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Old 10th December 2014, 10:01   #1
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Default Tata Bolt 1.2L Revotron : Official Review

The Tata Bolt has been launched in India at a price of between Rs. 4.45 - 7.00 lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you'll like:

• Build quality, fit and finish are on par with competitors. Tata has made significant improvements here
• Spacious well-designed interiors. A rare hatchback that can seat 5 adults without a fuss
• 1.2L turbo-petrol has impressive low-end driveability and is mated to a slick gearbox
• Balanced suspension offers safe & neutral handling. Nice EPS too
• Light controls & agreeable ergonomics. Drives like no Tata hatchback has before
• Superb 8-speaker Harman Kardon entertainment system with navigation & video playback
• Features: 3-driving modes (Eco, Sport, City), projector headlamps, 5" touchscreen, voice commands etc.

What you won't:

• Turbo-petrol lacks midrange punch and fails to excite at higher rpms. Not to an enthusiast's tastes
• Impractical 210 liter boot is among the smallest from this segment
• Ride quality is firmer than the Zest. Noise insulation not as tight as its sibling either
• AMT (automatic gearbox) & higher-tune 89 BHP diesel not on offer. Might follow later
• Poor in-cabin storage & missing niceties (Zest's DRLs & parking sensors, dead pedal, height adjustable seatbelts)
• Concerns over long-term reliability & durability. Previous Tata cars haven't fared well in this area
• Tata's sub-par after-sales service is far from that of Maruti & Hyundai

The Bolt 1.3L Diesel:

Review Link (Tata Bolt 1.3L Diesel : Official Review)

This review has been jointly compiled with Rehaan. Thanks to him for the expert observations & photography!

Last edited by GTO : 28th February 2015 at 16:56. Reason: Linking to diesel review
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Old 10th December 2014, 10:02   #2
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.2L Revotron : Official Review

Earlier this year, Tata Motors launched the Zest 'compact sedan', the first product to be developed under its Horizonext strategy. Tata has now followed it up with the Bolt, a hatchback based on the Zest. As BHPians already know, neither of these cars are all-new; they are built on the Vista / Manza platform.

The Bolt is an important car for Tata Motors to stay relevant in the Indian car market. The original Indica was a sales success, but the Vista failed to make a noticeable impression. One of the reasons behind the Indica's success was its USP; space + diesel. Quite simply, there weren't too many diesel hatchbacks at the time. The competitive scenario has completely changed now, with global biggies offering diesel hatchbacks at 5 lakhs. Tata couldn't consistently offer a fuss-free ownership experience either (patchy quality, reliability & after-sales service) and this dented its brand value. The company realises the problem areas and has made significant improvements on the Bolt & Zest. For instance, 300,000 hours have been spent on this car's R&D. Still, we can't help but comment on the slow pace with which Tata operates. The Vista was launched in 2008 - 6 years usually sees the arrival of an all-new generation (as we saw with the 2nd-gen Swift & i20), and not just an improved version. The Bolt was showcased at the Auto Expo back in January, but the launch is still sometime away. If Tata wants customers, it's going to have to refresh its product line faster, just as its chief competitors do.

Tata Bolt 1.2L Revotron : Official Review-tata-bolt-prices.png

Several steps have been undertaken to give the Bolt a sales push. The dealership network has been revamped. 60 showrooms have been renovated with digital integration, incorporating video walls too. 3,000 tablet-equipped staff have been trained for sales & service roles. For service appointments, notes will be taken down digitally on these tablets and then emailed out to customers. 1,000 additional company personnel have been designated specifically for handling the Bolt.

Just like the Zest, the Bolt bears resemblance to earlier models from the Tata stable. This has been done deliberately to keep the identity of the car as a Tata product. Other than those styling cues though, there is nothing on the exterior that the Bolt has in common with its predecessors. Each body panel is new. At 2470 mm, the wheelbase is the same as that of the Vista, but the overall length of 3825 mm makes it 30 mm longer. At 1695 mm, it is just as wide as the Vista and the height of 1562 mm makes the Bolt among the tallest cars in the segment. It is also one of the heaviest with the petrol version tipping the scales at 1095 - 1125 kg, while the diesel weighs 1132 - 1160 kg. 165 mm of ground clearance is on the lower side. Curiously, the Zest petrol's ground clearance is 175 mm!

Tata Bolt 1.2L Revotron : Official Review-tata-bolt-specifications.png

Parked next to its competitors, the Bolt definitely has a mature design. It's contemporary enough, and the lack of quirkiness will help in widening its appeal. From the front, it is nearly identical to the Zest. There are some differences between the two though. While the Zest has Tata's new signature grille with chrome lines running along the top & bottom, the Bolt gets just the one on top. The honeycomb mesh grille otherwise remains the same. The headlamp cluster retains halogen projectors for the low beams and “follow me home” function, but lose the cool "angel eye" light rings around the projectors. Also, the headlights have a smoked finish (the ones on the Zest have chrome). Those LED daytime running lights have been left out and even the top-end variant has to make do with chrome accents instead. The bonnet rises at both ends and has a sculpted power bulge in the middle.

The silhouette is similar to the Vista and leaves no doubt about its lineage. There are very pronounced shoulder lines running along the side of the car (especially noticeable on the lighter colours). The side profile looks clean and there are no plastic strips or claddings anywhere. This is more an exception than the rule today. The top variant's 15" rims (shod with 175/65 tyres) look nice and thankfully, there's no large gap in the wheel arches that we've seen with earlier Tatas. The C-pillar gets a matt black finish to create a “floating roof” effect. While the Zest had its radio antenna at the rear, the Bolt wears one towards the front.

The rear is where we can see a major change. Tata Motors has finally dumped those outdated Christmas tree tail-lights of the Indica & Vista, replacing them with flame-shaped units. While the new lights give the rear a fresh look, they aren't LEDs like those of the Zest. The area taken up by the old x'mas lights has been covered with black plastic cladding, as well as a body-coloured plastic insert just above the tail-lamp. These bits sure look like an afterthought to fill up the space. The bottom of the bumper sports a black plastic cladding to break the visual bulk, with a foglamp mounted in the center. There's also a ubiquitous thick chrome number plate strip. While the rear of the car looks tight & contemporary, Tata has overlooked something rather important....there is no handle or recess to lift the tail-gate up!!! The area under the fat chrome strip is flat and affords very little grip. You will be forced to use both hands to open up the hatch.

Exterior fit & finish are a lot more impressive than what we've seen so far on Tata cars. The shut lines are tight & consistent and the Bolt feels solidly constructed. While the doors don't shut with a European thud, they don't feel light and flimsy like budget offerings from Asian manufacturers either. The rubber beading used is of good quality and it goes all the way around the doors too. Fact is, it's pretty hard to spot any blatant cost cutting here. Tata has clearly paid a lot of attention to the quality and workmanship, and it shows. All the media cars at this driving event were painted in red. It's the only colour we saw and paint quality was great - like other Tatas.

Tata Bolt 1.2L Revotron : Official Review-tata-bolt-features.png

Even to the casual observer, the Bolt is unmistakably an evolution of the Indica Vista:

Body panels are shared with the Zest, up until the C-pillar:

The wheelbase is identical to the Zest too. Overall car length is 30 mm more than the Indica Vista:

Despite the upcoming holiday season, most people will be happy to see that the outdated Christmas-tree tail lights have been eradicated:

Blackened C-pillars help modernize the tight rear end:

Smiling front grill is medium sized on the Bolt & Zest, and doesn't look bloated like the Vista's grill did:

Smoked headlamp housings and halogen projectors:

At times, the reflective chrome embellishments lead you to believe they are LED strips (they aren't):

Inset foglamps get a large chrome embellishment on the bottom edge to balance out the chrome in the headlamps. No DRLs like the Zest:

The top (XT) variant gets 175/65 R15 rubber on 8-spoke alloys. Wheel arches are filled up nicely, without an ungainly gap at the top:

ORVMs get integrated turn indicators:

Extra-long antenna mounted at the front:

Compared to the Zest, the Bolt's beading does a better job of covering the gap created between the gutter and windshield:

The bonnet's top edge has a black plastic strip which has the windshield washer sprays mounted on it:

Not only are shut-lines consistently spaced on the Bolt, they are impressively tight too:

A vinyl sticker creates the "blackened C-pillar" effect. It runs a similar path as the Elite i20, following the line of the rear glass (rather than that of the side windows):

Neatly integrated spoiler houses the high mounted stop light:

Black plastic cladding on the bumper houses the rear foglamp. Does a good job of breaking up any visual bulkiness at the rear:

The tail-lamps are full halogen units (no LED strip like the Zest):

Bolt badging adorns the left of the hatch:

The initial movement of pulling the hatch towards you is difficult, due to the absence of any handle:

Rear wiper gets a washer spray nozzle integrated at its mounting point:

165 mm of ground clearance doesn't sound like much, but the majority of the Bolt's underbody is actually much higher:

Case in point, parking over a curb? No problem:

Twist-beam rear suspension setup. Exhaust nozzle is tucked away out of sight:

A few parting shots:

Alongside the current segment leader:

Last edited by GTO : 28th January 2015 at 08:10. Reason: Adding feature comparo sheet
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Old 10th December 2014, 10:02   #3
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.2L Revotron : Official Review

Interior - Front

The Bolt's front doors are large and open wide with a 3-stage action (ΰ la Europeans). The height of the car and fairly high seating position make getting in & out easier than other low slung hatchbacks. Like most Tatas, the cabin is big with an arched roof as well, giving it that airy feel inside. Interior space is generous and more on the lines of sedans than hatchbacks. The segment best-seller Swift is cramped in comparison.

The first thing that jumps out at you is the stylish & elegant dashboard design. Anyone familiar with Tata cars will be pleasantly surprised at the styling. The look is fresh with a Java black theme, chrome / brushed silver detailing and sparkling black accents. The polarising tan / orange unit we saw earlier was only for the concept car. While the design of the dashboard is identical to that of the Zest, it doesn't look as upmarket as the compact sedan's beige & black piece. That said, it is still a very good-looking dash. The knurled knobs and switches (with embedded amber & green LEDs) have more of a Euro design feel than a Japanese or Korean one. In terms of functionality, the dashboard layout is logical and user-friendly.

Quality of material used is as good as most other cars in this segment. It's far from a Hyundai i20, yes, but few owners will find a reason to complain in this department. The Bolt's interior is a vast improvement over any previous Tata offering. Fit & finish of what is in plain sight is good. Unless you go looking around for a rough edge, you're unlikely to find one. Tata seems to have stepped up the level of quality it expects from its vendors; this clearly shows on the inside. It's not the segment benchmark though. Look closely and you'll spot a handful of rough spots.

There is a new 3-spoke steering wheel. Small and good-looking, the steering feels nice to hold. The horn pad is hexagonal with buttons to control the infotainment system & telephone. These buttons felt pretty solid. As is the norm in this price bracket, the steering can be adjusted for height, but not reach. The horn pad is a little difficult to access and isn't very easy to press. The wiper & light stalks felt satisfactory, with no rough edges or mold lines easily visible.

The front seats are just as supportive as those of the Zest. However, they feel less padded and not quite as soft. The black seat fabric goes well with the rest of the interior colour theme. The side bolstering extends forward by 3-4 inches and provides excellent lateral support. The driver's seat can be adjusted for height and finding a good driving position is easy. Crank it all the way up and you sit like in the Wagon R, with a commanding view of the road ahead. Most will find the ergonomics to be spot on with the steering, control stalks & gear lever falling right into your hand. The seats don't travel too far back though. This could result in a tight driving position for super tall drivers who have long legs (read = 6'3" and over). The pedals are well spaced out - there's a large gap between the brake and clutch. Unfortunately, there is no dead pedal or even space to the left of the clutch pedal to rest your foot. The floor mats are grippy and don’t slide around at all. It's almost like the bottom side has velcro. There's an additional patch stitched on where your heels rest (for the pedals). Unlike the Zest, the floor mats of the Bolt don't get any branding whatsoever. Also, the seatbelts lack height adjustment.

While frontal visibility is otherwise good, the A-pillars are rather thick and can cause blind spots around curves. The ORVMs are tall, albeit not as wide as we'd like. The mirror glass doesn't open enough outwards either. The rear windscreen is adequately sized and offers good visibility, although the wide C-pillars create blind spots. The IRVM is small and should have been a size bigger.

The new instrument cluster has white backlighting. All the buttons on the center console and the power window switches are illuminated with the same clean backlight. The brightness of this backlight (along with the entertainment unit screen) is adjustable in five steps. There is an MID in the middle, with a tachometer to the left and speedometer to the right. Tata has added indicators for the 3 driving modes - City, Eco and Sport - above the MID. These glow in blue, green and amber colours respectively. Upon shifting between the different modes, a confirmation chime is played out. It's not very pleasant and sounds much like a seatbelt warning bong. Like some other Tatas, the rpm needle glows red when it approaches the redline (5500 rpm). A digital temperature & fuel gauge sit at the bottom of the tachometer & speedometer respectively. While the digital fuel gauge looks neat, it has a resolution of only 6 segments, so you don't get the same accuracy that you would with an analogue meter. The masses will love the real-time fuel efficiency bar that is permanently displayed on the MID. Because it is graphical in nature, it's a lot easier to reference when you're driving (rather than a constantly changing digital number). The MID offers data on distance to empty, clock, odometer, outside temperature and 2 trip meters. When you get to the trip meters, it automatically shows you the respective fuel efficiency for each of the trips!! Convenient, and so easy to use. Another thoughtful touch is the door open indicator displaying the exact door that is open. It also shows if the tailgate has been left open. This saves the driver some effort from having to guess which door hasn't been shut properly. Lastly, the system also displays which gear you are driving in and has a shift indicator.

Below on the waterfall center console are buttons for the foglamps and 'Eco' & 'Sport' driving modes. Given that the Eco & Sport driving modes are such a quintessential part of the Revotron petrol engine (there's roughly a 4-6 second difference in the 0-100 times), we think these buttons should have been placed on the steering wheel. In their current position, they are hidden away out of sight and thus, out of mind. A prominent position would result in Bolt owners using these buttons more often.

Located at the top of the center console is an infotainment system that Tata and Harman have jointly developed. It has a 5-inch resistive touchscreen and boasts of USB, AUX, SD Card and Bluetooth connectivity. The Bolt is equipped with 8 speakers - two speakers and two tweeters at the front and back each. Sound quality is impressive! Even after turning the volume all the way up, there is no clipping or distortion. In fact, this is one of the rare OEM systems that sounds better and better as you go louder. Another good thing about the system is that the music starts playing immediately on start-up. No wait involved, like we see in some other vehicles. A 'display' button has been provided to turn the screen off; apt feature for night driving. Like the 2014 Mahindra Scorpio, the Bolt's infotainment system gets a 'one hour mode', which allows you to use the ICE for 60 minutes after the ignition is turned off.

Tata has added a couple of extra features to this infotainment system. The first is navigation. Owners have to download the free MapMyIndia NaviMaps & Harman Smartlink apps onto their Android smartphone, and then link it to the Bolt's infotainment system. The Harman Smartlink app has been developed specifically for the Bolt; we hope an App for iOS users will follow soon! A big advantage is that this navigation system works offline (no data connection required). The GPS course guide is nice. Also useful is how the GPS screen displays the meters / kms till the next action, what the next action is (e.g. left, right at T-junction or roundabout) and the total distance to your destination. Using the zoom in & out buttons on the touchscreen changes the display on your smartphone too. After that, if you want to use the phone's display to zoom out, get a different view etc., you can do so without affecting the car's display. This is nifty if the co-passenger wants to look far ahead on the route or see other things on the map. As you drive along, the navigation system marks the route you've taken. Hence, if you get lost in a rural area, you can retrace your steps back. The system isn't flawless though. The GPS, at least at slow speeds, uses the gyro of your smartphone, hence it tends to yaw a lot. Then, unlike most stick-on GPS devices, the ICE display is out of the driver's line of sight. To take a look at the map, you have to take your eyes off the road. Of course, this problem is addressed to a big extent by the voice navigation, which prompts you well in advance. Even when it comes to roundabouts, the voice prompts are very clear. The navigation system has some cool features. If you look closely at the home screen when the navigation app is selected, you can see the name of the song playing. At the right is a play / pause button, so you can directly pause music from the home screen itself.

The second new feature is video playback. It's pretty sweet and a great way to entertain yourself / the kids when waiting some place. The system can play videos in MP4, FLV and AVI formats off an SD card or USB device. Video playback quality is acceptable. It's not super high resolution, yet is definitely watchable. The Zest will eventually get these new video playback and GPS navigation features. In case current Zest owners are wondering, no, they cannot be retrofitted on the existing system as the headunit requires additional memory.

The climate control and some vehicle settings (auto-locking doors, approach lamps etc.) can be changed via the touchscreen. The headunit supports smartphone integration and has an SMS read-out function. We quickly tested voice commands for the climate control and they worked as intended (similar to the Ford Fiesta's system). While the touch functions work properly, the screen’s sensitivity takes some getting used to. Further, some of the virtual buttons could have been a little bigger. As an example, the temperature control buttons are 8 mm diameter circles, which can be difficult to operate on an uneven road. Of course, this problem can be avoided by using the climate control's physical dials instead.

A cold December is hardly the weather to test a car's air-conditioning. That said, the hardware is the same as the Zest which has an effective HVAC system. We can safely assume that the Bolt is up to the task of keeping its occupants cool. The air-conditioner has an 'economy' mode button which reduces compressor usage, thereby increasing fuel-economy. There is a large gap between the fan & temperature knobs where one would normally expect a display. In the Bolt, this (climate control) display appears on the touchscreen.

What might trouble owners is the scarcity of storage spots. There is just one cup holder ahead of the gear lever. A larger bin-like area below the handbrake is the only option for you to drop your large smartphone. The doors get very narrow pockets which can barely squeeze in a 500 ml water bottle. Thankfully, the glove compartment is rather accommodating. It has slots for a pen, visiting cards and the owner's manual. Under the front passenger's seat is a medium-sized storage drawer too.

Steering with a hexagonal horn pad. Perforated texture and silver detailing look fab:

Steering-mounted audio buttons feel pretty solid:

Instrument cluster looks very upmarket with its white backlight. Tachometer needle turns red as you approach the redline. Unlike the Zest, the City, Eco & Sport modes get their own coloured indicators on the Bolt:

Toggle through distance-to-empty, clock and outside temperature. Trip A & B display their respective average FE! The graphical bar for instantaneous FE is always shown & is easy to refer to while driving. The MID 'ILLU'mination can be dimmed:

Stalks are lightly textured and quality of plastics is excellent. Mold lines barely visible. Notice the logical placement of the headlight level control:

The center console looks smart. Nothing is awkwardly positioned or shaped:

The center air-con vents can be shut by pushing them sideways. Little air still gets through. Side vents can't be closed though:

Harman-developed 5" touchscreen head-unit has incredible sound quality and high-volume clarity for this segment:

GPS Navigation makes its first appearance here on the Bolt (even before the Zest):

It mirrors MapMyIndia's NaviMaps on the infotainment display via a USB cable (Android only at the moment):

Navimaps can work without a data connection (useful in remote areas), and Tata said they would provide the app & maps for free to Bolt owners. The Harman SmartLink app is required for the systems to work together:

GPS display was very logical and easy to follow. The bottom row shows: Distance to next instruction, the instruction (3rd exit of the roundabout in this case), total distance remaining till destination, and current time. The purple dots mark the path you've already travelled (useful for retracing your path on undocumented roads) :

New addresses can only be typed in via the phone. However, you can pick previous destinations using the infotainment screen's options: recent, favourites, points of interest and saved routes:

The air-conditioning system can be operated via the physical controls as well as from this touchscreen interface:

Blank area where you'd expect a climate control readout. When the physical A/C controls are adjusted, the climate control screen momentarily appears on the infotainment display (as above):

Foglamp, Eco and Sport buttons on the top-end petrol. Chrome inserts between the buttons look stellar. USB / Aux below:

Merely one cup-holder in the entire car, placed beside the 12v port. Safe to assume that the Bolt won't be sold in America!

Seats have felt lining (alongside the handbrake) to partially hide the metal rails. Storage below the handbrake is also visible here:

Storage below the handbrake is barely large enough for a 4.7" phone:

The gear lever feels nice in your hand. Throws are a medium distance and the positioning is ergonomic:

Pedals are well spaced out. Though, there's no dead pedal and absolutely no room to the left of the clutch for resting your foot:

Front seats are supportive, though they felt slightly firmer than the Zest's. Lots of side bolstering too. High seating position gives a good view of the road ahead:

Driver's seat is height adjustable:

The driver's doorpad. Small pockets and no bottle holder:

Red light on the 'window lock button' appears when all passenger windows are unlocked. Should have been the other way around?! Driver's window gets one-touch-down convenience:

There's a well-hidden storage drawer under the front passenger's seat. It is deep enough to hide most of a 500 ml bottle:

Glove compartment is spacious (Nexus 5 for scale), with a shelf at the top for the owner's manual. Lid has holders for a pen, visiting cards etc.:

Top XT variant gets dual airbags:

Single cabin light, with the Bluetooth microphone placed just ahead of it:

ORVMs are tall, but not as wide as we'd have liked:

The IRVM is small and should have been a size bigger:

Parcel shelf is lower than on the Zest, aiding visibility when reversing. However, the massive C-pillars create huge blind-spots:

Last edited by GTO : 12th December 2014 at 12:48.
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Old 10th December 2014, 10:03   #4
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.2L Revotron : Official Review

Interior - Rear

The rear doors don't open out too wide for effortless ingress and egress.

Because the 2470 mm wheelbase is identical to the Zest (& Vista), the rear bench is as spacious as its sedan sibling. Tall passengers will be comfortable in the Bolt, while the wide rear seat is a rare one among hatchbacks that can accommodate 3 adults without issue. The front seatbacks have been scooped out to enhance knee room. Sitting behind the driver's seat in my driving position (I am 5'10"), the Bolt still offered legroom to spare! Even with the front seats pushed back all the way, there's adequate legroom available. Of course, this can be attributed to the fact that the front seats don't slide as far back as in some European hatchbacks. The roof doming upwards only adds to the airiness of the cabin. Headroom is sufficient for those up to 5'10". Sitting upright, I had just about an inch of headroom. Anyone taller will hit his head on the roof. Must be noted that, under hard acceleration, people tend to brush their heads against the roof (as we found out during our test-drive).

The seat base is at a comfortable height and under-thigh support is standard fare (like most other cars). The backrest recline angle is comfortable. However, we thought the rear seat is quite firm compared to those at the front. It's nice to see that Tata has provided adjustable neck restraints at the back too.

There's no neck restraint for the 5th occupant though. While the rear seat is wide enough to accommodate him, the 5th passenger will have to place his feet on either side of the floor hump. This hump isn't terribly tall (about 3"), but it is still prominent enough to be an irritant for the one seated in the middle. Although the rear bench rises slightly around the center, the 5th passenger's seating area is comfortable. He won't feel like he's perched awkwardly higher than others beside him.

It's a good thing that the large rear windows roll down all the way. The doorpads are upholstered with fabric where your arms rest. Having said that, a center armrest (on the back seat) as well as seatback pockets are missing. The door pockets are only capable of holding small 500 ml bottles, and there aren't any cup-holders anywhere. No rear air-con vents either, albeit the effective air-conditioner means no one will really miss them. For the convenience of rear passengers, the Harmon audio system comes with a remote control.

The grab handles have a soft return action - yet another classy touch showing that interior quality has stepped up a notch. In addition, the rear grab handles get nifty coat / bag hooks. I liked how Tata has provided slots (at the extreme ends of the seat) to plug the seatbelts in. While overall quality is good, some of the plastic fittings need to be sorted out. As an example, the pieces used to conceal the seat bolts came off on more than one occasion.

The Bolt's boot is extremely disappointing. At 210 liters, it's even smaller than that of the old Vista (232 L) and as impractical as the Swift’s (204 L). A smaller car like the Grand i10 has a bigger boot! Usability is further restricted by the high loading sill, rear seatback recline angle and protruding suspension struts which look weird. The top of the struts has been concealed with rubber caps. Thankfully, the rear seat has a 60:40 split and can flip & fold forward, giving you some cargo flexibility.

Spacious rear seat! Legroom shown behind a 5'8" driver and with the passenger's seat moved all the way back:

Sitting behind my own driving position (I'm 5'10"). Note that headroom is limited for anyone over 5'10":

Rear headrests are height adjustable, but very firm. The parcel shelf isn't too wide, but at least it is level and has a prominent lip to stop things from sliding off:

The floor hump isn't terribly tall, yet it's not low enough for the 5th passenger to comfortably place his feet on:

Seat-back pockets are missing. Seat-back is scooped out to maximize rear kneeroom:

500 ml bottles are a squeeze in the tiny rear door pockets:

The top-end Bolt gets a folding rear seat with a 60:40 split. Pull up on this knob to fold the seat down:

This neat li'l seatbelt holder keeps the belts out of the way, when you want to fold the seat down:

Note that the seat base can also flip forward before the seat-back folds down, helping to create a flatter floor:

Extremely limited 210 liters of boot space in its standard configuration. The parcel shelf is removable:

It's not a huge amount of space, but more than enough for 3-4 backpacks or a few small strolleys:

Despite the lack of a handle to open the hatch, there is one to close it:

Rubber damper to prevent vibrations from the parcel tray, boot light, light activation switch and strange looking rubber cap over the strut mount:

14" steel wheel stepney. Smaller rim size than the 15" alloys, yet the same tyre width:

Properly stocked tool kit. The storage pouch (shown in the earlier boot picture) has velcro that helps it stick to the boot carpet, preventing it from moving about:

Last edited by GTO : 13th December 2014 at 16:03.
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Old 10th December 2014, 10:04   #5
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.2L Revotron : Official Review

Driving the 1.2T Revotron Petrol

The Bolt is powered by the same 1193cc petrol 'Revotron' motor from the Zest. This isn't an all-new engine developed from a clean sheet of paper. It actually uses the familiar cast-iron block of the Indica Xeta, has 2 valves / cylinder and an SOHC valvetrain (competition offers 16V DOHCs). The motor has been extensively reworked though. Developed in-house, this powerplant uses a Honeywell turbocharger and makes 89 BHP (@ 5000 rpm). Interestingly, while the peak torque of 140 Nm is identical to the Zest, it is available in a wider rpm range of 1500 - 4000 (Zest = 1750 to 3500 rpm). For the petrol, the TA65 5-speed manual gearbox is the only one on offer at the moment (no AMT). Turbo-petrols are far & few in the mass market segment, but they will gain in popularity eventually. The other turbo-petrols on sale are the VW 1.2L TSI, Ford 1.0L EcoBoost & Fiat 1.4L T-Jet. Of these, the VW & Ford motors are particularly high on technology. Tata's 1.2L Revotron makes the least power & torque of this turbo-petrol gang, but it is also the least expensive. The absence of lag & lower power figures means a mild turbo-charger has been deployed by Tata.

One might ask what the big deal with Tata's turbo-petrol is, when some of its naturally-aspirated competition make nearly as much power (e.g. Swift, Brio)? The difference is torque. For one, the 140 Nm of torque is about 30% higher than the n/a competition. More importantly, the turbo-charger helps the Bolt make its peak torque at merely 1,500 rpm (vs ~4,000 rpm for the n/a competition). Max power / BHP is also produced about 1,000 rpm earlier than the n/a 1.2L engines.

In what is a segment first, the Bolt's engine offers 3 driving modes: Eco, City and Sport. On switching between these modes, not only does the Bolt change the sensitivity of the accelerator pedal, but it also tells the ECU to use different maps to deliver either more power or better fuel economy. Listen very carefully at idle when you press the Eco or Sport buttons and you'll actually hear the engine idle change a little, which indicates that it is actively changing settings in the maps. One point to keep in mind - every time you switch the car on, the system moves back to the default "City" mode. If you wish to regularly use Sport or Eco modes, you must remember to engage them when starting.

As a safety feature, you need to press the clutch pedal to start the engine. Think of "turbo" and words like "lag" come immediately to mind. However, with the Bolt, this isn't the case. The Revotron engine is nearly lag-free and moves eagerly from lower rpms. It's seamless enough that you never feel a lull before the turbo spools up. The turbo is fairly small, as you'll see in the pictures. The Revotron can pull from low revs without much effort and is well-suited to India's traffic conditions. There is so much low-end torque available that, upon releasing the clutch & with zero throttle input, the car simply pushes forward without stalling. You can even crawl over speed breakers and climb moderate inclines in 2nd gear itself. Tata engineers have done a commendable job of keeping turbo-lag at minimal levels and making the engine extremely drivable in the low rpm range. The Bolt has a light steering with a pretty quick ratio, making it manoeuvrable in tight city lanes. The clutch too is light enough and has a short 3" travel range. All these factors put together make the Bolt an ideal city car. On the flip side, due to the high seating position and absolute lack of space to the left of the clutch pedal, the driver's left ankle will get tired from keeping his foot on the clutch pedal in stop-go traffic.

While the engine shines in driveability, those expecting outright performance will be disappointed. Don't even mistakenly compare the Revotron to that explosive 1.2L TSI from the VW Polo. The Revotron motor certainly doesn't like to be revved hard. Take it past 3500 rpm and the engine gets a bit throaty. The needle turns red at 5500 rpm, with the engine sounding harsh. On the expressway, the Bolt is in its comfort zone cruising at legal speeds, and being driven in a sedate manner (< 4000 rpm). 100 kph in 5th gear is attained at an indicated 2500 rpm. You can switch to 'sport' mode on the highway, but this still isn't an engine that begs you to go faster. Don't get me wrong, performance is completely adequate for a regular driver, yet it's no tarmac scorcher like the VW TSI. Overtaking manoeuvres will definitely require downshifts.

Eco Mode:

Press the 'Eco' button to take the engine into its fuel efficient mode. Eco greatly mutes throttle response, even when compared to the default 'City' mode. The car isn't eager to respond quickly. That said, the Revotron's low-end torque keeps the Bolt usable in bumper-to-bumper traffic. While Eco is sluggish compared to the other modes, it doesn't get affected by turbo lag. Eco mode will bring some benefits to cost-conscious budget hatchback buyers. On the other hand, it is unsuitable for highway driving.

Sport Mode:

Engaging Sport mode makes the Revotron noticeably more responsive to throttle input (both, in terms of pedal and engine mapping). A slight dab on the accelerator and the difference is immediately felt. The car is peppy in urban conditions, with initial performance improving considerably over the other modes. That said, once the engine crosses its comfort zone (about 3500 - 4000 rpm), the Revotron isn't exactly 'sporty'.

The gearshift is one area where Tata Motors has made significant progress. The throw isn't as long as older Tata vehicles and the gear knob is nice to hold too. Gears slot in smoothly and you won't be missing a shift. Remember how the Zest's gear lever moved back & forth with throttle input? We didn't see that behaviour on the Bolt. On the negative side, those with a keener sense of hearing might notice a faint transmission whine coming into the cabin.

The Bolt has a different rear end than its sedan sibling and its insulation didn't seem as impressive as the Zest’s. Even at 40 kph, there was noticeable noise coming in at the back. Under hard acceleration, rear passengers can hear some sound (a lot like an A/C blower)...probably from the exhaust pipe? This sound was more pronounced in sport mode. Additionally, there's a hissing wind noise at the rear above 100 kph. We couldn’t pinpoint exactly where the source lies. At the front, wind noise is noticeable >90 kph and there’s a whistling sound from the ORVM area >120 kph.

Ride, handling, steering and braking

Tata has made some changes to the Bolt's suspension. One of the engineers mentioned that the rear hardware has been stiffened up. The result? While ride quality is still compliant, it is certainly not as cushy as the Zest’s. The Zest manages to glide over roads smoothly at any speed. On the other hand, the Bolt's rear feels firmer. Sitting on the back seat with 4 people in the car, big bumps felt much more pronounced. The suspension does go about its work silently. On smooth roads & highway speeds, occupants won't complain. Do note that we drove the top variant with 15" rims; lesser trims with 14" wheels (and thus, a taller tyre sidewall) will have softer ride quality.

The Bolt is decent around corners too. At regular speeds, it has no problems tackling them. Only on throwing the car hard into curves will you see understeer stepping in. The 175 mm Goodyear Assurance tyres provide good grip, while overall road behaviour is helped by the wide tracks (1450 mm front and 1440 mm rear). That said, there is a fair deal of body roll which dampens the driving experience. Don't expect it to be a corner carver or involving handler in any way. The Bolt's handling is neutral and the average Joe will be happy with its safe dynamics. Want entertainment on a mountain pass? Look at cars like the Punto, Polo, Figo & Swift instead.

The new electric power steering developed by ZF is light & accurate. Like the Nano Twist, the EPS has an "Active Return" function which (Tata claims) makes the car less tiring to drive & park. It's light enough at crawling speeds. Going past 45 kph however, the steering weighs up noticeably, almost a little too much (or too early, we should say). At highway speeds, there's absolutely no vagueness or twitchiness, which helps the Bolt feel planted. This is certainly one of the better EPS units around and they've struck the right balance. Tata adds that the Bolt's EPS uses a brushless motor which makes it more durable.

The Bolt is equipped with disc brakes at the front and drums at the rear. The 9th generation ABS unit is sourced from Bosch. Overall, the brakes have adequate stopping power. On hard braking from 120 kph, the ABS kicked in, but it wasn't intrusive at all. When getting on the brakes, not much happens for the first inch of pedal travel. A little more initial bite would help make the brakes feel more effective & confidence inspiring.

1.2L turbo with class-leading torque:

Tata is clearly proud of their Revotron engine. As a result, the Bolt & Zest wear this prominent chrome badge:

That's the small turbo (dead center) visible at the end of the black pipe:

Turbo-petrol's intercooler sits low behind the front bumper:

Most manufacturers skip this NVH cladding for their petrol variants...not Tata. Just one of the many things that indicate 'cost cutting' wasn't a top priority here:

The ECU sits right ahead of the battery:

Tata is targeting personal ("petrol") buyers with the Bolt. Even the Zest has a 60:40 Petrol & Diesel sales split:

Notice the "CITY" mode being prominently displayed. Also visible is the gear upshift indicator (top left of the MID) & the instantaneous FE meter at work:

Last edited by GTO : 22nd January 2015 at 13:06.
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Old 10th December 2014, 10:04   #6
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.2L Revotron : Official Review

Other Points:

• From the looks of it, the Bolt's sibling is on its way to becoming The Team-BHP Car of 2014 (related thread). The Zest currently holds 40% of BHPian votes.

• The Bolt is 2nd in a line of new products that Tata plans to introduce till 2020 (Zest was the 1st).

• Tata will sell the Bolt with the 1.3-liter diesel as well. It's the familiar Fiat-sourced engine with a fixed geometry turbocharger putting out 74 BHP @ 4000 rpm and 190 Nm torque @ 1750-3000 rpm. Would have been a great differentiator if the 89 BHP variable-geometry-turbo version were offered (it is on the Zest). Knowing Tata's obsession with offering innumerable variants, I'm willing to bet we'll see an 89 BHP diesel Bolt sometime.

• ARAI stats: 17.57 km/l (petrol) and 22.95 km/l (diesel).

• Because of limited AMT supplies from Magneti Marelli, the Zest AMT currently has a waiting period of up to 6 months! Initially, the Bolt diesel is likely to be available with a manual gearbox only. There is, however, a mention of the automated manual transmission in the owner's manual. We expect the Bolt AMT to be introduced once these supply issues are sorted out. There's no reason for Tata not to offer it.

• Safety features include dual airbags, ABS + EBD with Cornering Stability Control (CSC). Tata says “CSC supports / stabilizes the vehicle during partial braking in curves by reducing pressure at the required inner wheel. This helps to reduce the probability of vehicle oversteer during cornering".

• Hallelujah, a variant naming system that actually makes sense! XT = Top, XM = Mid, XE = Entry / Economy. If there's an S at the end (e.g. XMS), it has the safety pack. When the AMT is offered, its variant name will have an 'A' at the end (e.g. XMA).

• Vis a vis the Zest, the Bolt loses parking sensors, LED DRLs and 'guide lights' (the angel-eye parking lights). While we don't miss the parking sensors much on a hatchback, we'd love to have seen the LED DRLs and guide lights on the Bolt. Would give the front great presence.

• Design inputs have been taken from 3 studios - Pune, Coventry (UK) and Turin (Italy).

• Tata's sales & marketing function has been a weak point within the company, and one of the main reasons behind its poor sales. Let's hope marketing guru Mayank Pareek works some of his magic on the Zest & Bolt sales - related link.

• Tata claims that the Bolt is aimed squarely at the personal car segment. At least at the start; this is what they'd told us at the time of the Manza's media drive too (now available as a taxi).

• Turning radius of 5.1 meters is bigger than the Swift (4.8m).

• The blackened C-Pillar vinyl sticker has a strange pattern, as well as a kink at the bottom. The top doesn't line up perfectly with the rear windscreen.

• Neat trick: If the front wipers are currently active and reverse gear is engaged, the rear wiper comes on automatically.

• The Bolt has a fuel tank capacity of 44 liters - same as the Zest and 7 liters more than the Vista.

• If you insert the key and hurriedly start the engine (without stopping momentarily at the accessory position), the starter won't crank.

• The driver's window switch doesn't have 2 defined steps of progression. As a result, to engage one-touch-down, you have to keep it pressed for more than half a second or so. There's no one-touch-up functionality.

• If you pull the driver's (inside) door handle, it opens the driver's door & unlocks all other doors (rather than having to specifically flip the lock / unlock lever separately). The fact that this feature is only available on the driver's door is a good thing.

• Auto-locking doors can be activated / deactivated from the vehicle settings screen. Same for 'auto relock'. Meaning, if you unlock via the remote but don't open the doors within a certain time limit, the Bolt will re-lock itself automatically.

• To adjust the brightness of the MID & interior illumination, the headlights have to be turned on. After that, keep tapping the left instrument cluster stalk to cycle through the 5 adjustment levels.

• The audio system has a slight delay in responding to simple actions like changing the volume. It takes half a second to reflect the adjustments you make. While this isn't a big deal, the delay is definitely perceivable. Not sure if this is intentional (some Mercs have it by design).

• In addition to the new video playback feature, the 5" touchscreen also has a photo viewing mode which enables the display of any image on your USB drive / SD card.

• Voice recognition is limited to a set of predefined commands. Some examples: Tune to <station>, Play song <song name>, Play album <album name>, Call <contact name>, Dial <number>, Set fan speed <fan speed>, Set temperature <temp>, etc.

• The indicator stalk has a soft-touch lane change feature; tap and it'll blink thrice. Also, the headlamp levelling control is mounted on the light stalk itself...a very logical place for it!

• The Bolt's OBD port is located behind the large snap-fit panel, to the right of the steering column. This means that it's not always accessible (e.g. if you want to use a Bluetooth OBD module while driving).

Disclaimer : Tata invited Team-BHP for the Bolt test-drive. They covered all the travel expenses for this driving event.

Last edited by GTO : 22nd January 2015 at 18:31.
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Old 10th December 2014, 10:05   #7
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.2L Revotron : Official Review

The Smaller yet Significant Things:

The 'door open' warning conveniently shows exactly which door (or if hatch) is open:

Despite the felt curtain to cover the seat rails, the Bolt uses a different plastic molding than the Zest, and hence exposes the nuts & bolts near the seatbelt clip:

This shiny black plastic cladding fills up the space where the christmas-tree tail lights used to be:

Heavy-duty rubber bushings to prevent the hatch from moving or rattling:

Another rubber damper to prevent rattles & vibrations:

This isn't a removable sticker. The bright yellow warning is printed on, that too on both sides! Various languages suggest an export possibility:

Recommended tyre pressures:

Keyhole is illuminated. The Bolt did require a bit of force to get over the initial resistance when inserting the key. It wasn't as bad as the Zest though:

This ball & socket like joint - where the indicator stalks meet the steering column - looks neat:

A/C vents for the footwells are located on the side of the center console:

Tata is now on the RFID bandwagon too:

Faux leather covers up the gap between the instrument cluster and steering wheel - a premium touch:

Light / temperature sensor for the climate control is mounted on the dash. Remember not to cover it up:

Even a 500 ml bottle is a squeeze in the extremely narrow door pockets:

Exposed insulation as well as an edge of the sheet metal...when you open up the driver's door:

A look at the ICE remote control and small first-aid kit:

The hinges that enable the seat-bases (of the rear bench) to flip forward are covered with poor quality plastic caps. Several of them fell off on our test cars:

Tata's Bolt army, just before the media drive was flagged off:

Opened the rear door and this plastic screw-cap popped off!

Another QC snag: a few cars had rear seatbelts which were internally twisted - not allowing them to be drawn back in:

The blackened C-pillars have this design printed on the vinyl. We're not fans of the kink at the bottom edge of the vinyl. Should have been a clean line instead:

Plastic air-deflector under the bumper helps aerodynamics:

Seatbelts aren't height adjustable:

Flippy key with a special center button for activating the headlamps:

Hooks on the grab handles, and yes, they do go back in a smooth & damped fashion:

The windshield washer is more of a single spread-out spray, than multiple isolated streams:

Seat fabric appears durable, while the colour is a sensible choice too:

Last edited by GTO : 15th December 2014 at 10:44.
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Old 10th December 2014, 11:53   #8
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.2L Revotron : Official Review

Chief Competitors of the Tata Bolt

Maruti Swift

What you'll like:
• Snazzy styling packs appeal. Interiors are well-designed too
• Competent engine range. Very refined motors
• Balanced ride and handling. Superbly tuned suspension
• Terrific fuel efficiency, especially from the diesel
• Effortless to drive in the city; lots of fun on the highway
• Maruti's excellent after-sales-service & wide dealer network

What you won't:
• Small, impractical boot. Luggage capacity is severely restricted
• Mediocre brakes (LXi / LDi & VXi / VDi). Inadequate for emergency braking conditions
• Looks nearly identical to the outgoing generation car
• Rear seat space, though improved, still isn't "spacious"
• Pricey ZXi / ZDi variants

Hyundai Grand i10

What you'll like:
• All-rounded package in a contemporary design. Improved over the old i10 in nearly every way
• Interiors have best-in-class fit, finish & quality. Increased cabin space & boot capacity
• Fuel-efficient, practical diesel & peppy petrol. Smooth gearbox too
• Loaded with features (keyless start & go, electric folding ORVMs, rear air-con, cooled glovebox etc.)
• Comfortable ride quality and predictable handling. No bumpiness
• Hyundai's fussfree ownership experience & excellent after-sales service
• Priced lower than chief competitor, the Maruti Swift

What you won't:
• 1.1L diesel lacks the top-end punch of competition. Ordinary highway performance
• Missing climate control, adjustable front neck restraints and dead pedal
• The Swift and Brio are more fun to drive. Grand i10's steering & dynamics aren't to an enthusiast's tastes
• Rear defogger, ABS & Airbags only on Asta trim level. Should have been optional with the middle variant
• More suited as a 4 seater, rather than 5

Volkswagen Polo

What you'll like:
• A well-built solid European hatchback
• 1.5L diesel & 1.2L TSI petrol engines are very competent
• Clean and contemporary styling. Absolutely no quirkiness
• Mature suspension offers a balanced ride & handling package
• Dual airbags even in the base variants!
• Accommodating 280 liter boot

What you won't:
• Base 3-cylinder 1.2L petrol engine is unimpressive
• Mediocre rear bench legroom and a large floor hump
• Missing essentials (driver armrest of the Vento, 60:40 splitting rear seat, dead pedal, seatback pockets)
• VW's sub-par dealership & service experiences

Toyota Liva

What you'll like:
• A neutral family hatchback with the "T" badge
• Spacious interiors can easily carry 5 adults
• Super light controls, especially steering & short-throw clutch. Effortless to drive within the city
• Well-tuned suspension. Safe handling and flat ride
• Safety kit on lower variants too
• Toyota's fuss-free ownership experience & excellent after-sales

What you won't:
• 1.2L engine lacks bottom end; isn't a class-topper like the Etios 1.5 (from which it is derived)
• Cost-cutting glaringly obvious in many areas
• Economy-grade interior quality & unconventional dashboard
• Missing equipment (climate control, height adjustable driver's seat etc.)
• Poor insulation. Engine, suspension & road noise are prominent

Fiat Punto Evo

What you'll like:
• Stunning design. Easily the most stylish hatchback on our roads today
• Solid build quality
• Fuel efficient diesel
• Mature & superb ride quality
• Outstanding high speed dynamics. A benchmark amongst hatches
• Perfectly calibrated & weighted power steering. Deserves a mention here
• 5 star safety, ABS & airbags

What you won't:
• Rear bench space. Cosy interiors by big hatch standards
• Interior fit, finish and quality are strictly average
• Low FE of the petrol
• Lack of outright performance (diesel). No high powered engine (a la Palio 1.6 100 BHP)
• Engine noise at speed (petrol and diesel both)
• Service network not a match to say, Maruti or Hyundai

Hyundai Elite i20

What you'll like:
• All-rounded package in a sharp design. Improved over the 1st-gen i20 in nearly every way
• Spacious interiors with outstanding quality, fit and finish. Practical 285 liter boot too
• 1.4L diesel has excellent driveability, refinement, performance & fuel economy. 6-speed gearbox is smooth
• Mature suspension offers a comfortable ride and neutral handling characteristics
• Hyundai's fuss-free ownership experience & excellent after-sales-service
• Loaded with features & gizmos (16" rims, keyless entry & go, 8-speaker stereo, rake & reach steering, rear air-con, reversing cam, cooled glovebox and lots more)

What you won't:
• Missing equipment vis-a-vis old i20: Rear disc brakes, side & curtain airbags, sunroof, auto-wipers & DRLs
• 1.2L petrol is nowhere as impressive as the diesel. Mediocre highway performance for a premium hatchback
• Anyone over 5'11" will find rear headroom to be insufficient. Sloping roof eats into cabin height at the back
• Dynamics & steering aren't to an enthusiast's tastes. Swift, Polo etc. are more fun to drive
• On-road price difference between the petrol & diesel is ~1.3 lakhs. That's higher than the competition
• Rear wiper only on the top Asta trim! No fuel-efficiency indicator, auto-locking doors or height-adjustable seatbelts on any variant
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Old 10th December 2014, 12:07   #9
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.2L Revotron : Official Review

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Official Reviews.

Thanks for sharing, guys! The level of detail is astonishing. Rating review a well-deserved 5 stars .
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Old 10th December 2014, 12:41   #10
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.2L Revotron : Official Review

Good review guys! A very honest effort from TATA and it really shows on the product!

TATA will have more appeal only if the dealerships too take their work a bit more seriously.
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Old 10th December 2014, 13:00   #11
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.2L Revotron : Official Review

Great review.
Tata has come a long way in terms of looks but still they need to do something radical for not to be considered as a taxi.
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Old 10th December 2014, 13:06   #12
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.2L Revotron : Official Review

Excellent review Aditya, rated 5 stars. I wish Tata could change the side profile a little. It looks almost the same as the vista. The rear is looking real nice.
What is the use of that RFID tag? I can see that on my Thar as well.
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Old 10th December 2014, 13:08   #13
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.2L Revotron : Official Review

The most awaited review after the launch of Zest. Neat and detailed review, thanks for sharing. TATA's product are getting better now, hope so with the T.A.S.S aswell. Happy to see such a progress from an Indian OEM.

Originally Posted by Aditya View Post
Parcel shelf is lower than on the Zest, aiding visibility when reversing, however the massive C-pillars create huge blind-spots
Zest or Bolt?
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Old 10th December 2014, 13:15   #14
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.2L Revotron : Official Review

Good review, though frankly- this is one review I will just glance through the pics. The bolt doesn't interest me somehow, not even as much as the Zest does! Surprising since Zest was my choice of COTY this year.

No AMT, no 90hp diesel, same old Vista profile- I hope they have a low price tag ready for the Bolt to sell some good numbers.

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 10th December 2014 at 13:18.
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Old 10th December 2014, 13:37   #15
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.2L Revotron : Official Review

Excellent review as always. Very very impressed by the Bolt. A practical no-nonsense car that covers all the bases. Thanks a ton again for the effort put into the review. Car of the year 2015 perhaps?
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