Tata has launched a super-premium hatchback from its stable – the Altroz. After making waves at the auto show in Geneva as a prototype, it is ready to conquer the streets.
From Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, the city of palaces, through the roads that pass through the desert, to Longewala along the Pakistan border, the test drive covered 130 km. For the upward journey, the drive was a dark red diesel and on return a golden petrol.
The route reminds one of the Route 50, a transcontinental highway in the United States. It is maintained well by the Border Roads Organisation, with proper signals and lanes with bushes and sand dunes on both sides. Undulating at places, the road doesn't look much different from the Route 50.
Similar to the US highway, the road here is almost deserted with no thoroughfares. The only vehicles that can be spotted were Army vehicles heading to border posts. Ideal conditions to test a new vehicle and the speedometer in Altroz never went below 120 kmph.
The agile seabird
Altroz is a name inspired by the albatross, an agile seabird that soars for hours and miles with minimum effort. The name Altroz was proposed by Namzya, a specialised naming agency based in Romania, run by two Romanian entrepreneurs - Andra Gutui and Marcela Sarmasan.
Enter the car easily as the doors, both front and rear, open a full 90 degrees for easy ingress and egress. Once in, you are welcomed by a dashboard, console and interior that are quite similar to Mercedes A Class.
The design is eye-catching. The grille looks similar to that of Tiago but is larger. It is sleek and is finished in black on the top and chrome below. The large swept-back headlights run along the grille. Housed below are foglamps and day-time running lamps. The flat and downward slopping bonnet and the large glass area make the looks quite sporty.
The flared wheel arches give the Altroz a muscular look. The 16-inch alloy wheels sport a diamond-cut pattern. Similar to Suzuki Swift, the rear door handles sit on the C-pillar. The black panels on the outside are finished in piano black and make the Altroz stand out. The name Altroz and the taillamp both are beautifully enclosed in a single console.
The interior is finished in grey and black. The meter console is a combination of digital and analogue units. The cabin boasts of a seven-inch floating touchscreen infotainment system with TFT colour display featuring switches for media and cruise control. The flat-bottomed and leather-wrapped steering feels great in the hand. The Harman audio system is quite impressive with four speakers and two tweeters.
Tata should be applauded for taking care of the smallest of details. The Altroz comes with cooled glove box, storage space below the arm rest and an umbrella holder on the door pad. The headroom is adequate and the backseat can comfortably accommodate three passengers. The rear also gets an AC vent and 12V charging socket.
Both the petrol and diesel engines on the Altroz are BSIV compliant. The 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel unit generates 90 ps power and 200 Nm torque, while the 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol churns out 86 ps of power and 113 Nm of torque.
Both the powertrains offer great drive-ability. Though the petrol engine is borrowed from Tiago once you sit behind the wheels you could understand the difference. The three-cylinder unit cleverly masks all vibrations and noise. The diesel engine is versatile to say the least.
Cornering and braking are impressive. The steering wheel is responsive and adds to the driving experience. Straight-line stability is good. Gear lever and the sliding arm rest are all ergonomically placed. Though there is a hint of firmness, the suspension offers good ride over all types of roads.
The Altroz gets several segment-first features like a smart key that can be worn like a wrist watch, rain-sensing wipers and auto headlamp, among others. Since the car could be exported to European markets too, it has been developed with electrification in mind.
Price: Yet to be announced. If the price begins from Rs 5 lakh, the Altroz could be an instant hit.