HERE IS THE REVIEW OF 2020 TATA ALTROZ
Car Tested: Tata Altroz
Ex-Showroom Price HYD: Rs. 5.44 – 9.35 Lakh
It could be argued that before the Tata Altroz, the Indian carmaker did not really have a premium hatchback. Well at least that is what Tata Motors itself says. The Indica and then the Indica Vista later the bolt that sold alongside the Indica were Tata’s answer to the Hyundai Getz, India’s first premium hatchback. So interpret that as you will, but for what it’s worth the Tata Altroz is here. Tata is calling it the gold standard and it is named after an Albatross in case you’d missed that earlier.
In the face there’s a lot of familiarity, you kind of see the evolution of Tata’s design in many ways. It looks like a next generation of a car like the bolt or the Indica Vista. It shows a sort of growth journey for the same brand that kind of familiarity is not a bad thing. At the back again you see a lot of use of black again it is different, it is distinctive.
The car is attractive as premium hatchbacks go and it’s quite true to the 45X concept that’s the good news. You get some interesting design details which are very distinctive. All those black elements that you see around the car, the recessed door handle which is cleverly done. You’ve got a really clean rear door as a result of that which carries through a lot of the musculature. Exaggerated fender again that’s because it’s distinctive and different. The other part of it that is really different is some of these surfaces which are sort of convexing and concaving out and in but with very sharp edges.
The cabin is roomy and well-appointed in terms of features. There’s a lot more to talk about, the cars big USP is on the inside ambient lighting, automatic climate control, a 7-inch floating touchscreen with a Harman entertainment system. A rear reverse camera and the Seven-inch screen in the parts digital instrument cluster. Then there’s Apple carplay and Android auto, cruise control, auto wipers and automatic headlamps, push button start/stop and the start/stop fuel saving system. A lot of these are only the preserve of the top two of the four variants on offer. The same is true for the LED daytime running lights and alloy wheels on the outside.
A black contrast dual tone roof is optional on the top-end XZ variant only. The good news is that dual airbags and ABS are standard and given Tata’s focus on safety. The cabin on the Altroz is thoughtfully designed, it’s roomy and it’s also got an interesting layout in design terms. The part that bothers is some of that design has been executed too well. You’ve got a sense of sort of floating structure, you’ve got a screen, you’ve got different textures and layers. You even got some of the recessed surfaces to sort of mimic what’s happening on the exterior design. Being a premium hatch darker, richer colors and better plastics would have really done the trick.
The screen, the visibility isn’t great always in bright light. You’ve got an interesting instrument cluster where more than half of it, is now a digital screen. But it’s just too busy, there’s way too much going on on it, it takes some getting used to. But in terms of features you really get a lot of equipment. You’ve got not just cruise control, not just the steering mounted controls, not just a whole lot of information in that digital screen. You also get the very activity key so that you can leave the car key inside. You can do take control with the activity key.
It’s got a whole lot that will impress a lot of people. You’ve got the harman sound system but we got the buttons, the feel, everything just lacks that last finish which could have taken the car a whole level higher. But criticism aside the cabin is a feeling in terms of the space and also sense of space that you get. The seats are comfortable front and back. You get rear AC vents on the top-end variant. The touch screen and digital instrument cluster screen have different color themes that you can opt for as well. The ambient lighting though is only in one shade a sort of aqua or turquoise like color.
The petrol engine is a three cylinder the one we know from the Tiago. Like the diesel this one too is BS-VI compliant. The engine is surprisingly energetic but lacks the feel of ample power. Yet most buyers will find it adequate especially for City use. The whole premium hatchback tag also gives now, that’s where you expect a little extra. You expect not just better equipment, not just more space, not just better drivability but also a little bit more power. The whole idea of throwing in this engine is that Tata wants to be aggressive on pricing, so why not have two options.
Tata should be offering both options, the market is shifting towards petrol again anyway and it just makes sense to have two petrol offerings as a USP. In many ways cars like the EcoSport, Venue and Seltos have even made it unnormal. Those are all SUV’s, all the more reason Tata could play this as a trump card. This is especially true when it comes to decisions about the automatic Altroz which frankly should already ready to launch. They’ve shared that there is an automatic coming it’s only on the petrol and it will not be an AMT.
That makes sense because that look in this segment and given the image and premium sort of appeal that they’re trying to establish with their product. It can’t be a basic gearbox it has to be something sophisticated so they still don’t know if it’s gonna be a CVT or Dual clutch. but the Baleno has CVT so does the Jazz, the i-20 of course gives your torque converter. We need to have something that’s going to be fun and engaging and also sophisticated. So Tata hasn’t made up its mind on where it’s getting that so we do know that an automatic petrol Altroz will come.
There’s a good amount of grunt that you get from this engine. On the far side though things are a little bit lacking especially at the lower end. It doesn’t necessarily have that nice punch to really kick in and get off the block quickly. The turbo lag doesn’t help and there is a fair amount of it. In fact till you get to about 1,800 to 2,000 rpm you’ll find that the engine seems to be un thirsty after that the posting is really nice. The good news is that you don’t really hear the engine that much because the sound damping from the engine compartment to the cabin is pretty well done. You do pick up a little bit of wind noise though at higher speeds.
The other thing that’s annoying well it’s the engines turbo. You do hear that whistle from the turbo which is kind of strange. Otherwise you don’t hear the clatter from the diesel but at higher speeds especially that starts to seep in and starts to take you off after a while. The diesel is very good to drive overall though. The big reason for that is the added heft that only complements the excellent ride quality and good handling. The ride is absolutely impressive. The car feels premium, big and sophisticated in its road manners.
If the ride quality is the one big takeaway, well the second one is the gearbox. you’ll definitely like how it’s been mated to this engine. You don’t need frequent gear changes even in city traffic and and out on the highway it costs quite nicely too. So you don’t necessarily get a sense of everything being as premium as it should be in a premium hatchback. The steering only adjustable for height and not for reach. It should be telescopic while most of the competition cars do have it, the Altroz should have had it too.
Modifications – Variant’s Packs
There are four different trim levels that the Altroz comes with but in addition to that it’s the first time that a mass manufacturer is also offering different customization facts. The good news is that you can add those packs across variants. There’s a whole lot of permutations and combinations but it is something that nobody’s done before. So it allows even an entry or a base variant buyer to opt for something like a two-tone roof. So the four packs are called Rhythm, luxe, style and urban. They allow you to add a three and a half inch touchscreen to the base variant or the 7-inch to the mid. You can also get the contrast roof on the third variant. For example the leather wrap steering or even the arm rests or reverse camera.
There are many features that the packs will get you and it’s all factory fitted and not accessorized at the dealer end. Yes that will take some detailed understanding and possibly its own review. But it’s a great move from Tata and one that I think buyers will really appreciate. The dealers can explain it to them.
The car gets two drive modes which you can toggle with the button at the base of the gearshift. It’s like what we have seen on some other Tata models and so you get city and economy modes. For what it’s worth, the city drive mode is the one you want to stay in because the economy mode dulls the things out of it. The whole point of course being that you get better mileage as a result. We would wish to stay with the city mode even on the highway. It’s nice in a way that the car at least has different drive modes because the competition doesn’t really offer that. That’s a good USP.
So there is plenty going on here on the Altroz but The biggest strategy from Tata would be to undercut the competition on pricing. The sexy styling, that exhaustive feature list and the decent performance attribute but at prices that seem like a steal. As about 30% of the premium hatch space is now auto. I also expect the top-end XZ to be priced at about seven lakh thirty five thousand for the petrol and under eight lakh rupees for the diesel. Of course the additional packs and contrast roof options would add to that.
Verdict : This is a good effort from Tata one that could have truly hit that gold standard if the cabin had appeared just a little more plush. So a lot of the things that can be potentially fixed quite easily. The future variants or facelifts get a more powerful engine, changes the trim levels but the stuff that you can’t really change not till a new generation cycle is some of the fundamental things that go into a car. That’s where it’s good that Tata has focused on keeping the product really solid. The Ride and handling on the diesel engine, that’s a good strong area for this car. Stability and overall composure even at high speeds, that is again something that holds the car in good stead. because this Alfa architecture is going to hold on to that promise presumably on future products that come on the same platform as well.