Tata Bolt XT

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We were fortunate to be invited to the Tata Bolt Gauteng launch yesterday and what a delightful surprise it proved to be.

The collars and ties let us know that TATA has sold more than 60000 units since its launch on our shores in 2004 and aims to take the entry level market by storm with 2 new B-segement Bolt models while the economy is in decline. The truth is people will always need transport, so better product and smaller price is a logical winner, if you can sway perceptions.

“The introduction of the Bolt comes after a three-year drought of new models from Tata. The Bolt hatch and sedan will extend the current product offering from Tata in the local market. Each of the Bolt derivatives will be offered with two trim levels – XMS and XT – and with a choice of five body colours.”

Both cars are attractively styled with the major difference between the sedan and hatch the benefit of the decent sized luggage compartment on the former. Tata expects to sell at least twice as many hatches as sedans but the market will dictate where the demand lies.

 

The spacious Java Black interior of the Bolt can seat five adults, with claimed class-leading legroom for the rear seat occupants. The layout and treatment of the various aspects of the instrument panel are most impressive and show influence from the Jaguar Land Rover stylists in Coventry. The instrument panel is boldly styled with easy-to-read instrumentation, while discreet touches of chrome are used to highlight certain aspects.

There is a full complement of comfort features including Atir-conditioning (climate control on the XT derivatives), electric windows front and rear, electrically-adjustable exterior rear view mirrors and remote openers for the fuel flap and luggage compartment. Luggage space in the Bolt hatch is 210 litres while the sedan boasts an extra 150 litres capacity, taking the maximum available volume to 360 litres.

A 5″ infotainment screen dominates the piano black centre section of the instrument panel, leading to the gearbox console heralding the connectivity of the Bolt range. A multi-information display incorporates readings for a digital clock, outside temperature, dual tripmeters, instantaneous fuel consumption, average fuel consumption and distance to empty fuel tank.

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The Bolt has a 1.2-litre Revotron turbocharged petrol engine which develops 66kW@5 000r/min with an impressive 140N.m of torque being available between 1 500-4000r/min. There are three different settings for engine response, being Sport, Eco and City modes with Sport as the default setting for the Bolt in South Africa.

The engine drives the front wheels through a 5-speed manual transmission with the top two ratios being overdriven to assist in lowering fuel consumption. The addition of an automated manual transmission (AMT) in 2016 is a possibility. Steering is electronically controlled with electric assistance and is speed sensitive.

I can’t picture myself using the Eco mode anywhere but long distance travel such as open road to far away places as the engine performance is severely pegged back in an effort to save fuel. The City mode is not quite so restrictive on the performance and be used beneficially in stop start traffic with ease.

Safety features rate high on Tata Motors’ priority list and the Bolt is well equipped with ninth generation Bosch ABS for the disc/drum braking system with electronic brake distribution (EBD) , including a corner-braking feature. There are airbags for the driver and front passenger, speed-sensitive, automatic door locking and daytime running lights.

In terms of vehicle security there is an alarm-immobiliser and remote central locking.

The third aspect of the Bolt design philosophy is ConnectNext where the Tata design team has worked with well-known audio specialists Harman to develop an acoustic and infotainment system.

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There are steering wheel-mounted controls for the audio and phone facilities, while a centrally-located 5″ screen (touchscreen for XT variants) supports the multimedia experience with Bluetooth technology for smartphone integration.

The infotainment system supports video playback (using USB and SD card when car is stationary), smart voice recognition which understands user commands, incoming SMS notification and read-outs so that users can integrate their private and personal lives into their commute while bringing a high quality infotainment experience.

The 4 derivatives and pricing are as follows:

Bolt Models Pricing
Bolt Hatch XMS R132 995
Bolt Hatch XT R142 995
Bolt Sedan XMS R142 995
Bolt Sedan XT R152 995

First impressions are positive. The car is well built unlike some other vehicles assembled in India there seems to be a certain pride in this vehicle. Doors are solid and close with a reassuring thunk rather than a tinny ping and all the bits and pieces appear really well made and put together. This vehicle has the potential to put TATA firmly on the market as a small vehicle supplier in South Africa.

It will not be competing in the same category as the recently tested Opel Adam which is by far the class leader (also R100,000 more expensive) in terms of style, finishes and individuality but it is by no means lagging behind any of it’s direct rivals.

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