In news that will surely boost its appeal, the Tata Punch mini-SUV has secured a full five stars in the Global NCAP crash tests, becoming only the third Tata offering to achieve the maximum star rating in these tests. The Punch was awarded a five-star rating for adult occupant protection and a four-star rating for child occupant protection. Outshining even the Tata Nexon and Tata Altroz (both of which also boast five-star ratings), the Punch registered an adult occupant protection score of 16.45 out of a possible 17 points, bettering the score of even the Mahindra XUV300 to lay claim to the highest adult occupant protection score for any vehicle Global NCAP has tested till date.
Global NCAP subjected Tata's smallest SUV yet to a frontal offset crash test at a speed of 64 kph, and in its report, noted the Punch provided good protection for the driver and front passenger's head, neck, chest and knees. The Punch's bodyshell was said to be stable and that it was 'capable of withstanding further loadings'. The footwell area, too, was noted to be stable.
Equally impressive is the Tata Punch's child occupant protection score, which, at 40.89 points out of a potential 49, is second only to that of the Mahindra Thar (41.11 points). With the child seats for the three-year-old and 1.5-year-old dummies installed rearward facing with ISOFIX connectors and support leg, Global NCAP noted the ISOFIX anchors prevented excessive forward movement during the impact and offered good protection to the head and chest of both dummies. You can watch the video of the Tata Punch's Global NCAP crash tests below.
While Global NCAP generally uses entry-level model for its tests, it appears to have used a higher-spec model once again for the tests on the Punch. According to Global NCAP, since safety features such as dual airbags, ABS with EBD, seatbelt reminder, speed alert system and ISOFIX anchorages are standard across the range, a higher-spec Punch (which weighs more than the base model) would face more of a challenge in these tests.
The top-spec variant of the Punch is also equipped with alloy wheels, which are stronger than steel wheels, and thus the impact load on the structure in the event of a crash would be higher, which would add to the challenge of securing a full five stars.
In its report, Global NCAP said the Punch's safety quotient can further be improved by equipping the SUV with electronic stability control (ESC), side airbags and three-point belts for all vehicle occupants as standard. At present, the Punch is equipped only with two front airbags, lacks ESC and has a lap belt for the middle rear passenger. While adding all of these will certainly drive up the Punch's price, it may become necessary for Tata to at least add ESC to the SUV in the time to come, as it may be central to the Punch retaining its five-star rating as Global NCAP's procedures are set to evolve to include active safety features starting 2022.
Speaking about the Punch's performance in the tests, Alejandro Furas, Secretary General of Global NCAP, said, "Tata has once again achieved a top safety rating for adult protection and four stars for children in a new and popular model category. This voluntary test result confirms the direction of Tata's journey towards safer cars for India. Our test procedures demonstrate Tata's progress in becoming one of the safety leaders in the Indian market with our current protocols. As the protocols evolve to include electronic stability control (ESC), side impact head protection and pedestrian protection, we would encourage Tata to maintain this leadership position."
Commenting on the news, David Ward, President of the Towards Zero Foundation, said, "We are obviously delighted with Tata's safety result in this voluntary test. Global NCAP encourages manufacturers to participate in our programme on a voluntary basis to help create a market for safety. It is very satisfying to see leading manufacturers like Tata and Mahindra engage so positively with our #SaferCarsforIndia agenda. It remains disappointing that not all car makers in the Indian market have such a strong commitment to safety improvements."
The Tata Punch will be the company's most affordable SUV yet, and is expected to slot in between the Tiago and the Nexon, with prices likely to range from Rs 5-8 lakh (ex-showroom). The launch of the Tata Punch is scheduled for 18 October, and you can read our review of the mini-SUV right here.