Tata Altroz is Tata’s maiden offering in the premium hatchback space. We live with the diesel Altroz to find out if it is fit for the game…
Words And Photography: Neeraj Padmakumar
Months have passed since I had my first taste of the Tata ALtroz under a short test scenario. Though it was enough to get a quick idea of the car as such, the later additions to the segment like the recently launched Hyundai i20, essentially meant that I had to ring the folks at Tata Motors up to have the Altroz for a detailed road test again. Now, I am compiling this story after having lived with the car for over 4 days and having put a decent 600 kilometers on its odo. Here’s everything you would want to know about this premium hatchback from the Indian marque.
Tata Motors had showcased two breathtakingly gorgeous concept cars at Auto Expo 2018- the H5X and the 45X, both of which would, in the course of time become two magnificent production cars from the homegrown manufacturer. The H5X SUV concept, which had amassed much public ardor back then, soon turned out to be the Tata Harrier, an SUV that is in high demand today. The 45X was a concept hatchback that had well-drawn lines and tastefully designed contours. It did have the inevitable Tata design cues while still being fresh in the true sense. The Altroz is the production guise of the 45X concept.
Tata Motors has named the car after the Albatross, and the design seems as dynamic as the seabird. It is evidently, one of the best looking cars in the segment. You get to see flamboyant lines throughout the design. There is a carefully curated use of piano black and chrome accents in the overall design to render the car an air of premiumness. The powerful headlamps get a neat design and projectors which offer healthy throws.
The solhouette looks quite sporty and gets black embellishments for the window line and has blacked-out mirrors and roof on our test car. The rear door handles have been neatly incorporated in the C pillar, to provide for a cleaner profile. Look backwards from the C pillar, and the silhouette would look absolutely fab.
The taillamps and the boot boast of angular designs and a generous number of negative spaces. The 16-inch alloys are housed in wheel arches in which even 17 inchers could fit in quite comfortably. The taillamps get a smoked design and there is a lotta black at the rear as well. The tailgate has a bunch of beautifully drawn lines and there is a muscular bumper too.
The Altroz has been built on an all new modular platform from Tata Motors. Named the ALFA ( Agile, Light, Flexible, Advanced) Arc, this platform would spawn models of diverse bodystyles in the years to come. This essentially means that we would get to see SUVs, hatchbacks, MPVs and sedans built on the ALFA architecture in the near future. Though the Altroz measures a nip under 4 meters in length, this new platform can support vehicles spanning anywhere between 3.7m and 4.3m in length, and is also EV compliant! The ALFA architecture also has doors that open 90 degrees and a flat rear floor as its other notable characteristics.
The Tata Altroz stays on par with the competition in its dimensions. It is 3990mm long, 1755mm wide and 1523mm tall. It has a good 2501mm wheelbase as well. At 165mm, the ground clearance is pretty decent too.
The cabin of the Altroz is a pleasant place to live in. The overall layout and design of the cabin do feel good, but definitely lacks the flamboyance of the exterior design. Everything on the inside is well arranged and of decent material quality. There are very few places on the inside where you would get to see hard plastics and materials with an air of cheapness. The dashboard has a layered theme which further ups the feel of quality.
The Altroz has a 7.0 inch touchscreen flaunting a free standing design. The interface is quite usable and offers good amounts of response as well. This unit gets modern day connectivity tech like wired Apple Carplay and Android Auto, and is paired to a 6 speaker Harman Audio system. The Altroz ranks among the top players in the segment in terms of audio quality. There is, however, no inbuilt navigation on this system. But yes, you can get over this by using Apple CarPlay and its maps. The best thing about this, however, is that there are physical controls (though borrowed from other Tata Motors products) for all the essential infotainment functions.
The touchscreen interface also offers a handful of controls for digitally controlling the climate control unit as well. The central arena gets a Turquoise backlighting which can be adjusted for the intensity via the touchscreen.
The instrumentation on the Altroz is handled by an analog-digital unit which gets an old-school speedometer and a large 7.0 inch multi-information display with a digital tacho and a pile of other information. What bothered me though, is the layout of this display and the busy cloud of information it has on display. One would take time to get used to it. I had to struggle quite a bit before I could train my eyes to get the desired info in one good glance. These should definitely have been a lot less congested!
The reassuring thud with which the doors close and the slow, dramatic opening of the glove box are all subtle reminders of the build quality of this car. Though all these may sound appealing for most, there are a number of things that are missing in the Altroz. A wireless charger for your smartphone or a sunroof is nowhere to be seen inside this car.
Comfort And Practicality
The front seats are quite large and supportive, but the under-thigh support of the same could have been better. The steering on the Altroz can be adjusted for rake but not the reach. One would, however, not have a tough time finding a comfortable driving position. The central armrest is quite cozy a place to rest your arm.
The rear offers decent leg room, knee room and head room. The thigh support could have been a bit better and you do feel like sitting quite low. The rear bench offers a rather vertical seating position, apparently to make up for a decent 345 liters of bootspace.
The Tata Altroz has on offer two different engines- a 1.2 petrol and a 1.5 diesel mills, both mated to the same 5 speed manual transmission. The 3 cylinder petrol puts out 85hp and 113Nm, while the diesel would give you a good 90hp and 200Nm. From a rather short and quick drive of the same back in 2019, I could make out that the petrol-powered Altroz lacks the punch one desires from a car of this class. Thus, I chose to have the diesel, which seems to be much promising for this detailed road test.
The Revotorq diesel, essentially a detuned version of the one on the Nexon, is quite punchy on the Altroz as well. You do get to feel some amount of turbo lag till 2000 spins. However, once the turbocharger springs into action, huge chunks of torque flow into the front wheels in a but linear fashion. 0-100 can be done in 12.9 seconds, which is no bad in the segment. Though not the best in its segment, this engine is quite refined for a 1.5 diesel.
Ride And Handling
Tata Altroz offers quite balanced a ride. The ALFA arc does have the potential to handle most speeds. I could push it past 140 kmph with ample confidence. The steering is quite light and lifeless, but would still not scare you at speeds. The Altroz is definitely not something you would want to slam into fast corners but is not something that would scare the blues out of you in the process either. It stays flat through corners, offers what I would call moderate body control and handling. The diesel being 114 kilograms heavier than the petrol, further adds to the stability. The Altroz also deserves praise for offering decent ride quality on most broken patches, despite being firmly sprung.
The Altroz has a 5 star occupant safety rating from Global NCAP. The car packs all the necessary safety equipment like ABS, dual airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounts, EBD, corner stability control etc. The Altroz also benefits from the structural rigidity offered by the ALFA architecture.
The manufacturer claims fuel efficiency figures of around 25 kmpl on the Altroz diesel. However, during our test course of 4 days and 600 odd kilometers, we managed to clock a highest of 19kmpl and a lowest of 12.8 kmpl.
The prices for the Altroz start at INR 5.44 lakh. The top spec diesel that we had for review, would set you back by INR 9.09 lakh ( all prices ex. showroom) Go HERE for the detailed price chart
What We Did Not Like In The Altroz:
- The A-pillars make for massive blind spots on the car. Though there are decent sized quarter glasses, the driver side vision is still pretty minimal in corners. We had our worst taste of this during a hill-run with the car.
- The digital instrumentation display is quite cluttered and not always equally readable.
- The Altroz has a 37L fuel tank, which could be of concern for at least some.
Should You Buy One?
With a powerful, capable, and refined (second just to the Hyundai standards) engine, decent equipment array, good ride quality and practicality, and unmatched safety, the Altroz is definitely a highly competent model in its segment. It is definitely a worthy choice for most families looking for a comfortable , practical and safe family car.
The other cars to consider in the segment are Maruti Suzuki Baleno, the recently launched Hyundai i20 and Volkswagen Polo.