The Tata Altroz is leaving our long-term fleet, and it is a departure that is felt by many at autoX. The reason is simple, it has been an integral part of being the support car for many of our shoots during the past three months. From being the natural destination of the crew to finding water for hydration during our shoots in the scorching Delhi summer, to being a place of comfort, where you catch a breather in between the never-ending rush to take that “one more shot,” the Altroz has been our reliable partner. However, for me, it was also my ride back home every time I would finish my day, be it at work or outdoors on a shoot. No matter how the day had gone by, being in the Altroz was like coming back to bed after a long day, before actually going to bed, eventually that is.
To sum up the experience, let me explain what happened during these past three months. I got my hands on several cars for short-term tests. And every time I would come back to the Altroz, I would realise just how good the quality of the ride is in this handsome hatchback. One, that could match up to cars twice, or even thrice the price that the Altroz commands. As time went by, tackling the pothole-filled Delhi roads became less of a worry.
However, all was not perfect. The Altroz’s touchscreen leaves a bitter taste as its touch response makes the system feel like it belongs to half a decade ago. The absence of wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay go on to show its age. Thankfully, the Harman sound system is a saviour as the in-car audio experience is still one of the best, if not the best. Lastly, the DCA variant, which we drove with the dual-clutch gearbox and the naturally-aspirated engine, isn’t the fastest out there, but it is definitely a smooth one. The final takeaway, then, is that the Altroz may not be a corner carver, but is the Magic Carpet-equivalent in the segment. And with the new BS-VI phase-II engine tune and new features that the updated iCNG Altroz brings with itself, it gets ever so closer to becoming the perfect hatchback. It may be a goodbye, but the ever-present, reliable and dependable Altroz has made its way to the memory books.
When it came: March 2023
Current odo reading: 12,816km
Mileage this month: 1,306km
Fuel efficiency: 11.2km/l
What’s good: Ride and Handling
What’s not: Infotainment Experience
I am now in my second month with the Tata Altroz and yes, I know that last month I started talking about the car by asking if it is a misunderstood genius as well. In my defense, though, this time I am confirming that it is. You see, after spending this time with the car and clocking a total of over 2,700km there is a new side to the Altroz that has shone through. The delay in understanding came around due to a simple matter of expectations. Today, cars that get dual-clutch transmissions are focused on performance and hence, are almost always paired with a peppy engine. So, when I got my hands on the Altroz DCA, all I did was hunt for speed. But after being not so impressed in my previous report, giving up the pursuit of speed, and eventually slowing things down with the Altroz – I have realised that it is brilliant.
Being a DCT, not only is it faster than an AMT, but it also gives an experience far superior to a conventional AT too. So, for those quick overtakes, you appreciate the responsiveness of the transmission, even if the engine feels lukewarm. However, having this humble 86bhp motor paired to such a transmission is a stroke of genius, it makes the car feels responsive and subsequently, convenient. And remember, as I said last time, the car has the best ride quality in its segment. I am enjoying driving the Altroz with a light foot. Now if only the infotainment system could be this responsive too...
When it came: March 2023
Current odo reading: 11,510km
Mileage this month: 1,149km
Fuel efficiency: 11.7km/l
What’s good: Quick transmission '
What’s not: Laggy infotainment system
For me, the best way to understand any vehicle is to experience it daily and that is where this space comes in handy, as it lets us use the vehicle in several driving conditions and gives you an idea of what your ownership would be like if you were to own the said vehicle. However, the other side of the coin is that there is an angle of personal preference involved too – after all, we will be spending all our car time with the test vehicle too. So, to serve both purposes I narrowed down the option to the Tata Altroz DCA. The reason for choosing this is simple – a hatchback with a dual-clutch transmission could be a recipe that makes it an icon.
First things first, we need a quick refresher on the hardware that the Altroz brings to the table. It is powered by a three-cylinder, 1199cc petrol engine that delivers 86bhp at 6,000rpm and 115Nm of peak torque at 3,250rpm. This engine is coupled to a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission. With that out of the way, let’s talk about performance, and in short, the Altroz DCA is not one for enthusiasts. You see, while the car does come with a quick-shifting gearbox, the engine – purely in terms of acceleration – is decent at best. In everyday driving conditions, the performance is adequate and the convenience of an automatic gearbox is much appreciated. However, if you put the foot down and ask for more, the gearbox, which is rather quick and smooth in its shifts, ends up wrangling the engine for performance, and given that it all lies up high in the rpm band, the entire experience makes the car feel stressed during those quick overtakes.
But when you change the pace, the true strength of the car shines through, and it is not something you realize immediately but over time – the riding comfort. Irrespective of how the engine is behaving, the Altroz has arguably the best driving experience in the segment, one that can put even cars twice its cost to shame. Perhaps, there is more to the car than it seems? Maybe, it needs a different approach? The answer will come in the next issue of our magazine.
When it came: March 2023
Current odo reading: 10,361km
Mileage this month: 1,517km
Fuel efficiency: 11.5km/l
What’s good: Ride Quality
What’s not: Uninspiring Performance