Tata Altroz DCA Automatic: First Drive Review

Published On Mar 30, 2022 By Nabeel for Tata Altroz

Altroz finally gets a dual-clutch automatic transmission to rival the sea of other automatics in the segment. Is this worthy of your consideration?

The Altroz is a brilliant family hatchback. Everytime we have driven it, we have come back praising its ride, handling, build quality and feature package for the price, not to mention the looks. However, it did have drawbacks like the average performance of the petrol engine and the lack of an automatic transmission option. Tata has managed to address one of these aspects with the new DCA. Altroz, with its naturally aspirated petrol engine, now comes with the option of a dual-clutch automatic transmission. How is it to drive and should you consider buying it? 

The only change apart from the new transmission is the addition of the new blue body color which, in our opinion, is the best one available with the Altroz. And if you have your heart set on the golden one, then you are out of luck because Tata is not offering it with the DCA. No other change is there in the features list or the space and practicality of the car. For those details, read our review of the Altroz i-turbo here. Let's get straight to the DCA driving part. 

Engine And Performance

Tata has decided to only offer this automatic with the naturally aspirated petrol engine. It makes the same power and torque as the manual, which is 86PS and 113 Nm. With the new transmission, the key responsibility of this drivetrain is to be a smooth and lag-free commuter. And that it does very well. As soon as you get off the brakes, the crawl acceleration is gentle and smooth. The DCT has quick gear changes and because the engine performance is linear and not particularly quick, they remain jerk free as well. If you are driving gently in traffic, the gearbox is quick to shift to 4th gear and you won't even notice it getting there. Downshifts under partial throttle conditions to gain some speed happens swiftly and without losing momentum. Under sudden and heavy throttle input, it does take some time to select a lower gear, but that too doesn't spoil the experience. 

Another good aspect of this transmission is its shift logic. It knows when you are just cruising and upshifts early to keep the drive relaxed. And it knows when you are overtaking or are on an incline to hold you in a lower gear and offer better acceleration. You can further shift to manual and take control of the shifts, but a situation hardly arises in daily driving where you are compelled to do so. Also, Tata claims 18.18kmpl efficiency with the automatic, which is about 1 kmpl down from the manual. But given the convenience that the transmission brings in the drive, the sacrifice is well worth it. 

The handicap in the drive experience is still the engine. It's not very refined and quite flat in its power delivery. Hence, if you are looking for a sporty drive experience or quick acceleration from the Altroz DCA, the gearbox shifts to the right gear but the engine lacks pull. This becomes more evident on the highways. While the Altroz settles into a cruise calmly, overtaking at triple-digit speeds will take some time. And unlike the manual and the turbo petrol, there are no drive modes here. This is where the turbo-petrol engine has an upper hand. It has better power, and more importantly better power delivery at the higher rpms to keep you going. This gearbox can take up to 200Nm of torque which means it will work with the 140nm i-Turbo Altroz as well. The reason why the naturally-aspirated engine gets it first is because it gets the most sales. 

Variants, Price And Rivals

The Altroz DCA is available in five variants, namely XMA+, XTA, XZA, XZA O, and XZA+. In the XTA and XZA+, you have the option to pick the Dark Edition as well. And for all of these variants, you will have to pay Rs 1.07 lakh more over the corresponding manual. 

Tata Altroz DCA Prices (Ex-showroom)

XMA+

Rs 8.1 lakh

XTA

Rs 8.6 lakh

XTA Dark

Rs 9.06 lakh

XZA

Rs 9.1 lakh

XZA(O)

Rs 9.22 lakh

XZA+

Rs 9.6 lakh

XZA+ Dark

Rs 9.9 lakh

The Altroz DCA arrives in a segment where you will find every kind of automatic transmission. The Baleno and Glanza offer AMTs and that's why they cost slightly less. The soon-to-be-discontinued Polo offers a torque converter automatic with the turbocharged engine and hence the cost is high. You will find the CVT in the i20 and Jazz and also a DCT in the i20 turbo. And all of these options are expensive as well. But because the Altroz uses a cost-effective DCT and only offers it with the naturally-aspirated petrol engine, it is competitive in price. And the experience of this transmission easily justifies the Rs 1 lakh premium.

Verdict

The new dual-clutch automatic transmission brilliantly compliments the Altroz by offering smooth and quick shifts. And because the shift logic is tuned well, the drive experience here is better than the manual-transmission variants. Tata is asking for Rs 1.07 lakhs extra for the automatic and the hassle-free experience of the DCA easily justifies that. If you were keen on buying the Altroz for your daily commutes, then you should pick the DCA over the manual. However, if you are looking for a more sporty drive experience or often go on road trips, then ask Tata to not make us wait for the Turbo-DCA.

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