TATA BOLT - A step ahead of the game

by - January 12, 2015

These are fascinating times for the Tata family. Above us, they have taken to the skies once more with Vistara, eschewing the frugality other airlines promise nowadays to provide a premium service. This change from the old school thinking of using cost-cutting measures was evident last year too when, after three years of hard work (and a bit of soul searching, I might add), they released the Tata Zest. A car unlike any other from their stable, this one stunned critics and the public alike by its premium quality, attention to detail and smooth ride. 

With their first vehicle proving to be a winning ace, TATA can now sit back and share a broad grin (not dissimilar to their trademark grill). The success of the Zest last year has made people stand up and re-evaluate what TATA is capable of. Could there possibly be a better time to release the hatchback based on the Zest?

Welcome the TATA BOLT.
A premium hatchback from the TATA family, the BOLT releases across the country this month and already the excitement has begun. I got the chance to check out the new offering from TATA at close quarters last week and like my fellow colleagues, came back visibly impressed.
So what does the BOLT do differently that makes it stand out from its competition in a crowded Indian segment? Why would you need to consider it above all the others in its class?

These are the 5 key factors that come to my mind. 
  1. Premium Looks. 
  2. Revotron with Multi-Drive.
  3. Harman infotainment system
  4. “BDIH” features!
  5. A Competitive Price tag.


Cost cutting is now a thing of the past. The Indian consumer demands the best for the money he provides and TATA knows this well. With a theme of DesigNext that has its creative origins from three global design studios in Pune, Coventry and Turin, there are few remnants of the previous generation Vista visible here.
No, this is truly the Zest’s younger sibling, starting with the honeycomb mesh grille smiling back at you from the front. You also find projector headlamps and that broad shoulder line which incorporates both door handles and lends character to the side profile of the car.

Pick an angle... any angle!

The Christmas tree taillights of the Vista are finally abandoned for a more contemporary design but the truly unique bit rests above that on the C-pillar. A black cladding gives it a sporty look unlike any in the market presently and helps it stand out from the others. There is a similar black cladding below the bumper that also houses a foglamp. Overall, the blend of red and black looks pretty awesome here, I have to say.

Inside too, things are unlike any of the previous TATA models from the VISTA-INDICA era. The dashboard has been entirely redone with a more high class black and chrome colour scheme. The equipment parts feel sturdy and there are no visible loose edges or ill-fittings visible. Seat fabric feels nice and premium and blends well with the colour scheme of the dashboard.
There are a bunch of other features to discuss but I am saving them for the ‘BDIH’ point. (Admit it. You’re curious to know what it stands for, aren’t you? All will be revealed soon.)


The 1.2 Revotron petrol engine is part of TATA's DriveNext revamp and first debuted in the ZEST. Similar to its elder sibling, the BOLT boasts of 89 bhp @ 5000 rpm and 140 Nm torque, the difference being that it achieves its peak torque at just 1500 rpm unlike its competition. The ZEST was a very calm ride when mated with this engine and now with a lighter body, expect the BOLT to glide even more smoothly across the roads while offering you better mileage as well. Win-win scenario.

Oops. You better make that Win-win-Win! You cannot talk about the BOLT and ignore the MULTI-DRIVE feature, the first of its kind in an Indian hatchback. While the car is set to ‘CITY’ mode by default, you can change the ride dynamics literally with the switch of a button now.

Image source: here

Click on the ‘ECO’ button and the car becomes your frugal buddy, allowing for a steady reliable ride while becoming more fuel-efficient. But what about when you want that inner Narain Kartikeyan in you to race through the roads? That is what the ‘SPORT’ button is for, pal. Tap it on and see the difference as the car becomes rev-happy, eager to respond to your bare touch upon the accelerator. Perfect for when you need the extra bit of speed while overtaking or on a highway ride.

Fun fact: India’s fastest man, Narain Kartikeyan was actively involved in the making and engineering of the Revotron.


Gee. What can I say? We were all blown away by the ConnectNext infotainment system by Harman when we test drove the ZEST last year. Backed by eight speakers, the 5 inch touchscreen system which again debuted last year had features including: 
  • A state-of-the-art music player ( via USB, Bluetooth, Aux and even SD card ).
  • Rear parking sensor.
  • Makes calls.
  • Climate control.
  • Image viewing capability.
  • Voice command. You can set your AC, have your mobile sms’ read to you, tune to a radio station, play an album or just have the system find a song on your mobile phone/USB and play it just by ordering it to!

These were features that certain premium sedans do not offer even today. And guess what? Rather than succumb to the traditional temptation of cost cutting for a hatchback, TATA decided to actually up their game. Yes, they upgraded their infotainment system!

The Harman infotainment system you get with your BOLT has now got:
  • Video playback (MP4, AVI, Flv formats via USB / SD)
  • Can select which specific speakers function while playing.
  • Navigation: MapMyIndia with voice navigation! What is even more cool is that you can link it to a phone and actually view a different angle of the route from the phone, if you so desire. It marks the route you have taken so that you can return back the same way as well. Seriously, world class concept here.

4. BDIH (‘But Does It Have’) Features

If you are a car owner like me, you know as well as I do that there will always be that one person in your life who will be looking to put you down by showing the fallacies and deficiencies of your car. It may be that snooty jealous neighbour upstairs or your conniving co-worker… but you all know you have one.
And invariably, the question that will be asked with a sneer is “That is all okay BUT DOES IT HAVE XYZ feature?” The idea is to make your grin fall just a little bit.
Well, like the BOLT’s grille, your grin too gets to remain wide and welcoming to all these questions. Because when all is said and done, the BOLT is packed with features that even premium sedans did not consider.

When someone asks you "But Does it Have...", you can now smile and say "Yes!" emphatically!

Please note, this list is in addition to everything we just discussed about the Multi-Drive and Harman infotainment system. 
  • Instrument cluster and infotainment system backlighting brightness is adjustable to 5 different levels.
  • Illuminated keyhole and power window switches for when you enter in the dark.
  • Gear shift indicator for those who could use a little assistance while driving.
  • Spacious interiors: Having a wheelbase similar to the ZEST means that it is going to be pretty comfortable in the back for three people. The best-in-class height should ensure the same luxury for tall people too.
  • 60:40 rear folding seats: Such a wonderful option. You can fold the rear seats forwards in a split 60:40 (or obviously even 100% ratio) should you need the extra space for luggage.
  • Boot light. Again, something so many other hatchbacks totally forgot about. A light for when you reach home late at night and need to get all the stuff out of the boot.
  • Rear wiper with washer spray. It’s tough enough getting hatchbacks with rear wipers but with washer spray too? Nice!
  • A secret compartment for hiding stuff. I’m going to let your imagination run wild with that one!
  • Height adjustable seats.
  • Fully featured steering wheel that allows you to make calls and navigate through the infotainment system.
  • Door Open Indicator. This takes it a step further by displaying the exact door which is open.
  •  9th generation ABS with Cornering Stability Control. Because above all else, your safety matters.
  • Headlamp projectors and ‘Follow Me Home’ feature, keeping your path lit for a short while after you exit and lock the car so that you do not have to walk in the dark.
  • 175/65 R15 wheels on 8-spoke premium alloys.
  • Integrated turn indicators on ORVMs.

 You see what I am talking about? You would have perhaps been okay with buying the car even if most of these features were not there. But the fact that TATA went the extra mile to add them in shows that they really do care about the final product and it is not just about putting any average thing out for the masses. So the next time your nemesis starts to ask you “But Does it Have…”, cut him off with a “Yes it does. And it also has…” See the look on his face change as he realizes he’s finally met his match!


Am I jumping the gun here? At the time of writing this article, TATA have not even announced their price tags. So with what gumption am I talking numbers? Do I have anything to back my stand?

At Fun Mall, Coimbatore with the BOLT
As a matter of fact, I do. When we drove the ZEST in Goa, we had not been informed of the price tag either. We had a car which had over two dozen ‘best-in-class’ features over its competitors back then and we all speculated that the premium touches that the ZEST gave would come at a hefty price. TATA proved us wrong when the numbers came out – their vehicles were a good 30,000 rupees lesser than the corresponding Maruti Dzire and over 60,000 rupees lesser than the Honda Amaze.

In short, they had given you better features in the compact sedan category at over half a lakh rupees less than the competition. That vehicle went on to win the 2014 CII Design Excellence Award and the Team-BHP Car of 2014.

With a hatchback based on the Zest and reworked to be even more efficient and premium than its successful ‘big brother’, how do you suppose the BOLT is going to fare when it launches? If you ask me, you don't need a crystal ball to take a guess at that question.

After all, the magical trio of DesigNext, DriveNext and ConnectNext are already in the BOLT, ensuring it is already a step ahead of the game.

Author's note:
“This post is a part of the Get. Set. Bolt. activity at BlogAdda.” Do visit the Tata Bolt website to book a test drive and believe in the magic yourself.

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