Tata Motors has unveiled its all-new sub-compact SUV, the Punch. According to the company, this is a versatile vehicle that offers the agility of a hatchback, combined with the DNA of an SUV. Developed in collaboration between Tata Motors design studios in India, Italy and the UK, the Punch is based on the company’s ALFA-ARC (Agile Light Flexible Advanced Architecture) platform and uses the Impact 2.0 design language.

The Punch is powered by a BS6-compliant 1.2-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine, which produces 86bhp and 113Nm of torque, with either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 5-speed AMT. The vehicle is available in four different trim levels (or ‘personas’ as Tata Motors prefers to call them), with the top-level variant being equipped with goodies like LED DRLs, projector headlamps, 16-inch alloy wheels, a 7-inch TFT digital instrument cluster, rain-sensing wipers, electrically folding rear-view mirrors, a cooled glovebox and more.

Compact urban SUVs – essentially high-riding hatchbacks with a generous sprinkling of SUV-inspired styling cues – are popular these days, and that’s where the Punch also belongs. It’s a front-wheel-drive car with more ground clearance than a regular hatchback, an upright, squared-off front end, muscular wheel-arches and black plastic cladding on the sides for that perfect SUV look.

For urban warriors, the Punch also boasts 370mm water wading capability and approach and departure angles of 20.3 and 37.6 degrees, respectively. This, along with McPherson strut independent suspension up front and semi-independent twist-beam at the back, means the Punch should be able to handle gentle off-roading quite easily.

Punch packs an impressive list of safety-related accessories and equipment, including dual airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), child seat ISOFIX anchor points, and reverse parking camera. For the first time, there’s also something that Tata Motors is referring to as ‘brake sway control,’ which senses vehicle instability during hard, abrupt braking before the ABS kicks in and prevents the vehicle from unintentionally swerving away from its intended trajectory. I  have to admit that I don’t entirely understand how the system works, but if it helps improve safety levels, it is a good thing to have.

The Punch’s cabin has seating for five and looks modern and contemporary, with subtle touches of blue that look cool. There’s a fully digital instrument panel, Harman touchscreen infotainment with a 7-inch display, full smartphone connectivity, voice commands, video playback via USB and navigation mirroring between the instrument cluster and the infotainment screen.

The Punch also has a host of other smart, connected features, including location-based, security-related and diagnostics-related functions. It’s all pretty impressive though these features and functions will require the driver to be quite tech-savvy. Then again, that’s the new, inevitable order of things with modern cars these days.

‘We wanted to create a one-of-its-kind product that embodies the true spirit of Tata SUVs while also being versatile, rugged and youthful in nature. We are excited to introduce our dynamic sub-compact SUV, the Punch, a multifaceted and multi-talented vehicle designed in four unique personas. With several industry- and segment-first features, we are convinced that the Punch will match the high expectations of discerning Indian car-buyers,’ says Rajan Amba, Vice-President, Sales, Marketing & Customer Care, Passenger Vehicles BU, Tata Motors.

Prices for the Punch will be announced later this month, but buyers can book their vehicle now, with a payment of Rs 21,000 at Tata Motors dealerships or on the Tata Motors website.