The Tata Safari Storme is the latest incarnation of the legendary Safari range that has been around for a better part of one-and-a-half decades. Unveiled at 2012 Auto Expo the SUV is expected to revive its sales and compete with the current segment leader the Mahindra XUV 500. The new car has been under development for over two years and finally our sources confirm that the new SUV will be launched very soon – October 2012.
After the Safari was launched in 1998 it became a byword for an SUV due to being quite ahead of its competition and the fact that it was developed independently in India by Tata Motors. From then on nothing much has changed; despite getting a significant number of facelifts and upgrades the SUV has pretty much remained same from the original design and has now been left behind by the competition, which is evident by the fact that it is no longer a segment leader. However, Tata has been able to push the old school style SUV till date using a simple formula….retain the original appeal but ensure the vehicle meets all forms of modern standards and design.
Tata has concentrated on details of the Safari Storme rather than the basic design. On the front we can a see a new bumper design, which has given the face of the Storme a sleek and more rounded look. The grille has also been changed making it look a lot more contemporary.
The old square headlamps which have been a staple of the car since its launch have now been dropped in favour projector lights. The fog lamps have now become rounds lights instead of the square version found on the previous models.
The no -nonsense straight face of the Safari has disappeared, and the Storme now smiles like most other Tata cars. This smiley however is a lot different from the ones seen on the other Tata vehicles; the headlamps and grille have a uniform flow and they look like one single unit. This new design language was announced by Tata with the unveiling of Mega Pixel at Geneva Motor Show in March. So is the Safari Storme the first production model from Tata to incorporate their new design language?
On the sides, we see a new wider running board, body cladding and grab type door handles, which give the vehicle an upmarket feel. There is also heavy usage of chrome all around the car in lines with the trend in the market, along with revised alloy wheels.
At the back, there are new twin-chrome exhausts to give the Storme a sporty feel. Adding to this sporty look is a rear spoiler, which like most vehicles in the country is a cosmetic addition rather than for performance. One of the most recognizable traits of the Safari range right from the beginning was the rear wheel hinged at the back – it has now been moved to a space under the boot, making the rear profile look a little out of sorts. The rear is the weak link in the looks of the new vehicle – the grey band that also has all the badging also looks out of place.
Inside, we can find interiors similar to that of the Aria but in a different colour scheme and minus the colour display. The vehicle will be offered with black-and-cream interiors, a staple among large SUVs. The Safari has beige interiors along with wooden finish paneling, which works very well in India. The climate control will also be extended to the back two rows as there four sets of vents above the middle row on the roof.
Passenger aids on the top-end variants include power windows across all variants, rake adjustment for the steering and leather seats for the top-end model. Also inclusive will be driver and passenger airbags on at least of the two variants.
The Storme is a completely new car underneath. It is now being built on a shortened version of the tubular frame chassis that underpins the Aria; though it will be powered by the same 2.2litre Dicor turbo diesel engine that produces around 140bhp and 320Nm of torque. Needless to say that this version will also get four-wheel-drive, with toggle switch which can be used on-the-fly.
All four wheels now get disc brakes with ABS and EBD – necessity for a vehicle of this size. There is a double wishbone front suspension and 5 link coil spring rear suspension. It also gets a new gear box that will certainly improve the shift timings and fuel efficiency. The overall the Safari Storme is expected to be a better package than the current model in terms of performance and handling.
The Tata Safari Storme will be launched in the first half of October, to compete mainly with the Mahindra XUV500. The pricing will be the deciding factor in the success of this model, and even then it is going to be difficult to challenge the XUV500. The only advantage that Tata has is the brand image of the Safari it will certainly help them make a good start. The pricing is expected to be marginally lower than the XUV500; close to the prices of the top-end diesel Renault Duster and Mahindra Scorpio.
CarWale's Words: The Safari is a good affordable SUV. We expect Tata to improve the fit and finish of both the exterior and interior to bring it more in line with today’s standards.