Tata Punch Road Test Review – PUNCH ka Punchnama

Tata Motors have got their tail up lately having launched a slew of models before and during the pandemic going into an all aggressive mode. Now the Pune based Indian car maker is entering the Micro SUV segment with the Punch. We drive the much anticipated and awaited SUV from Tata Motors to find out if it delivers all that it promises. Read on to know all on the latest and the youngest SUV in town the Tata PUNCH.

Food for Thought

Tata Motors showcased the Punch in its concept form at the 2020 Auto Expo. The Punch uses the Agile Light Flexible Advanced (ALFA) architecture that it shares with the Altroz.  The Punch becomes the 1st model from Tata Motors to use the human centric trim names like Pure, Adventure, Accomplished and Creative instead of the regular trim naming pattern.  The Punch has been extensively tested over 2 million km using more than 150 prototypes through some of harshest terrains stretching from the hot and arid environs of Rajasthan to the high altitude and extremely cold and tough terrains of Ladakh from temperatures ranging from -10°C to +50°C and at altitudes up to 18,000ft. Tata Motors Design Studios in India, UK, and Italy have collaborated to develop the Punch.

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Exteriors

The Tata Punch on first glance strikes the SUV chord with you and immediately shouts out of its character with its robust stance. The Micro SUV stands at 3827mm in length, 1742mm in width, 1615mm in height and has a overall wheelbase of 2445mm. Ground clearance on the Punch is that of 190mm. The sub 4-meter Punch has dimensions very close to the elder brother the Nexon giving it a lot of road presence. Coming to the styling you get typical latest generation Tata Motors family face like the Harrier and Safari. The face of the Punch sports a highly placed slim style DRL with turn light just between the bonnet sill and the bumper. The Tata Motors Humanity line in chrome flows across the width of the SUV’s face. Front grill is closes type and finished in glossy black which also gets a unique tri arrow design opening for the horn on it. The large sized head lamp unit is placed in the middle of the bumper. You get projector type beam but in yellow glow here. The bumper gets its lower section left unpainted in black extending the brute SUV look. The air dam comes with the tri arrow designing along with round fog lamps placed on the extreme lower corner. The bonnet comes with two sharp character lines that give the Punch a mean beefed up look.

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Coming to the sides the Punch continues its SUV styling with squared out wheel arches that come with fiber cladding, lower section of the doors also get thick fiber cladding. There is a sharp character line that runs across the sides upwards starting from the headlamp and ending on the tail lamp. Door front handles are body colored and meaty to grip while at the rear you get into the pillar integrated door handles like the ones on the Swift and the Chevy Beat.  Large sized wing mirrors get dual tone housing along with turn lights while the glass area frame get masking. The roof gets the floating effect and is finished in glossy white and you also get roof rails which are practical. The Punch drives on 16 inch tyres mounted on dual tone diamond cut alloys. The front and the rear fenders get flexed out body panel that make the sides of the Punch look brute. The door open at 90 degrees like the Altroz allowing extra easy ingress and egress to the Punch.

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The rear profile on the Punch is majorly highlighted by the large boot lid that comes with the flexed styling and also houses the PUNCH logo on it finished in chrome. Tail lamps get the LED glow in tri arrow styling and come with some sharp designing. The rear bumper gets its lower section unpainted going with the SUV look. Tri arrow inserts with stop reflectors finish off the rear styling along with the neatly infused rear skid plate into the bumper and the rear glass placed at a sharp angle along with integrated rear spoiler.

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Interiors

Step inside the Tata Punch and you are welcomed with an all black interior theme. The wide dashboard gets a flat styling along with rectangular AC vents with body color surrounds and a thick white insert that runs across the width of the dash and also around the door pads. This insert comes with the tri arrow detailing and you also get a graphite finish layer just above this white insert. The styling of this  dash reminds you a lot of the Land Rover and Range Rover. The centre dash comes with the 7-inch floating touch screen AVN system that we also saw on the Altroz. This AVN system gets all the connectivity features which include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth telephony, Radio, What 3 words etc.

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You also get IRA which is the voice enabled connectivity feature on the Punch. Sound system is from Harman and the sound quality is pretty decent for its class.The the Punch comes with a single zone climate control unit. The instrument cluster is a ana-digi unit which has all the typical tell tale warning and information displays and clear on your eyes. The height adjustable steering comes with a three spoke design, leather wrapping and silver inserts. This Is the same unit with the MFD buttons and the unique boss pad which we also saw on the Tigor EV, Nexon, ALtroz and the Tiago.

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The Tata Punch only gets a single USB mobile charge port in the front along with a 12V power outlet. You also don’t get a wireless charger unit on it. There are loads of storage bins in the centre console along with the neatly done transmission shifter finished in leather, dark chrome and silver inserts. The glove box gets cooling feature and its lid opens very softly adding to the premium feel.  The seats get fabric upholstery with blue tri arrow pattern and hand stitching.  Drivers seat gets height adjust while the front seats offer good seating comfort and visibility. At the rear you get two adjustable head rests, folding centre arm rest that we missed in the front seats, full flat centre floor. What we missed are rear AC vents and USB charging ports though you get a mobile holder. Rear seating is very comfortable with loads of leg, knee, head and shoulder room. The cabin overall feels very well appointed and gives that typical SUV brute feel to the occupants.

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The Punch gets a boot capacity of 366litres with a deep and wide cargo area that can take all your stuff for a nice long weekend.

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Engine – Transmission – Drive

The Tata Punch comes powered with one engine option which is the 1.2Litre Petrol unit that also powers the Tiago and the Altroz. This 3-cylinder unit makes 86bhp of power and 113Nm of torque. Transmission options include a 5-speed manual and a 5-speed AMT automatic. We drove both the engine option for our review let us tell you how they perform.

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This 1.2L 3-cylinder engine may feel puny on paper but in actual drive conditions it does have good drivable power filled into it. The engine is refined and power delivery is good. You do feel a slight lag in the AMT version at start but once on the move the Punch does go ahead in style. Over taking is very easy while on the manual version there is more drivability as you control the shifts. On the AMT you do get a tip tronic shift option and yes the AMT transmissions have come a long way and now feel refined and smooth during shifts. You also get the City and Eco drive modes to toggle between which alters the performance of the engine to some extent.

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The Punch feels rock steady at high speeds and always planted oozing loads of confidence at all speeds. The suspension set up is tuned well and the vehicle drives over bad roads and pot holes with ease Infact we also did some good off roading on the track that was set up by Tata Motors. It is here that the Punch shines in its SUV character. The vehicle has a water wading capacity of 370mm and a approach and departure angle which is up there in the SUV category.

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Yes we tried them all on the track and were more than amused at the way the Punch handled the tricky situation with utmost ease. The Punch also get a unique feature called as the Traction Pro that helps it get out of tricky situation if it is stuck in any. This feature is only available on the AMT version. The basic geometry, design and ground clearance of the Punch boost its off roading capability hugely.

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Safety

In terms of Safety the Tata Punch comes with dual front airbags, ABS with EBD and corner safety control, front fog lamp with cornering function, auto headlights, rain sensing wiper, reverse parking camera, ISOFIX anchor points, and segment-first brake sway control. Tata Motors is also providing a tyre puncture repair kit with the SUV along with the spare wheel.

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Competition Check

The Tata Punch goes up against the likes of the Renault Kiger, Nissan Magnite, Maruti Suzuki Ignis, Mahindra KUC100 and the soon to be launching Citroen C3 In its segment. Hyundai is also said to be entering this segment with the Casper.

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Verdict

The Tata Punch not only looks like an SUV but also performs as one. It has all the traits of convenience of a Hatchback, drive feel and capability of an SUV and premiumness that you expect in today’s time. The Punch looks brute, drives well, feels robust, comes loaded with tons of features and safety options making it a very healthy option if you want something more than a regular hatchback making your entry into the SUV segment. The bottomline here is that this is one Micro SUV that is highly capable and can go places where not many other cars can go.

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Words – Ritesh Madhok
Photography & Video – Govind Gadekar
Video Edits – Bhushan Joshi

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