tata altroz mileage, Altroz Racer review, pricing i20 N Line rival – Introduction


Sportiest and best-equipped iteration of Tata’s premium hatchback, let down by its manual gearbox.

At a time when manufacturers are giving up on hatchbacks, Tata Motors is striving to breathe new life into the segment with its performance-oriented Altroz Racer, which aspires to catch the fancy of driving enthusiasts.

The Altroz Racer is the company’s second performance hatchback after the Tiago JTP it sold between 2018 and 2020. And like the Tiago JTP, the Altroz Racer features a turbo-petrol engine with a manual gearbox along with tweaked mechanical bits and racier aesthetics that enhance its sportiness quotient. Priced between Rs 9.49 lakh and Rs 10.99 lakh, the Altroz Racer undercuts its chief rival, the Hyundai i20 N Line (MT), by around Rs 50,000.

Tata Altroz Racer exterior, ground clearance

Differentiating the Altroz Racer from the standard version are three exclusive dual-tone paint options: Atomic Orange, Avenue White and Pure Grey, all of which come with a blackened bonnet, mirrors, pillars, 16-inch alloys and roof. And while the Altroz bears a universally appealing design, the vinyl racing stripe on the Racer’s bonnet and roof will divide opinions. The Racer also gets a new roof spoiler. An LED treatment in the headlamps and tail lamps could have added a touch of modernity.

Tata Altroz Racer

The racing stripe vinyl is likely to divide opinions.

These aside, the Racer’s design, dimensions and ground clearance of 165mm (unladen) are identical to the standard version.

Tata Altroz Racer interior, features

Irrespective of the exterior colour, the Racer has a black interior peppered with splashes of orange, including the ambient lighting. ‘Racer’ embroidered into the headrests and orange stitching on the seats and steering also feel special. The top-spec Racer also features segment-first ventilated front seats, which will soon be available with the standard version.

Tata Altroz Racer

Segment-first ventilated front seats; will be available in the standard Altroz range soon.

There’s a large touchscreen borrowed from the Nexon, with a 360-degree camera, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and connected car features. Much to our delight, the system performs seamlessly, and the sound quality and camera display are top-notch. Even the instrument cluster is new, but the viewing options are limited; the tachometer with thick bars isn’t easy to comprehend. The gear lever, shared with cars like the Nexon and Harrier, feels budget-grade—definitely not worthy of being in a hatchback with a sporty tag.

Tata Altroz Racer

High quality 360-degree camera display on the newer, larger screen.

There’s a sunroof, too, which limits front headroom. A six-footer will find their head brushing against the roof even with the driver’s seat adjusted to its lowest position. Space at the rear is adequate by segment standards, and a flat floor and reasonable width make accommodating a third passenger possible. Annoyingly, there aren’t load sensors at the rear, so the seatbelts will need to be clasped in the absence of passengers, or else the alert will beep for a few seconds at the start of every journey.

Tata Altroz Racer performance

The 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine debuted in the Altroz iTurbo variant. However, due to certain packaging challenges, it was detuned to 110hp and 140Nm and mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. Three years later, Tata engineers have found a way around the problem. Finally, the output matches the Nexon’s 120hp, 170Nm, and the engine is paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox. But it isn’t just a cut-and-paste job. For quicker acceleration in the Altroz Racer, this engine’s power delivery has been tweaked and its gear ratios shortened. Moreover, there are no drive modes such as the iTurbo or the standard version; instead, the default setting is ‘Sport’ mode.

Throttle responses are crisp. From the get-go, the engine feels eager to make an impression. You’ll certainly enjoy this 1.2’s linear yet rapid power delivery, and its sweet spot is between 2,000 and 4,000 rpm. Compared to the iTurbo, the engine spins more freely and revs higher. While the former maxed its revs at 5,500rpm, the Racer spins to 6,000rpm or slightly higher, but it isn’t possible to know the exact RPM thanks to the unintuitive digital tachometer.

Tata Altroz Racer

Nexon’s 120hp 1.2L turbo petrol engine has been tweaked for stronger performance.

Overall, the Altroz Racer’s engine feels smoother, and flat spots and inconsistencies in the rev range aren’t as prominent as the iTurbo’s. Also nice is a bassy burble from the sporty muffler at low speeds, but at higher revs, its engine’s three-cylinder thrum overshadows its exhaust note.

For a point-to-point commuter, the Racer’s 6-speed manual does the job, but driving enthusiasts will loathe its long throws and clunky shifts. These feel particularly disappointing while driving in a spirited manner. In comparison, the i20 N Line’s slick 6-speed manual is in a different league altogether. The Racer now gets a hydraulically-operated clutch, which has a very snappy nature and warrants careful modulation for a smoother drive. In fact, the Racer’s far-from-perfect manual gearbox and clutch make you yearn for an automatic, and you’d wonder why Tata didn’t offer a dual-clutch automatic alongside, especially since it is available with the standard petrol Altroz and Nexon.

Tata Altroz Racer

Besides feeling clunky, its gear lever looks too basic in a car with a sporty pretence.

We strapped on our GPS-based timing gear, and the best 0-100kph run we managed was 12.05 seconds. A point to note is that, like all modern Tatas, you can’t turn off the ESP in the Racer. Hence, aggressive launches aren’t possible. It is certainly quicker than the outgoing iTurbo’s 12.82 seconds. However, its rival, the i20 N Line manual, makes the 0-100kph sprint in just 10.66 seconds.

But compared to the outgoing iTurbo, the Racer’s performance is much better. Its rolling acceleration time of 10.41 seconds for 20–80kph in the third gear and 13.45 seconds for 40–100kph in the fourth gears quicker than the outgoing iTurbo’s 11.52 and 17.3 seconds, respectively. Like the iTurbo, the Racer’s top speed is 165kph as per our test gear (but 175kph as per the speedometer).

Tata Altroz Racer acceleration (in seconds)
Altroz Racer* Altroz iTurbo i20 N Line MT*
0-20kph 1.34 1.15 1.13
0-40kph 3.27 3.18 2.46
0-60kph 5.43 5.51 4.57
0-80kph 8.18 8.67 7.02
0-100kph 12.05 12.82 10.66
20-80kph (3rd gear) 10.41 11.52 9.08
40-100kph (4th gear 13.45 17.30 12.39

*Tests not to Autocar India standards

We’ve nothing but praise for the Altroz’s taut chassis and excellent driving manners. Thanks to minor tweaks to the steering ratio and spring rate, the Racer’s ride and handling balance will most certainly bowl you over. It feels tailor-made for our roads, with perhaps the best suspension tuning among all modern hatchbacks. It flattens road irregularities and imperfections in its stride, infusing loads of confidence at all speeds. Its steering is direct, and the frontend feels sharp and very willing to change direction. Also, its ESP is superbly calibrated and allows you to push the car to its limits before the electronics dial down the fun. Mechanical grip is commendable, too, although the MRF tyres squeal and protest a fair bit while tackling corners. Its brake setup, with discs in the front and drums at the rear, is carried forward from the standard version, and the braking performance remains strong.

Dynamically, the Racer is one of the best hatchbacks around.
 

Tata Altroz Racer verdict

Even though Tata Motors showcased the Altroz Racer concept at the Auto Expo 2023, it took its time to bring the car to production. So, one expected the company to put its best foot forward and cover all the bases. But that isn’t the case.

First, there’s no automatic option, which is a big miss. Then, the Racer’s 6-speed manual gearbox feels clunky, and the clutch is snappy, which kills the joy of driving a manual. That’s a shame because its ride and handling balance is spot on, easily the best in class. Complementing its chassis is the smooth and peppy 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine.

Tata Altroz Racer

For a performance-oriented hatchback, its 12sec 0-100kph acceleration time isn’t very sporty.

Moreover, the Altroz Racer is a sorted package with segment-first ventilated seats as well as in-demand features such as a sunroof and 360-degree camera. It is very well equipped and reasonably priced, too. In summary, the Altroz Racer has a lot going for it, and if you can live with its flawed manual setup, it is one of the most dynamically capable hatchbacks around.

Also see:

Tata Altroz Racer video review

Tata Altroz Racer automatic on the cards

Tata Harrier, Nexon, Altroz get up to Rs 55,000 off on MY24 stocks this month

Tata Altroz gets more features, two new trims launched



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