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Tata Bolt: The best hatchback in its segment

Last updated on: November 19, 2014 15:18 IST
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Tata Bolt will be the best value for money premium hatchback.

When you are pushed to a wall, there is nowhere to go but forward. With declining market sales and fierce competition, Tata Motors saw a downslide in its sales and a drastic reduction in its sales figures. 

This was when the company move only in one direction, forward. To improve things, Tata introduced a new compact sedan, the Zest and now it is all ready to get the Bolt. We get our hands on it for a quick first drive. 

Bolt is based on the Vista platform, just like the Zest. Both are twin siblings with a DNA similar to the Vista.

To not go away from the current design, Pratap Bose, Tata’s chief designer has evolved the styling of the Bolt from the existing Vista design.

If one notices closely, it is the same shell like the Vista. This will be the new design language for the coming Tata products; first we saw it in the Zest and now in the Bolt. 

The fascia of the Bolt retains a lot of similarity to the Vista, but it does look fresh. It isn’t old or out-dated at any given point of time. There is a chrome lip on the top of the front grille and headlamps integrate well with this design.

It looks like a smiling front than an aggressive snout. It does have projector headlamps, but it misses out on  Move to the side and one can notice striking similarity between the Vista and Bolt.

The Bolt gets the blacked-out pillars that give it a floating roof feel. The rear is a bit of confusion for me, as it is floating but the round ends confuse me. The new tail lamp design is compact and it does look stylish.  

The Bolt rides on 175/55 R15 tyres and gets projector head lamps too. The daytime running LEDs aren’t available on the Bolt, maybe the final production version will have it. They have the conventional 55/60W bulb and that’s about it. 

Tata has upped its ante with the interior styling and quality. However, it is still not at par with some of the competition, even it comes to the feel of the material.

The dashboard is very much-like wrap around being more driver focused. The Bolt targets the trendy and young audience; hence they get dual colour interiors with a possibility of a brighter colour.

The Bolt might just skip climate control and rather get the regular air-con. 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 journeys 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. 

Tata Motors has plonked in a 1.2-litre Revotron engine, which the company’s new turbo petrol engine. This engine comes mated to a five-speed manual transmission and it also gets the three driving modes like the Zest -  comfort, Sport and Eco.

The Eco mode is for better economy, sport for outright performance and city for regular driving. On press of a button, and the engine computer will adjust the changes to match with the driving style and give the output accordingly.

The Vista will continue to sell along, even once Bolt is launched. The petrol engine will churn out 84bhp of power and 140Nm of torque. 

The Quadrajet is the same Fiat engine that is India’s most commonly used diesel engine. This engine will come with two power ratings 75bhp and 92bhp. The 92bhp will have a five-speed AMT, automated manual transmission as an option. 

The automated manual transmission is already available on Fiat in the international market and the same has been bought over to India. The manual option is more fun to drive, especially the 92bhp, as the need to shift gears in city is less and even the highway it does well. 

The Tata Bolt has undergone major changes in its suspension design. The suspension does a good job of damping the bumps. It irons out all the road shocks and does good job of delivering comfortable ride, even at high speeds. The car never feels panicky. 

When you get behind the wheel, it doesn’t feel like any other Tata car. The ZF electronic power steering improves the drivability and ease of driving. The steering wheel is light, but it doesn’t feel disconnected.

Even the suspension has been tuned for good handling, even at speeds in excess of 120km/hr. If you push a bit too fast around turns, you do feel a sense of losing grip but the car does exceed expectations in handling. 

Tata Motors is yet to announce the pricing, the final variant list and the features they will offer. Like the Zest, the Bolt will also be priced aggressively.

It is now time to wait and watch how Tata prices the Bolt. It is a good offering in its segment, and more what we understand it will be the best value for money premium hatchback. As a product, we appreciate the quality and space of this hatchback.

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