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Tata Bolt diesel review, test drive

21st Jan 2015 1:50 pm

We drive Tata's latest offering, the Bolt diesel hatchback. Can it bolster the momentum set forth by the Zest? We find out.


  • Make : Tata
  • Model : Bolt

Tata’s marketing campaign for the Bolt may focus on the new Revotron petrol engine but it’s the diesel engine on this car which will be of interest to a lot of buyers. The engine is the Fiat-sourced 1.3 Multijet (Quadrajet, as Tata calls it) in fixed geometry turbo form. It makes 74bhp at 4,000rpm and 19.37kgm at 1750rpm – both figures that are good for this class of car.

How does it drive?

But, these figures don’t translate to class-leading performance, be it in the 0-100kph dash or through the gears. A lot of that is down to the engine’s characteristic lazy low-end response. It’s not dead slow on starting out, but the fact is that the engine only gets into its stride at about 2,000rpm. Thereon, its smooth sailing to 4,000rpm after which you’ll need great patience to rev it to 5,000rpm. So, it’s best to short shift if you want to get a move on. The gearbox may lack in precision but it's light to operate, as is the clutch. However, the highlight of the Bolt diesel is its refinement. The engine is easily among the quietest, if not the quietest, in its class with sound levels further reduced by the Bolt’s thick body shell. Vibrations are also kept at bay rather well.

What remains common to the Bolt petrol is the accomplished way this version takes on rough patches of road. The Bolt impresses with its ability to mask the severity of most potholes, goes over bumps smoothly, and does so without much drama. There is some amount of body movement but nothing you wouldn’t expect on a comfort-oriented hatchback. At times, clunks from the otherwise quiet suspension are your only indicator of the poor condition of the road below. At faster speeds as well, the Bolt feels nice and composed. Around the corners, it’s no Swift, but the good grip levels and the general level of confidence it inspires make you look past the considerable roll and the lightness of the steering.

Inside and out, the Bolt diesel is no different to the petrol version. It gets the same interesting dashboard (also shared with the Zest) with the standout element being its Harman-sourced touchscreen for the infotainment system. The infotainment system is nice enough to operate, easy to pair your phone to and can even be used to operate the climate control system. But it’s not all hunky-dory in the Bolt. For a cabin that’s big on passenger space, it offers irritatingly little space for smaller items. The boot is small too, and the seats are also a touch on the firm side. Also, overall plastic quality, though largely good, is still a notch or two down on the standards set by Hyundai.

As for the design, this is Tata’s best looking hatchback yet and stylish enough to hold your attention. The spread-out headlights, the blacked-out C-pillar and those neat tail lamps give it a distinct look. The bright red paint carries it of rather well, but we wish Tata had used paint as well for the C-pillar instead of a cheap vinyl sticker. Also, the Bolt’s Vista roots are very evident in its glasshouse and the general ‘jacked up’ stance. The last bit is something to note because the Bolt’s door sills are relatively high, so getting into and out of the cabin isn’t as easy as in some other cars.

Should I buy one?

However, the Bolt diesel’s strengths do outweigh its lesser points. Overall refinement is very good, the ride quality is excellent and cabin space remarkable. The nice-to-drive Bolt also gives lots by way of features. And with prices starting at Rs 5.49 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) and extending to Rs 6.99 lakh for the top-spec version featured here, the Bolt diesel makes for good value. So, at long last, Tata has the right product at a nice price. Let’s hope it can deliver on durability too this time around.

Tata Bolt diesel prices

XE - Rs 5.49 lakh
XM - Rs 6.11 lakh
XMS - Rs 6.34 lakh
XT - Rs 6.99 lakh

(Ex-showroom, Delhi)

Also read

Tata Bolt petrol review
Tata Bolt petrol video
Tata Bolt - What to expect

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