backward.
Is it worth the money?
All in all, the AMT-equipped Tiago only improves an already competent budget hatchback. Yes, the shifts could have been smoother, and the AMT gearbox could have been offered on lower variants too, like in the case of its chief rival, the Maruti Celerio. That said, the automatic variant feels worth the Rs 35,000 stretch over the top-end Tiago manual.