The Tata Safari took the Indian car market by storm (pun intended) when it was first launched way back in 1998. 17 years down the line, the SUV seems to have lost some ground to its competitors. After a major revamp and the introduction of the ‘Storme’ moniker in 2012, the Safari made a comeback of sorts, but failed to recreate the magic of the original Safari. A few months back Tata gave it another minor nip and tuck, which addressed some of the issues plaguing the Safari Storme. We got a chance to spend some time with the revamped version and got to know the SUV quite well. You can read all about it here in our 2015 Tata Safari Storme Review and Test Drive report.
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The changes carried by the latest iteration of the Safari are barely noticeable. But that’s mostly because there aren’t many, actually just one – the Land Rover inspired front grille. It’s good to see hints of Land Rover finding their way into the DNA of Tata products, but we would like that to happen in other ways as well. The original Safari Strome wasn’t exactly a giant leap over the Safari DICOR in terms of design. The stance of the SUV remains the same and although there is nothing wrong with the overall design, it has been around for too long and the Safari needs a more comprehensive makeover to leave a lasting impression on the car buying lot. There are few exterior details we really liked, such as the twin exhaust pipes integrated into the rear bumper, beefy wheel arches and the overall road presence of the SUV. The Storme continues without the tailgate mounted spare wheel, much to the dismay of many Safari loyalists.
In stark contrast to the exteriors, the interiors of the Safari Storme facelift have been given a comprehensive makeover. The insides have been finished in all black and the cabin boasts of many silver highlights, which lend the cabin a very premium and classy touch. The steering wheel has been borrowed from the Zest and gets the usual Bluetooth and audio controls. The controls for the aircon unit are placed above the audio system, which is a bit unconventional. The layout, though simple, is very elegant and everything has been placed very nicely. The quality of materials used and the fit and finish have also improved by a considerable margin. Also, neat touches such as Storme branding above the USB and AUX ports impress us. The biggest strength of the Safari’s cabin is the space on offer, which is easily the best in its class. The first and the middle row seats are comfortable and well-bolstered. However, the same cannot be said for the two jump seats Tata has provided in the Safari’s third row, a flaw that we were hoping would be rectified with the introduction of this facelift.
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An extensive features list is still not the Tata Safari Strome’s strong suit. The list of features, in itself, is fine as the Safari gets a 2 DIN audio system, steering mounted audio controls, Bluetooth connectivity, rear AC vents, projector headlamps, 4WD, rear parking sensors, etc. But when you take into account the features offered by its chief rival, the Mahindra Scorpio, the Safari lags behind. There are certain features which should be available and which people have come to expect from a car that retails for more than INR 12 lacs. Definitely some room for improvement here.
Tata has plonked the Aria’s engine under the hood of the updated Safari Storme, which means there the power has gone up to 148 bhp and peak torque is 320 Nm. The engine comes mated to the old G76 gearbox. Also available is an optional Shift-on-the-fly 4WD system. The engine and transmission of the Tata Safari Storme feel more at ease while cruising out on the highways than in slow moving city traffic. Turbo lag is evident, but there has been some improvement compared to the pre-facelift version. The tall gearing means that driving in slow moving city traffic requires almost constant gear changes. Overall, there is an improvement in terms of engine performance, but the Tata Safari Storme is better suited to the role of a highway cruiser than an urban runabout.
Ride, Handling & Braking
If there is one department the Tata Safari excels in, it is the ride quality. The big SUV glides over bumps and potholes with ease and undulations do not filter into the cabin. Then there is the high set driving position that offers a great view of the road and the commanding position gives the driver a great sense of control. But the Safari Storme does not enjoy being flicked around. The tall stance resulting in a high centre of gravity means body roll is very evident and you will be better off avoiding attacking corners at high speeds. But, then again, that is sort of expected from an SUV that is this big and tall. Braking is another area where the Safari Storme falls a bit short. The brakes feel a bit vague and do not inspire much confidence.
There is no shying away from the few shortcomings of the new Tata Safari Storme. For the price you pay, it could have done with more equipment and the body roll should have been better controlled. Also, we hoped for a more comprehensive re-styling exercise. However, there’s still a lot going for this beast. For starters, it offers acres of space, along with a great driving position and a really comfy ride. Additionally, the Safari also makes for a great mile muncher and when equipped with the Borg Warner 4wd system, can even head off the beaten tarmac. True, the Safari has lost some of its sheen, but all said and done, the Safari Storme makes for a compelling buy for those in the market for a true blue SUV retailing below INR 15 lacs.
|Fuel Efficiency*||14 kmpl|
|Four Wheel Drive||Optional|
|Tata Safari Storme|
|LX 4×2||INR 9.99 lakhs|
|EX 4×2||INR 11.60 lakhs|
|VX 4×2||INR 13.02 lakhs|
|VX 4×4||INR 14.35 lakhs|
all prices ex-showroom, New Delhi
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