Tata Altroz DCA Review — A Unique Engine & Gearbox Combination

Rating:

It is one of the safest cars in the Indian market. It is also one of the most stylish hatchbacks currently on sale in the country. The Tata Altroz has always been a hard-to-resist package given the amount of equipment it offered. However, if you were out in the market for a premium hatchback with an automatic gearbox, the Tata Altroz wouldn't feature on your list.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

The Tata Altroz was first launched in January 2020. The design and styling won hearts and made enthusiasts and critics alike sit up and take notice. Tata loaded it to the gills with practical and useful features. In January 2021, Tata Motors launched the iTurbo variant of the hatchback with the turbo-petrol engine producing more power and thereby increasing performance.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

However, there was still just one thing missing in the Altroz - an automatic gearbox. Now, at long last, Tata Motors has launched the Altroz with an automatic gearbox. In typical Tata style, they have gone way ahead of the expectations and launched the hatchback with a dual-clutch transmission.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

The Tata Altroz DCA was launched on 21 March 2022 at a starting price of Rs 8.09 lakh, ex-showroom. DCA stands for dual-clutch automatic and the Rs 8.09 lakh price tag instantly made it the most affordable dual-clutch gearbox driven car in the country. Apart from being driven by a DCT gearbox, are there any differences? And what makes this DCT unique?

We set out to find answers to these questions when Tata Motors sent the Altroz DCA to us for a day. Read on to know more about the Tata Altroz DCA.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

Design & Styling

At first glance, it is impossible to tell the Altroz DCA apart from the standard hatchback with the manual gearbox. There are no differences on the outside except for a little 'DCA' badge on the tail gate. Now that we have set the sole differentiating factor on the exterior aside, let's talk about the gorgeous styling.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

Anybody with a great taste in cars will without a doubt end up liking the very European design of the Tata Altroz. Even though it has been over two years since it was launched, it looks just as good and shows no signs of aging.

Up front are the sweptback headlamp units with projectors handling the low beams while reflectors take care of the high beams. The headlamps add a lot of character to the front and so do the fog lamps placed high up in the bumper. The grille features hexagonal patterns in it and the Tata logo takes prominence on the curved grill.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

The bumper looks chunky and sporty and the LED DRLs are placed next to the fog lamps. It is a very familiar design and yet it somehow feels fresh. The car we received for the first drive review was decked in Opera Blue, which is a new colour option for the Altroz that was launched with the DCA model. This, in our opinion is currently the best colour to have the Altroz in.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

Move over to the side profile and your attention is immediately drawn to the 16-inch dual-tone diamond-cut alloy wheels. These wheels stand out with their unique design. Also, the rather thick black strip that runs just under the windows from the A-Pillar to the C-Pillar lends a unique touch to the styling.

The Altroz is available in both single-tone and dual-tone colour options. Since ours was a dual-tone, the ORVMs were decked in black and so was the roof. At the rear, the spoiler and even the top half of the tail gate were all finished in black.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

The split wrap-around LED tail lamps further add to the super stylish rear-end. There is the Tata badging along with the Altroz and DCA badging on the tail gate. On the whole, the rear-end exudes a brilliant and stylish persona which rather suits the Tata Altroz.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

Cockpit & Interior

Tata's products are known for their practical and spacious interior and the Altroz DCA is no different. This is a fact that is made quite apparent when you tug on the door handles and open the door. Yes, it does get the famed 90-degree doors that open wide enough to accommodate more than just a human. Jokes apart, the wide-angle does help in tricky situations.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

The door opens to reveal a classy dual-tone Black and Beige interior. The dashboard is a tri-tone unit with black occupying the upper parts. There is a certain pattern to the hard plastic and it looks great. Then comes the silver element that makes up the central parts of the dashboard. This is the bit that makes it look excellent. Towards the bottom of the dashboard is the beige hard plastic.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

Taking centre stage on the dashboard is a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system from Harman. It comes loaded with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, however, it is still wired and these two features cannot be used wirelessly. You do get Bluetooth connectivity to pair your phone with the system.

It comes with quite a few features and the screen can be used to control vehicular functions like the air conditioning too. It is fairly simple to use, however, it does lack an intuitive touch response, and using the screen to scroll down can sometimes become a little irritating.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

Sound is reproduced via an 8-speaker Harman system. In its default EQ setting and the available presets, the speakers sound shrill and this can get on your nerves, especially at higher volume levels. Spend some time tuning the system though and things change drastically.

Beneath the infotainment system are the controls for the air conditioning and climate control. The Altroz DCA does come with automatic climate control and that is a boon in Indian summers. There's yet another super cool feature that is very practical as well.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

It is called express cool. Upon pressing the button, the Altroz automatically lowers the front windows and turns the air-conditioning on at full blast. This chills the cabin rapidly even on hot summer days. We did use the feature quite a few times while we were out shooting the hatchback and it is quite interesting.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

Under these controls is a cubbyhole to store any knick-knacks that you might be carrying. It does look like the car features wireless mobile phone charging, but there is no such feature. The gear lever for the DCT looks brilliant with the Tata tri-arrow pattern on it.

The seats are finished in fabric and decked in black. It even gets Tata's signature tri-arrow perforations. The driver has a pretty nice view of the road ahead and of the dashboard. In front of the driver is a chunky and sporty flat-bottom steering wheel. It even comes with mounted controls for the audio as well as the cruise control.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

The layout of the buttons on the steering wheel could have been better. You also get a button to activate the voice assist feature. You can press the button and tell the voice assistant to reduce or increase the volume, reduce or increase the temperature, etc. Although, we did end up wishing for more commands to be available.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

The analogue-digital instrument console is pretty elaborate and displays a lot of information. It features a 7.0-inch TFT full-colour display to the left and an analogue speedometer to the right. The screen displays the tachometer, trip meters, odometer, distance-to-empty, fuel levels, etc. On the whole, the interior looks refreshing and is a pretty nice place to be in.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

Practicality, Comfort & Boot Space

Tata has always produced cars that are both practical and very comfortable to be in. Cabin space is one of the biggest criteria for Tata's engineers while building a car and the same is very evident in the Altroz as well.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

Behind the gear lever are two cup holders and then at the end of the centre console is a sliding armrest. Upon lifting this armrest, you get access to a little cubbyhole. Although, it is tiny and we're unsure as to what can be placed in there. Even a standard Android mobile phone wouldn't really fit in there.

Speaking of cubbyholes and storage spaces, as it turns out, the Tata Altroz gets loads of them. There is a pretty deep storage in the dashboard towards the driver's side door. In each door is a pretty sizeable pocket that can be used to store stuff. All four doors can accommodate a 1-litre water bottle, and that is great practicality indeed.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

The two front seats offer great comfort. The seats are soft and the cushioning is excellent. Whether it is for intra-city commutes or long-distance runs, the seats are sure to keep the driver and passenger in comfort. The rear seat is comparatively slightly stiffer.

However, knee room, legroom, and headroom are all excellent and one wouldn't find any room for complaints. Passengers at the rear get dedicated AC vents stemming out from the centre console. The flow and direction of air can be controlled. Beneath the AC vents is a 12V power outlet to allow passengers at the rear to keep their gadgets juiced up. The Tata Altroz DCA boasts a boot space of 345-litres which is the highest in the segment.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

Engine Performance & Driving Impressions

When it comes to the powertrain, the Tata Altroz DCA is one of the most unique cars on sale in India. It is the only car to feature a Dual Clutch Transmission paired with a naturally aspirated petrol engine. All the other DCTs in the market are paired with a turbocharged engine. Given this unique combination, we were a little sceptical about the hatchback's performance.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

The engine in question is Tata's 1.2-litre Revotron naturally-aspirated, 3-cylinder petrol engine. It has a maximum power output of 84.8bhp at 6,000rpm and a peak torque output of 113Nm at 3,300rpm. These figures are not really stellar and hence we weren't expecting great performance figures.

Thumb the starter button and you are greeted with the clatter that is typical of a 3-cylinder engine. Rev it though and the soundtrack changes pretty quickly. Now, it was time to try the DCT in the Altroz for the very first time. Before we drove off though, it was time to test its unique safety feature.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

The Altroz gets the Auto Park Lock feature which is supposed to stop the car from rolling off unintentionally. To test it, we stopped the car on a slight incline, left the gearbox in Neutral, and opened the driver's door. A message flashed on the instrument cluster display saying 'Auto Park Activated'.

The hatchback recognised that the driver was getting out of the car while it was in Neutral and automatically engaged Park mode to stop the car from rolling. Very clever indeed. Now, it was time to drive the car and test it with a special focus on the new gearbox.

Slot it into Drive and the Tata Altroz DCA moves ahead without any drama whatsoever. It is quiet and we could make out that this gearbox was going to be a boon in traffic. It is a 6-speed DCT unit which once again is out of the ordinary. Usually, DCT gearboxes have 7 speeds.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

Rather than going all out on high performance, Tata has tuned the gearbox to be economic and fuel-efficient at lower speeds, as long as you don't floor the throttle. When you pin the throttle pedal though, the gearbox is quick to shift down once or twice depending on the speed.

Then comes manual mode with its increased control over gearshifts. Push the lever into M and the gearbox downshifts, thereby increasing the engine speed. In this mode, the gearbox seems like it is raring to go. Gearshifts are very quick and the gearbox is very likable indeed.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

The new gearbox has been engineered very well by the boffins at Tata Motors. It gets a single layshaft instead of two lay shafts which is the norm in all DCT gearboxes. As a result, there are fewer moving parts inside the gearbox and it is thereby less complicated as well. The gearbox then is great.

When one is driving a car with a DCT gearbox, there is an underlying expectation that the car will accelerate quickly upon downshifting, and then there is the expectation that one can shift through the gears really quick to get the best acceleration. Well, these expectations will be met with disappointment in the Altroz DCA.

The gearbox does its duty absolutely perfectly. When you ask it to downshift or upshift, it does so immediately. However, that rabid acceleration is missing thanks to the naturally aspirated engine. This gearbox requires a turbo-petrol engine for one to extract the maximum performance out of it.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

Strangely enough, Tata already has a turbocharged petrol engine that does duty in the Altroz iTurbo. It produces 108.5bhp and 140Nm, which should lead to great performance, especially when paired with a dual-clutch gearbox like this 6-speed unit.

Apart from the difference in performance brought in by the new gearbox, everything else on the Altroz DCA remains identical to the standard Altroz petrol. It is not the best-handling hatchback out there, however, it still won't leave you disappointed when you chuck it into a corner.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

Body-roll is controlled and the well-balanced suspension gives you a nice drive. Braking is among the best in the segment and you do get a great feel from the brake pedal. The choice of tyres could have been better though. The Goodyear Triplemax 3 tyres aren't the grippiest and therefore can reduce your confidence by a small margin at higher speeds.

To sum it up, the gearbox is great and the fact that you can finally get a Tata Altroz with an automatic is brilliant. However, it desperately needs a turbo-petrol engine.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

Safety & Key Features

At the very beginning, we did mention that the Tata Altroz is one of the safest cars in the Indian market. In-fact one of the greatest contributors to the Altroz's success is its 5-star Global NCAP safety rating.

Tata Altroz DCA Safety Features:

- ALFA Architecture & Energy Absorbing Body Structure
- Anti-Lock Braking System
- Brake Sway Control
- Electronic Brake-Force Distribution
- Corner Stability Control
- Dual Front Airbags
- ISOFIX Child Seat Anchorage Points
- Voice Alerts
- iTPMS
- Parking Assistance
- Auto Park Lock

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

Tata Altroz DCA Key Features:

- iRA Connectivity Suite
- 7.0-inch Harman Infotainment Unit
- Android Auto & Apple CarPlay
- Voice Commands
- Xpress Cooling
- Auto Headlamps
- Rain Sensing Wipers
- Cruise Control
- 7-inch Digital Instrument Cluster

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

Variants, Pricing & Colours

The Tata Altroz DCA is available in seven variants and six colour options.

Tata Altroz DCA Variants:

Altroz DCA Price
XTA ₹8,59,900
XMA+ ₹8,09,900
XZA ₹9,09,900
XZA (O) ₹9,21,900
XZA+ ₹9,59,900
XTA Dark ₹9,05,900
XZA+ Dark ₹9,89,900

All prices mentioned are ex-showroom (India)

Tata Altroz DCA Colours:

- Cosmo Dark
- Opera Blue
- Downtown Red
- Arcade Grey
- Avenue White
- Harbour Blue

Opera Blue is a colour that has just been launched with the arrival of the DCA model. The other colours have been carried over from the standard Altroz.

Tata Altroz DCA Review: Design, Specs, 6-Speed DCT, Performance, Interiors, Features, Variants, & Other Details

Verdict

The Tata Altroz has always been a brilliant car and there's not taking away from that. Now, with the arrival of the DCA mode, the Tata Altroz is a great option for those who are in the market for a hatchback with an automatic gearbox. However, we can't wait to get our hands on the Tata Tiago iTurbo DCA, that is if Tata Motors actually makes one of them in the future.

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Read more on: #review #tata motors
Article Published On: Wednesday, March 30, 2022, 9:00 [IST]
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