Tata Altroz iTurbo Test Drive Review
We do a detailed road test review of the Tata Altroz Turbo.
Car Tested: Tata Altroz Turbo; Road Test No. 1276; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs 9 – 10.50 lakhs (est.)
The Tata Altroz finally gets a well-deserved powerful petrol engine
Tata Motors entered the very enticing premium hatchback segment last year with the Altroz which was launched as a rival to the Maruti Baleno, Hyundai i20, Honda Jazz and Volkswagen Polo. Now, the Altroz is a genuinely good car and it has a lot of things going for it, but the 1.2-litre NA petrol engine was certainly going against this car. This engine, shared with the Tiago, offered unenthusiastic relatively performance and just didn’t fit in well in a hatchback of this calibre. Thankfully, Tata Motors has rectified this and after an excruciatingly long wait, the Altroz iTurbo is here.
Exteriors – Nothing has changed on the outside and rightly so. The Tata Altroz has a fresh design which looks good and proportionate, and it breaks away from Tata’s older design philosophies. The Altroz has curves at the right places and it does turn quite a few heads on our roads. The hatchback now gets a tiny iTurbo badge on the boot and there’s also get a new Harbour Blue colour which I haven’t seen in person yet because our test car is finished in the familiar Downtown Red shade.
Interiors – On the inside too, changes aren’t significant. The Altroz iTurbo retains its well-built and ergonomic cabin. The vehicle now gets new leatherette seats, iRA connected car features and voice commands in Hindi/English/Hinglish. The Altroz also gets Xpress Cool which we have seen on the Nexon. Press the Xpress Cool button and the AC will automatically adjust the temperature and blower speed to cool the cabin ASAP. Tata has equipped the vehicle with one shot up power windows too but on our test car, we could make only the driver side window go up with one touch. The Altroz iTurbo gets two tweeters from Harman which are mounted on the A-pillar in a rather stylish housing and the sound quality also felt better than before. The cabin gets a black+grey colour theme which looks tasteful and the Altroz also gets all the necessary features that you would need but Tata Motors could have used this opportunity to add some niceties like a sunroof.
Performance – The 1.2-litre NA engine felt underwhelming but this turbocharged petrol engine finally does justice to the Altroz. This 1199cc, 3-cylinder unit delivers 110 PS at 5500 RPM and 140 Nm from 1500-5500 RPM. This same engine is offered on the Nexon in a higher 120 PS/170 Nm tune. While the Nexon gets a 6-speed MT or AMT, the Altroz gets a 5-speed MT thanks to the lower tune. The hatchback was supposed to get a DCT too but that will come probably after a few months so yes an automatic is still amiss. Coming straight to the performance, the turbo petrol engine has an average low-end punch and some lag can definitely be felt. The mid-range is quite torquey and responsive with the Altroz picking up pace briskly. The top-end punch again feels somewhat limited and it is best to exploit this engine from 2000-5000 RPM if you’re in the mood for some aggressive driving.
The turbo engine delivers a good surge of power in the mid-range, however, rivals feel a bit punchier thanks to the higher torque
When we drove the Nexon petrol, we could really feel some flat spots in the power band and the engine feels slightly better tuned in the Altroz. However, it still doesn’t offer the kind of punch that you get from the i20 Turbo or Polo TSI because this makes 140 Nm, while the others make close to 175 Nm so there is a noticeable difference. The claimed 0-100 km/hr figure is 11.99 seconds and we managed a timing of 12.72 seconds in our VBOX tests. In comparison, the i20 Turbo DCT has a claimed timing of 9.99 seconds and we got a figure of 12.11 seconds while on the Polo TSI MT we managed 10.22 seconds. 0-100 km/hr timings don’t matter to most people out there and what matters more is driveability for day-to-day usage and the Altroz fares nicely over here. The Altroz iTurbo has an ARAI-rated fuel efficiency of 18.13 km/l which is <1 km/l lesser than the non-turbo engine.
No changes have been made to the gear shift quality as such. The gearbox is easy to use; the shifts aren’t exactly slick but not too notchy either while the clutch itself is very light. Tata has also equipped the iTurbo with a Sport mode, for which the button is placed just below the gear lever. The Altroz is in City mode by default and when you switch to Sport mode, there is a very noticeable difference in the way the power is delivered and it starts feeling more eager. Refinement levels are quite decent for a 3-cylinder engine but of course, a 4-cylinder engine is a 4-cylinder engine and you cannot expect the silence and refinement of that here. The engine is also fairly silent at lower RPMs, gets vocal when you push the car and it sounds quite thrashy at higher RPMs.
Driving Dynamics – The ride and handling balance of the Altroz is just too good and we had pointed this out earlier as well when we drove this car for the very first time. Tata sure knows how to tune the suspension for Indian roads and the Altroz is extremely comfortable over good and bad roads. The suspension remains properly pliant and there’s very less vertical movement in the cabin. The car also remains firmly glued to the road and that instils a lot of confidence in the driver. The steering is well-weighted and feels nice to hold at high speeds while braking performance is good too. Overall, the Altroz feels great to drive and feels connected to the driver.
Verdict – The Tata Altroz is one of the better premium hatchbacks and the automaker is now offering a nice petrol engine finally. Though less on torque, the Altroz iTurbo offers good driveability and its road manners are very impressive just like before. I feel Tata Motors should have offered this engine right from day one. Still, better late than never but an automatic is still missing and the wait for that continues. The Altroz comes across as a value-for-money offering and there’s no major reason to disregard this car if you’re hunting for a premium hatchback.
What’s Not So Cool
Alternatives – Maruti Baleno, Hyundai i20, Volkswagen Polo, Honda Jazz, Ford Freestyle, Toyota Glanza
Further Reading –