The Tata Tiago is a city car made by Tata Motors in India since 2016. It is derived from Tata’s ‘Kite project’. The Tiago was previously announced as the Tata Zica, with ‘Zica’ used as an abbreviation for ‘Zippy Car’, but it was soon changed because it sounded exactly like the name of the infamous Zika virus. Tiago, a common Portuguese masculine name, was picked from suggestions solicited online. The Tata Tiago was born as the successor of the previous Tata Bolt, which was nothing but a heavy restyling of the Tata Indica Vista. Like the Indica Vista, even the Bolt did not get the desired success and Tata began designing a completely new vehicle (Kite project) touted as a city car with a 5-door body that could boost the sales of the brand in the Indian territory and it did quite well.
Just like Tata motors gave up the outdated design of the Bolt and its FIAT powered 1.2L 4-cylinder petrol and 1.3L 4-cylinder MultiJet diesel (‘Quadrajet’ as Tata likes to call it) engines. It made way for the newly designed Tiago with all new engines, the Revotron petrol and Revotorq diesel three-cylinders designed together with Austria’s AVL, a family of modular propellers designed to equip the entire range of the Indian manufacturer. From the Tiago, Tata Motors has also developed a compact sedan known as the Tata Tigor. But that’s not the end of the story. Tata Motors in collaboration with Jayem Auto brought two new exciting performance cars to the masses namely the Tiago & Tigor JTP. It’s a 50/ 50 joint venture between the two firms. Read on further to find out how exciting these two cars really are.
You may ask… why did Tata Motors, being such a big company, collaborate with a third party for performance enhancement? Well, Tata Motors is not the first and only manufacturer to appoint or partner with the third party to enhance the performance of their products. In fact, a lot of manufacturers take that route. For instance, Abarth & C. S.p.A. is an Italian racing car and road car maker founded by Italian-Austrian Carlo Abarth. It is now a fully-owned subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (formerly of Fiat S.p.A.). Mercedes-AMG GmbH, commonly known as AMG, which was originally an independent engineering firm, and now specializes in performance improvements for Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Mugen Motorsports is an engine tuner and parts manufacturer that manufactures OEM parts such as body kits and sports exhausts for Honda Motor Company. However, Mugen is not and has never been, owned by Honda Motor Company.
So what’s new?
We’re sure the Tiago and Tigor need no introduction as these cars have been around for quite some time. Both cars are the same in terms of basic design and styling. However, the cars now look sportier, edgier and aggressive than their normal counterparts. The JTP brand is here to target the young, dynamic and will appeal to those who are looking for more performance without really compromising on practicality from their everyday car.
The cars now come with an aggressive front bumper with large trapezoidal lower grille, dual chamber projector headlamps with chrome rings, a direct lift from the 2018 Tigor XZ plus. The sporty side skirts continue the look, contrast coloured outside rear-view mirrors with integrated turn signal indicator look sporty, dual tone exterior with glossy black roof & rear spoiler and a bold JTP badge on the front grille, fender vents, and on the rear bumper just adds to the overall sporty characteristics of the cars. The vent on the hood is not just sitting there for aesthetic value but is functional too, the active vents on the bonnet and the front fenders help dissipate the heat generated by the engine while on the move. Both the cars ride on 15-inch diamond cut dual-tone wider 6.5J alloy wheels, which not only look good but add to the fun while pushing the car into corners.
Step inside the cabin and you will notice that the cars continue to get the sporty elements. The interiors are all black with sporty red accents on AC vents, the premium leather-wrapped steering with contrast red stitching is extremely meaty and soft to hold. The seat fabric comes with red hexagonal motif and red double stitching on the seats and gearshift gaiter act as unique differentiators for the cars. The performance-oriented versions also get aluminium pedal extensions which in our opinion could’ve been finished better. The ConnectNxt infotainment system by Harman’ which is paired with 8 speakers and app suite and voice command recognition also is part of the package. Both the cars get the same 5-inch touch display which is adequate, but we would’ve liked to see the all-new 7-inch display on the JTP twins.
Heart of the matter!
This is exactly where things get mighty interesting. The Tiago JTP and the Tigor JTP comes powered with the same 1.2L Revotron 3-cylinder petrol engine which does duty on the bigger sibling, namely the Tata Nexon. But it’s tuned differently on the JTP twins with performance-oriented intake and exhaust systems. The engine now pushes out a healthy 114PS of peak power at 5000 RPM and churns out 150 NM of torque between 2000-4000 RPM. Both the cars come mated to a 5-speed manual transmission with optimized gear ratios for superior acceleration and extraordinary performance and are also equipped with multi-drive modes – City & Sport. The suspension on both the cars has been tuned for better ride control. The ride height too has been lowered by 4mm while the wider 6.5J alloy wheels & 185/60 R15 tyres provide better grip on the road. On the safety front, both the Tiago JTP and the Tigor JTP come equipped with dual airbags, ABS with EBD and corner stability control which further aid in the overall sporty driving dynamics.
The first two cars to roll out of Tata Motors & Jayem Automotives partnership as mentioned above are the Tiago JTP & Tigor JTP. We drove these cars through the scenic roads of Coimbatore, all the way to Ooty and back. The cars by default are set to city mode which is good for driving within the city. But it gets boring as you reach highway speeds and totally loses its purpose while overtaking on the highway. It felt like the Tiago (first we drove the Tiago JTP) was choking while we tried to push the car through its paces. We didn’t realize that until we noticed the sports mode switch which was lost somewhere between the decoy switches placed right below the infotainment display. The moment you switch to sports mode, this thing comes alive. The engine note changes, the throttle response gets instantaneous, the exhaust note gets throaty. Plus the sound of the blow-off valves while changing gears is pure auditory bliss.
Though the Tiago JTP has enough grunt to make the petrolheads happy, these minor inclusions give you an impression of driving an extremely powerful car. The aural experience (as the enthusiasts at JTP like to call it) the crackles and pops from the exhaust are plain awesome from such a tiny vehicle. The Suspension setup is tuned for better ride and offers excellent control. Even with lowered ride height the car never scraped its underbody on the worst of roads. The calibrated electric power-assisted steering with the active return is well weighted and precise. The steering is well connected to the road and offers enough feedback while driving. We had so much fun driving the Tiago through the twisties leading to Doddabetta Junction, Ooty (our destination). We barely felt the need to shift gears while going up the twisties and mostly found ourselves using the third gear only. All thanks to the 150NM of torque and the perfectly matched gear ratios, the Tiago JTP never felt like it’s running out of steam.
Coming to the Tigor JTP, this car is 35kgs heavier, 246mm longer, 30mm wider and has a 50mm longer wheelbase than the Tiago JTP. Thanks to the longer wheelbase, the rear passengers get extra legroom which makes the Tigor JTP slightly more comfortable than the smaller Tiago JTP. The car also gets a bigger boot and automatic climate control system. Does it affect the performance of the Tigor JTP in any way? Marginally, yes. However, it’s hardly noticeable while on the move. In fact, the Tigor JTP feels much more planted and surefooted on the road owing to its additional 35kgs and longer wheelbase. The Tigor JTP is just as quick from a standstill as the smaller Tiago JTP. Ride and handling remain its strong points, even better than the Tiago JTP in some cases. The Tigor JTP encourages you to push it harder into corners and inspires confidence while doing so. The gearshifts on the Tigor JTP are much better than that of the Tiago JTP. The steering is very communicative and the feedback was immense. The 185/60 R15 Apollo tyres provide enough grip from the word go. Not even once did we feel the Tigor JTP was going out of control due to lack of grip from the tyres. Which car would we put our money on? Well, most definitely it would be the Tigor JTP because it’s more fun to drive and offers a whole lot more in terms of features & practicality.
We still remember back in 2002 when one of the leading magazines had featured an article with a bright yellow coloured Indica with all the sporty elements namely the Indica-Sport and claimed it would be pushing out 100bhp so on and so forth. We really had high hopes from Tata Motors coming up with something that would cater to the needs of enthusiasts. But our hopes died soon enough as there was no news of any performance-oriented car coming out of Tata Motor stables then. However, not so long ago in March 2017 when JT Special Vehicles Pvt. Ltd (JTSV), a 50/ 50 partnership between Tata Motors & Jayem Automotives was launched to develop special performance vehicles based on the new generation products from Tata Motors’ passenger car stable, our hopes were revived.
Finally, the partnership came alive in October 2018 with two new performance-oriented products the Tiago JTP and Tigor JTP were launched at a mouth-watering ex-showroom price of Rs.6.39/- lakhs for the Tiago JTP and Rs.7.49/- lakhs for the Tigor JTP. The JTP twins offer immense performance, from the tiny 1.2L 3-cylinder engine brilliant ride and handling characteristics and at the same time, these cars are extremely practical for daily use. Also, the performance kits will be made available for the current owners of Tiago and Tigor who don’t intend to trade-in their vehicles just yet. You get so much more for the price you pay, that we don’t see any reason as to why these cars won’t sell.
Review – Amit Shelar
Photography – Dr Anand Narvekar