So before we begin this review, let’s be very clear about something that everyone seems to be moaning about these days – that AMTs are not quick. Well, they are cheap. They’re MUCH cheaper than your torque converter automatics and CVTs which by the way aren’t all that quick either. So if you want a reasonably quick automatic transmission, and if you’re moaning about the slowness of the AMTs, you probably need to increase your budget. Oh, and if you wish it were REALLY quick, quick as the dual clutch systems from a certain German manufacturer, you’d probably be ready to dish out twice the money. Minimum.
Oh, and you should also be ready to fork out the extra recurring expenditure on fuel, as the torque converters and CVTs will typically guzzle significantly more fuel than your manuals. Cheap, frugal and convenient – these are the three things AMTs stand for. If you want them to be blazingly fast too, get yourself a prescription which enhances your reasoning ability.
Rant over. Let’s get going with the review.
The Tiago AMT is five-speed, automated manual transmission version of the car, available only with the petrol option. The 1,199cc, three-cylinder engine dishes out 85 hp of power with 114Nm of twist, isn’t the most refined units out there and has a bit of a reluctance to rev all the way up to its redline. That part has already been discussed in our comprehensive review of the car, so we’d suggest you head over to the article if you wish to read about the engine, suspension, features and properties of the model which the two variants share. Let’s get straight to the transmission experience.
The AMT system here comprises of four markings on the shifter R, N, A and M along with a little button at the bottom saying S. Turn the ignition on with N selected, shift into A, which stands for Auto – dab the right pedal, and the car would move ahead after a momentary lag. Get used to this, as this is how it’s going to work, even in Reverse (R).
Set the car in motion, and with a light foot, you’d feel mild jerks at slower speeds in first gear. The car gets a creep function which will keep you moving at crawling speeds as your remove your foot from the brake pedal. It’s not the smoothest ways to move, but surely the most convenient for bumper to bumper traffic.
Keep at it, right pedal gently pressed and the auto transmission will shift into second gear, with a slight, perceptible delay. Now press the pedal a bit harder and the car will downshift, again with a wee bit of delay. The transmission responds to throttle inputs, and rather well going by the fact that it’s an AMT. It’s actually pretty good compared to some other AMTs on sale. We have seen auto transmissions which perform worse, what with their annoying rubber band effect.
It feels convenient, the AMT on the Tiago, and after getting a bit used to modulating the pedal, the transitions in gear ratios feel fairly smooth and hassle free. A couple of trips to and back from office felt less of a job for me than the car’s diesel cousin we had with us some time back.
The system works best within city confines where its job is to relieve the driver from the constant drudgery of pressing the clutch pedal and moving that stick, much to the abuse of the lower back in many a case. Pressing the right pedal hard in A mode would either give you more revs instantly if the engine’s already in a healthy band, or drop a gear with a teeny weeny, momentary delay. It’s not annoying or inefficient – I can tell you that, it does its job well, for what it is, that is.
For those who wish to take matters in their own hand, the Manual (M) mode allows for sequential shifts. The system lets the engine rev all the way to redline, though it doesn’t hold on to the redline in this mode, and shifts up once the tacho needle turns red closer to the 5500 rpm mark. If you’re a hustler, this is the mode for you, as the shifts are pretty timely for an AMT and the car feels sprightlier than in the auto mode.
In addition, there’s also the teeny S button denoting Sport mode, which adds some extra spunk to the car’s performance with the electronics making several amends to the engine map. Throttle response is keener and the shift points, even in the Auto mode go higher up for that added sensation of quick acceleration. It’s notable that the Tiago AMT features only City and Sport modes, where City is the default choice. The ECO mode from the manual variant has been removed.
Other aspects of the car are likeable as ever, with its spacious, quality innards, great infotainment system, comprehensive MID, an evolved design and a great ride-handling combo. On the outside, there’s nothing to tell the AMT Tiago from its manual counterpart except for the XZA badging at the rear.
Our two day experience with the Tiago AMT introduced us to the terrific amount of convenience it spells for a measly 35K premium over its manual variant. For those who drive occasionally, and in sparse traffic may not appreciate the virtues of that deal. But as a metro dweller who feels the clutch action eating into the spine after each one of those annoying commutes, you’d realize and appreciate what a godsend it is.
Sure, it’s not the quickest or the most refined auto transmission around. But for someone who’s looking for an automatic option within a certain budget, without compromising on creature comforts, interior quality and features, the Tiago AMT is a car model which must be test driven before making the final choice.
The Tata Tiago AMT is available only in the top-end XZA trim, which is priced at INR 5.39 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).