Tata Safari Storme Test Drive Review
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Tata Safari Storme Review

Car tested: 2012 Tata Safari Storme

Price OTR Delhi: Rs. 16.02 lakhs

Tata Motors had created history with the Safari way back in 1998. The Indian automobile market had few options to choose from and it was then, when Tata launched India’s first true SUV. The Tata Safari was a huge success and was the sole warrior in its segment. Since then it has undergone a few facelifts, having got a couple of new engines and now 14 years down the line, Tata Motors has got the biggest change to the Safari with an all new platform from the Aria. Can the new Tata Safari kick up a storm? Lets find out.

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Exteriors – The Tata Safari Storme looks very similar to the old Safari. To the casual observer it may even pass off as the same model. The SUV has got minor updates to the exteriors to make it look fresh but the dimensions remain completely unchanged. The front is inspired from Land Rover and gets a large chrome strip with the words STORME inscribed in bold. The side profile carries the old Safari styling but looks more mature and evolved. The biggest change to the exteriors of the Tata Safari Storme is that the spare wheel is no longer mounted on the rear door. It slips in under the body similar to the Toyota Innova. While many are of the opinion that the spare wheel should sit mounted on the tailgate, giving it a typical SUV feel, Tata Motors has the issue sorted. Tata Motors will be offering an aftermarket option to mount the spare wheel on the tailgate, which can hide underneath as as when required. Dual exhausts amplify the powerful stance at the rear. Overall the Safari Safari Storme doesn’t look all new, atleast not on the outside.

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Interiors – The interiors of the Tata Safari Storme are new with many cues taken straight from the Aria. Quality has improved significantly and the Tata Safari Storme feels worth the price. Fit and finish was never the Safari’s strong point but this has improved drastically now. Beige interiors with beige leather seats looks neat and roomy. Wooden inserts in the dashboard give a rich feel to the interiors. The dashboard gets massive revisions. The centre console is all new, while the steering wheel comes from the Aria.

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There is generous amount of space in the cabin. The front and middle row seat have generous legroom and are really comfortable too, although the last row of seats are not well suited for adults, they can be folded to make room for a lavishly sized boot. There are quite a few storage bins inside the cabin and the generous glass area gives excellent visibility.

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The AC cooled well but the rear passengers took a while to be cooled. Bearing in mind that the cars was parked in the pelting heat, the AC performance was satisfactory but the fan speed could be better. However, there is no option of climate control. The audio system is composed of a single din system with average sound quality and unlike the Aria, audio controls on the steering are not offered. Instead Tata engineers have innovatively put the audio controls on the right stalk, which makes it easy to operate. Other goodies include Bluetooth and reverse guide system with display in rear view mirror.

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Performance – The engine powering the Tata Safari Storme is the same 2.2-litre diesel engine re-badged as VariCOR. This engine belts out 140 BHP of power and 320 Nm of torque, which is same as the old Safari but has been tweaked to offer quicker response. Low end torque delivery is better and the drivability has improved leaps and bounds. Performance is good and the Tata Safari Storme propels comfortably in the low and mid range of the rev meter. Tata Motors claims the Safari Storme will do 0 to 100 km/hr in 15 seconds. Mated to this engine is a more refined gearbox. Throws are short and precise though there was a hint of notchiness, everything feels far better than before.

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The Safari is a true off-roader and off-road manners have only improved. Unlike the Aria, which has an all wheel drive configuration, the Safari gets an electronic ‘shift-on-fly’ feature to engage 4-wheel drive on the move. There is a limited slip differential too. 200 mm of ground clearance is more than sufficient to get off-road without kissing its underbelly. Tata Motors had setup an obstacle course, where the Safari came out on top, owing to the high potential of the vehicle off-road.

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Ride, Handling and Braking – The major changes to the Safari are underneath. The vehicle gets the Arai’s X2 platform, which is more rigid and weighs lesser. The hydro-formed chassis is not only lighter but stiffer by a whooping 45 percent enabling the Safari to shed a few kilos while adding to the strength. The track is wider reducing the turning radius of the Safari from 6.0 to 5.4-meters. The front suspension suspension gets the Aria treatment in the form of double wishbone. Though the suspension is slightly stiffer than before, the Safari still possesses the fantastic ride quality as before.

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Handling has improved drastically and body roll has reduced considerably and the Safari feels more confident around corners. There is still some body roll owing to the weight and height of the vehicle but in front of the old Safari, the improvements are truly noteworthy. Braking performance has improved with the Safari Storme getting disc brakes all around, which along with ABS and EBD work hard to ensure you stop without any drama. Pedal feel could have been better though. All variants of the Safari Storme are equipped with ABS and EBD as standard, which is a good move by the company.

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Conclusion – Tata Motors has got it right with the dynamics and quality of the Safari and it should lead to increase in sales for India’s first SUV. In times where compact SUV’s are favorites, a true SUV like the Safari has huge potential. The Tata Safari Storme might look like the old Safari, but its a huge leap in most areas. The SUV has improved considerably in most regards, making it the best Safari till date and also a very good alternative to the hot selling Mahindra XUV 500.

[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/8096461481/[/flickr]

Whats Cool

* Improved handling
* Improved quality
* Performance

Whats Not So Cool

* Same old design
* No ESP and side airbags

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Tata Safari Storme Specifications

* Engine: 2179 cc, 16V, DOHC, VT, VariCOR
* Power: 140 PS @ 4000 RPM
* Torque: 320 Nm @ 1700-2700 RPM
* Transmission: 5-speed manual
* Top Speed: 165 km/h (est)
* 0-100 km/h: 15 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 10 km/l (City), 13 km/l (highway)
* Fuel Type: Diesel
* Suspension: Independent Double Wishbone Type Suspension (Front), 5-link suspension (Rear)
* Tyres: 235/70/16 Tubeless Radials
* Brakes: Ventilated Discs, Vaccum Assisted, ABS, EBD
* Safety: ABS, EBD, Dual SRS Front Airbags, Immobilizer, Reverse Guide System

Tata Safari Storme Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 4655 mm X 1965 mm X 1922 mm
* Wheelbase: 2650 mm
* Ground clearance: 200 mm
* Turning Radius: 5.4-metres
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 55-litres
* Kerb Weight: 2000 kgs (4×2), 2095 (4×4)