It is arguably the best-looking hatchback to come out of the Tata stable. First shown as the 45X concept at the 2018 Auto Expo, the Altroz has retained its beauty in production form. The stance is confident and the creases along the bonnet and the sides of the car add to the personality. The sweptback headlamps are sleek and sit alongside a slim, blacked-out grille. The nicely tapering window line, 16-inch laser-cut alloy wheels, almost invisible rear door handles that are quietly tucked away into the C-pillar, the optional blacked-out roof and the LED tail lights are factors that add to the Altroz’s style and boost its presence on the road. Inside, too, the Altroz is a class act, starting with the high quality finish of the cabin. The centrally-placed 7.0-inch Harman touchscreen that immediately gets your attention. It comes equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with smartphone connectivity, though I have to note here that I did face some lag issues while trying to connect my phone and switching tracks on the music player.
Then there are the other practical features, like conveniently located charging sockets, adequately sized cup/bottle holders, and a cooled 15-litre glove box that’s large enough to store a laptop. The turquoise ambient lighting of the cabin adds to the feel good factor. The Altroz’s doors open out a full 90 degrees, which makes getting in and out more comfortable, and the flat floor means the rear seat can accommodate three adults without much trouble. The car’s 345-litre boot is also a selling point; it is slightly bigger than the Baleno but a bit smaller than the Jazz. The Altroz is available with a choice of BS6-compliant 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel and 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated three-cylinder petrol engines, both of which we had a chance to drive. The diesel churns out 90bhp and 200Nm of torque, while the petrol delivers 86bhp and 113Nm of torque. Both engines are mated to a five-speed manual transmission that offers slick shifts (helped by a light clutch) and well-selected ratios.
On the move, the petrol engine feels a bit underpowered and begins to run out of breath when pushed even moderately hard. The diesel, however, feels stronger and we suppose the extra torque helps, especially at low and medium speeds. The Altroz, which is built on Tata’s new ALFA (Agile, Light, Flexible and Advanced) platform, handles very well indeed. With its independent MacPherson suspension at the front and twist-beam setup at the back, the Altroz offers good ride comfort and remains stable at higher speeds, inspiring confidence in fast, tricky corners.
One of the best things about the Altroz is its high safety quotient. And here, the car goes beyond just the dual airbags, ABS with EBD and ISOFIX child seat anchorage that it’s equipped with. The ALFA platform, which makes use of critical structural reinforcements and an energy-absorbing body, with crumple zones and side intrusion beams, also makes the Altroz safer than other cars in its class. The Altroz recently got at 5-star rating for adult occupant protection, from Global NCAP. In India, no other hatchback in this segment has this safety rating, making it a laudable accomplishment for Tata Motors. The Altroz is indeed a worthy contender for a coveted spot in the highly competitive premium hatchback segment. It’s a bit late to the party, and there are some small niggles like legibility issues with the rev-counter and the quality of some of the materials used in the cabin. However, overall, Tata Motors has created a compelling package, which may encourage buyers to look beyond the usual suspects and walk into a Tata showroom to at least try the Altroz for themselves.
1.5-litre turbo-diesel, 1.2-litre petrol
Rs 5.50 lakh to Rs 8.50 lakh (depending on the variant)
Start-stop function (only in petrol), reverse parking camera, ambient lighting, 7.0-Inch infotainment system, Harman sound system