After being unveiled at 2019 Geneva Motor Show in near-production form, Tata Altroz is gearing up for launch in January 2020. Just like Harrier, Tata Motors has great expectations with Altroz. This will be the first Tata car to enter the highly competitive premium hatchback segment that is currently dominated by the likes of Maruti Baleno and Hyundai Elite i20. To understand its potential, here’s a quick comparison between Altroz and its primary rivals. Maruti Baleno vs Tata Altroz vs Hyundai i20.
Design and styling: As far as looks are concerned, Altroz has been successful at creating a distinctive identity for itself. Based on Impact 2.0 design language, Altroz comes with a sporty, futuristic look and feel. The unique combo of laser-cut creases on body panels and smooth curves boost the car’s premiumness, something that would definitely appeal to urban dwellers. Other striking features include swept-back headlamps that seamlessly connect with the front grille, piano-black ORVMs, dual-tone roof, laser-cut alloy wheels and edgy tail lamps with blacked-out borders.
Hyundai Elite i20 features a contemporary design and its fluid aesthetics give the car an elegant profile. Some key features include trendy cascade design grille, projector headlamps with LED DRLs, distinctive hood character lines, diamond-cut R16 alloy wheels, sporty C pillar, spunky rear bumper, and stylish tail lamps.
Maruti Baleno has always been known for its iconic design, which has been further improved with new elements such as aggressive front bumper and 3D grille. Other key features include stylish LED projector headlamps with LED DRLs, distinctive fog lamp housing, precision-cut dual tone alloy wheels, and LED rear combination lamps.
Interiors: Altroz offers premium interiors, featuring dual-tone colour scheme, ambient lighting and 7-inch free-standing touchscreen infotainment system with support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The steering wheel will also be an entirely new unit. Another distinctive feature is that Altroz doors can open 90°, which ensures much easier ingress and egress.
Elite i20 interiors are intelligently designed to ensure the perfect balance of style, comfort and convenience. Key features include dual-tone interiors, 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, full auto air conditioner, cooled glove box and plenty of utility spaces. Maruti Baleno also comes with premium interiors, as can be seen with its dual-tone colour theme, comfortable seats, and state-of-the-art Smartplay Studio.
Chassis: Altroz will be the first Tata car to be build using the advanced ALFA (Agile Light Flexible Advanced) Architecture. ALFA platform offers wide ranging benefits including improved safety and the flexibility to adapt to different body styles. ALFA is future ready, as it can support hybridisation and electrification. It is with ALFA that Altroz has been able to provide spacious interiors and best-in-class boot space of 345 litres.
In comparison, Maruti Baleno utilizes the Heartect platform, which is lighter, yet stronger. Heartect utilizes a combo of ultra-high strength steel and advanced high tensile steel (UHSS & AHSS), which ensure optimal passenger safety in the event of a collision. Stability and handling has also been improved significantly with Heartect platform.
Elite i20 utilizes Hyundai-Kia GB platform, which has been developed at the company’s R&D centre in Europe. In 2020, Elite i20 is expected to be shifted to an advanced platform that is currently being used for Venue.
Engine: At the time of launch, Altroz will be available with petrol and diesel engine option. The 1.2 litre petrol unit generates max power of 86 hp at 6,000 rpm and max torque of 113 Nm at 3,300 rpm. The 1.5 litre diesel unit has been borrowed from Nexon, but it will come with a lower state of tune. The engine makes 90 hp at 4,000 rpm and 200 Nm at 1,250-3,000 rpm. Both these engines will be BS-VI compliant. Initially, both engines will come with 5-speed manual transmission. An automatic option can be introduced at a later date.
In comparison, Elite i20 comes with a 1.2 litre petrol unit that makes 83 hp / 114 Nm and a 1.4 litre diesel unit that churns out 90 hp / 220 Nm. While the petrol engine offers 5-speed manual and CVT option, the diesel unit only comes with 6-speed manual transmission.
Maruti Baleno offers three engine options, a 1.2 litre petrol, a 1.2 litre petrol hybrid and a 1,248 cc diesel unit. Power and torque output are 82 hp/113 Nm, 89 hp/113 Nm and 74 hp/190 Nm, respectively. While the petrol unit comes mated to either a 5-speed manual or CVT, the hybrid and diesel variants get only 5-speed manual transmission.
Safety: All three hatchbacks come with advanced safety features such as dual airbags, ABS with EBD, reverse parking camera and sensors, high speed warning, seat belt reminder, keyless entry, immobilizer and ISOFIX child seat mounts.
Pricing: Tata Altroz is expected to be competitively priced in the range of Rs 5.5 – 8.5 lakh. Elite i20 (Rs 5.53 lakh to Rs 9.35 lakh) and Baleno (Rs 5.67 lakh to Rs 9 lakh) are also priced in a similar range.
Verdict: Altroz may have the looks that can make it a winner, but apart from that there’s not much in store for customers. As recent trends indicate, people are attracted to cars offering best-in-class and segment-first features. As Altroz does not have many of these, it may fail to provide the right motivation to customers. However, with its trendy design, spacious interiors, enhanced safety and powerful engines, Altroz could still be a good option in premium hatchback segment.