It's rather uninspiring struggle to locate Tata Bolt in the market even as the car is now inching towards first anniversary. Unlike its elder Zest sedan, Bolt hasn't been able to stand tall among the competitors, and is now struggling for its livelihood. We at Ecardlr already pointed out the pricing blunder Tata committed while launching Bolt.
For instance, the starting model of Bolt and Zest differs only by margin if Rs 30k which obviously push the sales of sedan rather than hatchback. Further, Tata doesn't offer Bolt in automatic variant which is acting as another accomplice plaguing the car's fortunes. That said not everything gloom and doom for Bolt as the car has still got enough potential. It has got long shelf life, features voluminous cabin space, powered by fuel efficient engines and has terrific ride quality. To know what else adds to its strength and what drags it behind the rivals, we get behind the wheels of new Tata Bolt.
Style, Design & Interiors
Like Zest, Bolt shares its anatomy with older Indica platform that makes it look like a hopped up version of the older generation. Projector headlamps in the top variant along with body kit add some extra zing to the car though overall the silhouette is quite familiar in profile. Window line and glass area belongs to the Tata unmistakably though new, vertically stacked smart tail lamps infuse new Identity to the car.
Inside the cabin, Bolt has got one of the liveliest cabin available in any series production hatchback in the country. All-black interiors evoke sense of luxury and along with Harman Kardon music system, this arrangement defies any past baggage stamped with Tata car. Space proposition too has been taken well care by the company very well. all sorts of room be it headroom, legroom or knee room, Bolt never disappoints with its sheer sense of space and room.
Both benches front and rear is wide, long and excellently bolstered to support the passengers for long as well as short journeys. That said the boot space could have certainly be bigger as many Bolt rivals are harping on their own respective large trunks. To assuage the feel however, Tata Bolt have 60:40 rear seat split which somewhere makes way for the extra space flexibility inside the cabin.
Engine, Transmission& Driving Dynamics
Bolt uses similar set of power trains as Zest though diesel engine here makes only 75 PS of max power owing to use of fixed geometry turbocharger. Unlike Zest which puts out 90 PS by using variable geometry, Bolt has got 15 PS power off though it's lighter than the Zest. Performance is middle of the rung as at low revolutions, Bolt is hesitant to stride forward with gusto. Drivability also gets affected in this process and shifting through the notchy gearbox adds to the driver's sore points.
Once the needle climbs up and revs past 2000 rpm, turbo spools up and provides much needed zing to the overall driving experience. Mid-range of the car is its strongest point and highway driving is the most enjoyable in Bolt from behind the wheels. The transmission unit has been defined by 5 forward and one reverse gear ratios which are although felt a good match still have to go some distance before matching with the segment benchmarks like Polo, Brio, and Liva etc. Gates of the tyranny are poorly defined and sometimes shifting feel like slotting the stick through the mud.
However Bolt shines through its riding characteristics where the car show its true potential. Tata's excellence in designing underpinnings remains cut above the rest, and though in Bolt the company tried to take a detour from its conventionally ride strength. In Bolt, the company has focused on handling prowess as suspension settings is on the firmer side. Compared to ordinary Tata cars, Bolt is more entertaining though this rise in adventure has come at a cost of ride comfort.
Unlike any other Tata that usually embodies high value for money, Bolt fares badly on value for money. Its botched up prices have cost the car dear which is why we expect Tata to take some corrective action in this regard. Bolt as a holistic proposition fares well on most of the fronts though it has its own share of limitations too. It has got the spacious cabin, powered by strong and punchy diesel engine, and fares quite well on dynamics front. Its fuel efficiency is also worth commending and so is the overall level of equipment and features on top-end version. That said, Bolt has some inherent shortcomings which needs to be worked upon by the Tata for better future of Bolt. Boot space, for one, is the weakest link in the well laid out cabin, and heavy intrusions of suspension towers further spoils the matter. Almost complete absence of storage and stowage spaces inside the cabin is another stumbling block in the Bolt’s armour. As these limitations can be worked upon easily and are not something that won’t be tackled, we expect facelift Bolt to feature all these improvements in its next version.
Style & Substance 3.5/5 ide & Handling 3.5/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3.5/5 Safety & Equipment 4/5
Power-Plant & Transmission 3.5/5 Fuel Efficiency 4/5
Value for Money 3.5/5