Tata Altroz CNG review, first drive - Greener, practical, and feature-rich
More and more automakers around the world have started introducing alternate fuel vehicles, such as flex-fuel and CNG, to make the most of their ICE line-up. Not only flex fuel or even are economical to run, but they also emit considerably lesser tailpipe emissions. In the case of India, automakers are offering CNG alternatives of their ICE vehicles amid increasing pollution and to reduce dependence on usage of fossil fuels. More importantly, the running cost of CNG vehicle is significantly cheaper in the country compared to petrol and diesel cars. Currently, Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, and Hyundai dominate the CNG market in the country, while other brands are joining gradually the bandwagon. To further expand its CNG portfolio, Tata Motors has launched the Altroz CNG in India. This hatchback - even being a CNG model - promises a bunch of features and a big boot space.
Tata Altroz iCNG: What is it?
The Altroz CNG brings a new perspective to the table where CNG cars are always considered only as an affordable mode of transport. With this, Tata has tried to match more or less the same experience you get with any regular petrol and diesel car. The brand has offered almost all creature comforts in the Altroz CNG - to make it more compelling and upmarket. The design of the CNG-powered hatchback remains identical to its ICE siblings expect an addition of 'iCNG' lettering on the boot.
Tata Altroz iCNG: What is new?
The crux of the Altroz CNG lies in its new twin-cylinder setup. Unlike the conventional single-cylinder that eats up boot space, Tata has smartly managed fit two small CNG tanks under the boot floor, albeit, the boot floor is now slightly raised. As a result, it still leaves you 210 litres of space, which we feel is sufficient for a short weekend trip. Ultimately, this somewhat cracks the boot space issue one faces with a big single CNG tank. As a matter of fact, Tata has claimed to have strengthened the rear end structure of the hatchback, ensuring the safety of passengers and CNG tanks.
Moving onto the next highlight of the Altroz CNG, you can start this car directly in the CNG mode. Also, the transition between the CNG and petrol mode is seamless - just a press of a button. Plus, the car can switch to petrol mode in case of low CNG or otherwise.
Tata Altroz iCNG: Safety
Speaking of safety, the Altroz CNG also debuts a variety of features as a safety-measure. To begin with, two noteworthy safety features that impressed us are a gas release valve and micro switch. In case of any thermal incident or crash, the system cuts the CNG supply to the engine, and above all, releases gas from the cylinder in the air via a new nozzle located in the boot. Whereas, the micro switch automatically turns off the ignition when you open the fuel lid. The system can also detect CNG leakage and switch to petrol mode immediately. However, this CNG-powered hatchback does not come with Electronic Stability Control (ESC).
Tata Altroz iCNG: Interior
It is very easy to get in the Altroz CNG as the doors open at almost 90 degrees. The cabin is identical to the ICE model and hence the space. The new additions on the inside include new black leatherette upholstery, a USB Type-C charging port, centre lock switch, and a wireless charging pad. Tata has also deleted a few features from the CNG model, such as cruise control, driving modes, a TFT instrument cluster, and an idle start/stop system.
The seats in the Altroz CNG are well-padded, similar to the other Tata cars. On the other hand, the steering is also a typical Tata affair a slightly higher-set, which might make difficult to find your preferred sitting position.
Despite a few deletions, the Altroz CNG still gets a wide range of features for a CNG car. Interestingly, Tata has given it almost all features you can find in a modern petrol or diesel car. The list includes, an air purifier, a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment, an electric and voice assisted sunroof, projector headlamps, iRA connected car features, cooled glove box, ABS with EBD, cornering stability control, rearview camera with sensors, auto headlamps, rain sensing wipers, drive-side door unlock switch, fog lamps with cornering function, eight speakers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, what3words navigation, TPMS, and an engine start/stop switch.
Tata Altroz iCNG: Performance
The 1.2-litre engine makes 73.5PS and 103Nm of torque in the CNG mode, while produces 88PS and 115Nm in the petrol mode. Although the outputs are the same in petrol, the low-end performance has improved a bit. Since it delivers lower power outputs, the effect of the low-end performance has been diluted in the CNG mode. For this, you must be in the correct gear to get your desired performance and even plan overtakes carefully. Speaking of which, shifting gears happens quite frequently, but once you reach higher speed, it is quite easy to drive and maintain momentum.
Having said that, most buyers driving in the CNG mode could find the performance enough for their purpose. On the flip side, we found the gear level easy to use, and the clutch is light. But you need to fully press the clutch pedal to engage any gear.
In terms of fuel economy, the Altroz CNG returned the mileage of 18.90km/kg. However, it is to be noted that we tested the CNG-powered hatchback in Goa, which has different road and traffic conditions than where we usually carry out fuel economy tests.
Tata Altroz iCNG: Ride and Handling
Regarding ride quality, although the Altroz CNG is stiffer compared to the already stiff regular Altroz. Due to its increased weight, Tata has made the hatchback stiffer. Even so, It feels stable and planted as long as you drive on smooth roads and handles the modest potholes and speed humps quite well. The body roll is manageable but the steering should have been more precise.
All in all, Tata has used clever ideas in the Altroz CNG to address some problems with other CNG cars to make it a lucrative option. It surely stands out from the other CNG offerings in the market in terms of range of variants, features, CNG technology, and space. The Tata Altroz CNG comes with a starting price of Rs 7.55 lakh and goes up to Rs 10.55 lakh (both ex-showroom), that is neither too low nor too high.
Starts Rs 6 Lakhs
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