In all honesty, even after being mighty impressed with the Tata Zest during the media drive in Goa, and being equally bowled over by the Bolt which we drove in Udaipur, we weren’t exactly sure how well the seemingly impressive duo will hold up in due course, after sustained torture. So when we got an opportunity to test the Bolt over a longer term, we grabbed the opportunity with both hands. For starters, it demonstrated Tata Motors’ great belief in its product. At the same time, it gave us an opportunity to let people who have used Tata products over years to sit inside the car, experience it, and let us know their views.
It’s been an interesting two months with the car, and we’ll let you know all about it. But before you read any further, if you haven’t read at length about the new Bolt, you can go through our detailed review of the car here. In this long term report we will discuss only very specific things which we think made a positive or negative impact on our overall experience. So here goes.
Tata Bolt 1.2 Revotron petrol long term review
Images: Chirag Mondal
Also read: Tata Zest 1.4 diesel F-Tronic Review
The Bolt has been our companion for a couple of photo shoots to Pune, and numerous late night dashes to Lonavala by Ayan, Karan and the rest of the gang at Motoroids. In addition, more often than not, it’s my companion for the daily 2 km commute to work and back, and the odd trip to the mall or market. There are two things about the Bolt that everyone in the team agrees about – the refinement levels are astounding, and the ride quality at slow to medium speeds is absolutely mind blowing.
Let’s talk about the ride quality first – one of the most outstanding highlights of the package. As a father-to-be, I have realized that there’s no better way to test the cushioning qualities of a car’s suspension than having your expecting wife sit in the passenger’s seat. And when she generously approves of a car’s genteel ways, you know there’s something special working under that running board. The Bolt has been the vehicle of choice for my better half all these months – and that says something about the Bolt’s supremely absorbent underpinnings. From tiptoeing massive craters on rain tattered roads to taking the everyday surface irregularities in its stride, the Bolt shines in its ability to disregard bad roads. Its high ground clearance makes a mockery of those ridiculously built speed breakers found in an alarmingly high number on our streets.
The quality and finish of the interior is another aberration from what we have come to expect from Tata over all these years. After spending a couple of months with the car, I am now used to hearing those entering the Bolt’ cabin for the first time exclaiming about it being ‘so not Tata like’. The all-black interior, while somewhat masks the enormous space inside, it works towards making the cabin look plush and premium. And that touch-screen enabled Harman system still rocks the segment by a huge margin – it is the best sounding audio system out there.
The seats are wide and comfy, with great under-thigh support, offering fatigue-less drives even over long distances. The presence of a height adjustable driver seat and rake adjustable steering further helping the cause. Steering mounted controls also add their bit in aiding convenience, though we honestly believe those buttons could have been more ergonomically designed. Rear seats are wide and comfy, offering segment topping space, both in terms of head, and leg room. The contoured door handles on the inside aid comfort of the passengers on the sides immensely.
The on board computer offering real time efficiency data is a great feature, though the average fuel efficiency numbers that emerge on that screen haven’t been too enticing. The car has been returning a number of about 11-12kmpl, with mostly city driving, which, though not exactly disappointing, isn’t too great either.
That number can be pushed up slightly using the ECO mode, though the car feels decidedly sluggish once you switch to the strangulated straw-pipe mode. The difference in the power delivery moving from ECO to Sport mode is quite marked, though, and you see the revs rising on the tacho instantly for the same throttle input as you toggle modes. The Bolt, however, even with its force inducted engine, is par with class in terms of performance. Don’t expect any fireworks here – it’s an everyday car with great driveability and refinement.
Talking of a few negatives, we still miss some more cubbyholes inside the cabin. There’s only one open space inside the cabin to properly store your wallet – under the handbrake. You’ll keep looking, if you’re trying to find a place to put your smartphone, and will probably end up putting it in the door pockets, which, again, don’t have enough space for a one litre bottle – neither up front nor at the rear.
Straight line stability, refinement and engine response is commendable, and while the car offers great tractability in slow moving traffic, it asks you to take the tacho needle higher up the rev range if some shove is what you are looking at. Steering feels reasonably well-weighted across all speeds, though the Bolt, with its cushy suspension and high ground clearance feels a tad too soft when pushed hard around bends. There is also some understeer to be experienced as you goad it forcefully into corners. The Bolt, then, is a sure-footed machine with reassuring dynamics, though it still has some distance to go before it registers itself as a tool of choice in an enthusiast’s books.
The ODO on the car reads more than 8500 km, and we are immensely glad to report that the car is holding up pretty well, with no audible rattles or creaks whatsoever. It feels good as new, as a testimony to the big leap Tata has taken in terms of build quality.
The GoodYear Assurance 175/65 R15 tyres offer decent levels of grip, and we have faced only one puncture thus far, all thanks to a beguilingly small nail.
Here have put together some images with captions to describe our experience with the car in a detailed manner
The 15 inch, 8 spoke alloys look great, and have taken some serious punishment without any visible or perceptible damage.
The headlights feature projector lamps. Illumination in the dark is satisfactory, though we expected more from those projectors
The Revotron engine amazes with its refinement and tractability.
Not providing bottle holders in the door panels is an oversight. That’s all the bottle you can store in those panels.
The GoodYear Assurance tyres offer decent grip. The car has witnessed one puncture thus far, thanks to that tiny, rather innocuous looking nail
Fuel efficiency is so-so, even in City mode – could have been better
The touchscreen enabled Harman infotainment is one of the best in the business, offering by far the best audio output in class, along with controls for a variety of functions
Glove compartment is quite spacious, there is a shelf at the top for the owner’s manual, while the lid has a slot for small articles like pens
Back benchers get ample space, along with comfortable seats. The Bolt scores highly on occupant comfort
Wide, well bolstered seats with great under thigh-support – probably the most comfortable within the segment
Contoured door handless cum arm-rests for the rear passengers offer great comfort
That cupholder, along with a small spaced for a wallet under handbrake is pretty much all the open space front passengers get to store small articles
Odo reading : 8531 km
Average fuel efficiency : 12 kmpl (80% City, 20% highway)
Repair costs : Rs 150 (tyre puncture)
Engine refinement and tractability
Spacious, comfortable interior
Best in class infotainment system
Upmarket cabin with plenty of features
Lack of open storage spaces