Tata Tiago JTP Launch Drive Review

Tata Tiago JTP Launch Drive Review

This is the Tiago JTP. And, it has received the same set of upgrades as the Tigor JTP to turn this entry-level hatchback into a special works car. But, on the road, the two cars did feel a bit different…

The upgrades

Tata Tiago JTP Launch Drive Review

As is the case with the Tigor JTP, the Tiago JTP too gets a turbocharged version of the 1.2-litre petrol engine that powers the regular Tiago. As a result, the power is up almost by 30bhp and the torque is claimed to be a healthy 150Nm as well. This is the same engine that is housed under the hood of the Tata Nexon SUV, but it develops a little more power for the Tiago.

The gearbox is the same as on the regular Tiago, but the JTP runs a shorter final drive and a closer stacked second and third gear. This, on paper, should help improve standing start acceleration as well as the mid-range performance of the car.

Tata Tiago JTP Launch Drive Review

Other mechanical changes include a stiffer and lowered suspension setup, bigger and wider wheels and tyres, re-calibrated throttle maps, a new intake and exhaust system, and an EPS that adds more weight at speed.

There are visual upgrades too, like on the Tigor JTP. So, you can only have this JTP in either red or white. There’s a contrasting black roof, red JTP badging all round, 15-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, and black ORVMs on the red car, and red ORVMs on the white. And, lest I forget, there’s a bonnet scope that works to add ram air as part of the intake upgrade, and there are side vents to help with cooling.

Inside, there’s red outline for the aircon vents, red stitching and honeycomb motif on the seats, the floor pedals have a faux drilled finish, and well, nothing else that sets it apart from the top-spec Tiago XZ.

Tata Tiago JTP Launch Drive Review

The drive

Tata Tiago JTP Launch Drive Review

The Tiago and the Tigor are based on the same platform. And now under JTP, these have received the same set of upgrades, and the exact same tuning. So, one would expect the two to feel near identical to drive. That, however, isn’t the case.

There are some differences between the regular versions of the cars to begin with. The Tiago is 50kg lighter. It sits on a 50mm shorter wheelbase. And, it doesn’t get the same sound insulation or NVH package as the Tigor.

On the road, the Tiago JTP feels just as fast as the Tigor. It too can do the 0-100kmph sprint in 10 seconds. And from behind the wheel, especially in Sport mode, the Tiago feels like a power packed hatchback.

Tata Tiago JTP Launch Drive Review

It manages to spin its fat 185 section front tyres under full bore acceleration. Get past 3,000rpm, and you are welcomed by a satisfying turbo kick. The car though, keeps pulling vigourously to its near 6,000rpm redline. And then, when you shift up just short of that mark, you find yourself back in a potent accelerating zone.

Keeping that throttle pinned, and going up the gearbox, leads you to high three digit speeds one wouldn’t even expect an affordable hatchback to get to, besides feeling completely comfortable and in-control. And that’s when you realise what a good job the team at JT Special Vehicles have done.

They have completely transformed the Tiago. It’s not just about plonking a more powerful engine under the hood. The JTP actually can handle and put down all that additional power with some engineering finesse.

Now, we didn’t get to throw the Tiago JTP around the twisty stuff, but whatever long, bumpy, and fast bends we countered, the JTP showed clear signs of being a hoot to drive up a winding road. But, just like the Tigor JTP, this one too could do with better brakes.

Tata Tiago JTP Launch Drive Review

Our take

Tata Tiago JTP Launch Drive Review

Yes, I realise I haven’t talked about how the Tiago JTP is different from the Tigor JTP, especially after all that build up. The bottom line is – the Tigor JTP feels like the better car here.

The Tiago JTP is less refined. You can hear more of the mechanical noises – the turbo whine, the gear slotting, and even the engine – inside the Tiago. But, that’s not all. The lighter weight and the shorter wheelbase means that it feels twitchier than the Tigor at high speeds.

Tata Tiago JTP Launch Drive Review

It’s also not as planted under hard braking as the sedan. And at slower city speeds, the Tiago feels more like a sports car with its rear slapping around over bumps instead of absorbing them.

The Tigor JTP just feels like the more luxurious, more matured of the two cars here.

But, the Tiago JTP is significantly cheaper. And to be honest, you are essentially getting the same thrills but at a more sensible price point. So, when it comes to the price to performance bang-for-your-buck equation, the Tiago JTP certainly takes the cake. And, not just over the Tigor JTP, mind.

Tata Tiago JTP Launch Drive Review

Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi

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Tata Tigor JTP Launch Drive Review

Tata Tigor JTP Launch Drive Review

This is the Tigor JTP. It is a look-better, go-faster version of the regular Tata Tigor. And, according to Tata Motors, if this – and its hatchback sibling, the Tiago JTP – manage to garner even five per cent of the volume of the regular versions, JTP will be slapped on other Tata cars as well. Possibly even the likes of the Nexon and the upcoming Tata Harrier.

So, what’s different?

Tata Tigor JTP Launch Drive Review

Quite a bit actually. But first, the similarity. The shell, the construction, the panels, the vendor base, and the production line is all identical to the Tigor. But, instead of the naturally aspirated 1.2-litre petrol engine, the Tigor JTP gets the turbocharged version of the same engine.

And that’s not all. With change in boost pressure, throttle and engine mapping, the engine under the JTP hood makes 112bhp compared to 84bhp of the regular Tigor. The peak torque, meanwhile, has gone up to 150Nm. And, it’s flatter too. The JTP continues to use the same gearbox as the regular Tigor, albeit with a shorter final drive, and different gear ratios.

The suspension has been worked upon as well. It is stiffer and marginally lower than the regular car. The steering too has been recaliberated. And, the JTP runs on bigger, wider wheels with tyres that have slightly stiffer sidewalls.

Tata Tigor JTP Launch Drive Review

There are some styling tweaks as well. For starters, the Tigor JTP can only be had in White or Red paint hues. We prefer the white. It gets a contrasting black roof, red ORVMs, clear lens tail lamps, and a gloss black strip that runs between the tail lamps. And yes, there’s an overload of JTP bagding as well – grille, side vents, boot lid, you name it, and it’s there.

Inside, everything remains the same as the Tigor XZ. So, there’s a multifunctional steering wheel, climate control, a trip computer, a touchscreen multimedia system, electric adjust for ORVMs, and power windows all round. The JTP also comes with dual front air bags and ABS as standard, like the XZ.

The accents inside though are sportier. The aircon vents have a red outline; one gets faux drilled pedals; leather wrap for the steering; and a black seat with red stitching and a honeycomb motif in the centre.

Tata Tigor JTP Launch Drive Review

But, does it drive any different?

Tata Tigor JTP Launch Drive Review

The proof of the pudding is in eating it. Tata and Jayem, the two companies who have co-developed this car, seem to agree. So, the focus wasn’t just on making the Tigor look more desirable in JTP clothing, but to make it desirable for the driving enthusiast as well.

Now, as we mentioned earlier, the engine is from the Nexon, but with even more power. The company has claimed a 0-100kmph time of 10 seconds, which puts it in the same league as the Baleno RS and faster than the Polo GT TSI. Also, this makes the JTP six seconds quicker than the standard Tigor petrol! We haven’t tested the JTP ourselves yet, but, after having driven it, the 10 second figure feels completely believable. It does feel quick, the Tigor JTP.

Now, the JTP has two driving modes –  City and Sport. In City, the Tigor JTP feels more alive than the regular car, then be it the mid or top range pull or the throttle response. But, switch to Sport, and it turns into a completely different car! Especially in the way it pulls from 3,000rpm almost all the way to its near 6,000rpm redline. It pleasantly surprises you. It makes you smile. And it makes you want the car.

Tata Tigor JTP Launch Drive Review

The engine revs freely. The turbo lag doesn’t feel so much like lag. In fact, it’s more like a step up switch. A step up in performance that is. The gear shifts are light, precise, and the throws are short. And though there’s a hint of delay in the car’s response when you stamp on the throttle, once on, the throttle response is crisp and easy to modulate. Having said that, we did find it a bit jerky at times, especially at higher revs in a lower gear.

Back to the performance, and the Tigor JTP accelerates – be it from a standstill or under roll-on – with the vigour one can comfortably associate with a 100bhp plus car. In fact, the Tigor JTP gets deep into three digit speeds with ease. And sits there without effort as well. It feels planted, confident, and unwavering in a straight line, even at these high speeds. If there’s one thing it needs though, it is better feel at the brake pedal, and a stronger brake bite.

Now, we didn’t subject the JTP to hard cornering around a switchback, but we did go around fast, sweeping corners. We also made some quick lane change manouvres. And on both occasions, it was evident that the change in geometry resulting from altered suspension setup, has made the Tigor’s front end a quicker responding one in JTP guise. It’s still not a go-kart, but it makes the Tigor feel lighter, more responsive, and involving than the stock car.

Tata Tigor JTP Launch Drive Review

The ride on the other hand is stiffer than the regular car, and the travel is marginally less as well. Not surprisingly, at slow speeds the car rides the bumps instead of flattening them. But, unless you hit a square-edged pothole, the ride never feels harsh. Then, at higher speeds – anything over 60-70kmph – the suspension comes into its own.

Be it undulating roads, pockmarked surfaces, or ruts and rumblers, the Tigor JTP simply glides over it all. And, it never really wallows, weaves, or washes out, no matter how unexpected or pronounced the bump or dip. But, it’s the car’s ability to come back to its steady state in lightning quick time instead of pogoing on its springs, that makes it special. Not, only does this add to the driver’s confidence, it aids both comfort and safety. The latter comes to the fore when one has to make an evasive manoeuvre.

As far as steering goes, only the EPS has been recaliberated for weight. It’s still a three turns lock-to-lock steering, so it isn’t the quickest in the business. But, it proved to be effortless to twirl around in the city, and it weighed up enough at speed to cut out the twitchness. But, like the regular Tigor, this one doesn’t brim with feel either.

Our take

Tata Tigor JTP Launch Drive Review

The philosophy behind cars carrying the JTP badging is simple. These will, for the time being, be based on existing Tata Motors models. And, to carry the JTP badge, these cars must have improved engine performance, sportier exterior and interior, and better driving dynamics and sound, compared to the stock car.

On that front the Tigor JTP hits the nail on the head. Okay, it could sound better. It could also do with more refinement. Maybe, the throttle response could be more linear. And lower, more snug seats would be welcome too. But, when it comes to balancing ride and handling, or usability and driving fun, the Tigor JTP is spot on.

Yes, the real hardcore driving enthusiast would like even more performance, even crisper handling, a much lower ride height, and not to mention louder acoustics. But, the current JTP setup makes the Tigor acceptable, agreeable, and even desirable to not just the young and hardcore, but even to guys like me who are married, have kids, and can only afford one car, but don’t want to be stuck with a boring everyday family car.

Tata Tigor JTP Launch Drive Review

Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi

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Fitbit Charge 3 review: Smarter than the average fitness tracker

fitbit charge 3 above

In an age of smartwatches with cellular chips and near edge-to-edge screens, the Fitbit Charge 3 is something of a throwback. It doesn’t have a color screen. You can’t install third-party apps. It doesn’t even store music.

But even without many of the things that make a smartwatch, well, smart, the Charge 3 may as well be Fitbit’s flagship device. The Ionic and Versa have higher price tags and more features, but the Charge 3 is the perfect balance of smartwatch and fitness tracker. Rather than trying to chase Apple or Samsung with large-screened devices that can answer calls, turn off the lights, and play games, the Charge 3 is just smart enough to be relevant in a crowded wearable field.

fitbit charge 3 watch

Michael Simon/IDG

The Fitbit Charge 3 has a bigger and higher-resolution screen than the Charge 2.

The Charge 3 won’t help you unplug or let you leave your phone at home on a night out, but it might make you rethink how much you really need your watch to do. I’m a smartwatch enthusiast and generally gravitate toward watches that do more, not less: Apple Watch, LG Watch Sport, Galaxy Watch, etc. But taking form factor, battery life, price, and reality into consideration, the Charge 3 is definitely something I’d consider wearing every day. Even without full smartwatch functionality, the Charge 3 does mostly everything I need it to do, even if it falls short of the things I think I want it to do.

Table of Contents

  • Getting the band back together
  • Alerts, not apps
  • Should you buy the Fitbit Charge 3?

Getting the band back together

Like the year-and-half-old Charge 2 that it replaces, the Charge 3 is more of a band than a watch. At first glance it looks quite similar to its predecessor, but there are significant differences. It has a similar vertical rectangular aesthetic as the Charge 2, but the 17.64mm x 4.95mm screen takes up significantly more of your wrist. And even with a display that’s some 40 percent larger than the Charge 2, the Charge 3 is still a couple of grams lighter, largely due to the use of aluminum rather than stainless steel.

fitbit charge 3 bands

Michael Simon/IDG

Swapping bands on the Fitbit Charge 3 is even simpler than it was on the Charge 2.

Extending out of the sides of the screen is a new swappable band system, and it’s much sleeker than the Charge 2’s bulbous lugs. The swapping mechanism is more like the Ionic’s now, which is to say it’s drop-dead simple, and the bands feel more like classic watch bands, subtly changing the look of the rose gold or graphite aluminum body rather than choking the sides of the screen. As always, Fitbit is selling a variety of them at various price points, and that sound you hear is the third-party market kicking into gear.

With a softer look and a longer body, the screen is on full display here, and it’s a good one. It’s still a monochrome OLED affair, but Fitbit’s playful use of whites and grays make the watch faces seem as lively as they do on the Versa or Ionic. Text and menus are bright, crisp, and easy to read even on a tiny screen thanks to a higher resolution though not-quite-Retina display. But more importantly, the screen is fully touch enabled now, a major upgrade from the tap-only Charge 2.

fitbit charge 3 apps

Michael Simon/IDG

You can swipe to navigate screens on the Charge 3.

As you’d expect, navigating apps and menus on the Charge 3 is much more pleasant. On the Charge 2, switching between apps requires tapping the corner of the screen or tapping the button, neither of which is all that intuitive in 2018. With the Charge 3’s touch screen, however, navigating is as you’d expect:

  • Swipe left to see your apps
  • Swipe up to see the Today screen
  • Swipe down to see notifications

While taps and swipes are all that’s needed to get around, the Charge 3 also has a home button on its left edge that would go unnoticed if not for a small indentation at the bottom. And unless they read the manual, people still might not realize it’s there.

fitbit charge 3 button

Michael Simon/IDG

That’s a button.

Here’s why: the button on the Charge 3 is not a traditional button, its an inductive one. To activate it, you need to press you finger against the side of the band until you feel a small bit of haptic feedback. Since you don’t need it for navigation anymore, the main use for the button on the Charge 3 is to turn the screen on and off—you won’t need to press it all that often. It’s a cool innovation that will surely impact Fitbit’s future designs in more meaningful ways, but it’s not really all that useful on the Charge 3, other than giving the body a cleaner look.

Alerts, not apps

Other than a physical button, the other thing the Charge 3 doesn’t have is a way to install apps. While that’s not uncommon in the world of fitness bands, it feels a bit constricting as it follows in the footsteps of the Versa and Ionic. Granted, the app library on those platforms are severely limited compared to Wear OS and Apple Watch, but on the Charge 3, there are but six apps, and one is Settings. The others are Exercise, Relax, Timers, Alarms, and Weather. Calendar and Leaderboard are coming soon, and there’s also a Wallet app for Fitbit Pay on the NFC-enabled special edition Charge 3, but for the most part apps are limited to obligatory functions.

fitbit charge 3 text

Michael Simon/IDG

Full-sized alerts make the Charge 3 smarter than ever.

Clock faces are limited as well, with just 7 to choose from as opposed to the dozens that are available for Ionic and Versa. And any new ones will need to be designed by Fitbit for now, as the company isn’t releasing an SDK for custom apps and faces. It is, however, working with “a number of popular brands” to bring extra functionality to the Charge 3. Stay tuned.

Based on its app library alone, the Charge 3 is nowhere near as smart as the Versa and Ionic. Most notably, there’s no music app or controls, so all music streaming will have to come from your phone. That’s a bummer and the Charge 3’s biggest detriment, but since it doesn’t have on-board GPS, you’ll need to have your phone most of the time, anyway.

The Charge 3’s exercise tracking are as robust as you’d expect from a Fitbit device, though automatic exercise recognition was a little wonky. For example, it properly registered a walk to a local restaurant but clocked my time there as an hour of outdoor bicycling for some reason. And if I forgot to hit stop after a workout session, my Charge 3 continued to record my movements for hours despite a return to a resting heart rate.

fitbit charge 3 exercise

Michael Simon/IDG

As always, fitness takes center stage on the Charge 3.

Where Fitbit has expanded the Charge 3’s capabilities is with notifications. The Charge 2 was able to get alerts for calls, messages, and emails, while the Charge 3 can display any notification that comes to your phone, making it infinitely more useful. It’s here where apps like Uber or Spotify are missed, but the Charge 3 does well to keep you apprised of what’s going on. While you still aren’t able to interact with any of the alert you receive—Android Quick Replies are still on Fitbit’s coming soon list and there’s no microphone for answering calls—it makes the Charge 3 a true all-day companion to your phone.

Did I say all-day? I meant all-week. Without GPS or a color screen, Fitbit has managed to squeeze seven days of battery life out of the Charge 3, and in my testing, regular workouts didn’t prevent it from reaching day seven, with a full week of sleep tracking to boot. And since it’s water resistant up to 50 meters, you really won’t beed to take it off until the battery dies a week later. When you do need to charge it, Fitbit has introduced yet another charger that’s basically a smaller version of the Versa’s squeezable dock.

Should you buy the Fitbit Charge 3?

Fitbit hasn’t changed the price of the Charge 3, so it’ll still run you $150 (or $180 for the special-edition model, which comes with an NFC chip and a second band). Compared to the $279 Series 3 Apple Watch or even the $200 Versa, it’s a bit of a steal. Quite frankly, a touch screen alone would be enough to make the Charge 3 a worthy upgrade over the Charge 2, but Fitbit has made its newest wearable smarter to boot.

fitbit charge 3 table

Michael Simon/IDG

The Fitbit Charge 3 has a bigger screen and less agressive bands than the Charge 2.

Even with greater capabilities, the Charge 3 is simplistic compared to the Samsung Galaxy Watch or upcoming Huawei Watch GT, but that’s the whole point. It’s not about piling on features and functions to challenge higher-priced watches. It’s about offering a concentrated alternative to full-sized smartwatches without sacrificing the things that are necessary to the experience. Other than music, I didn’t miss much about my other smartwatches while wearing the Charge 3 for a week. Sure, it would be nice to answer calls or respond to messages, but it also made me consider the urgency of each alert.

At some point the Ionic, Versa, and Charge 3 will converge into a single device that’s small enough for every wrist and smart enough for every task, but until the day arrives, the Charge 3 is definitely a best-of-both-worlds proposition. You can find smarter, more capable watches out there for sure, but they’ll be bigger, more expensive, won’t last through the week. And they just might change your perception of how smart your watch really needs to be.

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