Tata Motors has kicked off their 2024 launches with the Punch EV, christened Punch.ev as per the new terminology for their electric vehicles. With the Curvv EV and the EV variant of the Harrier expected this year, the brand has based this car on their new and future-ready pure EV architecture they call acti.ev (pronounced ‘active’). With most design and tech trickling down from the Nexon EV, the top variants are surprisingly capable. Speaking of variants, the car is available in three basic personas—Smart, Adventure, and Empowered. We drove the top-of-the-line Empowered+ in Bengaluru and even got the chance to try out its ‘urban offroading’ capabilities. Here are the stuff that matters in the new EV in town.
Tata Punch EV review
A punch way above its weight
(ex-showroom, Smart variant)
Design and controls
There are no surprises here as the Punch.ev follows the new design philosophy that Tata demonstrated with the Nexon EV. On the exterior, the front of the car looks very similar to its elder sibling with sequential LED DRLs with welcome, goodbye and charge status sequences. LED headlamps, fog lamps and air curtains continue here as well. The major change here is that the logo unit now hides the charging port, which has now been moved to the front, making it easier to position the car for charging. The lid is electrically opened but manually closed. You can open it manually with the hood raised in case the battery is fully discharged. The side and rear profiles are unchanged except for the .EV logo at the side and .ev added to the name at the rear. The doors open 90 degrees for easy ingress and egress. The boot has 366 litre space and there’s a small frunk you can use for small items.
The interiors feel spacious, thanks to the new acti.ev architecture, which adds a flat battery pack that lowers the centre of gravity for a more stable drive. The seats offer ample thigh support and the rear has a flat floor, adding to passenger comfort. The top trims get a rear armrest with cup holders.
The Empowered+ cabin gets a 10.25-inch HD Harman infotainment system and another 10.25-inch digital cockpit. The illuminated two-spoke flat-bottom steering wheel continues from the Nexon. The jewelled control knob is back in the LR (Long Range) variant in place of a stick, and you also get an electric parking brake with auto hold function along with buttons for Eco and Sport modes. The ‘phygital’ control panel provides access to crucial functions like charging port, AC and camera controls. Physical knobs are limited to the all-important fan speed and temperature control. The control panel and the central console are finished in piano black, which looks classy, but reduces visibility once it picks up scratches and fingerprints. Our test vehicle had already picked up quite a few of these by the second day of the drive.
Tech and features
The Punch.ev doesn’t skimp on features. Air purifier, 6 airbags and connectivity options like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come as standard across all personas. However, the top trims offer wireless connectivity, wireless charging pad, 360-degree cameras, Arcade.ev app suite and much more. The Empowered+ variant offers blind spot view cameras, support for voice assistants and ventilated front seats. Multimode regen is available with paddle shifters.
The infotainment unit includes Arcade.ev, which is central for your entertainment options like games and video or music streaming platforms. A six-speaker audio system is mated to this unit, but you don’t get JBL modes for sound customisation. The Punch.ev provides USB Type-A and Type-C ports apart from a 12V socket, and the Type-C port delivers 45W for high-power gadgets. A sunroof comes optional, with voice control. The Punch.ev supports Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant and Hey Tata voice assistants. You can replicate navigation on the digital cockpit while using Google Map on Android phones or Apple map on iPhone.
The Tata Punch.ev comes with two powertrain options. The normal version is powered by a 60 kW motor producing 114 Nm of peak torque, while the LR (Long Range) variants are powered by a 90 claimed maximum (ARAI) range of 421 km for the LR variant and 315 km for the normal variant. A 3.3kW AC wall box comes as standard, but you can opt for a 7.2 kW wall box in the case of LR variant at an additional ₹50,000. The fast charger can top up the LR variant in 5 hours. You can also opt for a portable charger that allows you to charge from any 15 A plug, charging the LR variant from 10 to 100% in 13.5 hours. A 50 kW DC fast charger can charge the vehicle from 10 to 80% in 56 minutes.
The Punch.ev came without the burden of expectations, but the vehicle proved to be a nimble performer. Switching to Sport mode, the EV achieves 0 to 100 in 9.5 seconds, which is quite impressive for this class of vehicle. At speeds above 100 kmph, the vehicle feels grounded and stable on straight roads, though the steering gets a little jerky and disconnected. Even then, cornering can make you feel uneasy with rollover and lack of feedback from the steering. However, the top trim we drove came with all four disk brakes, which let you quickly regain control. With paddles for regen, you can control the vehicle dynamics, according to your preference and the vehicle’s state of charge, without taking your eyes off the road.
In the ‘urban offroading’ With 190mm ground clearance, 19-degree approach angle, 28-degree angle of departure, 15.1-degree brake ramp over angle and 350mm water wading capability, the vehicle is ready for those enormous potholes and puddles on Indian roads with ESP, Hill Hold and Hill Descent Control sweetening the deal.
As an entry-level compact car with an SUV styling, the Punch had everything going for it. The new electric variant further enhances the appeal with even the base variant offering some advanced features. The top persona is a pleasure to drive with connected features ready to impress all and sundry. The top trims get expensive with the Empowered+ variant we drove starting at ₹13.29 lakh and the LR commanding ₹14.49 lakh. A 7.2kW AC fast charger will set you back by ₹50,000, while an additional ₹50,000 will get you a small single-pane sunroof.
A capable vehicle that can entice the first-time car buyer to seriously consider an EV.