For a long time now, Tata passenger cars have been put into the mediocre category. Often questioned about the fit-and-finish, and value for money aspects that Tata cars offer, the skeptics have only added to this never ending list of concerns.
However, there has been a noticeable shift in their reputation since August, 2014. The brand, is slowly but surely attempting to change their image in the minds of those very skeptics. How, you ask? Tata's game changer comes in the form of the Zest, a compact sedan that was introduced in August this year.
Fast forward to today, Tata's Bolt hatchback, scheduled for launch this year-end, has everyone sitting up and taking notice. Several questions are already being raised, and the auto fraternity is keeping a close watch on the Bolt.
Now, before we set out on our test run, we asked ourselves, does the Bolt tick all the boxes for a small and practical car? Does it have enough to beat the likes of the Maruti Swift, Hyundai Grand i10 and the others? Here's what we found out.
Estimated Tata Bolt pricing: 4.2 lakh [Ex-showroom]
The review continues on the next slide.
Tata Bolt [XT, top-end variant]
Road Test Location:
Key Specs & Features
Tata Bolt Petrol [XT Variant]
- Engine: Revotron 1.2T, 4 cylinder, Turbocharged MPFi
- Transmission: 5-speed manual
- Engine Displacement: 1193cc
- Max power: 88.8 bhp @ 5000 RPM
- Max torque: 140 Nm @ 1500 — 4000 RPM
- Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
- Airbag: Driver and front passenger
- Central locking: Yes, with remote
- Speed sensing auto door lock: Yes
The Bolt has an upright and mature stance, the extra height blends well with the overall dimensions, creating a balanced hatchback. The neatly sculpted body shows off a power bulge on the hood, wide air intake, fog lamp bezels, honeycomb grille, and projector type headlamps, conveying a sense of power and agility.
The Bolt is a striking machine and is the proud successor to the Vista. In fact, for quite a few onlookers, the Bolt might just look like a premium version of the Vista. The Bolt is said to be styled in image of the Zest compact sedan; however, like many others, we felt that there were visible traits of the Vista.
The blackened C-pillar is a bold contrast, and creates a distinctive floating roof design. The strong wedge of the shoulder line on the side panels emphasise the door line.
The floating roof spoiler provides an extra sporty touch and aids in aerodynamics. All these elements, combined with a well-sculpted body, add to the dynamic and athletic stance.
The sporty stance is further enhanced by a large chrome number plate garnish, and rear treatment of the lamps and bumper.
The Bolt design is a culmination of best ideas from the three Tata Motors design studios—Pune (India), Coventry (UK), and Turin (Italy).
Factsheet: (Exterior Dimensions)
(L x W x H): 3825 mm x 1695 mm x 1562 mm
(L x W x H): 3850 mm x 1695 mm x 1530 mm
With a well-trimmed cabin, the quality of material used by Tata in this new-vehicle is none like we have ever seen before. That being said, the material still lacks a soft feel.
The overall layout is pleasing, simple and stylish with no unnecessary features or embellishments. The instrument panel is laid out well and at the right angles to accommodate an array of connectivity and infotainment features.
For a majority of drivers, a car's driving position plays an important role in determining between a clear sailing drive and one that feels awkward.
The Bolt's ergonomic, driver-focussed cockpit delivers a good forward visibility. An ideal seating position can be achieved by adjusting the steering wheel column height, seat height, and backrest angle, allowing comfortable control of the steering wheel.
Tata cars have always scored high on interior space. The Bolt is no exception. The headroom and rear-seat legroom offer a chair-like seating position and adult-size space for three people to sit comfortably.
On the safety front, the Bolt offers an outer 3-point belt and center-lap belt, in addition to the rear height adjustable head restraints, that are meant to save your neck during a rear-end crash.
The boot volume has been sacrificed in the quest for adequate passenger space. The rear-seats split and fold expanding the luggage space. The seat-base can also be flipped forward, helping the seats sit flat against the floor.
- Maruti Swift: 205 litres
- Tata Bolt: 210 litres
- Hyundai Grand i10: 256 litres
Engine and Transmission
Our test car was powered by the next-generation Revotron, 88.8 bhp, 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine with a 5-speed manual transmission.
Narain Karthikeyan, the first Formula One motor racing driver from India has been closely associated with the development of this engine. The Revotron engine is based on the 1.2 litre Xeta engine, that powered the Indica.
Tata will offer the Bolt in the following engine types:
4 cylinder, Turbocharged MPFi
4 cylinder, Turbo intercooled
The Bolt offers a fine balance between driveability and practicality. If you are looking for a small practical car to take on the narrow roads and highway stretches, the Bolt will not disappoint you. The ride quality is excellent on undulated roads, and with its upmarket interiors, light and direct electronic power steering, multi-drive system, and corner stability control—it feels sporty too.
The niggles appear in the form of a thick A-pillar, and a notchy gearbox—especially while shifting from 1st to 2nd gear. Still, shifting through the gears (3, 4 and 5) is as smooth as an oil'd thunderbolt.
The Multi-Drive System offers switchable driving modes* depending on what type of driver you are (City, Eco and Sport)
How it works?
- Eco mode: helps optimise your engine performance to save fuel
- Sport mode: increases throttle response to help you accelerate faster
- City mode: balances between Eco and Sport [this is the default normal mode]
*We have highlighted the driving modes in the image. You can switch on or off the Eco or Sport driving mode while on the move.
Life begins at 160 km/h...
Engine performance needn't always be about top speed. At idling, we noticed that on depressing the clutch, the rpm raises a tab bit, allowing you to crawl in bumper-to-bumper traffic without pressing down on the accelerator pedal, thus behaving more like a diesel engine. On the other hand, the engine isn't free revving when pushed hard, and feels like its running out of gas.
- Max power: 88.8 bhp @ 5000 RPM
- Max torque: 140 Nm @ 1500 - 4000 RPM
- Top speed: 160 km/h
Maruti Swift (Competitor)
- Max power: 83 bhp @ 6000 RPM
- Max torque: 115 Nm @ 4000 RPM
Fuel efficiency is one of the biggest factors for new car buyers in India. The Bolt returned 10.7 km/l during our test runs. Majority of our testing was done on the Udaipur — Mount Abu highway, at speeds ranging from 100 — 140 km/h, not to forget, the periodic air conditioning which saved us from going into a blistering hell. On a more light footed approach, the Bolt should return a fuel efficiency figure of 13 km/l.
- Fuel tank capacity: 44 litres
- Range on a full tank: Approx. 550 kilometers
- Maruti Swift: 42 litres
- Hyundai Grand i10: 43 litres
1. Steering Wheel
The Bolt features a moulded, small diameter, 3-spoke multifunction sport steering wheel with metallic inserts, allowing a better sensation of grip—and fun to drive—in winding roads.
The steering-wheel-mounted controls enable the driver to shuffle through music, adjust the volume up or down, and fiddle with other audio devices without taking your hands off the wheel.
The horn pad is resistant and takes quite an effort to honk!
- Steering wheel diameter: 14.17 inches
- Turning circle radius: 5.1 meters
2. Alloy Wheel
The Bolt rides on beautiful 15-inch 8-spoke alloy wheels. The design is simple, yet somehow enhances the sporty look.
- Wheels: 15 inches
- Made of: Alloy
- Tyre size: 175/65 R15
- Make: Goodyear
- Type: Tubeless
- Front brake: Disc
- Rear brake: Drum
In-vehicle infotainment systems are taking in-car connectivity to a whole new level. The Bolt features the HARMAN infotainment/audio acoustic systems and MapMyIndia next-generation navigation.
Key innovative infotainment system features include:
- 5-inch touchscreen supporting rich multimedia experience
- Video playback
- Smartphone based navigation*
- Advanced Bluetooth technology
- Smart voice recognition which understands user command
- Advanced smartphone integration
- Incoming SMS notification and readouts**
* For Android phones only, ** Depends on Bluetooth profile of connected phone
To get the MapMyIndia navigator to work* download the following app on to your smartphone and follow these steps:
- Download MapMyIndia app
- Once installed, connect your smartphone to the infotainment system via the USB port
- Open MapMyIndia app on your smartphone and within a few seconds the same map will show up on the 5-inch touchscreen, and you can continue to enjoy your motoring in peace.
Scrolling through menus can be slow, cumbersome and frustrating as the infotainment touch screen is not responsive and can be difficult to operate while driving. Instead, reach out for the big knob to crank up the volume or labelled buttons to toggle through the menus.
*The Harman SmartLink app is required for the systems to work in sync. The SmartLink app will be provided for free by Tata Motors.
4. Instrument Cluster
The Bolt features a two-ring analogue meter which is easy to read at a glance. The centrally located multi-information display, provides pertinent information* such as time, trip log, outside temperature, distance-to-empty, fuel efficiency, and drive mode indication (for city, eco and sport).
* Multi-information display explained in detailed on slide 20.
5. Front Seats
The full fabric, heavily side bolstered seats (rugby seats, as Tata likes to call it) are firm, stylish and supportive.
These well-bolstered seats keep the driver and passenger firmly planted in the seating position during aggressive cornering.
6. Multi-Information Display Modes
The image shown here is just a representation of the various modes available on the Multi-Information Display*.
Multi-Information Display (MID) shows:
- Outside temperature
- Instantaneous fuel consumption
- Average fuel consumption
- Trip log
- Drive mode indication (for Sport & Eco)
*The MID is the centre fascia digital display which splits the analogue speedometer and tachometer.
Off the Mark
The electrically adjustable Outside Rear View Mirror (OVRM), although stylistic, does not have a great depth of field.
Depth perception is limited, and passing and re-entering a pacing lane can leave blind spots.
The handbrake, when applied without depressing the button, has a poor feel. We would have liked to hear the graunching sound of the ratchet mechanism to remind us we have gone as far as 3 - 4 clicks, thus preventing over pulling the handbrake. Ultimately, it boils down to personal preferences. Let's not forget that some enthusiasts find this sound annoying!
Storage is a concern for the Bolt. The door pockets are narrow, and passengers will have a difficult time storing bottles. The central bottle holder as shown in the image will most likely be used for your smartphone or tollbooth tickets.
The Bolt will certainly face stiff competition. Models such as Maruti Swift and Hyundai Grand i10 already have a firm grip in this segment. We expect the Bolt petrol to be priced at INR 4.2 lakh ex-showroom onward. Pricey or affordable? Let us know what you think of the pricing!
- Hyundai Grand i10 [1.2 litre Petrol]
INR 4.3 - 5.8 lakh ex-showroom, Delhi
- Maruti Swift [1.2 litre Petrol]
INR 4.4 - 5.9 lakh ex-showroom, Delhi
- Ride quality
- Comfortable seating
- Build quality, fit-and-finish
- Good Electronic Power Steering [EPS]
- Multi Driving System [City, Eco and Sport]
- HARMAN infotainment/audio acoustic systems
- Poor in-cabin storage
- Infotainment touch screen not responsive
- Thick A-pillars and limited depth perception OVRMs (blind spots)
- Sluggish Petrol engine (lacks mid-range punch) and not free revving
- If Tata gets the pricing right, the Bolt can be an absolute value for money
Area of improvement:
- Quality of after-sales service compared to Maruti, Hyundai and Ford.
Tata Fast Facts
- Headquarters: Bombay House 24, Homi Mody Street Mumbai 400 001 India
- Founded 1868: Tata Sons established by Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata
- Promoter holding companies: Tata Sons and Tata Industries
- Areas of business: Information systems and communications, engineering, materials, services, energy, chemicals, and consumer products
- Group revenues 2013-14: $103.27 billion (around Rs 624,757 crore)
- Shareholder base: 3.9 million
- Number of companies: Over 100 operating companies
- Listed companies: 32 on the Bombay Stock Exchange
- Number of employees: Over 581,470
- International presence: Over 80 countries
- International revenues 2013-14: $69.4 billion (67.2% of group revenues)
- Companies listed on NYSE: Tata Motors