One thing which we were left wanted for more when we drove the Tata Altroz back in 2019 was the performance from its petrol motor. The diesel was good, but it was confusing as to why Tata chose to plonk a naturally aspirated version of the 1.2-litre motor when the same engine does duty in the Nexon with more power, thanks to its forced induction. But Tata didn’t take long to rectify this and what we have here is the exact thing what Tata should have given us from the start – the Altroz i-Turbo.
We drove it last month and you can read our first-drive review over here. This time around, we’ll be taking a closer look and tell you five things we appreciate about it and two things that we think should have been made buying the Altroz i-Turbo a tad sweeter.
In its standard guise, the Altroz petrol makes 85bhp at 6,000rpm and 113Nm of peak torque at 3,300rpm. Here, with the turbo mounted on to the 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, the power is up by 24bhp to 109bhp while the twisting force now is rated at 140Nm (an increase of 27Nm). This bump in output is instantly noticeable the moment you get driving.
Thanks to the forced-induction, the motor now feels livelier, responding to throttle inputs much better than the standard version. It gets up to speed much more progressively and has a good amount of grunt both lower down the rev-range and in the meaty mid-range. There’s a minimum lag when you get on the throttle and the turbo spools up without announcing its arrival. But this also means that there’s no ‘thrusting down into the seat’ push when the turbo kicks into action.
There’s another trick up the sleeve of the i-Turbo that makes it standout furthermore. Behind the gearlever, there’s a button – which in the standard model changes the drive modes from City to Eco. But for the i-Turbo, Eco mode is replaced by Sport. Push the button and the motor gets slightly more vocal owing to the heavier inputs from the throttle. In other words, for the same amount of throttle input, the tachometer revs around 500-700rpm more in Sport mode than it does in the City mode. As a result, the Sport mode is much more fun to drive and suits the character of the i-Turbo.
As for the ride and handling, there are no changes under the skin. So, the Altroz i-Turbo remains pliant over bad surfaces taking astride everything you throw at it with good composure. Even the handling is direct with a good amount of weight added to its steering. Add to it a solid bite from brakes. All of these come together instilling confidence if you intend to throw it around for some enthusiastic driving.
2. If Looks could Kill
Based on Tata’s newest IMPACT 2.0 design philosophy, the Altroz is certainly a head-turner. Be it the foxy wraparound headlamps that are integrated neatly into the blacked-out nose inching out of the bodywork. Or the ingenious way how the rear door handles are hidden away along the lines of blacked-out insert around the window-line. Adding to the appeal are the prominent wheel arches on the front and a smart crease over the rear tyres adds character. Even the rear is intriguingly designed with blacked-out taillights giving an impression of a separate panel inserted over the metal body of the hatchback. In profile, the long nose and tight haunch make for an interesting proportion.
It is commendable how Tata has managed to retain the flamboyant styling from the 45X Concept on to the production-ready Altroz. Along with the i-Turbo badge on the tailgate (which is barely visible if you aren’t paying attention), you also get this attractive Marina Blue paint scheme that looks not only more attractive but also grabs more eyeballs on the road than any other shade of blue.
3. Spacious and Practical Cabin
Another impressive aspect of the Altroz is its cabin space. With the i-Turbo, you get a slightly tweaked interior with a black-white combination instead of a black-silver which is a welcome change. Even the seats are now draped in leather upholstery with Tata’s new tri-arrow signature making it feel much more premium. Coming back to space, the front seats are large, accommodating, and there’s ample head- and shoulder-room here. It’s a practical cabin too with ample storage space and easy to reach knobs and buttons. Even visibility is great, complete with a raked windscreen, large windows, and perfectly designed ORVMs.
There are hard plastics used all around but our favourite is the gloss-finished silver insert running across the dash as it adds a modern ambience to the cabin. Move to the back and the air of spaciousness continues with acres of legroom and more than ample headspace for even taller passengers. Unlike other hatchbacks, three can sit abreast in the back seat of the Altroz without being too uncomfortable. Lastly, the boot space of 340litre is pretty large and can swallow large suitcases and bags easily with room to spare.
4. Long list of features with IRA
With the i-Turbo, Tata has introduced their IRA connected car tech in the Altroz line-up. For the uninitiated, IRA stands for ‘Intelligent Real-time Assist’ and is Tata’s take on BlueLink and BlueSense from Hyundai and Mahindra, respectively. But the interesting thing about the IRA is that it can understand voice commands in Hinglish language as well. Developed in India especially for the Indian users, the Hinglish addition works well and comes as an attractive value-addition feature for the buyers.
Apart from that, the i-Turbo also gets something called ‘Xpress Cool’ which is a new button on the centre console that blasts the air-con to its maximum setting to bring down the cabin temperature quickly. In weather like ours, when the car is parked under the sun for long hours, this should come in real handy. However, cooled seats to go with it would have been great.
In terms of features, there’s single-zone climate control with rear vents, keyless entry and start button, auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, electrically adjustable and retractable ORVMs, cruise control, ambient lighting, and Harman system with smartphone connectivity including Android Auto and Apple Carplay.
5. High on Safety
Based on Tata’s all-new ALFA architecture, the Altroz is one of the few cars in India that can brag about Five Star NCAP Safety rating. With equipment like dual airbags, ABS with EBD, corner stability control (CSC), ISOFIX anchor points, seatbelt reminder, adjustable seatbelt height, speed-sensing door locks, and parking assist with reverse camera and sensor, the Altroz i-Turbo continues to be one of the safest cars you can currently buy.
1. Not a hot hatch
With 109bhp on tap, the Altroz is still down on power compared to the new i20 or the Polo – both of which are now available with turbocharged petrol engines. And despite the bump in power over the standard model, the i-Turbo simply isn’t the ‘go-fast’ version to be called a hot hatch. Sure, it is much better to drive now, with the tractable nature of the engine giving it a fun-to-drive character. But it still isn’t as quick as others and doesn’t instill the same level of enthusiasm when you try to push it hard. As mentioned above, the Altroz i-Turbo is what the standard Altroz petrol should have been from the start.
2. Misses out on some feature and No automatic
If we consider the i-Turbo an update for the Altroz range, it was a perfect opportunity for Tata to comprehensively revise the feature list. But this one remains strictly a mechanical update with no sunroof or wireless charger added to the mix yet. They may be saving it for a facelift, but that appears to be at least a couple of years away. Secondly, apart from the colour, there are no visual changes to the supposedly hotter version like the one you see on something like the Polo GT.
A sportier body kit, extended lip bumper, stylish roof-mounted spoiler at the back, exhaust sticking out prominently, or at least sportier-looking allow wheels could have done the trick. Moreover, this was a good chance to introduce an automatic for the Altroz as well. But Tata has refrained from doing any of it.
With the inclusion of the i-Turbo, the Altroz line-up now has something for everyone. For buyers looking at a robust and frugal motor, there’s the capable diesel. For city and family usage, the standard petrol should suffice. And for those who like driving and want to make the most of the Tata Altroz’s good driving dynamics, spacious cabin, long feature list, safety rating, and of course, its attractive looks, the i-Turbo fits the bill.