Launched back in 1998, the Tata Safari has always been a volume generator for the company. With some significant cosmetic and mechanical tweaks, Tata Motors introduced the latest Safari facelift in 2011. However, it still looks very identical to its predecessor. The body built is robust than before. Having the beefy front bumper, large headlamps with clear lens, rectangular chromed front grill, fog lamps and front skid plate and chromed ORVM, the SUV looks very masculine, sportier and outgoing. The Safari gets a tall roofline with roof rail and different color body cladding at sides.
Tata aims to offer a practical and comfortable interior rather than a luxury one. It looks sporty from inside as well. The dashboard is simple. The centre console with wood finishing, a graphic instrument cluster and inside illumination system look premium. But, the fit and finish is awful. The top-end variant is equipped with two LCD screens on the back of front seats for entertainment purpose. The base variants get a grey fabric seats upholstery, the mid-level variants are available with a plush beige fabric, and the top-end variants are offered with dark graphite leather and tan fabric upholstery. The mid-level and top-end variants are offered with dual tone dark graphite and beige color scheme.
The gear shift knob, steering wheel and hand brake are leather wrapped. It is quite spacious and seating arrangement is very comfortable. The Tata Safari is loaded with a good number of comfort and safety features such as a HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) unit, electrically adjustable external ORVMs, front and rear power windows, a 12V power point for front and middle row, an audio system with CD and MP3 player with speakers, ABS with EBD, collapsible steering column and many more. The SUV offers a boot space of 981-litres. The Safari derives power from a 2.2-litre DiCOR (direct injection common rail) diesel engine, which sports VTT (Variable Turbine Technology), a DOHC (Dual over head cam shaft), 4-cylinders and 16-valves.
This powertrain produces a peak power of 138.1bhp @ 4000rpm with 320Nm of torque @ 1700-2700rpm. It offers a displacement of 2179cc. Coupled with a G-76 5/4.1 – Synchromesh with overdrive based five-speed manual transmission, the Safari delivers an impressive mileage of 10.45kmpl in city, and meets BS-III and BS-IV norms. It is competent to achieve 0-100kmph within 15-16 seconds with a top speed of 155-156kmph. The ride quality is decent, but in terms of handling, the Safari fails to make an impact. The turbo lag is significant at low RPMs. The Safari is fun to drive on highways at high speed, but the heavy steering troubles in city traffic. The breaking performance isn’t impressive. The Tata Safari is one of the affordable choices for the SUV lovers.
The Safari’s aerodynamic design and robust body built make it a true masculine SUV. The front looks very aggressive with a beefy front bumper, large headlamps with clear lens, rectangular chromed front grill, fog lamps and front skid plate and chromed ORVMs. However, the headlights could be more powerful. The front windscreen offers a good visibility.
The top-end variant of Safari comes fitted with 16-inches alloy wheels with 235/70 R16, 105 S tubeless radial tyres, while other variants get steel wheels. The sporty tall roofline with roof rail and grey side body cladding add more to its side profile. The rear end appeals with tail lamp cluster, a spoiler with high mounted brake lamp, mounted spare wheel and other styling elements. The dimensions of Safari are measured around 4650mm (length), 1918mm (width) and 1925mm (height). The ground clearance is 205mm. The Tata Safari is available in six colors: Mineral red, Arctic silver, Cycus grey, Artic white, Quartz black and Pearl white.
The interior design is as sporty as its exterior. It is more practical and comfortable though not luxurious. The dashboard is simple. The plastic quality isn’t up-to the mark, so as the fit and finish. The centre console with wood finishing and a graphic instrument cluster look premium. For entertainment purpose of the rear passengers, the two LCD screens are fitted on the back of front seats, but available with the top-end variant only. The entry-level variants are offered with grey fabric seats upholstery, while the mid-level and top-end variants get a plush beige fabric and dark graphite leather and tan fabric upholstery, respectively. A dual tone dark graphite and beige color scheme is available with its mid-level and top-end variants. The leather wrapped gear shift knob, steering wheel and hand brake feel good.
The Safari is very spacious from inside, and accommodates seven passengers without any squeezing effect. The seating arrangement is very comfortable, and there are a plenty of features that add more to its comfort and convenience such as a HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) unit, window winding switches, front and rear power windows, a 12V power point for front and middle row, an audio system with CD and MP3 player with speakers, ABS with EBD, collapsible steering column and more. It offers a generous boot space of 981-litres.
Engine and Transmission
The Safari is power-packed with a 2.2-litre DiCOR (direct injection common rail) diesel engine that features advanced VTT (Variable Turbine Technology), a DOHC (Dual over head cam shaft), 4-cylinders and 16-valves. It churns out a maximum power output of 138.1bhp @ 4000rpm with 320Nm of torque @ 1700-2700rpm. The 2179cc is the offered displacement. A G-76 5/4.1 – Synchromesh with overdrive based five-speed manual transmission is the only available option. The Safari delivers an impressive fuel economy of 10.45kmpl on urban roads and 13.93kmpl on highways. It meets the BS-III and BS-IV norms. The Safari is capable to mark 0-100kmph sprint just in 15-16 seconds with a top speed of 155-156kmph.
Performance and Handling
The ride quality is good, but handling isn’t impressive. The turbo lag too is significant at low RPMs. The steering is heavy for the city driving, though it performs so well at high speed on highways, and feels comfortable within speed range of 80-110kmph. The turning radius (6-meters) could be a problem in while driving the Safari on narrow or busy urban roads. An independent double wishbone with torsion bar at front wheel and a five like suspension with coil springs on rear wheels are robust enough to absorb the jerks and bumps on rough roads.
The braking performance isn’t up-to the mark. For safety concern there is an advanced ABS (Anti-lock braking system) with EBD (electronic brake force distribution) system, but it is available with top-end variants only. The front ventilated disc brake with twin pot caliper and rear drum brakes with auto adjustment mechanism help up-to a great extent.
The 2.2-litre DiCOR (direct injection common rail) diesel engine combined with a G-76 5/4.1 – Synchromesh with overdrive based five speed manual transmission delivers a decent fuel efficiency of 10.45kmpl in city and 13.93kmpl on highways (with AC). This engine meets BS-III and BS-IV norms.
The top-end variant of the Safari is available with advanced ABS (Anti-lock braking system) with EBD (electronic brake force distribution) system. The dual front co-passenger, crumple zones, fog lamps with clear lens, side impact bas, collapsible tilt steering column, a reverse guide system, an engine immobilizer, central locking, child lock system, an anti-glare rear view mirror, automatic head lamps adjustment, seatbelts, headlight warning lamps and various other safety features are integrated as standard one.
The Safari is a true off-roader SUV that appeals with its aggressive styling and robust body built. The powerful DiCOR engine delivers high power and torque outputs. The heavy steering contributes to its high speed performance, but is troublesome for city driving. The ride quality is good, but handling doesn’t meet the expectation levels. It is quite spacious and comfortable from inside. However, the fit and finish isn’t upto the mark.
Tata Safari Vs Mahindra Scorpio
The Tata Safari has received a makeover recently, but it shows its real age. The Mahindra Scorpio looks more aggressive, sporty and outgoing than the Safari. Its contemporary styling appeals the young SUV enthusiasts. However, design choice might vary person to person.
The ergonomics and interior of the Safari is better than other Tata cars. But, on grounds of material quality, fit and finish the Safari fails to score higher than the Scorpio. When it comes to the interior features both the SUVs are more or less the same. The Safari comes equipped with electrically adjustable ORVMs with turn indicators, home lamps, rear wash & wipe, side body cladding are absent in the Scorpio. On the other side, the Scorpio offers rear AC vents and an engine immobilizer, which are missing in the Safari.
Powered with the DiCOR diesel engine, the Safari delivers high power and torque outputs than the Scorpio. The acceleration and pick of the Scorpio is relatively much better. On fuel efficiency front, both the SUVs are equally good. But, in terms of ride quality the Scorpio is a better pick and Safari rules on highways even at high RMPs. The Scorpio is easy to handle and drive especially in city. There is marginal price difference, but if you can afford a little more than its better to pick the Scorpio. The offered drivability and practical handling for the Scorpio price is worthwhile.
Pros & Cons
- Aggressive looks
- Robust built
- Powerful engine
- Good pick-up
- Improved interior
- Spacious cabin
- Quality AC unit
- Better suspension
- Fuel efficiency
- Awful fit and finish
- Reduced mechanical strength
- Poor insulation