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Old 28th February 2015, 15:38   #1
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Default Tata Bolt 1.3L Diesel : Official Review

The Tata Bolt Diesel has been launched in India at a price of between Rs. 5.50 - 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
• 1.3L diesel is practical, fuel efficient and very refined
• Balanced suspension offers safe & neutral handling. Nicely calibrated 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: Projector headlamps, 5" touchscreen, voice commands etc.

What you won't:

• Ridiculous pricing strategy. Zest XT with greater power & equipment costs merely Rs. 31,000 more!
• Mediocre power-to-weight ratio (65 BHP / Ton). A commuter diesel engine, nothing else
• 210 liter boot is among the smallest from this segment
• Ride quality is noticeably firmer than the Zest
• 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. Also, Tata's sub-par after-sales service is far from that of Maruti & Hyundai

Last edited by GTO : 28th February 2015 at 16:27.
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Old 28th February 2015, 15:42   #2
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.3L Diesel : Official Review

Since the Tata Bolt has already been reviewed by Team-BHP, this report will only focus on changes to the 1.3L Diesel variant. For easy reference, here are direct links to the complete Tata Bolt road-test:

Exterior Design & Build Quality

Interior design, space, practicality & features

Interior - Rear

Driving the 1.2L Petrol

Other Pertinent Points

The Smaller yet Significant Things

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Old 28th February 2015, 15:42   #3
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.3L Diesel : Official Review

So, what's different on the outside?

Let me start this review off by saying that Tata has completely botched up the Bolt's pricing, vis a vis the Zest . The price difference between the top-end diesel variants of the Bolt & Zest is merely Rs. 31,000 (nothing in EMI terms). For just 31k, the Zest gives you 14 BHP more, 10 Nm additional torque, 86% more boot space, 10 mm fatter tyres, softer ride quality, dual-tone interiors, parking sensors, LED DRLs and the option of an AMT. It's a no-brainer, there is simply no reason to pick the Bolt XT over the Zest XT!!
Tata Bolt 1.3L Diesel : Official Review-tata-bolt-diesel-price-specs.png

Usually, the kerb weight difference between a petrol & diesel hatchback is ~100 kilos (95 kg for the Swift, 120 kg for the i20). With the Bolt however, the diesel variant is heavier by merely 37 kilos. Why? Because the petrol engine itself is a heavy turbo-charged unit with a cast-iron block. The Bolt petrol & diesel are among the heaviest B2-segment hatchbacks:

While its nearly identical sibling - the Zest sedan - is built at the modern Tata-Fiat Ranjangaon facility, the Bolt is manufactured at Tata's own Pimpri factory (just like the Indica & Vista):

Variant to variant, the diesel carries a premium of about 1 lakh rupees over the petrol. I'd have expected the difference to be slimmer, as the petrol also has a turbo-charger (and 3 selectable driving modes). A Rs. 1 lakh premium is the norm between a naturally-aspirated petrol & turbo-charged diesel:

No diesel badging anywhere on the car! The Bolt petrol wears a Revotron badge (link to image). Tata is so focused on the Revotron that the Quadrajet diesel wasn't even made available at the media drives:

Like in the turbo-petrol, the diesel's intercooler sits low behind the front bumper:

Same 8-spoke rims, this time in a sweet gun-metal finish. 175/65 R15 Goodyear Tyres:

What should you buy, the Quadrajet or the Revotron? My pick would be the diesel. The turbo-petrol's USP is torque (though the diesel has more of it), an ECO driving mode (diesel is still the more efficient) and a Sport mode (neither of them are particularly quick anyway). The petrol isn't too high-rpm friendly either (typically a petrol advantage, but not in this case). Whatever way you look at it, the diesel is the more practical option. It will (arguably) be more robust & reliable in the long run too. Remember, plenty of Indian cars with this 1.3L diesel have run 1.5 - 2 lakh kms without serious engine work. On the other hand, the Revotron's long-term durability is unknown as it has only just been introduced:

How the different variants stack up:
Tata Bolt 1.3L Diesel : Official Review-tata-bolt-diesel-features-equipment.png

Last edited by GTO : 3rd March 2015 at 09:01.
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Old 28th February 2015, 15:43   #4
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.3L Diesel : Official Review

So, what's different on the inside?

Nice steering. Perforated texture & silver detailing look fab. Hexagonal hornpad is a stretch for your thumbs. Mute button (which actually works as a pause & play function) is useful:

Same instrument cluster as the Zest petrol, which means the revv counter is marked till 8,000 in the diesel! Unnecessary sharing & cost-cutting. Nevertheless, it looks rather upmarket with the white backlight. MID is comprehensive. It displays the currently selected gear, suggests upshifts or downshifts (via a tiny arrow), fuel efficiency, distance to empty, outside temperature (very inaccurate) and exactly which door is open. Trip A & B display their respective average FE! The graphical bar for instantaneous FE is always shown & is easy to refer to while driving:

Hit the highway and you'll see its fuel economy quickly climb up to 20 kmpl...and beyond. Just one of the reasons this li'l 1.3L diesel became our national engine. Speaking of the FE display, unfortunately, the MID toggle button doesn't have a convenient location. You have to stretch your hand (through the steering) and press the 'mode' stalk on the instrument cluster. Thus, you cannot toggle between the different displays while driving:

Gearshift is adequately light & smooth to use, even if it lacks the sheer finesse of an i10 / Polo gearbox. The Bolt diesel uses the 'Fiat Evo-II transmission'. Interestingly, it feels better than the gearbox of Fiat's own cars, the Punto & Linea!! Slim, well-designed gear knob is great to hold:

No ECO & Sport driving modes like the petrol (link to image). Chrome separators look neat:

Clutch pedal is light, although its travel range is too long. Additionally, owners will complain that its resting point (at the top) comes out too high, leading to an awkward position for your left leg. This reminded me of my old Tata Indigo. Lastly, there's no dead pedal and absolutely no room to the left for resting your foot:

A design flaw. Picture taken with the afternoon sun right above. Look inside the ORVM area and you'll notice the very prominent reflection of the chrome air-vent unit. This reflection is actually on the window glass & was a lot more irritating than in other cars. What makes matters worse is that you'll see it on both sides:

Harman-developed 5" touchscreen ICE with 8 speakers, GPS navigation & video playback. Sound quality is awesome:

Operate the climate control directly from the touchscreen (in addition to the regular control knobs). On a hot Mumbai day, the air-conditioner kept the cabin cool, but not cold. I didn't find it to be very powerful. Blame it on the black interiors or the sunfilm ban. The blower has 7 steps of adjustment. On anything other than level 1, the blower is audible. At level 3 & up, the noise is a lot more than in other cars. What's more, when the Bolt is idling, you can literally feel the air-con compressor kick in & out. The action is far from seamless:

Last edited by GTO : 3rd March 2015 at 15:45.
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Old 28th February 2015, 15:44   #5
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.3L Diesel : Official Review

Familiar 1.3L diesel with 74 BHP & 190 Nm of torque. A comfortable fit in this big engine bay. Considering the Bolt's hefty kerb weight, the 89 BHP version of this engine should have been offered instead:

Under the hood is our national engine, the Fiat 1.3L diesel. Power is rated at 74 BHP (@ 4,000 rpm) and 190 Nm of torque (@ 1,750 - 3,000 rpm). While these figures are identical to the Swift, it is important to note that the Bolt develops its peak torque 250 rpm earlier (Swift = 190 Nm @ 2,000 rpm).

The Bolt is Tata's flagship hatchback and one of their 'comeback' cars. Thus, I'm disappointed that Tata didn't choose the 89 BHP VGT (variable-geometry-turbo) version of this engine. The Zest is being sold with the 89 BHP diesel (thereby making logistics simpler) as was Tata's old Vista D90. As Moralfibre pointed out in his Vista review (link), the motor was nicely tuned. To make a sale in the crowded hatchback space, the Bolt needs all the differentiators it can get. This is precisely why I also loathe the missing AMT option which would've made for India's 1st diesel AT hatchback! Undoubtedly, two glaring errors by the planning team here. That said, knowing Tata's obsession with innumerable variants, I'm optimistic that the Bolt will see the 89 BHP diesel & an optional AMT some day.

The black cabin is a nice place to be in. Interior space is generous, the dashboard is well-designed, part quality is acceptable and that touchscreen ICE is just wow. The driver's seat offers good support & the steering is nice to hold. However, those used to low-slung Japanese cars will feel that the steering is positioned too high. The tilt adjustment range is normal, but it starts too high (truck-like in its topmost position) and therefore, won't go down too low. This is a throwback to the ol' Indica / Indigo days. Further, the clutch pedal's resting point is too high (again, an Indigo trait). This is an annoyance as you have to lift your left leg noticeably more than you would in any other hatchback. Another complaint is that the front seats don't slide as far back as 6-footer drivers would prefer.

You need to press the clutch pedal to fire up the engine. In your first 5 minutes with the Bolt diesel, what will stand out is its refinement. Tata's engineers have worked hard at lowering NVH inside the cabin and it shows. Engine noise is very well controlled on the inside. At city rpms, diesel clatter is at minimal levels and while cruising, you'd be hard-pressed to tell that there is an oil-burner under the hood. Moderator Aditya just returned from the Jetta facelift drive and he commented that the Bolt is quieter than the VW! One fly in the ointment would be the engine & drivetrain vibrations felt on the ABC pedals, especially the clutch. These vibrations are directly proportional to engine rpm. A second irritant is experienced when the car is idling. You can literally feel the air-con compressor kick in & out. The action is far from seamless, and a very mild but annoying jerk is felt at the front of the cabin when the compressor activates.

Tata has given the 1.3L diesel a practical state of tune. The Bolt diesel pulls well from low rpm. Many hatchbacks powered by the same engine suffer from prominent turbo-lag, but not the Bolt. Remember, this Tata develops its peak torque a full 250 rpm earlier than the Swift diesel. As a result, the engine has adequate torque in the 1,500 - 1,900 rpm range. While there is a noticeable surge in power delivery once you cross 2,000 rpm, the Bolt is certainly not 'dead' below that. The needle climbs sufficiently quickly from 1,600 - 2,000 rpm. You can easily cross speed-breakers in 2nd gear itself, without feeling any need to downshift to 1st. In fact, you rarely need to downshift to 1st, unless you come to a stop or an absolute crawl. The Bolt offers good driveability in urban conditions and you'll be using the gearbox a lot less than some competitors. The initial lot of gears are short; this helps driveability and also in getting around lag. Don't get me wrong, it's no Nissan Micra, yet the Bolt is rather competent in the city.

There is a surge in power delivery once you cross 2,000 rpm and the engine is in the turbo zone. You feel a distinct tug after the revv needle crosses this point. But sadly, the Bolt diesel is no road burner and one of the main reasons is its heavy kerb weight. The Bolt's power & torque to weight figures are among the lowest from the segment. The diesel is adequately peppy in the 2,000 - 4,000 rpm range, but it's not fast. At best, you'll be keeping up with expressway traffic. It's on a fast highway where you'll remember my words and wish that Tata had chosen the 89 BHP tune. Like most other diesels, the 1.3L has nothing to offer past 4,000 rpm, where the torque curve starts falling. No point in high-revving diesel engines, you'll only waste fuel without really getting anywhere. For the times that you need the extra revvs (e.g. when overtaking), the 1.3L will climb to 5,200 rpm. While the engine is noisy at high rpms, it doesn't suffer from the excessive boomy noise that the Punto exhibits. To put the outright performance in perspective, it's certainly better than the Figo diesel, and on par with the Liva & Punto. Cars like the Polo 1.5 however will leave the Bolt in the dust.

This car is more suited to a relaxed driving style than a hurried one. It's best to drive the Bolt sedately, work the torque and shift up early. It's a commuter hatchback, not an enthusiastic one. The Bolt diesel can be a relaxed cruiser on long drives. In 5th gear, 80 kph is seen at ~1,900 rpm, and 100 kph at ~2,400 rpm. Engine, road & wind noise are well-controlled in these conditions.

Where this commuter diesel will impress owners is in the efficiency department. I wasn't driving with a particularly light foot, yet saw 14 kpl in the city. Cruising on the highway had the engine delivering over 20 kpl. The ARAI rating stands at 22.95 km/l (Revotron petrol = 17.57 km/l). With a fuel tank of 44 liters, you can easily manage a highway tank range of 700 - 800 kms.

The Bolt diesel utilizes Fiat's Evo-II transmission. Interestingly, it feels lighter & smoother than the gearbox in Fiat's own cars, the Punto & Linea!! The Bolt's gearbox is nice to use. It doesn't require much effort to shift and isn't heavy at all. Even the slim & well-designed gear lever feels good to hold. That said, the gearbox doesn't have the finesse or sheer shift quality of the Hyundai i20 & VW Polo. I'll give it a 7.5/10 rating. The clutch pedal is very light to use. On the flip side, its travel range is way too long. As mentioned earlier, the pedal's resting position is too high as well, making it cumbersome to operate in rush-hour traffic.

As our Bolt petrol review indicated, the suspension is indeed firmer than the Zest's. While ride quality is still compliant, it's certainly not as cushy as that of the Zest. The Zest manages to glide over roads smoothly at any speed. On the other hand, the Bolt feels distinctly firmer. It's comfortable, albeit you are always aware of the road conditions below you. Big bumps feel more pronounced & the sharp ones come in strong. 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. Must add that the suspension does its work silently. No thuds or the like when going over rough roads.

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 diesel doesn't feel much different than the petrol, as the weight difference at the front isn't significant. Those 175 mm Goodyear Assurance tyres provide sufficient 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. As the speedometer climbs, the steering weighs up properly. On the highway, 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 braking hardware is ubiquitous; 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. They feel & work as you'd expect in a hatchback from this price band. No surprises (good or bad) here.

The under-bonnet insulation blanket:

Reflective insulation sheets on the firewall. Just one of the contributors to the Bolt's excellent refinement levels:

The ECU sits right ahead of the battery:

Fixed geometry turbo-charger in plain sight:

You can clearly see the road below. Engine isn't fully protected from the underside:

Tata has organized & wrapped the wiring neatly. Nearly all wires are insulated. Also notice the plastic clip anchoring this harness to the body:

This cooling fan is LOUD & how! It creates quite a racket on the outside:

A big shoutout to Rehaan & Rudra Sen for post-processing the pictures!

Last edited by GTO : 3rd March 2015 at 09:05.
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Old 28th February 2015, 16:53   #6
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.3L Diesel : Official Review

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to Official Reviews!
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Old 28th February 2015, 18:02   #7
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.3L Diesel : Official Review

Excellent stuff, both Tata and Rush.

According to the review, the car ticks most boxes, except the most important one - The Price! The day Bolt's pricing was unveiled to the media, I did comment here itself that the car is overpriced. Since Tata is far from being an established player in the segment, it should have gone for an aggressive pricing strategy, just like they went for the Zest. In fact, if salesperson at Tata showroom are smart enough, they should try to push the customers of Bolt to buy the Zest, rather than them leaving the showroom in disbelief. So, this may see a spike in Zest sales.

Overall a good car but looks like Tata has not learnt the lesson from the Aria chapter well. This will make sure they do. And thanks for the wonderful review! Thank Rehaan and Rudra sir for the nice pictures.


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Old 28th February 2015, 18:27   #8
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Thank you for the detailed review. That info on pricing is shocking. Why would anyone buy this over the zest. Is the price difference similar across the other variants of the bolt and zest?
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Old 28th February 2015, 18:48   #9
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Originally Posted by Rajeevraj View Post
Thank you for the detailed review. That info on pricing is shocking. Why would anyone buy this over the zest. Is the price difference similar across the other variants of the bolt and zest?
Yes, price difference is more or less in a similar bracket. Even the Swift is just 40 odd K cheaper than the Dzire. In Bolt's case, the differnce is a little too less and that too when the diesel is a 75 hp one compared to Zest's 90 hp, tyres are 10mm thinner. Also, some features like DRLs are absent. IMO, these differences should have contributed towards a greater price difference. A little disappointed there. Zest is definitely a better buy in diesel guise.
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Old 28th February 2015, 19:27   #10
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.3L Diesel : Official Review

Thanks for the review!

90 BHP engine would have really given TATA an advantage. At-least, this could have been provided with the top variant.

They may even come up with a GT / Cross-Hatch variant with AMT and 90 BHP later? Cross-Hatch variant with a higher GC would be interesting at that price band.
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Old 28th February 2015, 19:44   #11
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.3L Diesel : Official Review

I had a short spin run in the Bolt diesel and came back unimpressed. Let me explain.

When I drove the Zest, I knew I was driving a properly grown-up car from the Tata stable. I expected the same levels or even better levels of finesse in this car. When I talk about finesse, I am referring to those in terms of driving and not touch and feel or features. The moment I began driving this car, I felt very uncomfortable. For some strange reason, I couldn't find the perfect driving position - due to the excess cushioning near the mid/upper back area region on the seat.

The clutch travel reminded me of a Punto / Linea and the gearbox, although smooth, wasn't as slick as the Grand i10. Hard acceleration felt very lethargic. I'm sure this will take >16 seconds to reach 0-100 kph. I'd say, it felt slower than the anaemic Grand i10 diesel too.

Yes, I absolutely loved the way the steering felt. It was light and also gave me good feedback when it was needed. Also, I could drive it like a petrol car, with early upshifts and the engine wouldn't strain. It pulled gradually without the turbo lag being too prominent.

So like GTO commented, I'm not sure as to why this car should sell. I really wanted to fall in love with the Tata Bolt but unfortunately it lacks a USP and is just another hatchback in the market. A person who wants a feature-loaded city-commuter can look at the Grand i10 (which is cheaper), wants performance can get the Polo, an all rounder - Swift and a truly premium hatchback - Elite i20. Where does the Bolt stand??

On the contrary, it might be Tata's strategy to push the Zest diesel sales (which is in a nice position as of now - value for money and a very competent product) while concentrating on the Revotron Bolt...Ma Ma Ma Multidrive

Last edited by S2!!! : 28th February 2015 at 19:47.
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Old 28th February 2015, 19:56   #12
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.3L Diesel : Official Review

Good review as usual GTO, just what the readers need.. accurate and condensed.

What makes me wonder with the Bolt and even more so with the Swift, is their very noticeable below average boot capacity. 3825 mm is a very generous length for a hatchback, Nissan Micra & Grand i10 manage over 45 litres of extra boot space with identical dimensions. The Bolt indeed has better passenger space with 1-2 inches extra rear room (I'm guessing) over most others, but even then surely they could've made a near-perfect package with more proportional sharper styling and more storage space. The Getz for example is the same length as Bolt yet manages 288 litres of boot space and just 15 mm shorter by wheelbase.

No doubt though that Tata has made an honest effort of coming out of their usual groove of making value oriented people-movers to cars with much better balance of features, driving and curb appeal. The oil burner is indeed tuned more for economy than driving ease and for a car with that kerb weight it is underpowered. Petrol is the better option. Tata still require a few tweaks and tucks to truly compete with the longer experienced players (going by the review) but this is a good start. The rear lights need urgent re-doing, the Zest looks better from the back. The roundy C-pillar is too narrow to need blackening, it spoils the proportion of the front.
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Old 28th February 2015, 22:24   #13
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.3L Diesel : Official Review

The positives of the car have been put away as good and negatives as "Why can't Tata improve".

I mean, what were we expecting in terms of pricing. Bolt to be priced @ 3.99 lacs for a petrol and diesel <5 lacs.

Why don't we question Maruti & Hyundai for having a 1 lac+ difference in the Swift & Dzire or i10 & Xcent. When Tata can have such a miniscule difference, why can't others.

It is indeed Tata, which is making us think differently. A person who can afford a Bolt, can also think to buy a Zest.

We talk about long term reliability and after Sales. I think we are still living in the Indicab and Indigo age.

Last edited by GTO : 3rd March 2015 at 11:44. Reason: Opening line really isn't required
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Old 28th February 2015, 23:53   #14
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.3L Diesel : Official Review

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Variant to variant, the diesel carries a premium of about 1 lakh rupees over the petrol. I'd have expected the difference to be slimmer, as the petrol also has a turbo-charger (and 3 selectable driving modes). A Rs. 1 lakh premium is the norm between a naturally-aspirated petrol & turbo-charged diesel:

Could you please tell us what price premium we should pay for a turbo petrol engine over a naturally aspirated one of same size ?


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Old 1st March 2015, 00:47   #15
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Default Re: Tata Bolt 1.3L Diesel : Official Review

Spot on for the fact that the Diesel version at ~30K more can fetch you a decent dicky!

Otherwise I test drove the petrol version and the experience was pretty nice.

The dealership asked me for my choice of vehicle. Diesel being unavailable they were ready to send the car home for my test drive.

Test drove the petrol vehicle and the gear shift was nice.
Voice commands were cool. AC could really check at it was winters in Delhi.

Liked the vehicle! Didn't really check the dicky as that's probably an issue once in an year. Can have a carrier if required.

For the diesel's cost you can get a decent dicky and also 15 hp more!

Don't really think they priced the versions right!
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