Tata Safari Storme, a fan favourite

MACHO SUV! Safari-lovers know how to drive this SUV in true fashion, readying for an off-roading experience

Tata Safari Storme, a fan favourite
When Tata launched its premium SUV, Safari, in India, over 15 years ago, it created a storm in the minds of the buyers here, who were captivated with its robust, large stance, and a roaring engine.

The concept of a sports utility vehicle, which is a rage today, was very nascent those days, and the Safari was one of the fancy machines to watch out for. In the following years, SUVs have come to rule the country’s roads, and leading car manufacturers have sensed the customer vibe, and mastered the knack of perfecting SUVs. Somewhere in the race, homegrown Tata Motors seems to have lagged behind, and is trying hard to garner some market share on the back of the Safari.

After several setbacks, Tata Motors is back in business. Trusting the same storm it had created more than a decade ago, the legendary Indian brand has rendered a facelift to the new Safari Storme, which has constantly evolved catering to varied requirements of the country’s car buyers. Despite the new looks, a point must be kept in mind that the Safari is a rather dated concept, and it is to be seen if India’s first SUV would keep up with a changing and demanding customer taste.

No doubt, the Tata Safari has enjoyed a loyal fan following over the years, thanks to its masculinity and a match-winning engine power. But a chunk of that following has jumped sides, and moved to the competitors’ stables. So, when we behold the new Tata Safari Storme, it is to be seen if the new vehicle is able to keep apace with its legacy, and test if it will succeed in winning the hearts of Safari loyalists again.

Looks matter
When we first set eyes on the new Safari Storme, it retains the same elegant tall-body appearance, posing like a beast. But with the new additions to the exterior stance, the car is big. Wait a minute! You may end up saying, “This is the biggest SUV, I have ever seen,” thanks to its massive 4,655 mm length, and eye-catching 1,965 mm width (with footsteps).

Honestly, however, it is not easy to spot changes on the outside, compared with the older version. One of the few changes as seen is the honey comb grill in Charcoal Grey and Ocean Grey, which takes inspiration from the Land Rover. This feature adds good value to the car’s looks. The eagle-eyed headlamps also get lots of attention.

The other changes include a new diamond motif with ‘Storme’ in black on the silver cladding of the vehicle’s hood, while the SUV’s roof rail too is revised.

The Varicor 400 badge looks very attractive. One cannot miss the huge wheel arches, 15-inch five spoke alloy wheels. Tata Motors has placed the spare wheel beneath the car which is a good move, and assists in seamless parking. Previously, it was mounted on the back door.

Interior image
Hold on! Stretch your legs before you attempt to step inside. Seriously, one has to climb the SUV to enter the car. It is the price you pay for incredible ground clearance.

And, how about the incredible ground clearance of 200 mm. Once you are in cockpit, you will uncover many new surprises like the Java black colour theme, highlighted by silver accents on the dashboard and door handles. The seats too look slightly different with the contrast stitching.

Talking about the other features, the vehicle now gets a new infotainment system powered by Harman, which features an LCD screen, with Bluetooth connectivity, iPod-in, USB-in and AUX-in, along with a CD and AM-FM player. The SUV also gets six speakers.

Taking a cue from Tata Motors’ HORIZONEXT strategy, the new three-spoke Tata signature steering wheel looks very smart with audio control mounted on it.

Once in the driver’s seat, one feels like being in the commanding position. Besides, the view you get, irrespective of the place you sit within the car, is very appreciating.

The Safari Storme sports large doors, which have ample storage space to even hold bottles. The cushion seats and under-thigh support is comfortable. One can notice that the quality used is much improved, compared with the one used on the earlier Safari models.

However, with all the good additions, the makers have still stuck to a bit of cost-cutting. While the competition has integrated many a snazzy feature into their machine’s interiors, Tata plays old school.

The designers have missed out on automatic climate control, and touch screen. Besides, one of the most important elements  that has been given a miss is a reverse camera, and imagine you to rely on parking censors to park this beast.

Today, even among mid-sized B-segment cars, the said features have become commonplace.

In terms of space, three people can sit comfortably in the second row; however, the ac vents do steal the space for the middle person.

Power drive
Turn on the ignition, and the diesel engine comes alive. As expected, the sound it makes is ready for roaring. Tata’s latest six-speed manual gear box adds value while cruising at high speed.

Safari-lovers know how to drive this SUV in true fashion, readying for an off-roading experience.

We hit the streets of Bengaluru to experience the drive in the city, later on towards Tumakuru. We chart our course for an off-roading escapade, on the outskirts of a tiny village, Devarayandurga.

The car’s great cruising ability allows for ease on the highways, and ride quality has been the strength of Tata Safari especially, at lower speeds, when it absorbs the bumps. Thanks to its ground clearance, one can forget the bumps and potholes with ease of mind.

It needs enough experience to drive this massive macho car. The tall heavy SUV is not going to be easy especially in city limits, where bumper-to-bumper traffic is a daily affair, and the narrow curves and bends are a bit of a headache.

Though the engine of the SUV remains the same, 2.2-litre VARICOR, it has been tuned to offer about an additional 10 bhp over the previous model.

This engine now churns out a maximum power output of 154 bhp@4,000 rpm and 400Nm of peak torque, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. The speed of 0-100 kmph can be reached within 14 seconds, while delivering a fuel economy of 13.9 kmpl.

The SUV has a larger fuel tank with a capacity of 63 litres. On the safety front though, there are dual airbags, Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) on offer.

The 4x4 comes with electronic shift-on-fly technology, enabling engagement of the 4x4 or 4x2 modes on the move. While driving up the inclines and negotiating hilly terrain, the new Safari Storme does a good job, but requires constant shifting of gears.

The Safari Storme range is now available in four variants: LX (4x2), EX (4x2), VX (4x2 and 4x4), and in five colours — Arctic Silver, Urban Bronze, Pearl White, Astern Black and Arctic White and priced at Rs 13.42 lakh and Rs 14.79 lakh, respectively (ex-showroom Bengaluru).

Tata’s Safari has been never-ending, and still shows much resolve and competitive spirit. The SUV market is booming, and there is always curiosity among patrons for the next big machine, full of features. Waiting for Tata to unravel its ‘perfect’ SUV.
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