CNG cars have a reputation for being bare-bones. In other words, they are meant for those who prioritise the cost of running over everything else so much so that they are even willing to compromise on features that the same car with a petrol engine would get. A lot of people think that, perhaps, CNG cars are best suited for fleet operators. But now, it seems that Tata Motors wants to break this perception by bringing a no-compromise CNG hatchback to the country – the Altroz iCNG. And that’s not the end of it! Tata has even added to the CNG variant of the Altroz a longer list of features than what the non-CNG models get – now, that’s something that you don’t get to see often. So, how well does this formula work? We took it out for a spin on a sunny afternoon in Goa to find out.
Tata Altroz iCNG Review: What’s New?
On the outside, the only difference is that the CNG version of the Altroz gets the iCNG badge at the back, which is not a bad thing, for it is still a handsome-looking hatchback.
When it comes to the interior, the iCNG has a slightly different story to tell. While it is still the same design-wise, it does get minor feature additions, which go a long way in bettering the in-cabin experience. The important addition has to be the electrically operated sunroof, which can also be opened and closed through a total of 26 voice commands in English, Hindi, and a mixture of both. Look-wise, the cabin continues to be one of the best in the segment – one that will make you feel that you are in a much more expensive car.
Other new features include a wireless charging pad, an air purifier, and an updated instrument cluster, which has two different fuel gauges – one for the petrol tank and the other for the CNG tanks. And yes, you read that right – tanks. And this is perhaps the star attraction of the car. Tata Motors has cleverly offered twin CNG tanks, with a 30-litre capacity each, instead of a single big tank, which has allowed the Altroz iCNG to have an impressive boot space of 210 litres. It’s big enough for your airport runs and weekend getaways.
Lastly, the nozzle to fill in the CNG tanks is conventionally located under the fuel lid, and here again, Tata Motors has added another clever touch. There is a micro-switch, which depresses when the fuel lid is open and, subsequently, cuts off the engine. This means that juicing up your car with either petrol or CNG is not possible with the ignition on, which is a good safety feature. The icing on the cake is that Tata Motors has used a single ECU to run the CNG- and petrol-based fuel mapping for the engine, which allows the car to offer a seamless switch between both fuel modes. Moreover, it can start directly on CNG, which means that you don’t need to have petrol in your car to start it.
Tata Altroz iCNG Review: What’s Similar?
Now, there are a few things that could have been better, especially the touchscreen infotainment system. Don’t get me wrong, it does the job, but the touch response makes you feel like the infotainment setup is half a decade old. Tata also seemed to have missed an opportunity to include wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay – it continues with the already-existing wired compatibility. The similarities continue in terms of safety too. The company says that they have reinforced the area surrounding the CNG tanks to make it safer in case of a rear-end collision, and they have also fitted the car with a system that automatically switches to petrol in case of a leak.
The strongest aspect of the Altroz continues to be its ride quality. While the 1.2-litre 3-cylinder engine’s performance is decent at best, the way the chassis and the suspension are set up makes the ride quality sublime. Yes, the Altroz is not one for corner-carvers, but if sedate driving is your style, then the Altroz is as good as it gets.The Altroz simply has the best driving manners in the segment – one that can rival cars that are twice or even thrice as expensive. And let’s not forget, the doors open to a full 90-degree – a nice touch that adds to the practicality of the car.
Tata Altroz iCNG Review: Why Should You Buy?
The Altroz offers a unique package in the sense that it does what no other CNG car on the market even thinks about – it doesn’t make any compromises in terms of features and continues to be as premium as its non-CNG variants. Something that can’t be said about other CNG cars on the market. Tata Motors thinks that there is a demand for CNG cars in the premium space and that it’s an untapped market. But there is no denying the fact that the Altroz iCNG is a good car; but, before making the purchase, make sure to find out the usual length of queues at CNG fuel stations near you, for you may find yourself there often.
- Tata Altroz iCNG
Engine: 1,199cc / 3-Cylinder
Transmission: 5-Speed Manual / Front-Wheel Drive
Power: 87 bhp (Petrol) / 72 bhp (CNG)
Torque: 115 Nm (Petrol) / 103 Nm (CNG)
Price: ₹7.55 - 10.55 LAKH (Ex-Showroom, DELHI)
X-Factor: Combines feasibility of CNG with a premium package.
• Good looks
• Build Quality
• Uninspiring Engine Performance