The punch micro SUV is the newest offering from Tata. Tata Motors describes it as having “the agility of a hatchback and the DNA of an SUV” and is marketed as a “sub-compact SUV,” which is an intriguing new addition to the company’s lineup. The 3.8m-long Punch bridges the size and sector gap between the Tiago NRG cross-hatchback and the Nexon compact SUV.

Tata is also going to great efforts to prove that the Punch’s SUV designation is accurate. The Punch is a front-wheel-drive-only vehicle, but it was built to handle the harshest Indian roads. Which are often as difficult as mild off-road trails. 

The KUV100 NXT is the outcome of Mahindra giving its first monocoque hatchback a considerable makeover barely 21 months after its launch. Premium features and aesthetic modifications are included in this facelift, making the hatchback even more desirable than before.

So which sub 4m Indian made SUV is better? Which homegrown carmaker got it right? We will discuss the Tata Punch vs Mahindra KUV100 today. We will compare the Design, specs, powertrain and pricing of both the SUV for a clear idea.

Tata Punch vs Mahindra KUV100: Exterior

The Punch was created as an SUV from the ground up, starting with a blank sheet of paper. The split headlight configuration with LED Daytime Running Lamps atop and projector headlamp cluster below, as well as the flat-concave hood (raised on the sides), establish strong family ties with the larger Tata Harrier and Safari. The gloss black grille is unique in that it is an enclosed panel with a tri-arrow-shaped aperture behind it for the horn. 

The exteriors are new and youthful, and the interiors are as stylish and lively. To begin with, ingress/egress is simple, even for the elderly, thanks to its 90-degree opening doors and overall high seating.

When compared to other compact SUVs, the Punch is significantly smaller. It has the same footprint as a Maruti Swift, with a length of 3,827mm, a width of 1,742mm, and a wheelbase of 2,445mm. The Punch’s 1,615mm is comparable to a Tata Nexon, and the high roof and upright pillars contribute to the SUV-like appearance.

Mahindra KUV100

The KUV100 NXT is the outcome of Mahindra giving its first monocoque hatchback a considerable makeover barely 21 months after its launch. Premium features and aesthetic modifications are included in this facelift, making the hatchback even more desirable than before.

The silhouette hasn’t changed, but there are a few minor tweaks that make a tremendous difference. For starters, the headlamps have been replaced, and while the DRLs have been retained, the red detailing within the plastic covering has been removed. There’s also a new front grille with chrome accents that looks rather aggressive. Both bumpers have been modified and equipped with contrasting silver skid plates, giving the KUV a more robust appearance.

The car is 3700mm long, 1735mm wide, and has a 2385mm wheelbase. The KUV100 NXT, on the other hand, has five doors with a front and back tread of 1490 mm. 

Tata Punch vs Mahindra KUV100: Interior

Inside the Tata Punch, the layered dashboard design, as well as the rectangular air vents, are attractive. White panels, textured plastics, and other materials not only appear good but also have a high-end feel to them. The Altroz premium hatchback shares the free-standing touchscreen, climate control buttons, steering, and part-digital instrument cluster.

The premium knitted roof liner, like the one seen on the Tiago hatchback, would have contributed to the Punch’s feeling of occasion. While the 7-inch touchscreen has Android Auto, Apple Carplay, a crisp 6-speaker Harman system, and (optional) linked car capabilities, the touch interface and responsiveness could have been better. Automatic projector headlamps with LED DRLs, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, electric folding mirrors, climate control, chilled glovebox, rear wiper and washer, 16-inch wheels, fog lamps with cornering function, and a security system are just a few of the features included in the top-spec Punch.

Mahindra KUV100

The top-spec K8 edition of the KUV100 NXT features all-black interiors, just like the Anniversary Edition. The basic look is familiar, but the centre fascia has been altered, and the manual air-conditioning buttons have a new layout. The most significant distinction is a 7.0-inch touchscreen derived from the TUV300. It has navigation and is compatible with the Mahindra BlueSense app, however it isn’t compatible with Android or Apple. 

The KUV100’s six-seat layout is perhaps its most distinguishing characteristic. However, unless the middle passenger is a youngster, sitting three abreast in the front is not very practical. With the centre console cutting into the knee room in the middle and shoulder room being a bit tight, there isn’t much room to speak about. The backrest in the middle seat doubles with a very comfortable front armrest. With various storage containers, including a handful of secret compartments, the KUV100 is as useful as ever. The 243-litre boot and rear-seat room remain intact.

Tata Punch vs Mahindra KUV100: Powertrain 

The Tata Punch is powered by the same three-cylinder, 1.2-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine that powers the Tiago, Tigor, and Altroz, but it’s been tweaked for this application. To improve drivability, Tata Motors has rebuilt the air intake with a ram air system. The engine produces a modest 86 horsepower and 113 Nm of torque. But when you consider the Punch’s kerb weight of 1,035 kilogrammes, the performance is more than adequate. 

The engine options for the Mahindra KUV100 remain the same as before. A 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine producing 83 horsepower and 115Nm of torque. Also, a 1.2-litre diesel engine producing 78 horsepower, both linked to a five-speed manual transmission.

The outstanding five-speed gearbox created by Porsche engineering deserves special notice; it is smooth, precise, and a joy to use. You can easily cruise around in a higher gear at lesser revs, and there’s enough energy to keep up with traffic without continually downshifting. However, in the power mode, there is no performance increase like a traditional turbo-diesel, and the powerband is narrow. This could disappoint few enthusiasts. 

Price and Verdict

The Mahindra Kuv100 costs 6.13 lakhs, while the Tata Punch costs 5.50 lakhs. Also, Tata has really upped their game in-car safety. Even though we don’t have the NCAP rating for the SUV we can expect the Punch to perform well. 

With all this said, we think Tata Punch has gained the upper hand in this comparison with low pricing, better design and features. However, the Punch lacks a diesel powertrain which the KUV100 has to offer.

Also, read: Tata Punch vs Renault Kiger