Tata Bolt Review
Car Tested: 2015 Tata Bolt
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 5.28 – 8.45 lakhs
The Tata Bolt is hugely impressive and comes with generous space and features
It’s a known fact that every second car sold in India is a hatchback and with such popularity of this segment, every manufacturer needs to be present with a good product. Tata Motors isn’t new to the hatchback space, its fortunes turned around in the passenger car space when the Indica was launched way back in the last century but somehow the Vista did not repeat the same success. Now under a new strategy with huge promise, the Indian automaker is launching the second new product under the HORIZONEXT strategy and it’s none other than the sibling of the Zest, the Bolt. The new hatchback from Tata Motors has been much awaited and with the success of the Zest, things look bright for the Bolt. How good is the Tata Bolt, a drive around the historical city of Udaipur was enough to impress us.
Motor Quest: One can safely say the Bolt is the spiritual successor of the Indica which was launched in 1998. Tata Motors launched the Indica Vista in 2008 but later the Indica name was dropped and the vehicle was only called Vista, the Indica continued to be on sale. So the Bolt can be referred to as the third generation Indica but it replaces the Vista in Tata Motors’ line-up while the Indica will be given a fresh lease of life and is under development with a codename Kite.
Exteriors – One look at the Tata Bolt and you can instantly make it out to have something in common with the Vista, that’s because both cars have a similar body shell. That aside, there is a day and night difference in the appeal of both vehicles. While the Vista comes across as dated today, the Bolt comes across as fresh. There is no denying the fact that the Bolt is a Zest sans a boot but the design elements at the rear make this hatchback standout. The front gets the same design but the headlights get the smoked treatment (there are also projectors which is a segment first) and the bumper is different (there are no daytime running lights, instead there is a chrome strip below the foglamp enclosure). The lower side of the grille gets the piano black treatment, instead of the chrome strip seen on the Zest.
The side profile reveals the striking silhouette of the Indica family but the floating roof appearance gives the car a sporty appeal (the c-pillars get blackened stickers to give this effect, also seen on the Hyundai Elite i20). The wheels are shared with the Zest but Tata should have given a sporty design to go with the youth centric theme of this hatchback. The rear is the best part of the car, we simply love the rear design with small tail lights which are sharp and get the LED lookalike treatment. The rear also gets a roof mounted spoiler and the black finish on the lower part of the rear bumper helps reduce the visual bulk of the vehicle. The Bolt is a smart looking car and although it’s unmistakably a Tata in appearance, it comes across as fresh and appealing.
Interiors – Step inside and you are instantly reminded of the Zest because the cabin is identical to the sub 4-metre sedan. However, unlike the Zest where there is a dual-tone finish, the Bolt gets all black interiors or ‘Snazzy Java Black’ in Tata speak, with metallic inserts on the centre console and steering wheel. The finish on the seats is nice and we really like the cabin of the Zest, so the Bolt is equally impressive. The black theme gives the Bolt a sportier feel on the inside and the dashboard looks very good and has a ton of features on offer. The cluster is easy to read on the move and has the eon of features on the multi-information display that tells you everything you would need to know on the go.
There are however two differences between the Bolt and Zest and that lies in the ConnectNext infotainment system. Tata Motors has given the car video playback (through SD card or USB) which plays even when the driver is driving (not so good but it does warn about the danger). The other feature is navigation which pairs with your Android phone’s MapMyIndia app (no iOS yet) and mirrors it on the 5-inch screen. We have endlessly praised the touch-screen infotainment system from Harman and this is a big plus point of the Bolt as the 8-speaker system has impressive audio quality along with a ton of features including voice commands, Bluetooth, USB, AUX, climate control, SMS readout, etc. There are no reverse parking sensors which are seen on the Zest and like the compact sedan, the screen lacks the brightness for easy visibility in bright sunlight. The car also misses out on a dead pedal and height adjustable seatbelts, the latter being a nuisance for short drivers.
Cabin quality is good and there is little to fault with the way the vehicle has been put-together. Build quality is impressive too and the doors shut with a reassuring thud. Space inside the cabin is generous and there is plenty of room for five passengers in the car. The seats are supportive, underthigh support is good, headroom is more than adequate and legroom is in excess even for tall passengers. Further amplifying the experience of rear seat occupants are the large windows but like the Zest, the Bolt too has very small door pockets which are inadequate to hold a 1-litre bottle. Storage spaces inside the cabin are limited, there are no magazine pockets although there is an under-seat tray below the co-passenger’s seat. Everything inside the cabin is new for the Zest and Bolt but the power window switches shouldn’t have been carried over from the Vista. Boot space is adequate and there is no electro-magnetic tail gate opener, nor is there an alloy wheel for the spare tyre.
Performance – The Tata Bolt is powered by the now ubiquitous 1.3-litre Fiat sourced MultiJet diesel engine, badged as QuadraJet and is offered sans a variable geometry turbocharger. With the fixed geometry turbo, the Bolt diesel outputs 75 PS at 4000 RPM and 190 Nm between 1750-3000 RPM. This engine offers very good performance and under Tata’s own tuning, power delivery is linear and turbolag is well out of sight. Like the petrol, the diesel Bolt too is paired to a 5-speed manual gearbox and an AMT version isn’t in immediate sight. The petrol mill powering the Bolt is identical to the one seen on the Zest but has been tweaked with peak torque offered in a wider band. It’s the only turbo-petrol motor in the segment and the 1.2-litre unit outputs a class leading 90 PS and 140 Nm.
The Revotron motor has good punch in the mid-range and sounds nice too but could do with more top-end thrust
Refinement levels are impressive and the Tata Bolt is pin-drop silent at idle, with the Revotron powerplant emitting a vocal snarl post 4000 RPM (and the turbo whistle is audible too) but redline comes early at under 6000 RPM. There is good low-end pep and turbolag isn’t too apparent but one does need to work the gearbox a lot. Mid-range is where the motor shines but top-end is just lacking so this engine might be force-fed but it isn’t going to set your pulse racing as it doesn’t rev quickly or freely as one would expect (that’s to do with its 2-valve per cylinder layout). Where it does impress is drivability and there are three drive modes too, activating either now results in a beep (the sound isn’t there on the Zest and the position of the City, Eco and Sport text is now on the top in the instrument cluster, rather than being in the multi-information display screen).
While a layman might find it hard to differentiate between the three modes, they do make a difference and the same can be felt even on part throttle. We tested the Zest with a VBOX and saw different timings in different modes so the multi-drive mode is no gimmick, it works. Performance is the best in Sport mode and shifting on the fly is a boon as you can get additional punch in an instant when you need it. The car does pull to triple digit speeds with little effort but progress is slow post 130 km/hr. By default the car is in City mode and there is no button to select City. The clutch is light and the gearbox is smooth but there are vibes on the lever when you accelerate hard and leave the pedal completely. When driven in Eco, one can easily get good mileage numbers to the tune of 13-15 km/l.
Driving Dynamics – Tata cars always score high on comfort and the same can be said about the Bolt. Ride quality is excellent (a bit soft which results in some bounciness at speed over bad roads), the vehicle takes everything in its stride with utmost confidence and irons out bad roads like it’s child’s play. Even bad roads don’t pose a threat to the Bolt and it won’t be wrong to say that this is the best riding car in the hatchback segment. Where Tata cars aren’t popular is the driving feel, while they are neutral, they won’t make you rave about the handling, the Bolt is a bit different here. Set-up to give you a good time around the bends, the Bolt handles nicely and is eager to corner but there is some body roll.
The new electric steering has good feel and decent feedback at speeds (although it’s on the lighter side) which inspires confidence to drive fast. We love the appearance of the 3-spoke steering wheel and the size just fits in perfectly to make you feel at home. With 10 mm smaller width of each tyre over the Zest, the Bolt still has plenty of grip on offer and cornering really hard makes the acres of under-steer make itself very evident. Stability at speed is excellent and braking performance is also very good. Turning radius is a tad more than rivals while ground clearance is more than adequate for our roads. The Tata Bolt offers a fantastic blend in the dynamics department and is a car you can actually have some fun driving.
Safety and After Sales Service – Tata Motors has given the Bolt front airbags, ABS, EBD and Corner Stability Control. Unlike its rivals from Japan and Korea, the Bolt isn’t a light car and the heavy weight does make its presence felt as you simply don’t feel like your driving a hatchback, the vehicle feels robust. Yet to be tested by NCAP, we expect the Bolt to fare very well but safety equipment on lower trims would be a nice touch. Tata Motors is doing a lot to improve the service experience for its customers and the same is reflecting already although such things take time.
Verdict – Just like the Zest, the Bolt too is a hugely impressive car. The car does shine on multiple counts, it looks appealing, has excellent interiors, class leading space, long list of equipment and the positives just go on and on. In fact the Tata Bolt is so good that we find it difficult to point out negatives of the car (except the engines don’t love to be revved hard) because it is that impressive a vehicle. Tata Motors has yet another winner in its hands with the Bolt and this car is sure to give sleepless nights to established rivals.
The Tata Bolt is proof that a hatchback can be more than just a hatchback because it delivers exceptionally well on all fronts. Finally we have an all-rounder value for money hatchback which doesn’t require you to compromise.
* Interior appeal
* Cabin space
* Long features list
* Ride quality
* Multi-drive mode
What’s Not So Cool
* Engines don’t love the redline
* Door pockets are too small
* No AMT in immediate future
Alternatives: Maruti Suzuki Swift, Hyundai Grand i10
Tata Bolt Specifications
* Engine: 1193cc, turbocharged, Revotron (Petrol), 1248cc, Quadrajet (Diesel)
* Power: 90 PS @ 5000 RPM (Petrol), 75 PS @ 4000 RPM (Diesel)
* Torque: 140 Nm @ 1500-4000 RPM (Petrol), 190 Nm @ 1750-3000 RPM (Diesel)
* Transmission: 5-speed manual
* 0-100 km/hr: 12.14 seconds (Petrol), 13.22 seconds (Diesel)
* Top Speed: 170 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 13 km/l (Petrol), 16 km/l (Diesel)
* Fuel Type: Petrol, Diesel
* Suspension: McPherson Strut (Front), Twist Beam (Rear)
* Tyres: 175/65/15
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Drum (Rear)
* Safety: Front Airbags, ABS, Corner Stability Control
Tata Bolt Dimensions
* Overall length x width x height: 3825 mm X 1695 mm X 1562 mm
* Wheelbase: 2470 mm
* Front/Rear Track: 1450/1440 mm
* Turning Radius: 5.1 metres
* Ground clearance: 165 mm
* Boot Space: 210 litres
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 44 litres
* Kerb Weight: 1096-1125 kgs (Petrol), 1132-1160 kgs (Diesel)
Further Reading –
Picture Editing – Sri Manikanta Achanta