Tata Bolt Diesel Long Term Review
The Tata Bolt might not be selling well but is in no way a bad product, it’s a very good hatch
Mobile phones and hatchbacks have a lot in common these days as there are plenty of options for both. Still, buyers usually narrow down their choices based on various factors like brand, hearsay and also discounts. Why am I rambling all this, it’s because I am a bit disappointed with the way Indian customers tend to ignore good products for reasons best known to them. Case in point being the Tata Bolt, a car very capable and easily the best from the Tata Motors stable but yet it fails to sell in good numbers, average monthly sales being under a 1000 units!
How and why does the Bolt not sell is something not easy to answer but when you drive the car back to back, day and day, like we have, you scratch your head wondering what went wrong. There is of course the optimistic pricing but that’s not reason enough for sales revolving around the 600-700 mark. Agreed the premium price robbed the Bolt any chance of beating the Hyundai Grand i10, let alone touch the top-selling Maruti Swift but the car is well equipped and comes with some nice bit of useful equipment which we at MotorBeam appreciate everyday, like the touch-screen infotainment system with a good sound output and the projector headlights which make night visibility quite good.
Lack of storage areas on the inside make the Bolt lose out on practicality
But there are bad bits too and I haven’t come to terms with them. No, I have nothing to say about the quality or reliability because that’s a non-issue on the latest Tata cars but I do have to talk about the lack of storage bins. No place to keep stuff means my mobile phone flies from the seat, across the carpet under hard braking and me being a person who loves drinking water, have no place to keep my bottle, which also flies under hard braking, often spilling. Best then to carry a bag with everything kept inside it, safer for one big bag to fly inside a car then a few smaller objects.
Apart from that, there is nothing to complain about with much to praise. There are no rattles in the car at all and this being a media vehicle, has seen some rough usage. Our long term tester has done more than 6000 kms and yet it feels like new, none of those traits seen in old Tata cars are in the Bolt, so overall quality has definitely taken a leap in the right direction. The seats are very comfortable, they are big with good support and thus long drives are effortless. People sitting at the rear do appreciate the space on offer, specially the shoulder room which is quite impressive.
A few friends of mine are very impressed with the Bolt, they went ahead and stated that Tata Motors has come a long way and the fit-finish is also excellent by segment standards. However, the perception hasn’t changed because when I asked them to guess the price of the vehicle, they were off by a couple of lakhs! The taxi image created by the Indica seems to be stuck forever in the minds of most Indians and that’s a big road block for Tata Motors, something they are trying very hard to address, maybe Messi can help.
The Bolt’s diesel mill offers good punch for both city & highway driving duties
Coming to the thing which impresses me the most about the Bolt, it’s the QuadraJet motor which is a very sweet unit. The 1.3-litre powerplant might be used by many car makers but it really shines in the Bolt and somehow Tata engineers manage to do a better job at tuning then both Maruti Suzuki and Fiat, the former being the highest seller of cars powered by this engine while the latter being the mastermind behind the national diesel engine of India. The oil burner is very responsive to throttle inputs so driving in the city is easy with turbo lag being well out of sight.
Having a Swift ZDi in our long term fleet, we are able to appreciate Tata Motors’ tuning on the diesel mill as drivability is strong and one doesn’t have to frequently downshift to get going. The Bolt has good punch when you stretch its legs out on the highway too, and it’s then you realise the sure-footedness at speed as the car is supremely stable even when you near its top speed. The gearbox is also quite slick and the clutch is light so the driving experience has been very good indeed. Mileage figures hover around the 17 km/l mark.
Our long term tester has been very comfortable and its ride quality has been thoroughly impressive, a trait everyone who uses the car instantly appreciates because of the post monsoon roadless Mumbai. Handling is good too but understeer kicks in plenty when you push a wee bit hard. But this isn’t a car one would push hard around corners no matter how much the company tries to position it as a sporty hatchback (maybe the Bolt Sport will make us eat our words). We do like the steering, more so its perfect size which makes it a joy to use it.
If I had to make a list of under-rated cars in India, the Tata Bolt would definitely feature on that list. It is in some ways better than rivals as it boasts of the widest cabin, best ride quality and stability. But where things went wrong for the Bolt was the price, unlike the Zest which came at a jaw-dropping introductory price, the Bolt didn’t receive any such advantage. That and the fact that the car reminds one of the Indica/Vista, made customers shy away from it. Still, the mid trims make for an attractive buy and one needs to experience this car to see what a leap the Bolt is over other Tata cars.
Picture Editing: Sri Manikanta Achanta
Further Reading –
Tata Bolt Review
Tata Bolt Diesel Review
Hyundai Grand i10 vs Tata Bolt vs Maruti Swift
Hyundai Grand i10 vs Tata Bolt vs Maruti Swift – Video
Tata Bolt vs Ford Figo vs Hyundai Grand i10 vs Maruti Swift – Video