Tata Bolt: Complete test-drive, specification, road-test review

  • Dec 10, 2014
Tata announced Horizonext last year with an aim to change the image of the car division of the company which got deterred by a lot of things in past. The Zest was the first car to be launched after the new mission was announced and after that, the hatchback version of the Zest christened as Bolt was awaited widely by the Indian market. Tata Zest received good response from the market and same is expected from the Bolt, which carries almost the same dynamics as Zest except the luggage boot. We spent some brief but quality time with the Bolt petrol version - which carries the Tata’s latest innovation in the petrol engine department - the Revotron engine and here is what we think about the car.Tata Bolt

The Bolt carries an unmistaken silhouette of the Tata Vista but a closer look reveals a younger and sportier looking vehicle and from the front, Tata has done an exceptional job. Unlike Zest, Tata has reworked on the headlamp unit of the Zest, giving it a smoked appearance and taking away the Daytime Running Lamps (DRLs) from it. The headlamp unit houses the powerful projector lamps (standard across all trim levels) and overall, the front fascia is very aggressive - the bumper carries strong lines, headlamps are stretched, a new grille and strong creases on the bonnet makes the car appear very strong and in matter - different from Tata’s brand. The lower part of the front bumper also houses the fog lamps with a silver underlining - giving it a premium effect.Tata Bolt Front
From the side, Tata has done a good job to re-invent the hatchback. There the two strong lines - one on the upper side running from the front wheel arch to the C-Pillar of the car and other on the bottom running from the start of front door to the end of rear door gives the car a very muscular look. Tata Bolt also carries blacked-out C-pillars (with black stickers) to give a ‘floating-roof’ feeling to the car.Tata Bolt side profile
The rear looks rather boring if we compare it to the front and side of the car. Tata has put small tail-lamps replacing the elongated long ones from the Vista to give a new-age result, which is bit debatable but does not complement the overall looks of the car. There is a chrome strip on the rear above the number-plate because of which the car does look premium but that’s about it.Tata Bolt Rear
It is to be noted that Tata said that the production version of the car will come with different alloy wheels so we would not comment on that part for now but we do expect Tata to put sporty wheels to match the overall look of the vehicle.
The Bolt shares almost the same dimension as the Vista but the length has been stretched by 30mm. The track length (space between the wheels on same axle) is wider too but the wheelbase remains the same at 2470mm.

Tata Motors has improved massively when it comes to interior quality of their products and the Bolt shows every sign of the change. The car carries a striking all-new dashboard and the fit and finish of the vehicle is exemplary. The all-black interiors, with the dual-tone multi-functional steering wheel look very futuristic and sporty. Infact, the rich feel on the inside is something that we haven’t seen before on a Tata hatchback.
The car is decently equipped with equipment and has knobs to set the air-conditioner, again, the quality of Tata cars has reached next level and feel of every knob and button is as good as it can get. The climate control also has touch controls and this is something unique in the segment.Tata Bolt interiors

The eye-catching part of the all-new dashboard is the in-car entertainment system from Harman which features a touch-screen and has some added advantages to it. The system connects to any android phone (Apple users will have to wait) through USB and can beam maps on the display without using any data. The Harman music system also features as many as 8-speakers and the sound quality is better than most cars available in the segment. The music system can take SD cars, Aux-in or USB storage devices to play output including video. Every function can be controlled from the multi-functional steering wheel. The AC vents are nicely designed and everything about the car looks very advanced.Tata Bolt Harman multimedia system
The steering wheel and the gear-lever are nice to hold and scream of premium Tata quality - something that will go for Tata in a longer run. The outside rearview mirrors can be adjusted internally from the array of buttons neatly placed at the driver door. The mirrors can’t be folded electronically though.
Something that we feel could have been done in a better way is space management - the Tata Bolt, when it comes to ergonomics, is a huge let down. The there is only one cup-holder, no bottle holders and the glove-box can hold only smaller bottles, which we think is not the way youngsters like it - who Tata says are the target customers for Bolt. There are no cup holes either. Tata Bolt Steering
The rear space is good enough for three people but lack of storage space is a huge negative point when it comes to the interiors. There are no rear air-con vents or front / rear arm-rests. Talking of features, the Bolt also misses out on a rear camera or keyless entry and start-stop. Another surprise was the omission of a lever to open the boot from the back when the car is un-locked. You either have to insert the key at the back or use the boot release button after opening the front door.

Engine, Drive and Handling:
Tata has taken a big step forward when it comes to the NVH of the car. There is a new steering rack, which is electrically assisted ZF-designed and is precise enough. The Bolt uses less NVH-absorbing materials than Vista making the car lighter by a few kilos. The front of the car gets dual-path front struts that absorb the undulations of road in a much better way. The rear twist-beam suspension set-up is also better when it comes to driving over rough terrain. The suspension is not very stiff but can take tight corners at high-speed without throwing the car around. Infact, the ride quality of the Bolt is one of its key talking points. The way it absorbs undulations is remarkable and most of the times, this hatchback feels like a bigger grown up sedan. Tata Bolt handling
The Revotron engine - which was the only one present during the drive is a revolutionary engineering product. The 1.2-litre turbocharged, multi-point fuel injected engine makes 90PS of maximum power and the torque is rated at 140 Nm. The low-end torque is too good for a petrol engine and drives very efficiently. Infact, with four people and their luggage on board, the Bolt was a breeze to drive through Udaipur traffic. That said, out on the open roads, the engine doesn’t like to revved high. This isn’t an out and out performance oriented motor, but one that will satisfy most owners with its low and mid-range punch. A 5-speed gearbox is mated with the car which is smooth and quick to shift.Tata Bolt engine
Tata also features driving mode in the vehicle namely: City, Sport and Eco - which does changes the dynamics and works very well. The modes can be shifted on-the-fly and an instant difference can be felt in the power delivery when you change these modes. Tata Bolt Driving Modes
Tata equips the car with front disc brakes and rear drum brakes which have good bite and is aided with technologies like Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Corner braking assist, giving them adequate power and confidence to bring the car to halt in emergency situation safely. There is also dual-stage SRS air-bags for the driver and the co-passenger.

Coming from Tata, the Bolt is huge leap for the company when it comes to passenger cars. The vehicle feels premium and way out of Tata’s league. The car misses out on features that some of the other rivals provide but we are sure Tata is targeting to put a very competitive price tag on the vehicle, with the base petrol being priced at around the Rs 4-4.2 lakh mark.
Next, the car loses out on practicality. Targeting the youth, who love to make their car a second home, Tata has missed out hugely on the space-management. That said, the team has done an exceptional job on building a great car with aggressive looks, amazing engine, drive quality and in-car entertainment system, a little more thought on the storage space could have made the car a complete package.Tata Bolt
We do hope Tata puts an ‘out-of-the-box’ sticker price on the Bolt to attract the attention of customers who are already looking forward to the more passenger vehicle oriented companies like Hyundai and Maruti. This car deserves to sell and though the segment is full of brilliant products, we are sure Bolt will find its way through.


For Complete specifications click here: Tata Bolt Specifications

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