2021 Tata Altroz iTurbo review: Well balanced, but something missing

Do we finally have a fun-to-drive petrol-powered Tata Altroz with the new iTurbo? Or should you still buy the diesel? Does it come with an automatic? We drive the Hyundai i20 Turbo and VW Polo TSI rival to answer these questions.

By:Updated: Jan 20, 2021 12:55 PM

 

In early 2020, we drove the Tata Altroz for the first time. The impression it left us with meant that if you were to buy the Altroz, the diesel version is the one you need to buy. The petrol motor seemed overworked and underpowered. Now, Tata Motors has introduced a new model called the Altroz iTurbo which is said to solve that problem. With the turbo petrol engine borrowed from the Nexon, we may finally have a petrol Altroz which is fun to drive in the new Tata Altroz iTurbo. But there continues to be something important still missing.

Watch our full video review of the Tata Altroz iTurbo

Tata Altroz iTurbo Exterior Design Review

Tata has left the look of the Altroz untouched from the outside. Well, it didn’t need much tweaking as it has a near-perfect balance of sportiness and elegance. But, replacing the colour black from the palette is this new “Laguna Blue” shade of paint that makes the Altroz look oh so good! That too in any light. Apart from the small “iTurbo” badge, there is absolutely nothing new to report.

Tata Altroz iTurbo Interior Design Review

A peek into the interior reveals a new Black and Grey cabin look along with new Leatherette upholstery and two additional little tweeters. However, tech upgrades on this hatchback are of more significance as the Altroz has gotten cleverer.

For starters, Tata’s “iRA” connected car system, which we saw in the Nexon is now offered with the Altroz as well. While it brings inbuilt navigation from What3Words, the Natural Voice Commands feature with iRA now supports English, Hindi and Hinglish commands. The voice activation works well, but it’s not as intuitive as it seems. You will need to know the specific commands and certain keywords and phrases to make it work properly. So it would have been great if there was some sort of list of those keywords.

Another new feature in the Altroz is called the Xpress Cool function. To help cool the cabin on a hot summer day quickly, you can do so with the push of a button. The Xpress Cool button blasts its aircon to the max and rolls the windows down automatically. Tata claims this can help cool the cabin 70% faster. But, because it was already 6-degrees out in Delhi, we decided to test it out another time.

The cabin remains unchanged from before in terms of its look, staying elegant, but unfortunately still lacks a few features which the competition does provide. Some features like a sunroof or a wireless smartphone charging pad may be missed by a few.

Tata Altroz iTurbo Engine Review

The Altroz iTurbo comes equipped with a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol engine borrowed from the Nexon. However, it develops less power at 110hp and 140Nm of torque. The first thing you notice with this engine is the refinement. Three-cylinder motors are known for being noisy and prone to vibrations. We found no such noticeable traits of the engine in the Altroz. Unless you’re pushing the engine and revving it hard, you don’t hear it. The motor is surprisingly quiet and refined, especially when cruising down the highway.

Tata has given the Altroz two driving modes. While “Sport” mode livens up the throttle response, the throttle is fairly eager in “City” mode as well. But, in Sport, the motor is allowed to rev more freely but does get a touch louder if I’m honest.

Low-end torque from the motor is quite decent. On the highways, you can pull away easily in fifth gear without having to shift down. This is down to the fact that the torque kicks in at 1,500rpm. But when you get to the top end, although it loves to rev, it falls off like a cliff at 5,500rpm.

Tata claims that the Altroz iTurbo can accelerate from 0-100kph in under 12 seconds. It seemed plausible, but we didn’t have a V-Box handy to test it out. Having said that, it’s not shove-you-in-the-seat kind of acceleration of course, but it’s quite peppy and fairly fun to drive.

Yes, the motor is down on power from the Nexon sure, but the Altroz is lighter. To be able to offer good fuel economy, Tata has tried to strike a balance between competitive performance, and efficiency. While you can never have too much power, you can always do with a kinder engine, especially when fuel prices are as high.

Tata Altroz iTurbo Transmission Review

The Altroz iTurbo continues to be paired with a 5-speed manual only. Shifting through the cogs is nice and easy, and gives you a decent tactile feel. It’s nice to throw it around, but maybe the throws could have been a touch shorter I suppose. The clutch pedal on the other hand is light with a relatively short travel, and the release isn’t springy either. So, driving it daily, even in heavy traffic will not be an issue.

Tata Altroz iTurbo Steering, Handling, Ride Quality Review

Hoping to offer a more engaging drive, Tata has revised the steering on the Altroz iTurbo. However, it feels a touch hefty and it doesn’t translate very well back to me as much as I would like. I’m not a fan of it if I’m honest, it doesn’t inspire the confidence I’m seeking, especially when you’re looking for a sporty and engaging drive.

While the steering holds you back to some extent, the suspension does a phenomenal job through the corners The suspension tuning is spot-on! It’s so well balanced and it rides the bumps so well. It feels taut, yet there is enough give to absorb the hefty bumps on our roads. You can easily plough through rough roads and have quite a lot of fun doing it.

Tata Altroz iTurbo Verdict

The Tata Altroz iTurbo will be launched soon in India. While prices are expected to be around the range of Rs 8 lakh to Rs 9 lakh (ex-showroom), the version is likely to be reserved for the higher trim levels. While a few features are missing, included in the price would be everything else we spoke about including the 5-Star NCAP crash test rating.

Admittedly, The Altroz iTurbo is a touch down on performance compared to its direct rivals — Hyundai i20 Turbo and the Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI, and they both offer an automatic transmission option. Although, with a claim of 18.13kpl in fuel economy, the Altroz iTurbo strikes the right balance between performance and being efficient for Indian consumers.

Now while it might seem that we finally have an Altroz petrol offering which is fun to drive, the lack of an automatic might be a limiting factor when it comes to sales. In today’s market where automatics are high in demand delaying that offering is like delaying your bumble date after spending hours chatting in texts. Sooner or later, potential customers will get tired of waiting and move on. However, Tata Motors is working on an Altroz iTurbo automatic model with a dual-clutch transmission. So if that sounds exciting enough for you to want one, you will have to wait even longer.

I believe the faster Tata Motors can introduce an automatic option in the Altroz, the faster its popularity will grow.

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