2014 Tata Bolt Review
They have been making trucks, SUVs and cars for many years now. The popularity of these vehicles is in the exact order as mentioned. All is well in Tata Motors except for a small change. They have become young...again! As absurd it may sound, it is superbly true. They have shrugged off their conventional approach and have become more Zesty than ever.
Grab a daily or visit online and you shall see how the Zest is lapping sales records and creating many in its course. The waiting period of Zest has also gone up, a trouble which Tata Motors wanted to face for a long time. Now that the Zest has got its feet fixed, it’s time for its younger enthusiastic brother to step in. The elder, being the matured one, is called the Zest while the younger one has a wild streak and thus aptly called the Bolt.
Paying attention to the demands of the young, the Bolt comes loaded with many class rivaling features. Will this Bolt Strike leave the competition in a state of complete discomfort? We reveal soon..
Freshly baked with lots of newness is how I like describing this bolt new hatchback. This time around, designers from India, UK and Italy contributed together to make the Bolt have an international appeal. Must say they did a great job. The lines on the Bolt flow with great unity as nothing looks out of sync.
Smoky finish and more detailing in headlights are the differentiating factors. A wide radiator grille connects the large wraparound headlamps. This look will be a signature look for all the upcoming sedans and SUVs. The next generation Storme along with Nexon SUV will also sport similar lines giving it a family look with a premium appeal. Unlike the Zest, the Bolt does not get DRLs on the front bumper. It gets chrome bezels around the fog lights.
Gets interesting bulges on the bonnet showing a muscular character, a blackened roof would have made the Bolt look a whole lot different. The silhouette cannot make you mistake this for any car but the Vista, which I chose to overlook. Tata Motors have also joined in the brigade of blackening the C-Pillar giving it a floating roof design. They achieved this with a special vinyl tape sourced from 3M with unique pattern inked on it.
Look at the rear...Just look at it! Strip off the logo and it is hard to believe that this car comes from an Indian manufacturer. A sporty roof spoiler is an extension to the floating roof. Flame shaped tail lamps break the cliché pattern of squares, circles and rectangles. If you find them attractive in images, you will find them way more attractive in real. The rear design alone scores amazingly in terms of new design. No exaggeration, it reminded me of the earlier generation Cooper.
We have already raved about the interiors earlier and can’t stop doing it again in the Bolt. The built quality feels strong with premium design. The interiors will make many international offerings look dated, which is a big merit for the Bolt.
While the Zest gets an off-white suede finished dashboard, the Bolt chooses to look more built for a purpose. It gets Java black interiors with a grainy feel. The three spoke signature steering wheel gets multiple entertainment as well as voice assist controls. The instrumental cluster gets a minor update in the form of drive mode display. It has analogue speedometer and tachometer with a digital information display in the centre, which shows real tine fuel consumption, distance to empty and trip readings along with others.
Tata Motors takes great pride and rightly in showcasing the modern innovations installed in the Bolt. The touchscreen infotainment system executes multiple operations which include setting the right air conditioning temperature, controlling the surround sound fader, shuffling through music track to even reading out SMS received.
In terms of passenger comfort, the taller design of Bolt is indeed helpful for easy ingress and egress even for taller passengers. The roof line rises exactly post the front pillar and descends gradually thus leaving generous headroom for all occupants inside. All seats come in high quality fabric. Both row passengers would be in a comfort zone considering the spacious legroom and knee room areas offered.
While the Bolt shares its wheelbase with the Zest, it is shorter and narrower by a small margin. The boot space has gone down marginally too but not to the extent of attracting complaints. The Bolt offers a very useful rear luggage area of 210L, which is also more than many of its rivals. Everything about the interiors look fine, till you wish to place a bottle in the door pocket which is not possible as its only the driver who gets a cup holder while the rest can spend merry time looking at him finish his glass.
Before we get to the drive, ride and handling of the Bolt, the amount of technology that has gone into this car is highly impressive. Just to make maps more accessible even at remote area, there is a way of connecting the smartphone to the infotainment system and the in-built navigation system takes over showing the map and the route on the screen using the GPS of the phone and not munching network charges, which is cost effective.
Interestingly, Tata Motors had a fleet of all red petrol cars and there was a reason behind it. Surprisingly, the petrol variant amounts to more than 50% of total sales in the Zest meaning the in-house developed Revotron 1.2T has been successfully accepted in the market. It also is a clear indication of reversal of fuel trend from diesel to petrol due to the diminishing price differences. The Revotron 1.2 is a 1197cc engine, pumping out a power of 90 PS at 5000 rpm and a torque of 140 Nm at 1500 to 4000 rpm. It comes with a 5 speed manual gearbox like the Zest. Tata Motors remain tight lipped about a possibility of an AMT in the diesel variant but sighting its popularity in the country, it is an obvious choice.
The performance figures look similar to the Zest however there is an update in the Bolt which makes it more nimble on the throttle. The Bolt also features multi-drive modes like City, Sport and Eco changing the ECU parameters and controlling various attributes like fuel consumption and throttle response etc. It is in the City mode by default and can be altered between Eco and Sport with the touch of a button on the central console. There is a chime and the cluster displays the mode.
Tata Motors claim they have worked extensively to make sure the cabin feels quieter with lower NVH leverls than the Zest and thus they have used stronger insulation materials. Not just reducing cabin noise but also the after effects of combustion have been curbed down with the use of aluminium alloy for the head and cast iron for the block. They have also strengthened the supporting members of engine housing to make sure the vibrations and disturbances are kept in control.
The petrol unit feels linear in terms of power delivery. The gear ratios have been shortened to bring out the peak at an earlier stage. Gear shifts are smooth if only you don’t get into quick shifting where it gets a bit sticky. The turbo takes some time before making sure it gets completely charged up and swing into action. In Sport mode, the response is quicker as focus shifts to performance making the throttle feel more active. As soon as it is shifted to the Eco mode, the change is drastic and there is a sudden lag in response as the ECU remaps the engine behaviour to make it deliver better efficiency.
The unit feels a lot confident at lower speeds and the same is carried till it reaches the mid range level. Post that, the revving nature diminishes as the power delivery gets bland at higher rpms. Even the in-gear acceleration is not that encouraging as one has to shift it to a lower gear to make the engine peak. This lag is evident while overtaking on highways where one has to constantly juggle between the throttle and gear shifts to make that move. The same does not bother much in bumper to bumper traffic. We hope the diesel would be more for the highway runners as the petrol will find more buyers in the city.
Manoeuvring the Bolt, be it in city traffic or a quick move while overtaking on highways, has got easier as it features electrically assisted steering which is more convenient. Te use of brushless motors reduces frictional losses and also concentrates on easy turning and quick returnability. We did manage to get lost on our way back and landed ourselves in by lanes of Udaipur. We expected to sweat it out turning it but to our surprise with a short turning radius and quick steer, it managed everything easily.
For all those who thought a Tata Motors car cannot handle well, make sure you try it on this one. The suspension settings have been tweaked on the Bolt making them stiffer. It uses an anti-roll bar in the front and twisted beam for the rear. The advantage of both is felt during cornering at higher speeds where the vehicle doesn’t lose control. The straight line stability is as impressive as it maintains its stance at triple digit speeds without any deviation. Saying that, it does not mean one goes redlining the 1.2T on highways.
The Bolt gets 175/65 R15 tyres which have a narrower section and larger aspect ratio than the Zest. Also, if the sensors detect the vehicle is losing traction, especially around corners, the active EBD steps in making sure it doesn’t lose its track.
The suspension setup which is inclined towards being stiffer does not feel hard on undulations or uneven road surfaces. The suspension bushes which also have been beefed up absorb all the differences. It also gets a slightly higher ground clearance compared to the Swift and Elite i20 making it more acceptable on and for rough roads. Also, the Bolt features top notch braking with Bosch’s ninth generation ABS system responsible for controlling this smart hatch. It is nice to Tata Motors preferred using the best when it comes to safety and not making a compromising attempt.
|Power in PS/RPM||90 / 5000|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||140 / 1750 – 3500|
|Gears||5 / MT|
|Wheel base mm||2470|
|Kerb Weight in Kg||1095 – 1125|
|Ground clearance mm||175|
|Fuel tank capacity L||44|
|Tyre Spec||175/65 R15|
|Price||To Be Announced|
|Seat Belt||Front- 3 point seat belt, rear outer-3 point belt and center- Lap belt|
|Airbag||Driver & front passenger|
|Central Locking||Yes, with remote|
|Speed Sensing Auto door lock||Yes|
|Headlamps||Projector type (“Follow-me”, remote key operated)|
|Fog Lamps||Front& rear|
|Turning Indicators on ORVM||Yes (LED type)|
|Tail-lamps||Signature type (Bulb)|
|Seats||Full Fabric, Rugby Shoulder Seats|
|Dashboard||Java Black shade|
|Interior Illumination||1 front + 1 boot|
|Door Pockets||All 4 Doors|
|Rear Parcel Tray||Yes|
|Chrome Finish||Gear Knob, AC Vents, centre console switches|
|Storage in Centre Console||Cup holder, under storage drawer-Passenger side|
Competition All Specs
|Power in PS/RPM||90 / 5000||83 / 6000||82 / 6000|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||140 / 1750 – 3500||114 / 4000||115 / 4000|
|Gears||5 / MT||5 / MT||5 / MT|
|Wheel base mm||2470||2430||2570|
|Kerb Weight in Kg||1095 – 1125||965||NA|
|Ground clearance mm||175||170||170|
|Fuel tank capacity L||44||42||45|
|Tyre Spec||175/65 R15||185 / 65 R15||185 / 70 R14|
It is undoubtedly a brave effort by Tata Motors to venture into the premium hatch segment with the Bolt. The sporty design and gizmo rich interiors will be very popular especially among the young buyers. Even the peppy petrol engine with its Multi-drive mode will be a hit among the enthusiasts, who prefer a mix of practicality with performance. Both these cars are engineered really well with the Bolt ticking the right boxes, making it a strong contender for the car of the year.
The Bolt has already been in news before its launch as the company has been exhaustively testing it around the country. These tests were done to make sure the durability is up to the mark. Tata Motors has also made sure the after sales experience is in sync with this new range of cars.
The dealership network has been equipped with modern facilities and trained personnel to ensure they understand the demands of consumers and suggest cars accordingly. Finally, everything comes to pricing. Drawing hints from various elements, it is obvious that Tata Motors will price this competitively against its rivals. We expect the base line variant with no frills to be priced at less than Rs.4 lakhs. Let us know your views in comments below.