The Tata Punch: Can It Knock You Out?

Like all of our previous experiences with Tata vehicles, the Punch was quite the workhorse and we used this crossover SUV in all possible situations! The Punch is a stylish little crossover with good ergonomics, good features and rugged build quality. Our Punch was a 1.2L NA motor which we felt was adequate for most situations and more importantly, gave great fuel economy!

In case you were wondering, the Punch is Tata’s attempt to bridge the gap between entry-level hatchbacks merely styled like SUVs, and entry-level crossovers that have more space, features and capabilities – to an extent. The former includes the Renault Kwid, Maruti Suzuki S-Presso and Mahindra KUV100, and the latter stretches across one of the hottest segments in India – from the Nissan Magnite, Renault Kiger, Hyundai Venue, Kia Sonet to the Punch’s elder brother, the Nexon. 

Lets talk about the inside. Touch points feel of very high quality, like the gloss paint on the door pull handles, the 3D-printed insert on the dash, and the texture on the dash panel that fades into the signature tri-arrow motif. The leather wrapped, slightly flat-bottomed steering wheel also feels great in the hand, and Tata has got the driving position spot on, even though the steering adjusts for rake only. Even with the driver’s seat set to its lowest position, you still get the typical SUV sight-lines down the hood and the edges of the car, though visibility at the rear is slightly hampered by the rear headrests when extended, and the narrow aperture of the rear windscreen. The features list is quite exhaustive too, with auto headlamps and wipers being a unique to the Punch, as well as projector headlamps, LED DRLs, cruise control, powered (and folding) outer rear view mirrors and more. 

How is it to drive, you ask? While we’re familiar with the 1.2-litre, naturally aspirated 3-cylinder Revotron petrol engine and 5-speed gearbox, in the Punch it’s got the added advantage of tweaked final drive and a ram-air-type air intake for improved drivability, and it helps with the feeling that the Punch has enough performance for effortless city driving. The 86PS and 113Nm certainly feel better suited to the Punch’s kerb weight between 1,000-1,035kg than the Altroz which is roughly 65kg heavier, though the Tiago is still 35-odd kilos lighter. Under regular driving circumstances, you’ll find yourself between 2,000-2,500rpm to keep up with traffic, and it’s only under full throttle applications that you may find the Punch wanting. The 0-100kmph performance, at 15.6s for the MT, and over 19s for the AMT, is definitely underwhelming, as are the in-gear acceleration figures. But at least when it comes to in-gear performance, the AMT is quicker considering it starts off in a lower gear than our tests dictate, with the kick down helping things further. That being said, the AMT shows a bit of head nod between shifts even with smooth throttle applications, and can sometimes be hesitant about gear choice at low speeds. For most, they’ll find it does a reasonable job, even in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The payoff for the relaxed performance can be found at the petrol pump though, the Punch delivering a commendable 18.8kmpl on our city test route. 

The punch has taken the book of SUV design and added a bit of youth and freshness to appeal the younger crowd. Designed on a clean sheet of paper, The flat concave bonnet raised on the sides, and its split-headlamp layout, with the LED Daytime Running Lamps on the top and projector headlamp cluster below, establish strong family ties with the larger Tata Harrier and safari. The lower half of the front bumper is black plastic, and it features a large air-dam (split by the number plate) that sports tri-arrow design elements, which has now become a signature styling trait on modern Tatas. In a way yes, they have done a great job at making the punch something that stands out. But it being called a real SUV by Tata would raise some eyebrows because that…. Is quite a bold claim. In our opinion it’s a handsome car and it definitely has the appeal for a younger audience . 

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Bhavneet Vaswani
Bhavneet Vaswani

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