First Drive Review- Tata Altroz iTurbo (1.2L Turbocharged Petrol)

Even with a 5-star safety rating, earlier, the Tata Altroz had still unimpressive engine options.

However, the turbocharged-manual, with the turbo-petrol-DCT power train is finally here and is called the Altroz iTurbo. It is based on the Nexon engine with lesser specs and delivers its promise of an engaging drive and a better commute experience.

External changes incorporated in Tata Altroz iTurbo

  • It has a fresh and new eye-catching Harbor Blue paint. 
  • The new top variant ZX+ also sports the dual-tone black roof.
  • The iTurbo badge on the boot is the only difference between a turbo from a non-turbo variant.
  • However, the front still has a big highlight instead of a small highlight to identify the turbo variants.

Interior with new features ;-

  • Perforated, Leatherette upholstery on the seats gives a premium feeling and is for better ventilation. (However, the point to be noted is that seats are not ventilated)
  • Hindi & English voice commands for climate control, music modes, and more are available on the updated infotainment system. Voice recognition is perfect.
  • Connected car features, remote lock/unlock, anti-theft alerts, geo-fencing, and live vehicle tracking are available. However, the remote start of the car for climate control is ruled out.
  • Xpress cool feature, cools the cabin up to 70 percent faster, apart from starting the AC in full blast and opening the window by the driver’s side, to let the hot air out.
  • The turbo variants’ drive modes are City and Sport whereas the regular variants are City and Eco. 
  • A wearable key band, that one can use as a key to unlock/lock the car, is a new  offering

Engine and performance

  • With an increase of 24PS and 27Nm and the ALFA ARC platform, the Turbo Altroz is quicker than the naturally aspirated one.
  • Compared to the naturally-aspirated petrol, the turbo engine doesn’t feel crude but becomes audible past 3000 rpm. However due to powerful acceleration, one does not realize much of a change. However, cabin insulation, especially for the road and tyre noise, is still unimpressive.
  • Inside the city, this engine offers better & significant driveability than the naturally-aspirated petrol and doesn’t feel slow or sluggish under 2000rpm. The momentum starts building even with gentle throttle inputs which improve ease of driving. 
  • The throttle delay issue of the old Altroz version is taken care of, making the driveability experience more enjoyable, further aided by its tractability. Turbo Altroz offers lesser gearshifts and fatigue & clear slotting shifts in the gearbox. This factor is important until the DCT is launched later this year. 
  • On the highway, the Altroz effortlessly pulls cleanly to 120kmph and cruises comfortably

at triple-digit speeds, with the engine slightly audible. The difference in the switch to Sports mode is not much despite Tata claims of 25% more torque. Nevertheless, the power delivery is now cleaner with the performance just below 5000 rpm being the best, even though not applicable practically except, maybe for a short period. By strapping VBox to the car, the claims of 0-110kmph in 11.9 seconds were verified, which is appreciable.

  • Though the performance improvement is commendable, the Altroz still remains the tortoise amongst other turbo-charged hatchbacks in the country, with the engine sometimes even feeling  a little crude. For e.g ,as per tested figures, the  Hyundai i20 ,with the DCT transmission, accelerates in 10.88seconds, the Polo with the manual does it in 9.66seconds (the automatic takes 10.79 seconds), and the Hyundai Grand i10 Nios manual takes 9.88seconds..

Ride And Handling

  • Handling has always been Altroz’s strength despite the limitation of the petrol engine. The hatchback remains stable in corners, and the mechanical grip is impressive letting one enjoy every bit of the performance. The steering experience is also a delight.
  • The Altroz’s ride and handling balance is undoubtedly the best in the segment even over potholes and speed breakers. The Altroz’s suspension ensures smoothing out bad roads, the cabin remains flat, the suspension silent, and the passengers inside comfortable, as desired in a family car.
  • Except for its petrol engine, Tata Altroz has been a competent car ever since it was first launched last year. However, now, with the iTurbo, the turbocharged engine is more than capable of everyday commute duties and has a sturdy chassis. It is not the most refined, nor the quickest to 100kmph and without, the option of an automatic. Yet, the combination of the power train, handling, and the ride delivers a rewarding and joyful ride, making the Turbo Altroz a worthy contender in the segment.
  • At present, the Altroz retails from Rs 5.44 lakhs to Rs 7.75 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi) for the petrol variants. The Altroz iTurbo will be available in three variants – XT, XZ, and the new XZ+. If the premium for the turbo engine is kept under Rs 1 lakhs, the top XZ+ iTurbo could cost close to Rs 9 lakhs & with driveability advantage, the iTurbo will be preferred over the standard engine in addition to undercutting the Polo and I20’s turbo petrol variants.

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