You can expect the unexpected when bloggers get together to do anything… and believe me, this isn’t at all unpredictable. There will be lobbies made without anyone even trying, there will be jibes and snide remarks to hear if you have come with your ears cleaned up, and there will invariably be the whispered bouts of comments that go: ‘Is this all they are giving us? My God, this is so unexpected.’ I generally move away, muttering, ‘Quite expected!’
So did this happen when a few of us met in Gurgaon to drive the Tata Bolt all the way to Neemrana? I’m sure it must have happened but then I was busy talking to the Tata team and the first question that I asked was, ‘Why are review cars either blood red or with some hue that is a close relative of red?’
Inderjeet smiled and replied, ‘I guess it must be because the colour is an attention grabber.’ We talked about other technical aspects as well and I was told that both the petrol as well as the diesel versions will be driven… with teams changing cars at the pit stop somewhere midway between where we were and Neemrana.
The cars had an MH number and I knew they would not be in pristine condition and because they must have already been driven by a lot of people there just might be unexpected flaws cropping up. I was correct as some teams did protest about the AC not functional at the pit stop. Even we faced issues with setting up the navigation, Bluetooth connection with the tab, and other fancy features like messages being read out to you as you drive.
As I saw the Bolts parked, my first thought was: ‘Pune in India, Coventry in UK, and Turin in Italy have combined their creative best to create the design for this car. But hey! It still looks like a Tata car!’ So yes, despite the new grille on the fascia, a revamped bumper, and headlamps that had a bit more of poetry added to them, the car seemed to be imploring for more attention from the design teams. The descending curve from the window to the rear hatch is sensual but would it really give all the aerodynamic advantage that, for instance, the swoops on the Honda Amaze claim to give? Frankly, I found the Bolt look like a plump and naughty girl trying to look more adult than it really is. But yes, I agree that the design does have elements of excitement to it!
Every car manufacturer today talks of aerodynamic flow and brings in a lot of physics to impress the consumer. All this is on the Tata horizon as well and they call it their HorizonNext strategy of which DriveNext, DesignNext and ConnectNext stand for excitement, looks and connect. Impressive strategy, no doubt. So how much of this theory translates into reality? Quite a bit… and so small hiccups here and there just go on to show that Tata has all the incentive to improve their future launches. After all, hasn’t Richard Bach written: “If perfection is stagnation, then heaven is a swamp!” And I know that the Tata research teams as well as the design teams are constantly moving from one improvement to another. They are not stagnating.
The interiors, as usual, had an over-abundance of plastic that every car manufacturer calls ‘premium’, the seats are snug but the space for those sitting in the rear can be a concern.
A user can also use GPS navigation and reach out for directions that MapMyIndia provides… but let me just say that I am rather sceptical about relying on GPS. No, not because the device will play truant and lead you astray but because our mapping is haywire, our roads and connections are uncharted and I have been asked to take the stupidest alternatives to eventually reach my destination in an hour’s time when the actual pragmatic travel distance was less than ten minutes. I’m sure this has happened to all of you… but it is thoughtful of Tata to have included this toy.
The top-of-the-line versions of the Bolt have a few show-stoppers like the Harman infotainment system, airbags and ABS with EBD and CSC. The petrol variant is the 1.2 L turbo-charged MPFi with 90 bhp of power with Sport, City, and Eco modes. The deisel Quadrajet is a 1.3 L engine with 75 bhp of power. Both have five-speed manual gearboxes.
Now if someone is wondering why AMT has been given a miss, I guess we have this advantage making its entry with some padding to the pricing and so in a price sensitive market they will come… but always a bit later!
While on our way to Neemrana, we did a little obstacle course too… frankly, this was too tame but we were supposed to complete the suspension test which we did. It was surely fun for Specky, my wife to be driving at this stage and she thoroughly loved going around this test circuit. And both Anweshan and I smiled and said, ‘Yes, you can drive well!’
It was Anweshan who took over as our driver from the first pit stop and he was quite balanced and knew it was better to slow down than to weave in and out of the path of heavy vehicles. Let me add here that the Delhi-Jaipur route on which we were going has a pretty massive traffic density and with so many flyovers coming up, the condition of the road wasn’t really pristine. But the Bolt did not really let us feel the awkwardness of the road, which is good… and Anweshan did not tempt any trucker to go over us, for which we said, ‘Yes, buddy, you too can drive!’
No, we did not face any AC issue even while driving the Quadrajet… though I did feel the gear shaft trying to act like a snappy and stubborn bureaucrat who doesn’t like being pushed from one spot to another by the government. Barring this, even my night drive speed run was fairly fine and we did manage to reach back safe and happy.
I’m sure many of the readers will be wondering why I am not talking of Neemrana in this post… well, I’m leaving that for another post, another day. Neemrana is certainly grossly over-hyped is all I will share here. This post was all about #BoltDrives and this is what I am allowing it to be.
The car, I think, is slightly more expensive than it should really be. If you think a car can be cheap and cheerful, unscrew the thought and shove it in the recycle bin. The correct combination of words is always cheap and nasty & expensive and cheerful… now you go and work out the mathematics yourself.
Note: Videos have been instagrammed and tweeted.
25 May 2015