If there is one thing that Tata Motors is truly known for since inception is how to create a hatchback and instantly win the hearts of customers. Tata did that with the Indica and created a segment and a car which the mass market loved for its practicality and safety. So many years later, Tata did the same last year when they launched the Altroz.
Safety, styling and dynamics among many other things made the Altroz the highlight in this segment. Tata did that with a great diesel engine and a not so great petrol motor. It is set to correct that with a turbo petrol motor which is now launched in the Indian market. We had a lot of expectations and on paper, it almost met all of it. How does all that translate in the real world, we drove it for a day to tell you about the same.
We won’t divulge much in the design and interior as we know both are fantastic. The new Harbour blue colour and 16-inch wheels look great in conjunction. The black roof and ORVM along with side strip on the window make the car look sportier. The interior with three different types of plastics (all good quality) on the dashboard is good to some eyes, not so good to some.
The feature list has gone higher with a new variant and the top three variants get the Turbo engine. We listed them in our launch report. To name some you have perforated leather seats, auto start-stop, keyless entry and iRA. iRA is Tata’s connectivity application that you can control via phone. There are voice commands which now understand, English, Hindi and Hinglish. Space also remains a highlight at the back with a slightly upright bench and more than the adequate leg and knee room with best in the class shoulder and headroom.
Driving the hatch isn’t all disappointing as it seems on paper. Even on paper, it almost shy of proper hot hatch numbers, so don’t belive specifications. Let’s call it a warm hatch, an industry term people really well aware of. Why? Because Tata isn’t the one who has made warm hatches while we dreamt of hot hatches to come. Other manufacturer did too. Some did Lava hot hatches but they were riddled with issues that even the most hardcore enthusiast gave it a miss. At least the Tata Altroz appeals to the head and the heart. A lot of manufacturers believe high power engines belong in SUV’s and the same engines can be used in a hatchback in a lower tune. Tata seems one of them.
Nexon gets the same engine in a higher power of 120 PS and 170 Nm of torque. However, the Altroz gets a 5-speed gearbox and 110 PS and 140 Nm of torque. Those are numbers are similar to the 2020 Honda City currently on sale! Low and mid-range power is good, top-end power is a bit lacklustre. You have to rev the engine in fourth gear above 100 km/hr to reach higher speeds.
Once you reach 120 or 140 km/hr you can sustain those speeds well enough despite a 5-speed gearbox. It is also best you rev it hard in sports mode which frees up the engine and delivers power much quicker than the default City mode. Gearing is spot on, the gearshift is slick and precise. This is the best Tata gearbox of all time! Doing 100 km/hr just above 12 seconds and returning 13-14 km/l as overall fuel economy is not bad if you ask us given the powerhouse it is over the naturally aspirated motor.
The clutch is light as well and so is the steering at slow speeds. At higher speeds, it weighs up well and while cornering, it gives a lot of feedback and is very precise, adding to driving fun. Ride quality and highway stability is spot on, making the Altroz the best car in the segment and on par with the Volkswagen Polo, the segment benchmark. Slow speed ride can feel a bit jarring but then again the trade-off is one of the best driving dynamics in its class, so it’s worth it. Braking was good in the higher-powered diesel and the same brakes here do a great job as well with a decent pedal bite on offer too!
2021 Tata Altroz iTurbo Review, Verdict
Pricing decides the fate of the Tata Altroz iTurbo and with just Rs 60,000 over the normal version, it now becomes an excellent value for money proposition. The Altroz iTurbo is here to stay as the track record for pricing from Tata in the recent past is spot on. This could be the default choice for most customers who travel fully loaded with five passengers and luggage. The naturally aspirated engine only makes sense if you commute every day and need no extra performance.
Altroz iTurbo now becomes a truly premium hatchback. It had the design, dynamics, space and price. Now it has connectivity features, a good turbo petrol motor on top of it. Making the Altroz the top two choices of this segment. Now, we wait for turbo petrol with DCT which could have more power. If that happens, then it could completely cement the Altroz in the premium hatchback space as a sure shot winner as if it isn’t right now already!
2021 Tata Altroz iTurbo Review