The Tata Altroz has been quite successful since its launch, but the one thing lacking was a powerful petrol engine. So, to address that, Tata has now fitted it with a 1.2-litre turbocharged engine.
As far as entries by manufacturers into new segments go, Tata Motors’ investment and effort have certainly borne fruit. With a striking design, the Altroz is one stunning looking hatchback and has certainly caught the fancy of Indian customers, which is reflected quite well in Tata’s sales figures over the past few months. Needless to say, their first foray into the premium hatchback segment has been well accepted, which can often be a major challenge for brands.
But, even when I had driven the Altroz about a year ago, I had mentioned that with the capability and the poise that the Altroz offered, along with the well-setup suspension, it desperately needed a more powerful petrol engine to really give it some driving appeal for enthusiastic drivers. And there were a few more niggles that Tata could do well to sort out.
Well, with the 1.2-litre petrol engine now also offered in turbocharged form, it seems to resolve my desire for a more powerful engine. Now producing 108bhp, and the 140Nm of torque, the turbo unit produces a full 23bhp over the naturally aspirated version, a near 30% jump in power and a near 25% jump in torque.
On the road
The refinement of the 1.2-litre unit in the Altroz is perhaps not class-leading, but it’s not intrusive either. But, the better thing is that now when you’re out on the highway or even in urban traffic, looking for an acceleration burst, the turbo unit responds instantly and offers a good throttle response. With peak torque arriving at just 1,500rpm, getting the Altroz off the mark is quite easy. And the i-Turbo now also gets a Sport driving mode which sharpens the throttle response and is actually quite fun to use.
In fact, out on the highway, the added power really adds to the Altroz’s driving appeal and with its well-setup suspension, cruising at three-digit speeds is quite effortless. The steering also offers a decent amount of feel, and the body roll is fairly well controlled despite the excellent ride quality that the Altoz offers. If there is a fly in the ointment here, it would have to be the 5-speed manual gearbox. Sure, the shift quality is fine, but the fact that Tata only offers a 5-speed ‘box on the turbo Altroz is a disappointment. Out on the highway, you get into the 5th gear way too early and if you’re out on a long trip you really feel the lack of a 6th gear. Not only would the addition of the 6th gear make driving the Altroz a bit better with more space between the gear ratios, but it would also improve fuel efficiency on long trips, so for me, that is a trick missed on the Altroz.
Old and new
Of course, the interior of the Altroz maintains its USPs, such as the 90-degree opening doors to the spacious interiors and comfortable seats. In fact, the interior now also gets a black and light grey combination with perforated leatherette seats. Another addition to the interior is the new connectivity option via Tata’s iRA connected car technology. Now, using the iRA app you can perform various functions on your Altroz such as tracking the location of the car, locking and unlocking it remotely, checking the fuel level and much more including many security features. Since some of its rivals also offer similar features, this is a good addition to the Altroz’s feature list.
Hits and misses
However, while the addition of a turbo engine was long due, the Altroz does still miss out on a few things. For one, I think the chassis and suspension of the Altroz can handle even more power and the same engine produces more power in the Nexon, so the tuning down of the engine for the Altroz seems a bit of a lost opportunity. Two, I would really recommend Tata to offer a 6-speed manual option with the turbo engine in the interest of both driving appeal and fuel efficiency.
And lastly, when the Altroz was launched a year ago, Tata had promised us a dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which sadly we’re yet to see the light of. I would’ve thought that the introduction of the petrol turbo engine with the DCT would be a perfect combination, but alas it seems Tata Motors would like us to wait longer for it, which I think is another lost opportunity.
Sure, the Altroz i-Turbo is not perfect, it could do with a bit more refinement, some more power, an extra gear and an automatic option, but to give credit where it's due, Tata has priced the i-Turbo quite well, and compared to its rivals and seeing the practicality and space the Altroz offers, it should do quite well in the market.
- Tata Altroz i-Turbo
Engine: 1,199cc / 3-Cylinder / Turbocharged
Transmission: 5-Speed Manual / Front-Wheel Drive
Power: 108bhp @ 5,500rpm
Torque: 140Nm @ 1,500-5,500rpm
Price: ₹7.74 – 8.86 Lakh (Ex-showroom)
X-Factor: The Altroz i-Turbo gets all the basics right, including the price, which makes it a very capable contender in the premium hatchback space.
• More power