I had been to a couple of centers in Chennai, to understand where I could see the Tata Bolt. I went on the 25th of January to the Tata Bolt promotional showcase in S.P. Infinity in Chennai, after quickly checking with the twitter handle of Tata Motors. I was able to see the car first there at this centre, and took some photos of the car’s interiors and exteriors. I could not however use it for a test drive, so I had to wait till the republic day passed, as it was a long weekend in Chennai. I called up Tafe Reach in Chennai’s outskirts in Pallikaranai, to get a car at 5:30 pm, post which I managed to review the vehicle, and also shoot a couple of videos. There are 2 parts to this review. I have done a review in text and images and another one showcasing the same items as part of a video review.
Looking at recent history, we notice that in the era of Phones and Tablets, the Phablets have evolved. So a similar cross between a hatchback and sedan, called as the compact sedan is evolving as an important segment for Indians buying cars. Tata which came out with the zest, around the IPL last time, has come out with the Bolt, a little ahead of the cricket world cup. Tata seems to be focussed on developing smarter cars for the segment of the market that seems to be quite the cash cow for car manufacturers in India.
Why should you buy the Tata Bolt?
It’s a car for the smarter youth of today, where you drive in tandem with with your social world, keeping the safety intact.
Usually Tata’s smaller cars like the Vista are used a lot for commercial driving by taxi drivers, where the focus usually is on the back seats rather than for the front seats. That image has been steadily changing in the Zest and more visibly in the Bolt with quite a beautiful front seat and digital display. It feels like the car I now own-Tata Manza, my own little cockpit, but actually its better than the Manza. I actually find it a little sporty given the finish. At least on first perceptions the finish looks premium on the outside and the inside.
The Engine called Revotron for the Petrol and Quadrajet for the Diesel, mimics our day to day lives with its Multi drive option. The earlier engine for the hatchbacks, in the Petrol variants used to be a Fiat engine. Lets start with the resemblance it bears with something as easy to relate as our heart, and that’s what makes this interesting. Just like you have the heart pumping more blood while you are on a short but quick run, the engine here in the TATA bolt has a sports mode that just mimics a short burst of power. The surge in power you get once you use the sport mode is clearly visible.
The next feature is the econo mode, which is geared towards fuel efficiency on a long drive, where the engine mimics the movements of a marathon runner in pumping blood in a regular and synchronized manner. Finally the last mode of the multi drive feature, the city mode, which is a combination of a sprint and a marathon and has best of both the features to help you on your drive.
Also where the Revotron engine is beneficial is flat torque curve, which basically helps if you are a little lazy on shifting gears in your city drive, which by itself are great features to help the person driving as it gives more power to the person in front. Not to forget are the safety features such as the ABS and the Air Bags. The ABS or the Anti-Lock-Braking system, helps you release the brakes in a systematic fashion, helping the vehicle to not lose control when turning on sharp curves. This feature from a safety standpoint is what differentiates the modern day cars from cars that were bought a few years back. I myself have a Tata Manza Safire (2010) and a Hyundai Santro (2005), and very clearly see the difference the ABS makes to a safe drive.
Things to keep in mind while trying out the drive.
a) Twist the steering– Show the Active return feature, where the steering returns to about 95% of the original position, post a turn. But hey, its sunny outside, lets say its raining now, and I have switched on my vipers, here’s an interesting feature. When you reverse your vehicle, the vipers at the back also get activated during the rains, enabling you clearer vision of what’s happening behind.
b) Jadoo Ki Jhappi /Body Hugging Design– Remember this line from Munnabhai MBBS? That’s exactly what the seats tend to do you with its body hugging design to support the shoulders and back. Their shape basically symbolizes the broad shoulders of a Rugby outfit. While I don’t have them, maybe the Tata Bolt should do well to remind me that I should get to the gym!
c) Talk about reminders, the Connectnext Audio system can remind you of the right tempo for a song with its SPEED DEPENDENT VOLUME feature, based on how fast you are driving your car. Didn’t we always associate loud music with high speed. Quite an adrenaline kick right, and that’s a good feature because I don’t have to take my attention off the road or fiddle my hands around the steering to search for the volume control.
d) Connect-Next We aren’t done with the entertainment system yet, since the 5 inch LCD touch screen in the TATA Bolt here, helps you navigate your way around, but there comes a caveat. You need to have an android phone, and to download The ConnectNext app from the playstore and connect it to your car infotainment via a cable. Maybe there’s an easier way in having a Tab , Phablet or at worst a mobile, that can be fixed to your car glass, allowing you to navigate through maps. The good part however if that the app does not take data from the phone for driving directions as that is done by the GPS inside the touch unit. Note of caution on the expectations on the touch unit, is that it doesn’t look to be made of capacitive touch, but more of resistive touch. While this can be a dampener, its far better than dealing with buttons in different parts of the dashboard.
e)Feedback for Tata Motors-A quick feedback for folks at TATA. If you guys could get maps for the dashboard, it helps if consumers can use their existing tabs or devices in the slot or work with a tablet vendor to produce tabs for the car, which consumers can take out also and use as a normal tab.
OTHER STANDARD FEATURES THAT LOOK GOOD
A) Great spacing for the legs in the back seat. You are able to stretch your legs and sit comfortably. The vehicle easily seats 5 people on the car, without being cramped. In addition, your under thigh support and back feel very comfortable while in the car, with decent headroom.
B) Front Cabin and Glovebox– Pretty good. Can house easily 4-5 beverage cans, and a couple of bottles if you need to keep. Very spacious.
C1) Boot Space-210 litres, can be slightly enhanced if you can flip the backrests, if it’s a 2 person trip. Otherwise the bootspace is the only limiting factor in what reminds you that this a compact sedan and not a sedan itself.
C2) Smart Vipers– How cool is it to have back wipers getting switched on when you are taking a reverse and having your front wipers out it in the rain? Very thoughtful feature addition.
D) Design elements– The gearbox unit is very slick, and light and easy to operate.
I also quite liked the suspension, as it feel reassuring when you take the car on a spin. The design is pretty unlike its Japanese and Korean counterparts.
Black and Out headlamps strikes you first, as you examine the car on the outside, and as you go to the backside, there’s a huge chrome strip which reduces the bulk of the car. For a Premium hatchback, this stands out from its competitors.