The Tata Bolt is the Pune-based automaker’s new hatchback for the Indian market. Based on their X1 platform which underpins the Indica Vista hatchback, the Bolt too features an all too familiar silhouette but is a whole new animal in terms of features and overall design philosophy. It was unveiled at the 2014 Indian Auto Expo and is Tata’sfirst launch for 2015 in the Indian automobile market.
Freshly baked with lots of newness is how I like describing this bolt new hatchback. This time around, designers from India, UK and Italy contributed together to make the Bolt have an international appeal. Must say they did a great job. The lines on the Bolt flow with great unity as nothing looks out of sync.
Smoky finish and more detailing in headlights are the differentiating factors. A wide radiator grille connects the large wraparound headlamps. This look will be a signature look for all the upcoming edans and SUVs. The next generation Storme along with Nexon SUV will also sport similar lines giving it a family look with a premium appeal. Unlike the Zest, the Bolt does not get DRLs on the front bumper. It gets chrome bezels around the fog lights.
Gets interesting bulges on the bonnet showing a muscular character, a blackened roof would have made the Bolt look a whole lot different. The silhouette cannot make you mistake this for any car but the Vista, which I chose to overlook. Tata Motors have also joined in the brigade of blackening the C-Pillar giving it a floating roof design. They achieved this with a special vinyl tape sourced from 3M with unique pattern inked on it
Look at the rear…Just look at it! Strip off the logo and it is hard to believe that this car comes from an Indian manufacturer. A sporty roof spoiler is an extension to the floating roof. Flame shaped tail lamps break the cliché pattern of squares, circles and rectangles. If you find them attractive in images, you will find them way more attractive in real. The rear design alone scores amazingly in terms of new design. No exaggeration, it reminded me of the earlier generation Cooper
The dashboard is very much-like wrap around being more driver focused. The Bolt targets the trendy and young audience; hence it gets black colour interiors. The Bolt even gets automatic climate control. The new multi-functional three-spoke steering wheel is perfect in size and is good to grip. A new Harman touchscreen infotainment has been developed and this will come with eight speakers. This system has Bluetooth, USB, SD and aux connectivity. The Harman system has been developed in India and it has voice command buttons too, on the steering wheel. The voice recognition has been developed with Indian accents.
As the shell of the Vista and Bolt are same in dimensions, there is no difference in interior space also. The front row seats are spacious with sufficient room for tall people, while the rear seat also doesn’t disappoint except for thigh support. The seats are hard, which makes long distance ourneys less tiring. One thing that is disappointing is that are is very limited stowage space. There is just a single cup holder and even door pockets have less capacity for storage.
The Bolt gets the same 1.2 petrol Revotron and the Fiat-sourced 1.3 Multijet diesel as in the Zest, but there are some differences. The petrol Bolt’s gearing is shorter than the Zest’s and the diesel Bolt gets the lower-powered 74bhp version (with a fixed geometry turbo) as opposed to the Zest’s more powerful 89bhp unit. Like in the Zest, the petrol Bolt’s ‘Multi-drive’ lets you choose between three driving modes: City, Sport and Eco (Economy), each of which tweaks the ECU’s map for three different power outputs.
‘City’, being the default mode, is also a balance between economy and power. It works fine if you’re on a lazy Sunday drive, but if you’re feeling even slightly enthusiastic and want to get a move on, you’ll want to press the nicely damped ‘Sport’ button. In this mode, you can feel the Bolt suddenly wake up, feel alert and respond urgently to throttle inputs. The shorter final drive has made the Bolt distinctly more energetic than the Zest, which has a duller response. The mid-range is particularly strong and overtaking is painless once the Bolt gets into its stride, which is above 2,000rpm. There’s a strong surge that doesn’t let up till 5,500rpm. However, the Revotron, with its two-valve per cylinder head and heavy internals, doesn’t have an appetite for revs and it’s best to upshift just before the modest 6,000rpm redline. Effortless performance is the talking point here and the Bolt’s ability to get you to serious speeds without a fuss makes it a superb highway cruiser. Be in no doubt, the Bolt is surprisingly quick and, in fact, quicker than most other hatchbacks including sporty ones like the Swift and i20 . Press ‘Eco’ mode and the drop in performance is immediately obvious and it takes a good 2.77 seconds extra than in ‘Sport’ to hit 100kph. In-gear acceleration is blunted too but that’s to be expected from a pure fuel economy mode. The problem is that Eco mode really dulls throttle response and hence, it’s really useable only when crawling in peak hour traffic; overtaking on the highways can get arduous.
A flaw with the Revotron, which though improved but still not sorted out, is the slightly hesitant power delivery, especially on part throttle. There are quite a few flat spots and at low revs, there is a distinct lack of poke which calls for an added downshift, especially while exiting corners. The gearshift is pretty light but a bit rubbery and lacks the rifle- bolt precision of some of its rivals. Also, the Revotron has a tendency to stall quite frequently if you don’t give it enough revs. What is likeable though is the impressive level of refinement. The cast-iron block absorbs most of the engine noise and road noise is well contained too.
Speaking of refinement, the diesel Bolt, with its Fiat-sourced 1.3-litre diesel engine, is easily one of the quietest oil burners amongst its peers. That said, driveability isn’t as impressive and there’s a fair bit of turbo-lag that is a characteristic of this motor. So, while off-boost performance isn’t too bad, the engine only gets into its stride at about 2000rpm and pulls nicely to about 4,000rpm. After which it’s best to upshift as it doesn’t pack much punch on its journey thereon to the 5,000rpm redline. The clutch is fairly light and the Fiat-sourced gearbox feels far more precise than Tata Motors’ home-grown transmission.
RIDE AND HANDLING
Tata Motors managed the get the ride quality spot on with the Zest, and the Bolt is no different. The independent McPherson strut upfront and the semi-independent twist beam at the rear provide a plush ride quality even over bad roads. Clutch effort is easy but the gearbox is a little clunky. That said, the short gear ratios do not demand too many shifts even in city traffic. Talking about effort, the speed sensitive steering is a smart addition to the Bolt. At slower city speeds it feels nice and light, making it easier to manoeuvre but as you go faster it gets slightly heavier to offer better handling dynamics, but more on that later. Our only grouse with the Bolt was the rather chunky A-pillar which does compromise a little on the visibility. The absence of parking sensors doesn’t make things a lot easier either. Book a Test Drive for Tata Bolt
Tata Motors claims that the suspension of the Bolt has been stiffened to offer that much sought after fun to drive factor. It manages to take on a series of bends with a fair bit of confidence and can easily rank among the most fun to drive Tatas we have driven in a long time. The speed sensitive steering wheel gets a little heavier as you go faster and it doesn’t feel as artificial as the one on the Zest.
As far as braking is concerned, the Disc-Drum combination works well in bringing the car to standstill from reasonable speeds without too much drama. There is quite a bit of bite too. And to add a feather to the cap, Tata has installed this top-end trim with ABS, EBD as with corner stability control
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.
A lot of effort has gone into making the Bolt a more wholesome car compared to anything that has rolled out with the Tata logo on it. The company is also hoping to make a statement with some of the safety features that the car will be offered with as standard. Details about the number of trim levels are awaited. Apply Car Loan for Tata Bolt
The Bolt has the potential for rewriting Tata’s presence in the passenger car business. It is now up to buyers who need to look beyond the brand’s image. Test driving the Bolt when it arrives in showrooms next year will be an eye-opener.