Tata Bolt : Detailed Review

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  • Dec 15, 2014
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The Zest brought with it the winds of change for Tata. Will the Bolt be able to keep it going? We find out


Tata Bolt in action



What Tata Motors needed for the longest time was a change in its brand perception, mainly for the fact that their cars were flawed with substandard quality and refinement issues. They worked towards it with the Zest and it showed. They addressed the quality issues by giving the Zest great looking interiors and spacious insides and at the same time ensured that the car has a decent ride quality too. But that was just the first step. Following the success of the Zest, Tata Motors is now set to being in the Bolt. But the task at hand for the Bolt is going to be a lot more difficult, especially considering the number of players its segment currently. And to achieve that with the Bolt, they not only need to continue what they started, but take it step further. The question is, does it have the mettle?



Tata Bolt static



Exterior Styling and Design: rating_3.5_rating

Like the Zest, the Bolt too retains the same silhouette that we know is typical of a Tata car. But at the same time both these cars are textbook examples of how the overall appeal can be enhanced despite sticking to the same shape. At the front, the Bolt looks pretty much similar to its elder sibling. It sports the same smiley grille and the ‘humanity line’ under it. The bumper too remains the same but instead of the Daytime Running Lamps, the Bolt gets only fog laps even in the top-of-the-line model. The Bolt’s gets blackened out headlights instead of the clear lens ones on the Zest. 



Tata Bolt details



In profile a sharp shoulder line and a distinct character line at the bottom gives the Bolt an aggressive disposition. And then of course there is the blackened out C-pillar to add a touch of style. At the back, the flame shaped tail lights and the chrome above the registration plate dominate. 




Tata Bolt interiors



Interiors and Space: rating_3.5_rating

On the inside, the overall layout of the dashboard remains pretty much the same as its elder sibling. The Bolt though, gets an all black dash, as opposed to the dual-tone treatment to the Zest. Hints of piano black and chrome surrounds to the AC vents does make the dash look good, but the cabin feels claustrophobic due to the excessive use of black. All the necessary buttons are well within reach and easy to operate. The door pockets are pretty small though and won’t quite fit a reasonable sized bottle.


Seats are comfortable and despite the reduction in length over the Zest, at the back there is ample of knee and leg room. Seating three at the back shouldn’t be a difficult task either. Quality of plastics is definitely a step up over the Tatas that we know but there is still scope for improvement. 



Tata Bolt features



Features and Equipment: rating_4.5_rating

In terms of features, the Tata Bolt gets it all and more. It comes with a Harman designed 2 din audio system with USB, AUX and Bluetooth connectivity. For the Bolt, Tata Motors has also joined hands with MapMyIndia to offer navigation and location based services. The Multi-media system doesn't have inbuilt navigation, you can connect to it with the help of a USB and the MapMyIndia app. The Bolt also gets a speed sensitive steering wheel and the advance gen ABS for improved braking. The top of the line model that we drove was equipped with two airbags as well.



Tata Bolt engine



Engine and Performance: rating_3.5_rating

At the heart of things, the Tata Bolt will come in both petrol and diesel engine options. The 1.3-litre diesel mill makes 75PS and 190Nm. But the petrol we drove sports a 1.2-litre tubocharged unit that pumps 90PS of power at 5,000rpm. The 140Nm of torque is available in a wide 1,500 to 4,000 rpm range, making it extremely easy to drive. The Bolt is eager to go up the rev range as soon as you step on the throttle. The fact that there is absolutely no turbo lag further helps this cause. 



Tata Bolt



The Bolt too will come with three- driving modes – Eco, City and Sport. While a shift to any of these driving modes doesn't really change the suspension dynamics, what it does is select a different fuel mapping thereby altering performance with respect to the mode. Needless to say, the Eco mode is focused to return the maximum efficiency and makes the car rather relaxed. In the Sport mode, the Bolt feels like an enthusiastic kid who runs all around the park. The City mode, finds a balance of both the other modes to give a fine balance of performance and efficiency. 


Although the five-speed manual transmission is the same as the one on the Zest, the gear ratios have been shortened for improved performance. Thanks the tweaks that Tata Motors have done to the engine and the gearbox, the Bolt feels energetic and responsive.



Tata Bolt rear action



Ride and Ease of Driving: rating_4.0_rating

Tata Motors managed the get the ride quality spot on with the Zest, and the Bolt is no different. The independent McPherson strut upfront and the semi-independent twist beam at the rear provide a plush ride quality even over bad roads. Clutch effort is easy but the gearbox is a little clunky. That said, the short gear ratios do not demand too many shifts even in city traffic. 


Talking about effort, the speed sensitive steering is a smart addition to the Bolt. At slower city speeds it feels nice and light, making it easier to manoeuvre but as you go faster it gets slightly heavier to offer better handling dynamics, but more on that later. 


Our only grouse with the Bolt was the rather chunky A-pillar which does compromise a little on the visibility. The absence of parking sensors doesn't make things a lot easier either.  


Tata Bolt driving photo



Handling and Braking: rating_3.5_rating

Tata Motors claims that the suspension of the Bolt has been stiffened to offer that much sought after fun to drive factor. It manages to take on a series of bends with a fair bit of confidence and can easily rank among the most fun to drive Tatas we have driven in a long time. The speed sensitive steering wheel gets a little heavier as you go faster and it doesn't feel as artificial as the one on the Zest. 


As far as braking is concerned, the Disc-Drum combination works well in bringing the car to standstill from reasonable speeds without too much drama. There is quite a bit of bite too. And to add a feather to the cap, Tata has installed this top-end trim with ABS, EBD as with corner stability control. 



Tata Bolt rear



Price and Fuel Efficiency: 

While Tata hasn’t made any claims with regards to the fuel efficiency of the Bolt, we expect it to be marginally higher than the 17.1kmpl of the Zest. As far as pricing is concerned, the Tata Bolt is expected to be launched in early 2015 (Also Read: Tata Bolt to be launched in early 2015) at a starting price of Rs 4.20 lakh. 



Tata Bolt badge



Verdict: rating_4.0_rating

After spending a day behind the wheel of the Bolt, we can say that the Bolt lives up to the standards set by the Zest. It looks decent, is spacious and rides pretty well too. In fact, Tata Motors has been smart in changing the suspension setup as well as the steering feel, thanks to which it is a lot more fun to drive and will appeal to a slightly larger audience. Will it beat the competition? Well, a lot of it will also depend on the pricing, but one thing’s for sure, Tata Motors has once again got it right with the Bolt. 


Recommended Variant : Bolt XMS Petrol

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