Tata Bolt and Tata Zest: New compact cars on the block

Mar 15 2014, 15:10 IST
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By the looks of it, the Bolt seems a step in the right direction for Tata By the looks of it, the Bolt seems a step in the right direction for Tata
SummaryWhile Tata Bolt looks like a fun car, Tata Zest comes across as a promising prospect.

Tata Bolt: Comes across as a fun car

By the looks of it, the Bolt seems a step in the right direction for Tata. If priced competitively, the Bolt will be an option worth considering for hatchback buyers

Tata cars have always scored high on space, practicality and fuel efficiency. But, of late, most of its small cars have started feeling dated. The original Indica came out in 1998, while the Vista has been on sale since 2008. Which brings us to the company’s latest offering, the Bolt hatchback that you see here.

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You can see the obvious resemblance to the Vista; and it is, in fact, based on the same basic structure. But put the two side by side and you’ll find that nearly every body panel is new. The front now wears a more youthful design—the elongated headlamps and honeycomb grille give it a much smarter appearance. The bumper is new too and there’s even a power bulge in the bonnet.

Tata Bolt

Adding a bit of flavour to the sides are two prominent creases that run the length of the car. While at the rear, the vertically stacked tail-lamps of the Vista have made way for smaller, more conventional units. Also, the number plate moves up to the tailgate from the bumper and in its place sits a rear foglamp. The blackened area around the rear windshield give the roof a ‘floating’ effect.

The changes on the inside as well are massive. There’s a huge step up in quality—in fact, the cabin is nothing like you have seen in a Tata before. The piano-black plastic and the perforated leather upholstery give the cabin a much more premium air. The switches and buttons work with a precise action, adding to the feel of quality. The instruments are big and legible and there’s a trip computer that displays fuel consumption and average speed.

While Tata hasn’t revealed any details about what trims this car will be available in, the car you see here is the fully loaded Bolt. It’s got climate control, alloy wheels, and there’s a touchscreen entertainment system with Bluetooth connectivity.

Like we have said earlier, Tata cars are usually spacious and comfortable, and the Bolt hatchback embodies these traits. The front seats are very comfortable and Tata’s engineers have used better cushioning and optimised them to be extra supportive.

The rear seats are equally comfortable and, now, there is even more legroom on offer, thanks to the scooped out rear of the front seats. There are few cubbyholes in the cabin and the door pockets are relatively slim, but the glovebox is quite big.

Finding place under the bonnet is Tata’s new 1.2-litre Revotron turbocharged petrol engine, which doesn’t make as much power as its rivals, but the company has worked on making the engine more fuel efficient and less noisy. In fact, a lot of effort has gone into making the engine smooth. A segment first, however, is the ‘Sport’ button, which alters the engine’s behaviour for more powerful performance. There’s the option of a diesel as well.

It’s the same 1.3-litre Fiat-sourced unit found in other cars like the Maruti Swift, Fiat Linea and Chevrolet Sail.

Last month, on the occasion of the unveiling of the Bolt, Ranjit Yadav, president, passenger vehicles, Tata Motors, said, “We, at Tata Motors, are delighted to showcase to the global market the much awaited next generation cars. Both the Zest and the Bolt have been engineered for global markets, through global teams across India, the UK and Korea, to set new standards in their respective segments. These cars are a true representation of our Horizonext philosophy, with best-in-class offerings for performance that yet offers economy and efficiency.”

Overall, the Bolt is a step in the right direction for Tata. We expect it to be priced competitively when it goes on sale and it’s an option worth considering for hatchback buyers.

TataZest

Tata Zest: Performance will be key

Tata hasn’t announced the variants or prices for the Zest yet but expect it to hit showrooms in the latter half of 2014. It remains to be seen how well it performs against its rivals

Say hello to Tata’s all-new sub-four-metre sedan, the Zest. In a bid to move away from the uninspirational images of the Vista and the Manza, Tata Motors intends to change the image of its products and make them more desirable. Based on the same platform as the Vista, the Zest is extensively re-engineered and comes across as a promising prospect.

It’s difficult to mistake this car for anything other than a Tata, especially with its Vista-like silhouette. Almost every body panel has been changed and the car looks much sharper and more youthful. The new design incorporates an aggressive nose, a heavily sculpted bumper, stretched headlamps with projectors, a new grille that flows seamlessly into the headlamps and even a mild power bulge on the bonnet. It also gets LED daytime running lights and a chrome strip bordering the grille.

Tata_Zest1

Viewed in profile, the Zest boasts a thick character line, and it’s even got a black strip on the running board and the lower side of the bumper to help reduce the visual bulk. The design of the rear is attractive as well. The rear windscreen flows smoothly into the stubby boot and the wraparound tail-lamps are, again, a distinctive feature. It continues to carry forward the high cowl of the Vista, which makes it difficult to get that rising window line or a tipped-forward stance that is a trademark of all good-looking saloons today. The 16-inch wheels add to the Zest’s tall stance.

Step inside and you will instantly notice a huge step up in cabin quality. The design and the quality on both the Zest and the Bolt are nothing like what we’ve seen on Tatas before. There is substantial improvement in fit and finish and the entirely new dashboard lends a fresh air of design to the cabin. The driver-oriented positioning of the vents and the centre console along with the use of piano black, chrome and silver really lift the ambience of the cabin, as does the white leather on the dashboard and the steering wheel.

Tata engineers have spent a lot of time optimising the side bolsters, the seat base bolsters and even the cushioning. The front seats offer excellent comfort and feel snug. Move to the rear seats and you will find that it is as comfortable—there’s good headroom, and with the scooped out rear of the front seats, there’s more knee-room than before. Tata has improved the rear seat angle and contours of the seat finding the right balance between boot space and rear-seat comfort.

It has a 360-litre boot, which is smaller than the Amaze’s 400 litres and it doesn’t offer space as efficiently either, since the suspension intrudes into the luggage space.

The Zest will be available with both petrol and diesel engines. However, the talking point of the Zest is the new Revotron engine. It’s a 1.2-litre turbocharged, multi-point, fuel-injected petrol motor that makes 84bhp. Although this figure is lower than the Amaze’s 88bhp and Swift Dzire’s 86bhp, the Revotron’s USP is the meaty 14.3kgm of turbo-aided torque it makes right from 1750rpm, 11.2kgm of which is available right from 1,000rpm. So, you will have plenty of power to play with.

The diesel engine is the same 1.3-litre Multijet unit as seen on other Tatas. It will feature a variable-geometry turbo that helps pump up power to 89bhp and 14.3kgm of torque. The Zest diesel will also come with the option of an Automated Manual Transmission (AMT).

Tata hasn’t announced the variants or prices for the Zest yet but expect it to hit showrooms in the latter half of 2014. It also remains to be seen how good it is on the road and how well it performs against its rivals, but Tata is clearly banking on the Zest to revive its fortunes. Now all that Tata has to do is to price it competitively.

- By WhatCar

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