Tata Safari Storme 4×4 Long Term Review
The road presence and driving character of the Safari ensures instant love with this SUV
“I always wanted to quit on Monday morning”, that line has been ringing in the ears of Safari fans since a long time and if you recollect, that line comes courtesy of the epic Safari TVC, “Reclaim your life”. So when the Safari Storme arrived in our long term garage, we were quite ecstatic about it, after all it’s one Indian vehicle which has unparalleled fan following. To be honest, I have always admired the Tata Safari yet never wanted to drive one on a daily basis but with the Storme, things have changed for the better. It’s no secret that the Safari Storme is the best Safari yet but what makes it such a delight?
Even before you step in, you take sometime to admire the Tata Safari whose design has stood the test of time. It won’t be wrong to term the Safari’s styling as timeless and just like how the Range Rover has evolved, the Safari too is evolving in a similar fashion. Park a 15 year old Safari next to the Storme and you are bound to draw parallels between both cars because the overall shape has stayed true to the original. Tata has changed almost everything of the car but the striking body elements continue to be the exterior highlight. A tail gate mounted spare wheel is sorely missed but the fact that you don’t have to worry about vibrations from the fifth door is a good tradeoff for not having it.
The interior of the Safari Storme is very very airy, it just feels bigger than it is, all thanks to the super large windows. The seats are comfortable, the controls are well laid out too (like the audio system head unit is right ahead of the gear lever). Quality is good but not perfect, we would definitely like to see an improvement here but there are no dangling wires at all, something we found in plenty on the recently launched Mahindra Scorpio, the Safari’s age old rival. The AC is a chiller and the rear seat has acres of space too. We have been driving with seven on board quite a few times but the people in the last row aren’t happy with the side facing seats but Tata plans to offer front facing captain seats on the upcoming facelift.
The bit I love the most about the Tata Safari is the seating position. You sit perched up with an excellent all round view of the road and vehicles ahead of you. The driving position is so commanding that you not only see the car in front but also the car ahead of the car you are following! Not that you can do anything about it as the Safari’s large dimensions hinder quick lane changes in the city. But this car isn’t made to shine in the city, it’s a vehicle which loves to munch miles effortlessly and it does that brilliantly. Cruising on the highway, the Safari gobbles up miles but we haven’t really subjected it to much of a highway run, our running has been largely in the city where one aspect of the Storme keeps delighting us always.
No matter what happens, everyone on Indian roads is in a hurry and that results in people fighting to be the first to get ahead, more so at roundabouts. We have plenty of roundabouts on our daily route and we end up saving a lot of time in the Safari. Simply because people immediately back off the moment they see a Safari approach, the car does intimate people. The size of the Safari is so big that even the Innova looks small in comparison. This aspect of giving way to the Safari shows the respect people have for this vehicle in their hearts.
The 2.2-litre mill is quite refined and performance is slick but this isn’t a car which will make your heart skip a beat with its acceleration. There is good amount of power and torque on tap but the heavy weight is what blunts both performance and dynamics. The Safari is neither quick nor agile but none of that matters. City or highway, the Safari is always up to the job of keeping pace with traffic with enough grunt to overtake other vehicles. We have been getting a mileage of 10 km/l with a heavy foot but things should change as we head more often to the highway.
The feel that the Safari gives the driver isn’t seen in many cars today
The rainy season is almost gone and I just did not have the feeling of monsoons in the past month or so, the Safari to be blamed. This car just irons out bad roads with such ease that you never realise that the roads are so bad, a quick shift to our other long term car reveals the dishonesty with which contractors have been making roads. The Safari deserves a special applaud for its ride quality and that in spite of being 40% stiffer than its predecessor, is itself a feat in itself. The hydraulic steering feels heavy but you do get used to it in a jiffy.
The love for the Safari and the fear carried by other drivers when this car is on the road made us choose it as the support car for the Jaguar F-Type shoot. The F-Type comes from the same house but is a different beast altogether, it evokes so much eye candy that people start to follow it. To prevent tail gating, we got the Safari to follow the F-Type to the shoot location and even though the Safari is the slowest car in our long term garage (other cars are light sedans), it managed to do a stellar job of keeping people at bay. You see, when people see the Safari coming, they forget the F-Type and make way, some even get scared for reasons unknown.
The Tata Safari isn’t the most loaded vehicle in the segment, in fact it lacks features. It’s also not the cheapest in its class so the value for money proposition isn’t very high either. What the Safari is something else. It has a character which instantly makes you bond with it, I am yet to experience any other vehicle which instantly makes you fall in love with it, in spite of being far from perfect. One just needs to get behind the wheel of the Safari to understand what this is all about, it’s different but the Safari certainly has a charm of its own. Our Safari just got its third service done and now we are all set to explore the country with it, this long termer will be hard to let go!
Further Reading –
Picture Editing – Sri Manikanta Achanta