Bolt, Tata carsThe new cars from Tata Motors are a very refreshing change from their unsophisticated predecessors like the Indica and Indigo. Their new models like the Zest small sedan and its hatchback cousin the Bolt and the small Tiago are all remarkably good looking, good to drive and offer unprecedented levels of refinement and sophistication. Gone are the days when a Tata Sumo used to be described as ‘a truck in jeeps clothing’. These new Tata cars compare very favourably with similar international brands and cost less as Tata Motors has a task to try to erase their past clunky image. Bolt, Tata carsOn a test drive near the beautiful lake city of Udaipur I was first impressed by the quietness of the 1193 cc petrol engine and the smoothness of the ride and suspension. It was, however, a peppy 90 HP engine that accelerated effortlessly. At the touch of a button the engine settings can be shifted from a peppy sports mode to a more sedate city or the economy mode for fuel saving. I confess that I kept it in sports mode as it was much more fun. I did not get to drive the 1248 cc diesel twin but was impressed that it delivered a huge torque of 190 Nm for good pulling power. The power for both engines is delivered at low rpm with the result that gear shifting is easy. Test reports show excellent fuel consumption of  17.6 and 22.95 kms per litre for the petrol or diesel engines. Today, most buyers do not care as all new engines are very fuel efficient and reliable. The wide torque bands also mean less need to constantly change gears. The suspension also effectively absorbed road noise and made the ride easy over the occasional potholes and bumps. The electric power steering was also well balanced and made the twists and curves of the highway very easy to handle. In the driving seat, I was also impressed by a large centre screen for the sophisticated infotainment system. The AC and music systems with Bluetooth connectivity, USB, iPod and multiple speakers are activated through the touch screen. The speed dependant volume control is automatically louder at higher speeds. It can also connect to a smart phone GPS. The multi information display shows speed, fuel, outside temperature and assorted warnings as well as fuel consumption and distance to empty. On a two hour test drive it was difficult to know them all but a helpful Tata executive showed me how useful and user friendly they were. The Bolt was also quite easy on the eye. While it has partly retained the smiling grill also seen on the Indica it is not as exaggerated and blends well with the big elongated projector headlights. The big air dam and sculpted creases on the sides are well balanced to add to its overall jaunty looks. It is quite tall to make it appear bigger than its short 3.825 mm length but this also makes it the most internally spacious of the small hatchbacks. The black centre pillar gives the sense of a sporty floating roof. The downside is that the comfortable legroom has come at the cost of slightly reduced space in the boot. Overall the Bolt is a good looking and very complete little car. The Bolt is a good buy but buyers are still concerned about the poor overall image of Tata cars. But if the price is right it is a spacious, comfortable and reliable car to buy. The author is the region’s most celebrated automobile columnist