Tata Bolt 1.2 Revotron Review: Climbing Bolt

Creating a hatch-sedan combo has proven to be one of the most successful formulae for mainstream car makers of late. While the rest of manufacturers have created the smaller hatchback version first, later ‘bolting’ a boot onto it, Tata Motors decided to take the opposite route. So after impressing us with the Zest, Tata Motors decided to remove the bolted-on boot and call the resultant machine the ‘Bolt’ in reverence of the great piece of machinery which made all possible. To make some sense of the name, it’s also the crucial linkage between the not-so refined Tata products of yore and the tech laden, modern products that the Indian carmaker has in the pipeline. We drove the latest hatchback from the car major in and around the Venice of India, Udaipur, on a delightful day with some nip in the air and a beautiful winter sun shining splendidly above us. Here’s how the all-important Bolt elevated our experience through the day.
Design and styling
As evident, the Bolt shares its platform with the Zest, which means that the basic design, right up to the C-pillar remains mostly unaltered, including most of the fascia, the shoulder-line, the roof lines and the panels. Quite a few changes have been made to the styling, though, to lend the Bolt its own unique character. To start with, the Humanity and Trust lines, a name given to the chrome strips sandwiching the plastic portion of the radiator grille have been altered a bit. On the Bolt, the lower chrome element, or the Trust line has been finished in a Piano black material. The daytime running lights from the Zest have been given a miss, though the headlamps, with the Bolt-exclusive smoked treatment look more striking than on the sedan version of the car.
In profile, the Bolt will ride on new 8 spoke, classy looking 15 inch alloys for the top variant, different from the one on the production Zest in design. The C-Pillar has been stickered black for a ‘floating roof’ effect. The matt finish black stickering has a set of 10 faded white vertically laid out lines printed upon it. A plain black treatment would have looked a bit better we reckon.
With the boot taken away from the Zest, the Bolt witnesses maximum stylistic changes at the rear. The rear windscreen, with a body coloured sporty spoiler, replete with a brake light is flanked by piano black elements. The combination tail-lamps are vertically aligned and feature LED mimicking illumination, though the light sources are conventional bulbs. ‘Flame effect’ lamps as the good blokes at Tata prefer calling them look rather nice when lit. Below the windscreen, Tata emblem occupies the surface above the registration plate, and is flanked by ‘Bolt’ and variant badging.
The Trapezoidal number plate recess has a big wide chrome garnish above it, and the engine badging, ‘Revotron’ in this case on the lower right side. The body coloured bumper is split horizontally by a crease. The bumper also features a black, contrasting under-cladding with a reflector element in the middle.
The Bolt, in a nutshell, is not the sensuous beauty that’ll set the desires of car aficionados on fire and take its rightful place on the cover of a fashion magazine. The Bolt is a smart looking car, though, which should hold its own in the company of other hatchbacks sold in its price bracket. We like the new smoked treatment given to lamps, which is a segment first.
Engine and transmission
For the media drive Tata Motors only had the petrol powered 1.2 Revotron engine available. The newly developed turbo-charged 1.2 liter power-plant impressed us with its smoothness and tractability the last time we sampled it in Goa on the Zest, and it delighted with its qualities on the Bolt as well. The engineers at Tata Motors insist that the engine-transmission has been tweaked very mildly for even better responsiveness at the lower spectrum of the rev range.  The bolt is being marketed as a lively and peppy car, if not an overly sporty hatchback, and the customers should be able to feel the perkiness as they take it take out for a test-spin, the boffins say.
On the move, the city-friendly character of the Revotron unit comes to the fore instantly. The extremely narrow lanes of old Udaipur, inhabited as much by a multitude of animals as humans, can be a nightmare to pilot a car through. The Revotron engine’s resistant to splutter even when asked to trundle along in higher gears at idling engine speeds, and short gearing for the first three cogs helped us find our way out of the colourful maze that the streets of this historical city are, as we lost our way courtesy Google Maps, with some assistance from a bunch of mischievous rickshaw drivers.
We took the car to the wide, inviting Mount Abu highway. The extremely well laid out road is wide, and has a whole bunch of long sweeping curves thrown in. It’s on such highways that the Bolt gives away a very crucial aspect of its gearing. The first three gears are relatively short, and make for its exceptional driveability.  The fourth gear, however, is spaced wide, probably for better efficiency on the highway. So while the Bolt will accelerate with reassurance in the first three gears, you’ll have to ensure that the car is well above the 100km/h mark, and doing healthy revs if you’re looking for instant response from the engine in the fourth gear.
Cruising effortlessly on wide highways with medians is never going to be a problem for the Bolt. On single carriageways, however, shifting down to third cog may sometimes become an eventuality, with the 4th cog not delivering enough instant shove at sub-100 speeds.
There are three drive modes to choose from. Default mode is City, which tries to offer an optimum mix of fuel efficiency, good driveability and decent punch. Sport mode extracts most out of the engine with the sole objective to go faster, while the Eco Mode turns the ECU into a stingy miser, making the car’s electronic brain think a million times before expending every single drop of fuel. It may gimmicky to some, but the three modes actually work. The switchover from Eco to Sport mode, in particular, makes you feel the difference in power very clearly. The Bolt decidedly feels livelier in the Sport mode.
The Bolt Revotron, like the Zest revels in slow to medium city speeds. It loves pottering around in higher gears without a sign of splutter. It’s uncannily smooth and should lead the fuel efficiency ratings in the real world thanks to its forced induction and incredible tractability. It is, however, not a hooligan, and prefers, the tranquil, peaceful side of life than going for a wild out night out.
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