Tata Altroz iCNG Review: The No-compromise CNG Car?

  • May 29, 2023
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Tata’s Altroz CNG offers a unique mix of low running costs without skimping on premium features. But does it live up to the promise?

Tata Altroz CNG

When you hear CNG, the first thing that comes to mind, apart from being affordable in terms of running costs, is compromise. Compromise when it comes to premium features, practicality, and engine performance. But that will no longer be the case, says Tata, with the Altroz iCNG. Well, is it really true?

Does It Look Premium?

The first problem that people generally have with CNG cars is the fact that they don't look premium. But the Altroz is a little different because it also comes in the top-end XZ+ variant. You get all the goodies like projector headlights, fog lamps, LED DRLs, nice-looking 16-inch alloys, and a contrasting black roof. The only way to tell that it's a CNG variant is the badge on the boot lid. Apart from that, the car itself, despite being three years old, has aged really well. Even today, it is one of the most handsome and attractive hatchbacks you can buy in the country.

What About the Cabin?

The Altroz comes in the top variant, so it does not feel stingy on the inside as well. You do get premium materials like leatherette upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and overall, the interior fit and finish, although not the best in the segment, is something that you won't really complain about. However, one aspect that should have been better in the Altroz is the touchscreen infotainment system. It has a small 7-inch display that looks a bit pixelated, and feels a little outdated even in terms of functionality. We do expect the bigger 10.25-inch screen, which is available on the Harrier and the Safari, to come on the Altroz by the end of this year.

Also Read: 5 Things The Tata Altroz CNG Does Better Than The Maruti Suzuki Baleno CNG

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In terms of features, you get almost everything. Premium features like a wireless phone charger, leather upholstery, a touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And now, with the Altroz, you also get a voice-activated sunroof that responds to commands in both English and Hindi.

However, there are two things that are missing on the Altroz CNG as compared to the standard car. First, the instrumentation is a bit basic compared to the standard car and second is cruise control. 

Is It Practical?

The Altroz has always been a practical car, and that still remains. Up front, you get loads of storage spaces, a huge glove box, and big door pockets both at the front and rear. When it comes to rear seat space, you have plenty of knee room, and the headroom is fine as well. The car is wide enough for three people to sit comfortably too.

But the biggest question: how have they packaged the CNG tanks? Surprisingly, unlike in the CNG versions of most other cars, you do get a decent amount of boot space. The tanks are split into two halves, making them slimmer and they sit lower down in the boot. As a result, you still get around 210 litres of boot space, which is down by 135 litres compared to the standard car.

Does Performance Feel Compromised?

The Altroz CNG is powered by a 1.2-litre motor. In petrol mode, it makes 88 PS, while in CNG mode it makes 73.5 PS, a drop of around 15 PS. But the good thing is, while driving in the city, you hardly feel the difference. There is a slight difference in throttle response, where it feels a little laid back in CNG mode and more immediate in petrol mode. The difference between the two modes is more apparent when you're going faster. If you encounter a slight gradient, you might get away with third or fourth gear in petrol mode, but in CNG mode you have to downshift into third or even second. Out on the highway, you do miss the punch of a proper powerful petrol engine, while overtaking even in petrol mode. And in CNG mode, it is even worse. So you have to shift quite a lot and plan in advance to overtake. In fact, while driving on the highway, we kept switching between petrol and CNG mode depending on whether I wanted to overtake or cruise. This is where the diesel engine will have an edge, especially if you do a lot of highway miles then it does make a lot more sense.

Let's cover some other aspects as well, such as ride and handling. This has traditionally been a huge strength of the Altroz, and it still remains. It rides beautifully over most surfaces. The only place where we feel it can get better is in terms of sound insulation, where you do get a lot of road noise. But other than that, it's a very comfortable car to travel in. And then there's the handling, which not only feels sporty but also feels very secure, even when pushing hard. The highway straight-line stability is also very good.

Now you might have a question about how many kilometres you will be able to do on a full tank of CNG. Well, that is something that we can't answer right now because when you switch to CNG mode, there is no distance-to-empty meter. We will do a proper drive to determine this, where we'll fill up the CNG tank and run it until it runs out of CNG, to know exactly how many kilometres it can cover. But as a prediction, we feel it'll do around 200 to 220 kilometres on a full tank of CNG.

Verdict

Overall, the Altroz iCNG proves to be a good package, and the great thing is that you can choose from six different variants. So you can ideally pick the right Altroz iCNG that suits your needs. Tata has been really clever in not only offering the CNG version of this car in the lower variants but also in the top variants. There's no compromise when it comes to premium features both on the outside and inside. Tata has also been clever in the way they have packaged the CNG tanks, where despite that, you still have a decent amount of boot space. If there's a compromise, it is in terms of performance in CNG mode. Yes, in the city, it does have enough power, but on the highway, you do feel that it could have done with a bit more punch, especially while overtaking. So with the Altroz iCNG, you pay a premium of around 90,000 rupees compared to the standard car. If you do a lot of city driving, then the iCNG makes a lot of sense. However, if you do a lot of highway driving, it makes more sense to pay more and get the diesel instead.

Tata Altroz 2020-2023 Video Review

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