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Auto Expo 2014: Tata Bolt hatchback and Tata Zest sedan unveiled

 In the run up to the Auto Expo, Tata Motors has taken the wraps off two new models – the Bolt hatchback (internally called the Falcon 4) and the Zest compact sedan (Falcon 5). The introductions are part of Tata Motors’ large-scale plans to inject desirability into its product range.

As you may be aware, the Bolt and Zest are built on a thoroughly updated version of the Tata Vista’s X1 platform. However, Tata has really made a huge effort to ensure these cars are not considered mere facelifts, but all-new cars. Comprehensive sheet-metal changes and new body panels make the Bolt look very different from the existing Vista; the Bolt’s glasshouse has been carried forward unchanged, and is the only real link to the older car’s design. Frontal styling is aggressive with a heavily sculpted front bumper, smart projector headlamps, and a new grille, and you can see a lot of influences from the Tata Manza Hybrid concept that was shown at the 2012 Auto Expo. There’s a thick character line down the side to liven things up and the rear gets blacked out C-pillars, but the big news is the departure from the tall, vertically stacked tail lights which is the original Indica signature, to a more conventional design, which does look more distinctive. 

It’s also at the tail where the Bolt hatchback differs from the Zest compact sedan – the two cars are near identical up till the rear doors, although the sedan comes with LED day-time running lights at the front, which the hatchback misses. As mentioned, the Zest is a compact sedan that’s 3,995mm long, and this qualifies it as a small car. However, the silhouette does look a bit awkward from some angles – it’s not as clean as, say, a Honda Amaze, and the stubby boot makes the tall Zest look slightly disproportionate. The X1 platform’s high firewall between the engine and passenger cell is sure to have limited Tata designer’s flexibility with the overall design. For their part, however, the new tail-lights do look handsome and rather well integrated.   
 In keeping with their ‘new car’ tags, the Bolt and Zest also get thoroughly revised interiors. The dashboard is all-new, with no carryover parts from older Tata models, and uses a beige-themed dual-tone colour scheme. Apart from the smart and upmarket dashboard design, the other thing you notice is that quality levels have taken a big jump up – this is easily the plushest looking cabin we’ve seen on a Tata product yet. The seats are new too and, along with the massive space on offer, they promise much improved comfort. However, headroom at the rear of the Zest appears to have been slightly compromised by the curved roofline. Dominating the dashboard of both cars is a new, nicely integrated infotainment and connectivity system that has been developed in collaboration with Harman, and features voice controls, a touchscreen interface and MapMyIndia satellite navigation.

 Another area where Tata has worked hard is in the ride and handling department. The suspension has been reworked for better bump absorption and also to make it quieter. Another big change is the adoption of an electric power steering that comes in place of the Vista’s hydraulic unit. The EPS system, developed by ZF, is said to improve ease of use and should also bring with it small gains in efficiency.
 However, we expect the biggest gains in efficiency to come via Tata’s indigenously-developed 1.2-litre Revotron turbo-petrol that will make its debut on the Bolt and Zest. The four-cylinder motor produces 83.8bhp at 5,000rpm and 14.3kgm at 1750-3500rpm and has been tuned for max efficiency. The other engine on offer will be the Fiat-sourced 1.3-litre Multijet diesel, which in the Bolt hatchback produces 74bhp and 19.4kgm, while in the Zest saloon makes 89bhp and 20.4kgm. Another big piece of news is that the new Tata Zest diesel will get an automated manual transmission (AMT), dubbed F-tronic, which will likely make it the most affordable diesel automatic car on sale in the country when it goes on sale.

The Bolt and Zest will be displayed at the Auto Expo and are scheduled to go on sale in the second half of 2014. Prices have not been announced as yet, but knowing Tata’s seriousness to improve sales we expect the cars to be priced competitively. All that’s left to see is how car buyers take to the new Tatas.  


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