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The Tata Punch has not been launched yet but it will definitely be the most accessible offering in Tata’s SUV range. Bookings are open online and at dealerships across the country.

Tata Punch

Styling

Tata Punch

Having drawn off the styling of its larger siblings, the Tata Punch’s design is familiar but the way the designers have managed to pack those elements in a package that is 3,827 mm long, 1,742 mm wide and 1,615 mm tall is impressive. While the upper half of the car can be interpreted as an urban runabout, the lower half exhibits a more functional design. The square wheel arches with the 16-inch wheels, cladding and generous ground clearance hint at the Punch’s ability to go over some rough stuff as well.

Interior

Tata have maximized the use of glass area to create a nice, airy cabin and the high seating position allows the passengers to make the most of the view through the windows. Ingress and egress have been improved thanks to the use of doors that open out at a 90-degree angle to the chassis. Even on the top-end model, the Punch only gets fabric upholstery that are draped over soft seats. There is ample room at the rear even after the driver’s seat has been positioned for someone six feet tall. The combination of generous shoulder room at the rear along with a completely flat floor offers comfortable seating for two adults. Fold away the armrest and the party can accommodate one more without any elbowing.

Tata Punch

The instrument console is a mix of analogue and digital elements and it displays all the essentials in a simple, easy-to-read manner. In the infotainment department, the top-of-the-line Punch gets a seven-inch touchscreen set-up by Harman and Tata’s smartphone connectivity suite, IRA (optional extra) with all the bells and whistles that the modern consumer expects from a car in this segment.

Tata Punch

Tata have also provided many storage spaces throughout the cabin in addition to a 366-litre boot and a cooled glovebox. During our drive, we noted that most of the smaller cubbyholes are too narrow to hold most daily items. Perhaps, when used as a daily driver, we can find out what is best stored there.

Engine

Tata Punch

Under the small bonnet is an even smaller engine. The 1.2-litre, three-cylinder, “Revotron” petrol engine is the only option for the Punch, while there is an electric version on the cards. Diesel is a strict no-show in the Punch, but CNG may make an appearance later down the line. The petrol engine develops 86 hp at 6,000 rpm and a peak torque of 113 Nm around 3,300 rpm. This is mated to either a five-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automated manual transmission (AMT).

Performance and Handling

Tata Punch

The engine has a respectable wave of torque coming in from close to 2,500 rpm and it does help the Punch perform city duties with ease but you will have to work the engine hard to pick up the pace rapidly because it runs out of steam slightly after the mid-range. The AMT works well in the city, shifting without fuss when driven with a steady right foot but with the accelerator pinned, it does seem somewhat lazy and there is a pronounced jerk between shifts too. That is, of course, not the ideal way t odrive an AMT, lifting off slightly as you reach the peak is the best — and quickest — way to go. Between the two transmission choices, I prefer the manual for enthusiastic driving. The biggest advantage of the AMT is that it gets “Traction Pro” a useful feature if you ever get stuck off-road. When the system detects too much wheel-spin, the Punch asks for your permission to engage Traction Pro mode and then modulates the torque sent to each of the front wheels to get the car out of that situation.

Tata Punch

The Tata Punch is stable around corners and while switching lanes at triple-digit speeds without worrying amounts of body-roll. The steering is on the heavier side and it gives direct feedback to your hands but at high speeds a lot of vibration creeps in and confidence takes a hit.

Ride Quality

In the city and on the roads around Navi Mumbai, the Tata Punch was easy to manage. Its compact dimensions allowed me to keep moving through traffic with ease and it was just as easy to park as well. The car has a fairly decent ride over the rough city roads and will not get unsettled by a few potholes. However, the suspension set-up felt slightly on the stiffer side but this could also be caused due to overinflation of the tyres. On the highway, too, the car is quite composed and did return consistent levels of ride quality.

Tata Punch

The Tata Punch scores well in our test for noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) in urban conditions and that score wanes only on the highway at high speed because some tyre noise does creep into the cabin but it’s nothing too untoward for a car in this segment.

Price

Tata Punch

Tata have not announced the pricing of the Punch yet and it is worth noting that the Punch is — strictly speaking — in a segment of its own at the moment, threatening a similarly-placed Maruti Suzuki Ignis. If the top model of the Tata Punch was to be priced between Rs 6 lakh to Rs 8 lakh (ex-showroom) that would be quite fair.

 

About the author: Joshua Varghese

 

Would gape at fast cars. Still does but now has a chance to drive some of them. Hates driving in traffic but makes up for with a spot of off-roading or the occasional track outing. Insta: @motoknight

 

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