Home » Money

'DNA' drive: Tata takes Safari to a new level of refinement

Friday, 19 October 2012 - 11:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
After being announced at the Auto Expo nearly a year ago, the Safari Storme finally makes it onto the roads. We get behind the wheel to tell you what it’s all about.

The Tata Safari was one of the first to kick off the SUV craze in India, and after all these years, save for a few tweaks here and there and new powertrain options, it’s still remained more or less the same. Now Tata Motors seems to be paying some much needed attention to its SUV, the Safari. After being announced at the Auto Expo nearly a year ago, the Safari Storme finally makes it onto the roads. We get behind the wheel to tell you what it’s all about.

Looks
Right off the bat, you’ll be convinced that it’s nothing more than a mere facelift to the older Safari. The Storme could have looked a lot more different than the outgoing model, but instead we have a design that looks strikingly similar to the now 14-year old design.

There’s a new, slim, luxury-type grill upfront flanked by redesigned headlamps. The chrome strip on the fascia and the shape of the lights make the car look lower slung than it actually is, which is a nice effect, but apart from that, the rest of the stuff is virtually indistinguishable from the outgoing model externally. At the back, the spare wheel no longer sits on the rear tailgate, instead taking place underneath the car, much like the Aria. That takes away a lot of visual bulk from the rear, leaving you with a clean and crisp design.

Interiors
The interiors of the new Safari Storme are very well designed, with everything exactly where you want them to be, but there’s nothing here to say that this is a completely new car, designed from the ground up.

All the elements are here, like a Bluetooth enabled stereo system, simple lines and lots and lots of space. It’s about function than form, and therefore, looks short on wow factor.

There’s enough space to fit five plus luggage comfortably. There’s also an on-the-fly switchable four-wheel-drive system available in the top-end model, which is a nice touch, but the overall quality of the interior could see some improvement. Tata Motors has kept the interior very simple though, with no mood lighting or panels upon panels of buttons for various functions. Comfort has always been a strong point of the Safari and this one sure doesn’t disappoint in that department with the middle row being simply fantastic. Just don’t try to stick someone in the last row of seats over longer distances though —it’s not as comfortable.

Performance
Under the hood of the Safari Storme sits a 2.2-litre VariCOR engine, which is the same that you’d find under the hood of the Aria. It’s a more advanced mill than the one found in the previous Safari. It gets a variable-vane turbocharger, for starters, which is said to improve low-end torque a lot and keeps the mid-range and top-end more or less the same. How is it in the real world though? Compared with the older car, much quicker off the line. It’s like if seeing it didn’t convince you that it was a completely new car, driving it certainly will. The Safari Storme is a good bit lighter than the older car, but it’s no featherweight, so you do still feel the bulk, but not as much as in the outgoing model. With 140 PS of power on tap and 5 gears to row through, you can bet this thing has long legs for touring. In fact, the whole powertrain seems to excel on open roads where it quickly gets into its own rhythm and gobbles the miles effortlessly. In the city though, you do need to work the gearbox a little, despite the variable vane turbo, to keep things moving smoothly. Fuel efficiency is quite nice for something of its size.

Ride and handling
The Safari Storme may be of the same size as the older one and may still have the same wheelbase, but rest assured, the engineers chucked the old chassis out and instead used one similar to the one found underpinning the Aria, only a little shorter. That means the ride is significantly better than the older one. There’s weight savings to be had in this process as well, which helps with the handling.

There’s a lot of body movement, as the car pitches and dives in correspondence with your movements on the pedals. This can be attributed to the suspension which is slightly on the softer side. There’s a good amount of body roll as well, but all of this means that even though it’s not the most competent handler around, the Storme has fantastic ride quality. No bump, pothole or expansion joint is a match for it. Point the Safari at the wildest of bumps and potholes and we guarantee you, it will not only come away from it unscathed, you won’t feel a thing as well.

And for when the roads deteriorate into nothingness, you have the on-the-fly switchable four-wheel-drive system is plenty competent to get you out of it without a hitch.

Verdict
Take the new Safari Storme for a drive and you’ll be surprised at how much it has changed, how competent and refined it has become. And with prices starting at Rs 9.95 lakh, ex-showroom, New Delhi, for the base model, it offers superb value for money. For us, the Storme’s definitely worth a shot.

Specsheet
Safari Storme
Price:
Rs9.95 lakh to 13.66 lakh (Ex-showroom New Delhi)
Kitna deti hai?
4x4 variant: 13.2 kmpl,
4x2: 14 kmpl, Arai test
Engine:  2179 cc, 4-pot
common rail turbo diesel
Power: 140 bhp at 4000 rpm
Torque:
32.63 kgm at 1700-2700 rpm
Transmission:
5-speed manual
Dimensions in feet (L/W/H):
15.25/6.45/6.3
Wheel base:
2650mm
Ground clearance:
200 mm
Suspension:
Front: Independent, double wishbone, coil springs
Rear: Non-independent,
5-link with coil springs
Brakes (F/R):
Ventilated discs/discs


Jump to comments

RELATED

Around the web