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Tata Altroz Racer Review: Does This Hot Hatch Get Your Heart Racing?

Tata Altroz Racer not only gets a more powerful turbo petrol engine but also some mechanical upgrades that justify it name. But can it really get your heart racing?
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7 mins read

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Published on June 16, 2024

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Highlights

  • The Tata Altroz Racer is the positioned as a performance hatchback
  • The car gets a more powerful engine, with updates made to the suspension and steering
  • The Altroz Racer is priced between Rs. 9.49 lakh and Rs, 10.99 lakh

In 2018, Tata stopped production of its first big hatchback, Indica, and the following year even ceased production of its less popular offspring Bolt. But immediately in 2020, it launched a rather funky-looking Altroz. It called it the gold standard but seems that wasn’t enough to garner the kind of volumes that the likes of Baleno and i20 could. This eventually led to bringing in the rather apt Altroz iTurbo with a dual-clutch automatic transmission – the most affordable DCT in India. 

 

Also Read: Tata Altroz Racer Launched At Rs 9.49 Lakh; Gets 118 bhp Turbo-Petrol

 

 

Well, on paper, it looked like a perfect combination of looks and performance, but the sales didn’t reflect appropriately. Not the one to let go of the challenge, Tata announced the Altroz Racer at the last Auto Expo. Fast forward a year and a half, and I recently got the chance to drive the production version of the car, which has been launched at a starting price of under Rs 10 lakh. So, has Tata finally perfected the Altroz formula?

 

Desing & Styling

 

Tata Altroz Racer 38

 

If you think calling a performance hatch ‘Racer’ is a cliché, the styling theme that Tata has gone with is no different. Bold colours, black roof, and twin racing stripes, that’s how the Altroz Racer differentiates itself from the standard model. The model I drove is called the Atomic Orange, and there are two more colours on offer – Avenue White and Pure Grey, yes, the other two also get the black upper body and racing stripes. 

 

Tata Altroz Racer 54

 

Added to the formula are a couple of smoked headlamps and taillamps, a larger black spoiler, and the Racer badging on the fenders. Oh yes, now there is also an ‘iTurbo+’ badge on the tailgate, the plus hinting at the more powerful engine. Cliché? Yes, it is, but somehow it works for me, and I like the fact that Tata is not going for that understated styling, unlike other manufacturers.

 

Also Read: Tata Altroz Racer vs Tata Altroz: What’s Different?

 

Tata Altroz Racer 36

 

In terms of size, there is no change, and the increase in weight is also marginal. The car runs in a set of new 16-inch black alloy wheels, however, the spare wheel is still a 14-inch space saver. That said, all variants of the Altroz get a set of 16-inch wheels, steel or otherwise. 

 

Interior & Cabin Features

 

Tata Altroz Racer 16

 

Step inside and you’ll see that the funkiness of the exterior has been carried over to the cabin as well. The dashboard gets a dual-tone black-grey treatment with orange accents for the AC vents. The seats too are upholstered in new faux leather covers with more orange and white racing stripes and contrast orange stitching and Racer etching on the front headrests. You also get matching floor mats, and the cabin treatment remains the same for all colours. 

 

Also Read: Tata Altroz Racer: Variants Explained

 

Tata Altroz Racer 53

 

Both the screens on the dashboard have been updated. You now have a bigger 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system borrowed from the Nexon. And then you have a new 7-inch screen for the digital instrument cluster, with surprisingly crisp colours and design for a TFT screen. Both the driver and co-driver get ventilated seats now, which is my favourite feature, and you get a wireless phone charger, a voice-assisted electric sunroof and an air purifier. 

 

Tata Altroz Racer 21

 

The rear seat continues to be as spacious with an upright seating position as before. The floor is relatively flat so three average-sized adults can fit here, however, there are no new feature additions. You get the same rear AC vents, a USB port, a foldable central armrest and adjustable headrests.

 

Infotainment & Tech 

 

Tata Altroz Racer 15

 

The new 10.25-inch display brings in features like wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the Altroz line-up, and the top-spec Racer trim also gets iRA connected car technology. In addition to remote lock/unlock, geo-fencing, and roadside assistance, the iRA system now also offers the Alexa car-to-home command function. The display also doubles up as video screens for the 360-degree view cameras and the bind-spot monitor system. 

 

Also Read: Tata Altroz Racer Vs Hyundai i20 N Line: Engines, Transmissions, Variants Compared

 

Safety

 

Tata Altroz Racer 28

 

The Altroz Racer also offers 3-pointed seatbelts for all passengers, ISOFIX, Anti-lock brakes, electronic stability programme, Cruise Control, Auto Headlamps, and Rain Sensing Wipers as part of standard features. The 360-degree cameras and Blind View Monitor are available from R2 trim and above, while the top-spec R3 trim gets the Air Purifier system. The Altroz already holds a 5-star safety rating from the Global NCAP.

 

Engine & Performance

 

Tata Altroz Racer 1

 

Under the hood, the Tata Altroz Racer gets a 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine, delivering 118 bhp at 5500 rpm and torque of 170 Nm at 1750 to 4000 rpm. Does it sound familiar? Well, because it is. It’s the same three-cylinder unit that can also be found in the bigger Nexon sub-compact SUV. So, more power, less weight – that’s the basic formula of the Altroz Racer. And it works. 

 

Tata Altroz Racer 51

 

There is a noticeable boost in performance. The car is a lot peppier now and there is a greater sense of urgency in the power delivery, making the drive experience a lot more fun. But there is more to the Altroz Racer than that. The car has been developed in collaboration with former Formula One driver, Narain Karthikeyan, so yes, there are some mechanical upgrades as well.

 

Tata Altroz Racer 52

 

Firstly, now you get a hydraulic clutch pedal in the Altroz Racer. Yes, it’s the right step in the right direction, and I appreciate Tata’s efforts. The clutch works fine and does its job well, but the response is not very constant. There is a noticeable on-off feeling, and the pushback of the pedal is sometimes a bit jerky. So yes, there is a need for some fine-tuning. And I wish Tata had done it because at the moment the Altroz Racer is only offered with a manual gearbox. 

 

Tata Altroz Racer 50

 

Talking about that, yes you now get a new 6-speed manual transmission as well. The unit works fine offering clean shifting, and the gears also slot in well. The throws are a bit longer, but the ratios are a bit tall which means you do not need to constantly shift during lower speeds and stop-and-go traffic. 

 

Tata Altroz Racer 13

 

This is certainly a good thing as you do not get an automatic option at the moment. Having said that, the gearbox could do with a bit more refinement. 

 

Driving Dynamics 

 

Tata Altroz Racer 43

 

Tata has also worked on improving the steering response of the car. Yes, the steering unit remains the same, but it feels tauter and there is a nice heft to it that imparts more confidence. The car offers better control both on the straight line and around the corners, something that I did get to experience at the CoASTT High Performance Race Track, in Coimbatore. It is here where I also got to go on some hot laps with Narain Karthikeyan. 

 

Tata Altroz Racer 44

 

The company has also worked on the suspension of the car, mainly on the damping to handle the boost in performance. In fact, the tuning feels just right, offering a comfortable ride on regular roads, with enough tautness to enjoy the car on a racetrack. Overall, both in terms of ride and handling, the Altroz Racer continues to impress. In fact, a bit more than before.

 

Price & Verdict

 

Tata Altroz Racer 34

 

Tata Altroz RacerPrices (Ex-Showroo)
R1Rs. 9.49 Lakh
R2Rs. 10.49 Lakh
R3Rs. 10.99 Lakh

 

The Tata Altroz Racer is offered three variants – R1, R2, and R3, which are priced between Rs. 9.49 lakh and Rs. 10.99 lakh (ex-showroom). The Racer is a different breed of the Altroz, which is focused on attracting driving enthusiasts, essentially the Hyundai i20 N-Line buyer. The car offers good performance, smart features and tech and the pricing is also quite right in my opinion. 

 

Tata Altroz Racer 33

 

Yes, there is room for improvement but nonetheless it’s a great effort, and the intent is also quite clear. The Altroz Racer is not a racer in the actual sense, but it aims to be something that’s different from your everyday car. And I feel there will certainly be a good number of takers for it. 

 

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