The Tata Altroz is one of those rare cars that excel at one thing to such an extent that they make up for everything else they lack. Yes, I’m talking about the chassis here. The Altroz feels very balanced and also offers good grip and feel when pushed hard. Ironically, though, you’ll struggle to push it hard, as its 1.5-litre turbo diesel engine, which has been borrowed from the Nexon, has been detuned to match its five-speed manual gearbox (the Nexon uses a six-speed unit). Now, this engine offers very decent performance in the Nexon, but in its 89bhp avatar in the Altroz, it feels slow and lethargic. It simply refuses to rev freely at low revs and picks up speed slowly. This makes it impossible to extract any real performance from the car. In short, the Altroz diesel is a slow car.
Interestingly, during our test at the BIC, it posted a lap time of 1:14.8, which isn’t too bad at all. But how? Well, because of its chassis, which makes it a very balanced car, with superb handling, allowing you to carry higher speeds comfortably around all sorts of bends, irrespective of the fact that the steering – in true Tata fashion – does feel a bit strange. But the fact remains that the Altroz needs a more willing engine to become a proper hot hatch.
As a premium hatchback, the Altroz has received commendations from across the industry for its high-end exterior design, which makes it look very desirable. However, its interior’s fit-and-finish is not up to the mark. While the build quality is decent, you expect the cabin of a premium hatchback to be better put together. The Altroz, otherwise, has all the basics in place. As a Tata offering, it has great in-cabin space and comfort.
Overall, the Altroz fares well, although it needs better powertrain options and more interior pizazz to really take the fight to the likes of the Maruti Swift. Keep in mind, also, that the all-new Hyundai i20 – the segment benchmark when it comes to being premium – is just around the corner.