On January 22, Tata Motors will launch its new big hatch, the Bolt. It arrives with new exteriors, spacious interiors and is packed with features. Let's take a closer look at Tata's bid to regain its market share in the compact hatch segment.
The Tata Bolt continues the design language which began with the Zest. Since it's essentially a Zest minus the boot, this isn't much of a surprise. What is, is how neatly put together it looks. The new grille merges well with the new smoked projector headlamps, and gives the Bolt a smart-looking face. Absent, though, are the LED daytime running lights from the Zest. The Bolt also features a floating roof, an effect created by blacking out the C-pillar, and new tail lights. A chrome bar over the rear number plate acts as visual relief, and breaks up the mass of the tail. In profile though, it clearly resembles its predecessor, the Vista. The sprung-up-at-attention stance is a little odd; it makes the body look a little out of proportion with its tyres. The door sill is also quite high and can make ingress a little cumbersome.
Like the Vista that came before it, the Bolt has one of the largest and most spacious cabins in its class. This also translates into a generous amount of head and shoulder room. Legroom is also good enough to take on many mid-size sedans. What makes the space work are large seats which provide adequate comfort. There's also enough space at the back to comfortably seat three. The space is supported with a general improvement in quality, fit and finish. The ambience is also helped with a fresh new dashboard. It's similar to that on the Tata Zest, but does not get the two-tone treatment. However, there are many shiny plastic bits, rough edges and poor storage space in the cabin. Boot space, sadly, is also limited.
The onboard infotainment system is similar to that on the Zest too. The top-of-the-line trim will have a Harman-sourced central touchscreen, voice commands and new SMS readout capability. It will also receive some additional features like smartphone-based navigation with an offline maps support. There is video playback capability as well, but this seems a bit gimmicky and will probably be used by chauffeurs waiting for their bosses.
Engines and Transmission
The Bolt receives an 89bhp, 1.2-litre Revotron turbo-petrol motor mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. This makes it the only turbo petrol in its class, and the ECU tuning for this engine is expected to make it smoother than it is on the Zest. Also available is the 74bhp, 1.3-litre 'Quadrajet' turbo-diesel engine with a 5-speed manual gearbox.
The Zest was priced to undercut the Hyundai Xcent and we expect the Bolt to do the same with the Hyundai Grand i10. Tata has not announced prices yet, but past trends indicate that it will be priced very competitively.
While it compares with premium hatches like the i20, Swift and Polo on size, it is more likely to compete with compact hatches like the Grand i10, Etios Liva, Figo and Sail hatchback on price. Its position to straddle two segments is likely to help it pull market share from both. The Bolt, thanks to the value for money it provides, should be able to stand its ground and help Tata re-establish the standing of the car business. At least that's what Tata hopes will happen.
Tata Bolt review
Tata Bolt video review
Tata Bolt photo gallery