There are few better ways to unwind at the end of the day at work than by getting behind the wheel of our Tata Bolt. Thanks to its supple ride, hushed cabin and brilliant air-conditioning, the Bolt has made my commutes within the city a lot easier, especially in the scorching midsummers. Having used it for the best part of 8,000km and four months since its arrival in our long-term fleet, I can vouch for this car’s calming effects.
Over that period, the Bolt has been put through its paces around town, on multiple outstation trips and on a couple of jaunts down to Goa. Thankfully it’s proved faultless in terms of reliability, the only exceptions being the squeaky rear seat base (later fixed during the service) and the infotainment system that would sometimes freak out when paired to my phone and turn the volume up to ear-splitting loud. All in all, our Tata Bolt does a lot of things right; however, there are a few not-so-good bits to discuss as well.
The Good Bits
Dealing with the urban landscape, the Bolt handles the usually dug up and congested Bombay roads with ease. The ride isn’t particularly plush at high speed but it isn’t crashy either and the steering is light and direct enough as well. Fellow staff writer Venkat recently spent some time with the Bolt and found it to be decent in the city. “It’s easy to manoeuvre in traffic and the AC is very good,” he said, “though you have to row through the gears a bit to deal with traffic-.”
The Bolt is a fairly large hatchback and it shows when you step in. The cabin is big enough to fit five people in comfort and the boot has swallowed everything I’ve thrown at it including a rather large box full of motorcycle parts and riding gear. Also, the generous width and 60/40 split-fold rear seats have allowed me to squeeze in a full-size bicycle – something that I would never have managed to do in my old Honda City.
Lastly, if there’s one thing that I’ve acknowledged after spending so much time behind the wheel, it’s that Tata has truly upped its game when it comes to overall quality and feel good factor inside the cabin. Sure, it’s still a little rough around the edges (Read: lack of cup holders and storage spaces overall) but there’s no denying that the cabin is well put together indeed.
The Not So Good Bits
As you’d expect, it’s not been all plain sailing with the Bolt. What’s worth noting is that the low and mid-range grunt from the 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine doesn’t quite translate into a sprightly behaviour once out of the city. In fact, overtaking at triple digit speeds leaves me on the wrong side of the road for longer than I would like as the engine doesn’t quite have the punch for that all-important pull from 100 to 120kmph.
The Bolt feels slow and underpowered on the highway. There is no other way of putting it. I’ve often found myself holding onto a lower gear for longer than what’s ideal just to get up to speed. This would explain the mediocre fuel efficiency that I’ve been getting. While it’s up by 1-1.5kmpl after I’ve had the car serviced, 11.3kmpl under regular driving conditions still isn’t great.
I’ve said it in the previous report and I’ll say it again; I do miss having parking sensors in this car. Sure, with its light steering, large glasshouse and wing mirrors, the Bolt is easy to slot into a parking spot, however, I cannot help but think how easier still it would be to park this thing with the help of some sensors, especially when its dark.
All said and done, I have now racked up nearly 8,000km on the Bolt and made some self-explanatory conclusions while doing so. Admittedly, it’s not the fastest nor is it the most exciting car in our fleet, but the Bolt sure is an immensely spacious family hatchback and I have come to appreciate its modest and dependable approach.
Photos by Kapil Angane
Click here to read our previous long term report of the Tata Bolt