The Tata Bolt is a well packaged hatchback with attractive interiors, space and excellent ride quality, finds Faisal Ali Khan of MotorBeam.com
The popularity of hatchbacks in India is undeniable and Tata Motors was among the first few to leverage the demand in small cars in India with its Indica in 1998.
Fast forward to 2014 and it's the third generation of the Indica, which is soon going to go on sale.
Yes that's right, the Tata Bolt is the latest car from India's largest automobile company and has been much awaited after it was unveiled a couple of days before the 2014 Auto Expo.
A quick look at the Bolt and one will be reminded of the Vista, the second generation of the Indica which the Bolt replaces.
The body structure and profile is unmistakably that of the Vista but there are nice design elements which make the Bolt look thoroughly modern.
The front gets a projector headlight set-up with the blackened-out treatment while Tata's signature grille with 'Humanity Lines" give it a striking face.
The C-pillar of the car has been blackened out to give it the floating roof appearance while the rear gets small and sharp tail lights, a rear spoiler and a blackened lower half of the bumper for a striking sight.
The interiors of the Tata Bolt are a vast departure from the Vista. Instead, the cabin is shared with the Zest which means you get a thoroughly modern dashboard which looks very appealing.
There is no two-tone treatment like the Zest, instead the Bolt has all black interiors which Tata likes to call "snazzy java black".
The centre console and steering get metallic inserts while quality is extremely good. The cabin is a nice place to be in and everything feels and looks really nice.
The 3-spoke 360 degree steering wheel is excellent to hold and the instrument cluster offers a very clean readout.
The cabin of the Tata Bolt has generous space, so five people can comfortably sit inside the car.
All seats offer good back support and there is plenty of headroom on offer.
Rear seat passengers will appreciate the legroom as one can stretch at the rear bench easily.
The Bolt is loaded with a ton of equipment, including a state of the art Harman infotainment system which uses a 5-inch touch-screen system.
It not only offers the usual connectivity options but also has Navigation (through an Android phone with MapMyIndia app) and video playback (via SD card or USB).
Like the Zest, the Bolt too uses 1.3-litre diesel and 1.2-litre petrol engines.
The diesel engine is offered in a lower state of tune, producing 75 PS and 190 Nm, matched to a 5-speed manual gearbox, there is no AMT on offer, at least not at launch. The petrol motor is the
Revotron mill which is turbocharged and generates 90 PS and 140 Nm. The output from the petrol Bolt is class leading and the motor is matched to a smooth shifting 5-speed gearbox.
Tata has tweaked the motor for a wider torque band, resulting in better punch from the force-fed mill.
The Bolt has decent low-end pep with turbolag being well contained but it's really the mid-range where it truly excels. Top-end performance is lacking and redline comes in early at under 6000 RPM.
The engine doesn't rev quickly and the 2-valve per cylinder layout shows. There are three shift on the fly driving modes - Eco, City and Sport. Performance is best in Sport while one can feel the lack of punch in Eco mode.
Tata Motors has always offered cars which excel in ride quality and the Bolt too offers a splendid ride, absorbing bumps with ease.
The car has good ground clearance and doesn't scrape its underbelly anywhere. Handling is good and the Bolt is eager to turn but there is considerable amount of under-steer on aggressive cornering, there is some body roll too.
Steering offers decent feedback and weighs up at speed. The Bolt stays stable at speed and braking performance is good, assisted by ABS.
The Tata Bolt is an all-rounder hatchback, it offers fresh looks, attractive interiors, class-leading space, excellent ride quality and engines which are at home in city driving.
Just like the Zest, Tata has improved quality a lot and is working on the service experience.
Expected to under-cut the competition when it goes on sale in January-end, the Tata Bolt is a hatchback to watch out for.