Ten years, Fifteen Lakh vehicles - if these numbers aren't legendary enough, nothing else can be! Maruti Suzuki Swift has been the highest selling premium hatchback in the country for a long time now. Tata Bolt on the other hand, is cashing on the brand's legacy and with the HorizoNext philosophy into play, they are aiming to topple the industry giants. Whether or not they have the product to do so, we find in our Tata Bolt vs Maruti Suzuki Swift test drive comparison review.
The Bolt is probably one of the best products coming out from the stable of Tata Motors in the recent years. Based on the HorizoNext design philosophy, the Bolt looks very similar to the Zest sedan, which was launched prior to the Bolt. Tata Bolt's sporty stance in the front is complemented by the first-in-segment blackened out headlamps with projector lights. A thick black C-Pillar and the tall body stance tries to give a dynamic look to the otherwise plain side and rear profile of the hatchback.
The Maruti Suzuki Swift, on the other hand, still looks good and more balanced, no matter what angle you see it from. The updated Swift is nothing new apart from the newly added inverted L-shaped DRLs over the fog lamps. You can recognize the car even from a distance and most of the silhouette of the car is carried forward from 2005. Those large swept back headlamps and stretched tail lights, along with the raising belt line makes the Swift a poster boy of the hatchbacks.
They say looks are deceptive and Tata Motors have proven it with the Bolt. It seems like while many would disagree with the exteriors of the Bolt, none could differ with us in saying that this is by far the best Tata product. The all-black cabin has a very niche feeling to it, thanks to the well crafted dashboard and good quality trim material. The seats are very high set and the three-spoke steering makes you feel that you are in a premium car. Add it with the visual impact that revving needles of the dials create, this product really makes you 'feel good'.
Maruti Suzuki Swift gets nicely a done cabin, with all the basic and necessary features. The Swift, like the Bolt, has an all-black interior that looks sporty, an image Swift is synonymous with. Quality of material used and the fit-and-finish is good, and at par with Bolt. Where the Swift excels is the seat comfort and position, and we would stretch our neck to say, this is the best set of seats you could ever get. Headroom, legroom and shoulder room at the back is decent enough. Overall, the Bolt has a slight advantage in the cabin space, feature list and overall feel.
Engine, Performance and Gearbox
Like mentioned before, we drove the Tata Bolt powered by the new 1.2-litre Revotron petrol engine. The motor is capable of producing 90 HP of power and 140 Nm of torque. Now this power is not available full-time and can only be harnessed when in sports mode. Put the Bolt in the sports mode and you instantly feel power surge, good enough to get maximum out of the hatchback. Though, we are not very impressed with the lag and the noise coming out of the engine while in the sports mode.
The other two modes are the city mode, which is the default mode and mixes performance with the mileage and the economy mode meant for best mileage figures. Mated with a 5-speed gearbox, the Bolt gives a refined and responsive performance. The gearbox is quite light and easy to operate, making it a good city car and a better highway car.
The Swift is also powered by a 1.2-litre petrol unit that produces 84 PS power and 115 Nm torque. The engine is supremely refined and never feels like out of power at any point of the time, though, it's a bit lazy below 1,200 rpm. That said, the gearbox negates any shortcomings and is a delight to operate. Infact, the performance alone in the Swift makes it a highly desirable and best selling products in its category.
The engine is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox which is as crisp, accurate, precise and effortless as it can get. And contrary to the Bolt, there is no lag or noise, even when you push the Swift to its limit, making it a clear cut winner in terms of the performance.
Ride and Handling
Speaking of ride and handling, it has never been a strong point of the Tata cars, but the Bolt, surprisingly has one of the best ride quality in the hatchback segment. Tata Bolt comes with a set of suspension that negotiates with potholes and broken tarmac with ease, giving you a very soft riding experience. The steering is responsive, although you feel to lose confidence at high speed cornering. Tata Bolt is mature handler on highways and sets a good example for how a car should handle on long trips.
No words and enough to describe the joy you get driving a Maruti Suzuki Swift and it seems like the company has mastered the way to make the best handling cars. The suspension soaks the bumps rather well and the steering gives you a haptic feedback. There's barely any body roll and going in that high speed corner is not a problem. Overall, the car remains stable at speeds above 100 kmph and maintain its composure no matter what surface you drive on.
Safety and Equipment
In terms of the safety, Tata Bolt comes with ABS and two airbags as standard in the top-end model. Bolt also features a Harman Kardon infotainment system along with the Bluetooth connectivity, steering mounted controls and a GPS based navigation system. While Automatic Climate control is standard in the top end variant, Tata misses out the push button start/stop even as a standard in the Bolt.
Like the Tata Bolt, Maruti Suzuki Swift also comes with an ABS and dual front airbags as standard in the top-end ZXi variant. In terms of the equipment, the Swift gets an obligatory Start/stop button, steering mounted controls, automatic climate control and a Bluetooth enabled music system. Although, Swift misses out on a navigation system and a touch screen, the features are decent considering the price you pay.
And at the end of it all, we have to admit that we have never felt so ecstatic about a Tata product before the Bolt. This hatchback is so strong that it matched the Swift's abilities in every aspect. It was a tough fight, but at the end Tata Bolt lost with a marginal difference of 99 to 100. The Bolt offers you a plush cabin, generous equipment and peppy engine (especially in the sports mode). But the Maruti Suzuki Swift offers all of the above with a superior ride quality and brand value like none other.
Such is the charm of the Swift, that even after 10 years, it sells like hot cakes. All-in-all, the Maruti Suzuki Swift is a car for the keener drivers who are looking for a lively package.