I was not expecting to be impressed by the Tata Punch. But my drive proved me wrong, says Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com.
It was 5.30 in the morning when my test vehicle, the Tata Punch, arrived in its bright Tornado Orange avatar which made the dark morning as bright as it can be!
And of course, before starting the drive... Cleaning the car for the shoot is a must.
My cleaning help Ramesh here said one thing that as a car buyer one will never think of!
He said “Sir, yeh gaadi saaf karne mein bahut aasaan hai.”
Now how many of us have spent any time at all thinking this point before buying our vehicles!
That said, the car was wiped clean within a few minutes.
Looking at the Punch only made me think of one thing in mind…. This is the Tata Harrier’s child.
And luckily, I got an opportunity to keep them side by side. This was not a planned shot at all… and was made possible by Tata associates who helped move the Punch.
The front of the Punch reminds you of nothing other than the Harrier with its split headlamps.
Look closely and in place of the front grill is a shiny piano-black, treated cladding with three tri-arrow holes on one side, right in front of the horn. Nicely placed.
And the chrome line, or humanity line as Tata Motors calls it, makes it look similar to the other SUVs from Tata Motors.
The top version like this Creative AMT gets projector headlamps and functional air vents which are in plain sight but well hidden too! (see pic 1 on top) -- just to the side of the main headlight unit.
The square wheel arches housing the 16-inch diamond-cut alloys (available only in the Creative persona/Optional pack) make the Punch look quite aggressive.
The thick and meaty tyres take in all kinds of roads in their stride.
Seen here is the wheel after a slushy drive where if you walk your shoe is sure to come off thanks to the slush!
The rear door handle, just like the Altroz's, is hidden inside the C-pillar and makes for a good design finish on the sides.
The Tata Punch gets a 1.2 Litre, 3 cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine, which gives out 85Bhp and 114 Nm of torque.
The numbers seem nominal But what makes it stand out in the SUV category is the 370 mm water wading capacity(see video below), and the 187 mm of ground clearance.
The Punch is based on Tata’s new age Alfa architecture on which the Altroz is also based.
Also, as on the Altroz, the Punch’s doors open to 90 degrees.
A huge plus for all family members, making getting in and out of the Tata punch extremely easy. Speaking of family members, the Punch also gets a 5-star GNCAP rating which makes it the safest car in its segment.
In terms of the rear design, the black of the C pillar flows into the rear windscreen seamlessly. The tri arrow LEDs in the taillights also stand out.
Coming to the interiors… The dash has a nice layered look and the use of different plastics has made it look quite premium inside, and the build quality feels rather tough.
The chunky AC vents also do not feel frail and am sure will last long, and the centre console gets a spacious storage space at the base of the dashboard.
The 7 inch Harman infotainment system, the steering wheel and the part digital part analogue instrument cluster is similar to other Tata cars. Some might say it’s saving cost. But I’d like to say it actually gets down the ownership and maintenance cost.
The rear seat can seat two adults and a child comfortably. But yes, there is a charging port that will be missed in the rear seats. But being a small SUV you can just use the charging port in the front.
SEE: The interiors of the Tata Punch.
And now for the drive.
Enter the Punch, sit on the driver’s seat and instantly the feeling of space and high seating creeps in. The driving position is high and you get a great view all around just like an SUV would give.
Start the car and the engine does not feel feeble at all.
My drive between the manual and the AMT lasted 165.7 km, with 99 km being on the AMT and 66.7 km on the manual.
Yes, the manual did give me the thrill of an enthusiastic small beast but the AMT had some magic up its sleeve! Put the AMT in its manual mode and you can zip in and out of traffic thanks to the low-end torque, with each gear holding on till 5000 rpm... Didn’t make me miss the manual at all. An AMT done very well, I must say.
And the icing on the cake is a first-time 'Traction Pro' feature. Where a front-wheel drive behaves similar to a 4WD when one of your front wheels is stuck! This Traction Pro feature is only available on the AMT, though.
See the video below of the Tata Punch getting its wheels dirty and showing off its off-road capabilities.
Watch: The smallest SUV on off-road terrains.
This 'Traction Pro' feature, that can get you out of sticky situations with ease is something that can even save the lives of the occupants when used correctly. Good job, Tata Motors!
And coming to the fuel consumption, I was amazed at the AMT which gave me 15km/l and I wasn’t even driving frugally… that too in both eco and city modes.
The manual, on the other hand, mostly driven in Mumbai traffic, gave me an average of 18.1km/l in the 66.7 km Drive the Punch with a light foot and it will surely cross the 20 km/l reading with ease.
Overall, I must say, I was not expecting to be impressed by the Tata Punch. But my drive proved me wrong and at the end of driving both the AMT from 6 am to 11 am and the manual from 11.15 am to 4.30 pm I had a smile on my face. No driving fatigue, no tiredness from waking up early. Just a smile, thanks to a car well built and made for the young at heart! Reclaim your college lives... once again.
And now for the pricing. Tata Motors has just put out the introductory prices which start at 5.49 lakh ex-showroom, right on the dot.
Now, these prices will be valid only till December 31. Let's hope they stay at these, as the competition will have a tough time in the ring with the Punch at these prices!
All photographs and videos: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com.