Introduction: Considering that every second car sold in India is a hatchback, this segment is very important for car manufacturers. Speaking about Tata Motors, they have seen Indian auto industry and car buyers in the country evolve, right from the early years. But, they seem to have failed to adapt to changing demands and somehow lost the plot to manufacturers like Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Mahindra, Honda, Toyota, and so on.
Their flagship hatchback, the Indica, which was launched back in 1998, is still on sale, pretty much in the same package as it was offered more than 15 years ago. Surprisingly, Indica is one of the best selling Tata cars today. This is not because it is generating some insane sales every month (about 2.5k), but due to the fact that it is their only offering in the segment which has some best selling Indian cars, like the Maruti Swift, and Hyundai Grand i10.
This speaks volumes about the company’s laid back attitude in recent years. Tata Motors failed to offer a competitive product in the hatchback segment, which has constantly seen launch of new and upgraded products from their rivals. But now, Tata Motors trying to re-enter the race. Their two new cars – Zest and Bolt, announce the birth of a new generation of Tata cars. Of the two, the Zest compact sedan is already launched. It has steadily managed to climb the sales charts and now, Tata is ready to launch their second car – Bolt.
Exteriors: Though based on the X1 platform (same as Vista), new Tata Bolt is designed to look sporty and modern. Vista’s bulky looking front is now replaced with a more aggressive and stylish front. The headlight casing receives a slight revision in design. It now houses first-in-segment smoked projector headlamps along with turn indicator. Front grille gets honeycomb mesh treatment, instead of the excessive chrome slats in the Vista. Tata has kept the front look elegant by placing just one chrome strip (called the Humanity Line) in the front, which is smartly placed above the grille, running in between the two headlights. Unlike the Zest, Bolt does not get a second chrome strip which runs below the grille.
Bonnet too has received a slight revision. It looks more slant and aerodynamic. The two lines running towards the centre logo in the front grille, add to the sporty look of the car. Lower bumper too is revised. Instead of a single housing, which had the apron and fog-lights in the Vista, the Bolt gets different housing for fog-lights and lower bumper. Fog-lights get chrome embellishments (instead of LED treatment as seen on the Zest) while the centre of lower bumper houses two thick black slats, hiding the radiator behind. You will also notice that the ORVMs are embedded with turn indicators. Surprisingly, the turn indicators get LED treatment.
Moving towards the side, you will notice the two flowing lines, both emerging from the front wheel arch. Tata says, these lines proved the Bolt with a forward pouncing stance, even when it is standing still. We agree that the side looks more dynamic due to these flowing lines. The lower line runs through till rear wheel arch, while the upper shoulder line runs through the door handles and ends just below the C pillar. Other highlights on the side includes blacked out B and C pillar, and the chunky 15 inch alloys (same as on Zest), which adds to the sporty appeal (lower variants get 14 inch alloys). The C pillar gets a black wraparound treatment, and it is not actually painted in black. But, it does manage to give the roof spoiler a floating look.
Compared to the front and side, it is the Bolt’s rear which has received the most updates in design. Gone are the Christmas tree styled tail lights, which are now replaced with much better looking and practical one’s. Though it was earlier believed (via spy shots) that the tail-lights will get LED treatment, it is not true. When illuminated, they do give LED style effect, but these are not LEDs, said Tata.
Rear too has the flowing lines treatment in abundance, you will see a few on the lower bumper, and some on the tailgate. Rear also gets a thick chrome slat, just above the license plate. This adds to the premium appeal of the car. You will also notice Tata logo in the centre, BOLT embossed on the left, and model name on the right (in our case, its the XT, top of the line variant). There is also a Revotron badge, which signifies the 1.2l petrol motor which powers this car. As there was no diesel car present at the media drive, we are not sure what will be badged on the diesel variant.
The floating roof spoiler gives the car an extra sporty character at the rear. Underbody gets decent finish with corrosion resistant paint. Overall, the exterior of Bolt does look sporty with a character of its own, but sadly, at the same time its silhouette does remind of Indica, which might work against the design team’s effort.
Interiors: Cabin receives a complete makeover and in no way reminds of the Vista (which too is based on the same platform). Featuring all-black interiors (except pillars and roof), the touch and feel has improved a lot, but is still not the best in this segment. For eg, the quality of power window buttons, electric ORVM control knob and the plastic used could have been better. But, the design definitely looks very sporty, probably the sportiest in this segment.
The 3 spoke tilt steering wheel looks premium and is easy to hold and control. The steering mounted controls takes care of volume, accepting and declining calls, voice recognition, SMS readouts, and scanning through the menu. Instrument cluster consists of two dial with simple black and white treatment, adding to its sporty appeal. They display speedometer, tachometer, digital fuel meter, and engine temperature. There is also one LCD display in between with white lighting. This displays odometer, dual tripmeter, dynamic and average fuel efficiency, distance to empty, outside temperature, door open, in-gear and gear shift indicator etc. Above this LCD display, you also have a horizontal strip which displays which mode you are driving the car in.
Centre dash features state of the art infotainment system, which Tata Motors has developed in association with Harman (a company which is ranked amongst the best infotainment and audio equipment manufacturer in the world). Though the sound quality from speakers (4 speakers + 4 tweeters) is not that impressive, the functionality this system provides is simply amazing. Designed under their ConnectNEXT philosophy, the Harman infotainment system with touch screen system takes care of SMS readouts, audio playback, radio, video playback from SD card and USB (not in Zest), see images from SD card and USB, Maps using MapMyIndia app (not in Zest). The infotainment system and air-condition can also be controlled via a remote. Cooling is decent and automatic AC is on offer.
The highlight of this system is the ease of accessibility for navigation. All you have to do is download MapMyIndia app on your android phone (no app for iOS or others), select Apps in the Harman system, connect your phone to the car via USB cable, open the MapMyIndia app in your phone, and voila. The screen from your android phone is now mirrored on the car’s screen. This not only provides a smart way to access maps, but is also affordable. The accuracy of maps is amazing, and the best part is, you do need to have internet connectivity on your phone in order to access this feature. It works without internet!
The quality of buttons and wheel knobs on the centre dash is much better as compared to that of power window buttons. Similar to the steering wheel, the centre dash also gets a glossy black finish along with generous touch of chrome. Gear knob too offers a good feel and looks upmarket. There is also cup holder, USB port, AUX IN, and charger point on the centre console.
Speaking about cabin space, Tata Bolt offers good headroom, shoulder room and legroom, even for passengers who are 6 feet tall. Tata claims that Bolt interior room is better than competition. The seats offer comfortable seating and good shoulder/thigh support. Driver seat gets height adjustment, while passenger side front seat gets under-seat storage drawer, just like in Zest.
Speaking about storage space, Bolt offers a boot space of 210 litres. Well this is not enough, you do have the option of rolling the front seats forward, in order to get a larger boot space. The space might be less for a weekend getaway if there are 4/5 passengers. You can also access the boot from the rear passenger seats. Other than that, the doors also offer very less space. A 1 litre water bottle might fit-in (after some struggle) in the front door, but not in the rear door. On the upside, glove box offers ample space, and is easily accessible.
Engine, Transmission and Mileage: Tata Bolt will be offered in a choice of petrol and diesel engine options. The one above, is a 1.2l four cylinder petrol turbocharged mill, generating 90 PS @ 5000 rpm and 140 Nm torque between 1500-4000 rpm. Kerb weight of Tata Bolt ranges between 1095-1125 kgs, while transmission is taken care by a 5 speed manual gearbox. This combination gives Bolt a claimed top speed of 155 kmph and a 0-100 kmph spring time of under 14 seconds (estimated). Tata Motors has not given official mileage figures, but we managed to achieve 12 kmpl.
Drive and Ride Quality: The Bolt is powered by the same 1.2l motor that powers the Zest sedan. This gives the hatchback an edge when it comes to performance. The new electric steering is light, and starts weighing in at around 50 kmph. Thus, in the city, the car is easy to manoeuvre. The downside here, is that it lacks feedback. Gear-shifts are light and smooth, while clutch is also soft. Acceleration is good, and the car reaches speeds of 140 kmph with ease, it is after that it becomes a drag. Sometimes, there are moments when the engine feels unresponsive. Then there is the case of sluggishness at the start, forcing you to be a little heavy-footed on the accelerator when picking up in 1st gear.
On highway speeds, the car is stable, and feels planted. NVH is impressive till speeds of 100 kmph, post that, too much road noise seeps into the cabin. Braking is taken care by discs in the front and drum in the rear, they do lack bite at high speeds, and kick in at around 100 kmph, after which the car comes to halt faster. ABS holds straight line when hard braking at high speeds. Grip provided by 175/65 R15 tyres is decent. While cornering, the car holds its path, but if you are a bit on the aggressive side, it will under-steer. There is a slight body-roll as well, but not as mush as in the Vista.
Like in the Zest, Bolt too comes with three different drive modes. These are – Eco, City and Sport. You can select the drive mode from the centre console on dashboard. There is no button for City mode, in order to get to City mode, you have to press the Eco mode again, and vice versa to access Eco mode again. On successful shift to a new mode, you will hear a small beep (this was not in Zest). You can shift between modes on the fly. This makes overtaking fun.
In Eco mode, the engine and transmission is tuned to offer maximum mileage. In City mode, they are tuned to offer good pickup. In Sport mode, engine and transmission are the most responsive. You can actually listen and feel the car change its response as and when you change modes. There is also an increase in engine grunt when you select Sport mode. Redline happens at about 5800 rpm. While cruising at highway speeds, you do not feel jerks even when you lift-off the accelerating pedal completely. Also, there are no vibrations felt on the inside, even when revving at high rpms.
Ground clearance is at 165mm, which makes the Bolt take care of almost any kind of roads in India. Independent McPherson Strut in the front and semi-independent coil springs in the rear offer good ride comfort when going over potholes and bumps.
Safety and Security Features: Tata Bolt comes with front airbags, 3 point seatbelt, corner stability control, and ABS with EBD. For security, Bolt comes with central locking with remote, speed sensing auto door lock, burglar alarm, and engine immobilizer.
Verdict: Tata Bolt comes with a huge improvement as compared to predecessors. It not only possesses style, but also offers good practicality, best in class space, sporty looks, and unmatched connectivity features in the segment. The only downside being, enthusiasts might not like the petrol motor, which refuses to co-operate when revving hard. Apart from that, the overall package is perfect for using Bolt as a everyday car including some weekend getaways.
Being loaded with features, Tata Bolt is also going to be a great value for money car. We expect price Bolt to be priced in the Rs 4-4.3 lakh segment, which will definitely make the competition sit-up and take notice of the new arrival. With Zest already registering increase in sales, month after month, we won’t be surprised if Bolt to has a similar effect on the sales charts once it is launched next month.
Why would you buy Bolt
Why would you not buy Bolt
– Less storage space
– Sluggish response at hi-revs
Tech specs of Tata Bolt