Tata Altroz Turbo: 46 observations in 10 hours with the car
For customers who are picking the Altroz, it will be a tough choice between this turbo-petrol and the very impressive 1.5L turbo-diesel.
We frankly feel terrible for those who bought the Altroz n/a petrol because this turbo-petrol is vastly superior! There is simply no comparison. This is the engine that the Altroz should have been launched with in the first place. It is smooth, peppy and has good drivability. The 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol produces 109 BHP and 140 Nm, which is 24 BHP and 27 Nm more than the naturally-aspirated version. It comes with a 5-speed manual gearbox and gets a “sport mode” too. That said, in the Nexon, this same motor produces 9 BHP and 30 Nm more. We disagree with Tata giving the Altroz 1.2L turbo-petrol a lower state of tune than the Nexon. The Altroz is a premium “gold standard” hatchback and should’ve gotten the same engine tune + 6-speed gearbox as the Nexon.
Unfortunately, there is no AT variant (yet) with this turbo-petrol. Wish Tata would understand that it is very, very important to offer all the right engines & transmissions at launch itself – related article by GTO. We don’t know why Tata does this. The Altroz diesel was delayed, this turbo-petrol arrives late and there’s no AT in a market sharply moving to ATs. Tata now genuinely has a hatchback that can fight with the segment leaders from Maruti & Hyundai, but it’s not gotten the right ammunition at the right time.
For customers who are picking the Altroz, it will be a tough choice between this turbo-petrol and the very impressive 1.5L turbo-diesel. We expect the turbo-petrol to be priced within an arm’s length of the turbo-diesel. Both are good engines. This turbo-petrol is smooth and quick enough, but even the turbo-diesel is peppy, with far greater efficiency.
- Turbo-petrol is vastly superior to the weak 1.2L n/a engine. Still, think of it as a competent petrol hatchback, but not a fast or hot one.
- Sit in the driver’s seat and you’ll not notice any difference compared to the naturally-aspirated version immediately. There are a few changes in the cabin though.
- Startup and shutdown are smooth. Like the other variants of the Altroz, you get an engine start / stop button. Upon cranking the engine and while idling, there are no noticeable vibrations felt anywhere.
- You’ll appreciate the soft clutch pedal. It is very light to operate. On the downside, the pedal’s travel range is on the longer side & it will bother you in traffic. There’s a very usable dead pedal to rest your foot.
- Even the gear lever is positioned at an extremely comfortable height. It’s a level higher than is usually the case, which makes matters user-friendly. You don’t need to put your hand “down” to access it. The gear shifter is alright to use, but its throws are longer than we would like in a modern hatchback. It also has a bit of a notchy side to it. Not as slick as a Japanese or Korean gearbox.
- In the city, the turbo-petrol has very good driveability. You won’t be using the gearbox excessively. It even cleared our 2nd gear speed breaker test easily. There is very little turbo lag. Throttle response is satisfactory and the car has no problem picking up speed from low revs. The healthy bottom-end makes the turbo-petrol Altroz an easy car to drive in the city.
- The motor starts coming into its element above 2,000 rpm. But make no mistake, power is not as explosive as we have seen with some other turbo-petrols. It’s nowhere as enthusiastic as the Polo’s 1.0 TSI. Here, the focus is more on drivability and practicality, while providing adequate performance.
- This is a very smooth engine, even as the rpm needle climbs high. As you approach 4,000 rpm, enthusiasts will love the engine note. GTO loved the sound.
- Tata has provided a “Sport” mode for those who desire better performance. Engage it when you are in the mood for fun and on the highway. The engine is noticeably meatier in sport mode (delivers 25% more torque) with sharper throttle response. There is more than enough pep to have fun (combined of course, with the Altroz’s splendid high speed manners).
- Unlike the n/a petrol or Nexon, the Altroz turbo-petrol does not come with an “Eco” mode. It’s only the City & Sport driving modes that are provided. The car always starts in City mode, which is the default.
- Just like the n/a petrol, the turbo-petrol is equipped with an idling start/stop system, which switches off the engine when it’s idling to save fuel. The system works much more seamlessly compared to some other cars I have been in. While on the topic of fuel efficiency, the turbo-petrol has an ARAI certified rating of 18.13 km/l.
- The electric power steering is quite light at parking / low speeds which makes the Altroz very easy to drive.
- NVH levels are overall satisfactory. However, in the mid revs, when you are climbing from 2,000 – 3,000 rpm, there was some weird drivetrain vibration felt in the cabin. This was at or about the 2,400 rpm mark. As the revvs climbed, it disappeared. This vibration was especially felt in 3rd gear. Tata should not have these kind of rough edges showing in such important cars. We recall even the Altroz Diesel having some gaps in power delivery due to fuel mapping issues. It is important to iron out all such creases before launching a product.
- Let’s get one thing out of the way. The Altroz 1.2T is not a hot hatch on the open road, like the Polo 1.0 TSI is. That said, power delivery is more than adequate and you will enjoy driving this hatchback on the expressway. The turbo-petrol engine is smooth & sounds nice at high rpm. Enthusiasts will love the engine note. What’s more, the Altroz has simply fantastic road manners & composure at triple digit speeds.
- Turbo lag is well-controlled. Heck, even while overtaking slow moving trucks while going uphill on the Lonavala ghat, it did not bother us.
- Floor the accelerator on the open road and this car feels noticeably faster than the n/a petrol. At speeds where the weak n/a petrol feels wheezy & is running out of breath, the Altroz turbo-petrol will still be accelerating nicely.
- Unfortunately, this engine isn’t a high-revving unit. The 1.2T revs to ~5,700 rpm momentarily before settling down at 5,500 rpm. That is way too low IMHO. This restricted 5,500 rpm does limit the fun you can have with the car, and can also catch you out in the middle of an overtaking manouveur where extra revs always help.
- It’s fun to stretch her legs on the open road. Interestingly, cross 4,900 – 5,000 rpm and you’ll feel a distinct, very noticeable tug from the engine. Almost like Honda’s Vtec mode!!! But it doesn’t last long as you hit 5,500 rpm shortly after.
- The Altroz turbo-petrol cruises effortlessly on the highway. 100 km/h in 5th gear is seen at ~2,300 rpm, while 120 km/h is seen at ~2,800 rpm. High speed stability is very impressive and you can calmly cruise at 120 km/h all day long. Solid, planted & confidence-inspiring is how I’d describe it. The steering also weighs up well at speed. Must say that Tata tunes its EPS better than HPS (hydraulic).
- While highway performance is more than adequate, I will say again that the Nexon’s additional BHP & torque would have made this car special, the natural enthusiast’s choice. In a premium hatchback, you just expect something more special & I wish Tata went all out with the Altroz. After all, when you have the ammunition ready, why not use it? Furthermore, having 118 BHP would be an excellent differentiator over the Marutis & Hyundais of the world. Tata needs to differentiate & stand out from the crowd. You can’t leave your guns at home when you head out to fight.
- Excellent, mature suspension. At expressway speeds, the Altroz feels very “big car-like”. At low city speeds, the suspension is firm & that will bother you on broken roads. But as the speedometer needle climbs, the Altroz rides f-l-a-t. It’s impressively composed on the highway. Recovery from road dips & undulations is splendid too.
- The brakes are progressive and do the job as expected. They have cornering stability control too (Tata says “CSC supports / stabilizes the vehicle during partial braking in curves by reducing pressure at the required inner wheel. This helps to reduce the probability of vehicle oversteer during cornering + braking”). From high speeds, the car stops in a straight line sans any drama.
- It sure feels good to be cruising at 120 km/h in a car that carries a 5-star safety rating. Just makes you feel that much more confident. If you drive primarily on expressways, keep the Altroz as a top choice because of the excellent high speed manners & safe build.
- Many BHPians will be cross-shopping the Altroz with the Nexon & it’s a tricky choice. The Nexon has more power, but the Altroz looks better (Nexon is too funky for my tastes). The Nexon is a taller car, but the Altroz has a ride quality advantage (Nexon is too stiff).
- This new Harbour Blue colour is available on the XM+ and higher variants of the Altroz. Contrast black roof option is available on the XZ and XZ+.
- To differentiate the 1.2L Turbo variant from the n/a petrol, Tata has given it an iTurbo badge (i stands for intelligent).
- While the cabin design is carried over from the 2020 Altroz, all variants will be available now with a sporty black + light grey interior theme.
- Instrument cluster is shared with the n/a petrol. Both needles climb up faster though.
- Sport mode is shown in red. Use “sport” on the highway and when you’re in the mood for fun, as it makes a noticeable difference to performance.
- Doorpad is the same, but the driver’s window now gets one-touch up convenience.
- XZ+ variant gets perforated leatherette upholstery. The quality of material is good by segment standards.
- Zooming in on Tata’s tri-arrow seat pattern & white contrast stitching.
- XZ+ variant gets an ‘Xpress Cool’ feature, which helps the climate control cool the cabin upto 70% quicker by running the A/C on full blast. It’s a premium car feature that comes real handy if you return to a car parked under the sun. Xpress Cool button is to the left of the A/C switch.
- Button to engage Sport mode is located just behind the gear lever.
- Harman-developed ConnectNext infotainment system with a 7-inch floating touchscreen head-unit is now available on all variants from the XM+ upwards. The system comes with Natural Voice Tech via which, it understands more than 70 voice commands in Hindi, English & Hinglish. Another cool function – you can set a personalized wallpaper and sticker on the screen.
- The wallpaper appears momentarily when you start the system.
- The sticker appears if you don’t touch the system for a while. It will disappear the moment you use any function related to the infotainment system. Works similarly to a screensaver.
- The Altroz comes with What 3 Words navigation. In this, each 3m square in the world has been assigned a unique 3 word address. You can either type in these words or use voice commands to set a particular destination on the navigation system (Google Maps via Android Auto / Apple CarPlay).
- Additionally, the system gets iRA (Intelligent Real time Assist) connected technology. The iRA App offers 27 features with 5 layers of connectivity including remote commands, vehicle security, location based services, gamification and live vehicle diagnostics.
- The iRA app lets you remotely lock / unlock the car, operate the headlights + horn and check the DTE. It also gives you a diagnostic report with critical alerts and a list of Tata Motors service stations in the area.
- Other functions include find my car, stolen vehicle tracking, remote immobilisation, emergency SMS, geo fencing, time fencing alert, valet mode, roadside assistance, share location, social tribes, trip details and driving score.
- The ICE can also be synced with the ConnectNext App, which shows you the status of the vehicle, lets you set the wallpaper + sticker on the infotainment screen and set a destination through What 3 Words.
- XZ and XZ+ variants of the turbo-petrol get 2 additional tweeters (making it 4 speakers and 4 tweeters in all). These are housed on the rear doors, next to the door handle.
- A look at the rear seat draped in leatherette upholstery.
- 1,199cc, 3-cylinder turbo-petrol engine produces 109 BHP & 140 Nm. More muscle than the weak 1.2L n/a for sure. The engine bay looks messy and could surely do with an engine cover.
- Turbocharger sits right at the front.
Read Team-BHP’s detailed Tata Altroz 1.2L Turbo-Petrol Review.
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