Why would I buy it?
- Realistic range and DTE
- Modern design
- Feature loaded
Why would I avoid it?
- Higher pricing
- Limited charging infrastructure
What is it?
7 / 10
The Tata Punch EV is the fourth model in the Indian carmaker’s electric line-up. Make no mistake, this isn’t a standard ICE to EV convert, as this iteration of the Punch is based on a new, dedicated EV platform that will also form the ground for upcoming EVs. Based on the new Acti.EV architecture, the Punch EV shows off a fascia reminiscent of the SUV range, including the Harrier and the Nexon.
The car also gets a few fresh bits and bobs, including new alloy wheels, ‘.EV’ branding all around, and even a charging port at the front. That said, we would’ve also appreciated a few additional distinguishing factors towards the derriere such as a tweaked bumper or a fresh set of taillights. Now, how does it fare in real-world conditions? Let’s find out.
Is the cabin of the Punch EV any good?
7 / 10
The dashboard layout remains unchanged compared to the ICE-powered Punch, although there are a range of new screens all around, inspired by the Nexon EV. The modern setup tends to catch your attention as you feel the revised seat chairs that now get more bolstering on the sides over the petrol-powered Punch, thus giving you a better snug fit. Then, the 10.25-inch infotainment screen has a variety of voice assistants as well as the flagship Arcade.ev app suite to boast of. The latter doubles up as your piece of entertainment while you wait for your EV to get juiced up.
The centre console gets a Piano Black finish on the lower half, also housing the new haptic panel that controls the AC functions among others. The jewelled gear dial is probably the only chrome element you’d find in the car, and I have to admit, I like this setup. The front seats get ventilation, and the noise of the fans here is well-contained, even though their use was fairly low, given the pleasant weather of Bengaluru. Laying hands on the new two-spoke multifunction steering wheel with a leatherette finish feels from a segment above, and so does the dual-tone theme along with the blue stitching that matches certain EV-specific elements inside out.
On the storage front, a small crevice on the centre console feels like a dedicated space for the key fob, while the dual cup holders to its left can handle petite water bottles. Mobile charging options are plenty, including a wireless unit, Type-C port, and a USB port too, with the latter being a fast charging unit.
Coming to the second row, legroom is on the tighter side, but the shoulder room is more than sufficient for two healthy adults. There aren’t any mobile charging ports here, although a cubby hole is present should you want to keep a phone or some small knick-knacks. Then, the Punch EV gets front glove-box illumination as well as cooling functions. Adjustable headrests are available at the front and the back.
Audiophiles will be happy to note that there is, in typical Tata fashion, a Harman-sourced, four speaker and two tweeters setup, although the bass would leave you wanting for more. The electric sunroof is a segment-first, and having the kids open it via the Hinglish voice commands will undoubtedly put a grin on their faces.
Is the Punch EV nice to drive?
7.5 / 10
The Punch EV is offered with 25kWh and 35kWh battery packs paired with a single electric motor. The smaller capacity unit produces 80bhp and 114Nm of torque, with a claimed range of 315km, while the Long Range version, generating 120bhp and 190Nm, has a claimed range of 421km. The 3.3kW AC wall box charger or 15A plug point enables the EV to juice up from 10-100 per cent in 9.4 hours, while the optional 7.2kW unit (available only with the Long Range versions) reduces the time to five hours. A 50kW DC fast charger will slash these timings to a mere 56 minutes (10-80 per cent).
The Punch EV has oodles of torque available right from the go and this is evident even as you take your foot off the brake and the car gains a little more than average momentum. There are three drive modes to choose from, and our flag-off for the day in Eco mode was more than adequate to have us puttering our way out on the streets of Bengaluru. Should you need a little more than the average hunger for power, there’s the City mode too, which feels livelier than the Eco mode. But in lieu, it returns a marginally lower range. The Sport mode sees the Punch EV go full ballistic, and it’s not just the torque but also the smaller footprint that aids this feat, and before you know it, you’ve entered three-digit speeds.
There are three levels of regen to savour from, as well as a no-regen mode that allows the car to cruise as any other vehicle on the road. The highest level of regen (L3), takes some time to get used to, but once done, it will eventually turn the tables to mimic a single-pedal setup. We generously used the regen function, and by the end of the day, it became muscle memory to switch between the levels to suit our requirements. Further, the accuracy of the display resulted in barely any range anxiety, if at all.
The suspension of the Punch EV is well-absorbent, and it takes most of the bumps, undulations, and potholes well without passing much of the drama to the occupants. The body roll is well contained too, and this is likely to be due to the batteries helping the car hold a better centre of gravity than a conventional ICE car. The steering has a decent weight to it - it is neither too heavy nor too light, but progressive and linear in operation, going two and a half turns, lock to lock.
Should you buy the Punch EV?
7 / 10
The Punch EV is feature loaded, tech-laden, and has a fair share of options to choose from, be it colours, variants, battery packs, and then some more. It’s also comfortable for your everyday drive. But there are a few niggles such as a panel gap, an error in the charging flap, glitches on the infotainment system and driver’s display, and cramped second row seats. It also commands a considerable premium when it comes to pricing, starting from Rs. 11 lakh, all the way up to Rs. 14.49 lakh (ex-showroom), and that’s before you add in the optional sunroof or fast charger, both of which come at an extra cost of Rs. 50,000 each.
At the same time, Tata isn’t worried about sales numbers overlapping with its siblings on either side of the spectrum but instead believes that it will bring along a new set of first-time buyers. At the end of the day, the Punch EV is like yet another Vidhu Vinod Chopra movie – it's brilliant in its own way, but nothing outside of what you wouldn’t expect from it.
Photos by Kaustubh Gandhi