Tata Safari Storme Review Synopsis: Tata Safari Storme price tag is between Rs.10 – 14.35 Lakh (Ex.showroom, Delhi). It officially launched in India in Jan 2012.
Tata Safari - The name itself invokes respect. First introduced in 1998, it triggered the big butch SUV culture in India. It became quite popular and has a brand standing on its own. Since then; it commanded respect on the roads and instilled a sense of power amongst the owners. Tata has been a pioneering UV manufacturer in the 90s introducing the Tata Sierra, Tata Sumo and Tata Estate, ushering in a SUV culture in India. Some of these models were still said to be ahead of the time, such as Tata Sierra – Well, who else in the 90s could think of a lifestyle SUV? Tata Safari was a successor to the Sierra, not that the Sierra was a commercial success but it did lay the foundation of sports / lifestyle aspirational SUV in the mind of a developing nation.
Initially, a 2.0L Turbo diesel version with 87PS power mated to a 5 speed gearbox was equipped in Safari. This model continued till early 2000s with mechanical and interior improvements, although grossly under powered but in a way a first true blood 5-door made in India SUV. An extensively upgraded version with a 3 ltr Dicor engine made its way in the first half of the last decade. This was a CRDI unit with the engine sourced from immensely popular Tata 407 truck, producing power of 116PS and more importantly, 300 NM of torque. There was also a petrol version that existed hitherto unknown to many, powered by a 16v DOHC unit!
In 2007, the Safari was launched with a 2.2L Dicor unit, capable of 140PS power and 320Nm torque which is still doing duty. The car was revised with a lot of comfort feature options like DVD player, LCD screen, rear AC vents etc. Now in 2012 after a long painful wait for many Safari fans, the Safari Storme (Codename: Merlin) made debut between all glitz and glamour in Auto Expo 2012, then subsequently after a further wait launched in the North of India in October 2012 (Launch Coverage: Link). Tata Storme is powered by a 2.2Liter 16 Valve DOHC "VariCOR" diesel engine with Variable Turbine Technology (VTT) churning out 140PS with 320NM torque.
While beauty is always in the eyes of the beholder, New Storme will generally appease Safari lovers. However we do think the design has moved from old stark butch character to a more subtly classy appeal. The design team hasn't had to work too hard, while it’s based on the all new Aria X2 platform, on the outset for the human eye it largely remains more of a face lift than anything else. Tata missed a golden opportunity here to bring out all new Safari 2012 body shell but rather limited it to a more refined face lifted version. Having said that, it’s a vastly improved Safari in nearly every which way one could compare it to the previous generation Dicor. Viewed from certain angles, it also reminds us of some styling cues picked from the Land Rover range.
The front is toned down from the earlier butch appeal to more classic chrome laden but conservative looks. The large Storme embossing on the front differentiates it largely from the old Safari along with the projector head lamps. Grille is an all new one and in line with the rectangular theme (as opposed to the Tata smiley grill in rest of the passenger cars). The projector headlamps look good and are a welcome addition, the fog lamps are also well placed and effective as well. The power bulge on the bonnet gives it a certain character, though it is very subtle and not as pronounced as it looks in official prints. From the sides its very identical to the older Safari with minimalistic changes, one can be forgiven for thinking this is the Safari Dicor from this angle. The side cladding seems better integrated with the body and look decent quality. Grab rails available above the rear window to ensure you can reach the carrier or the roof for cleaning.
The side steps are a must to have really, as you climb on to the car, it is useful in ingress but the positioning vis-a-vis running board doesn't make it too helpful when egress. The cut in rear wheel arch for the fuel lid looks like a design afterthought. 5 spoke alloys are standard on VX and our test vehicle came shod with Bridgestone Dueler 235/70 R16. The rear looks different largely due to the missing spare wheel and a two tone treatment. Nope, Tata haven't pulled a BMW with regards to the missing spare wheel, but it has gone underneath the rear. The matte black looks nice and compliments the rear, especially placed above the chrome strip which has a "T A T A" marked in bold. The high stop light gets LEDs, rest are standard bulbs. Tail lamp assembly is simply a no fuss design.
Though purists might complain as the spare wheel on rear gives it a certain look which the Safari owners love, however it has also taken away the problems (Read rattles) associated with the rear door. A good move in my view as it improves IRVM and general behind visibility. The downside of this move is that the fuel tank size has to be reduced to accommodate extra space the spare wheel needs underneath, upside no more lifting the spare wheel 5 feet up in air to place in the rear door. Now the fuel tank is just 55 liters – sedan class for a SUV. Eh? Overall, the exterior paint quality is good with gloss finish. Particularly the darker colors like urban bronze and black stand out. Panel gaps however still exist and some fit and finish could have been better. Anyways, looks and design have had minimal visual changes and truly carries forward the previous generation Tata Safari DNA.
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