The Tigor EV deserves praise for offering real-world-relevant performance at a realistic price

When I learned to drive in the late-1980s, there were barely a handful of cars available in India. All of them were outdated, underpowered, slow, noisy, and emissions-wise, dirty. Back then, like most others, I’d never have imagined that within two or three decades, we would actually have the option of driving electric cars. The first electric car I drove in the early-2000s, was a dinky little toy from a tiny manufacturer based in Bangalore. Very small, almost cartoonish in its appearance and with a severely limited range, it was still great fun to drive, and never ceased to amaze onlookers. I had the car for about a week. I immensely enjoyed my time with it, even using it for my 65-70km daily commute, which the car just about managed to handle on a single charge.

Twenty years ago, electric cars weren’t really a thing — nobody wanted them, it seemed — and that little two-door EV from Bengaluru (which soldiers on to this day, in a bigger, four-door avatar and under different ownership) remained a minor curiosity. Times have changed, though. With fossil fuel expected to run out over the next couple of decades and emissions norms getting stricter by the year, the IC engine is gradually losing viability. Meanwhile, battery and electric motor technology has advanced swiftly over the last few years. Electric power is quickly becoming a realistic alternative to petrol and diesel.

Over the last few years, American and European carmakers have taken the lead with electric power. However, most of their EVs are high-end products that are not well suited to the mass market, and definitely not in the Indian context. Lithium-ion batteries and powerful, technically advanced electric motors are expensive, say, manufacturers, which is perhaps why there haven’t been any reasonably priced electric cars (those that also offer at least adequate real-world performance) in the market. Until recently, that is. One Indian car manufacturer — Tata Motors — has been working hard to develop a new generation of slick EVs, offer reasonably high-performance levels, have an adequate driving range, and are sensibly priced. It’s a seemingly tall order, but the company did pull it off with the Nexon EV, launched in January last year, and is currently the best selling electric vehicle in India.

Tata Tigor
Priced between Rs 14-17 lakh, the Nexon EV has made electric power more accessible. Now, Tata Motors is extending the democratisation of EVs with its newest offering, the Tigor EV compact sedan. The Tigor EV, in a much more basic form, has been available for commercial buyers and fleet operators for the last few years. However, Tata Motors has launched an all-new, heavily updated Tigor, with an all-new electric drivetrain, extended range, higher levels of refinement and a plush new cabin. Think of it as the Tigor EV that has been to finishing school, and is now finally ready to take on the fossil fuel-powered competition on equal terms.

The new Tigor EV is powered by Tata Motors’ ‘Ziptron’ electric drivetrain — a permanent magnet synchronous motor that produces 55kW (74bhp) and 170Nm of torque. Notably, this isn’t the same Ziptron that powers the Nexon EV, with the latter boasting 95kW (127bhp) and 245Nm of torque. But, of course, the Nexon is also bigger, heavier, and more expensive. What matters is, the Tigor EV’s performance is fairly impressive; Tata Motors claims a zero to 60kph time of 5.7 seconds, and the Tigor actually feels quicker than that. It’s also surprisingly silent — you can barely hear that electric motor at all, even under hard acceleration or at higher speeds.

While 55kW/74bhp may not sound like much, it’s the 170Nm of torque that really livens things up. Electric motors deliver their peak torque at zero rpm, which means the Tigor pulls hard from a standing start. The acceleration from low to medium speeds in regular drive mode is impressive, with the performance getting kicked up quite a few notches when sports mode is selected. In fact, the Tigor EV actually becomes a bit of a pocket-rocket in sports mode, and the snappy acceleration never fails to put a smile on the driver’s face. Driving range probably suffers in the process, but if you only have relatively short distances to travel, who cares, right? Sports mode — that’s where all the fun is.

The Tigor’s electric motor is fed by a liquid-cooled 26kWh high energy density lithium-ion battery pack, which goes from zero to 80 per cent charge in about nine hours, using a common household 15A plug point. In fact, the car comes with a 15A charger that can be installed at the buyer’s home or office for easy – if slow – charging. However, the Tigor EV is compatible with the globally accepted CCS2 (combined charging system 2.0) standard. A 0-80 per cent charge will only take an hour when charging via a 25kW DC fast-charger. Tata Power is one company that’s working towards installing a network of DC fast chargers across India, with the aim of having 100,000 such charging stations operational within the next five years.

The Ziptron-powered Tigor has a range of 306km, but this number is dependent on the driving style, road and traffic conditions, and even the ambient temperature. Still, while most people aren’t likely to get that 300km range in the real world, the actual range (about 200-240km) is quite acceptable for city use. Out of town journeys will need to be carefully planned, given that India’s EV charging infrastructure is still in a fledgling state.   

Tata Tigor

In the end, what matters is that the new Tigor EV delivers a satisfying electric vehicle driving experience at a reasonable price. The cabin is nicely finished, with comfortable seating for 4-5 adults, ‘cool’ bits like a fully digital instrument cluster, Harman touchscreen infotainment, smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a host of safety kits including ABS, EBD, front airbags, and camera-based reverse park assist. The ride quality is also good, with the suspension (independent McPherson strut setup at the front, twist beam at the back) having been optimised for our less than ideal road conditions. And, of course, the Tigor has a 4-star safety rating from GNCAP, which is a big plus in its favour.

With three variants, priced between Rs 12-13 lakh, a 3-year/125,000km warranty on the vehicle and an 8-year/160,000km warranty on the electric motor and the lithium-ion battery pack, it’s quite a decent package. While some other mainstream carmakers in the country have been dragging their feet on EVs, claiming that low demand for EVs in India doesn’t warrant the exorbitant development costs, Tata Motors has had the gumption to forge ahead with electric cars — EVs that are competent, capable and, because they’re reasonably priced, also accessible to a wide range of buyers. For early adopters who can’t wait to go electric, the new Tigor EV is ready and waiting now.