Tata Safari Storme First Drive: Refined Beast
Launched in 1998, the Tata Safari was the first true blood 4x4 SUV of India. With a tag line of “Make your own roads”, the Safari indeed paved its way on the Indian turf. Generating a superb fan base like none other for an Indian SUV, the Safari has got a cult fan following for it.
Since the time it has been launched, Tata Motors have collected various awards, accolades and achievements for the Safari. However, the ride has not been very smooth for Tata Motors as the competition got stiff with time.
Carrying forward the legacy of Safari, Tata Motors finally launched the Safari Storme with a VariCOR engine. The Safari Storme with its Land Rover inspired design cues is all set to charge in aggressively in the market of Cheetahs and Scorpios. We review the Safari Storme in Lavasa and find out if Tatas can “Reclaim their position” in the SUV segment.
I have been a huge fan of the Tata Safari from the very first time I saw it. In fact it was an SUV I aspired for. The Tata Safari was the only SUV after the Sierra that made me go weak for it. The Tata Safari wrestling in mud covered with it is the best shot I can think of while clicking it.
With the Safari Storme, Tata Motors have restyled the existing Safari but with better lines. It will make you realize that Tata Motors now also own the British marque Land Rover as the flat lines on the hood are very reminiscent of the Land Rover.
Restyled front grille of the Storme adds a sharper touch to the Safari. Also, the Storme sports projector lamps which are very stylish as the headlight assembly is very compact. STORME has been etched in chrome on the hood line. The bonnet appears long flat with a power bulge on it. The front face has not been kept very aggressive but then it has a very strong character with perfect lines on it. The bumper houses the small yet effective chrome circled fog lamps with a centralized air splitter.
From side it looks very similar to the Safari. I still prefer the 10 spoke Safari Dicor wheels over the flowery designed 5 spoke wheels of the Storme. The new design looks more straight then curvy. The extra flab of the Safari has been removed in the Storme and it has been designed with more sophistication.
Spare tyre mounted on the tail door has been ditched in the Storme in an attempt to give it a more contemporary look. The Tail gate has also got all the smart touches of the new age design. The new tail lamps look bigger now. The name labels on the dull matte grey patch have been added at very precise locations which are not too big on impact but leave an impression for sure. The dual elliptical exhausts on the rear bumper look sporty. The only spoiler here is the very peculiarly located foot rest on the rear bumper to climb into the rear. While one can somehow manage to get inside the rear third row, the trouble is to move out from there as the foot rest cannot be easily located at all.
Overall, the new Safari Storme surely gets my thumbs up for its design. Even though the Safari Storme was launched considerably late still the design of the car does not look dated at all. The Safari Storme looks very refined and sophisticated compared to the earlier version.
A new face on the outside also has a new feel inside the Safari Storme. Comfort and Luxury have always been the key strengths of the Safaris and the same can be seen in the Safari Storme too.
The cabin looks refreshed and won’t remind you of the older cabin with its plush interiors. Chrome, wood and beige has been used very tastefully in binding the interiors together. The new interiors look very neat and sophisticated. The quality of finishing of the plastics and other trims is fantastic showing enough proof of Tata Motors improving on the quality standards. We can vouch for the same as even the recently launched Tata Manza club class sedan has improved quality of interiors.
Leather wrapped steering wheel gives a better feeling but could have done better with audio and phone controls on it too. We were hoping for the same on the Safari Storme as it was a strong feedback given by customers in the customer drives organized by Tata Motors. However, we have been assured by Tata Motors officials that they are working on it. So perhaps in the not so far future the utility aspect of the steering wheel might increase.
The seats are very comfortable and very much like the earlier Safaris offer a superb feel. Headroom and Legroom are very generous as the cabin is very spacious. The second row seating as put by the company officials is known as “the Emperor’s throne” to which even I would happily agree. Last row bench seats are decent if not superb. The only issue the passengers sitting on the last row can have is about AC cooling.
The door trims have superb lines on them with the chunky wooden finished handles, chrome door locks and great trim materials used on the doors. Earlier Safaris didn’t have well finished interiors and were very Utility Vehicle centered but in the Storme it feels very subtle. So no longer one would feel tired and driving a truckish vehicle but instead would have a subtle feel to it.
Storage options are not many except for the pockets on the door trims. There is a cup holder on the central console. Fold up the last row bench seats and there is ample luggage space. The only hiccup here is the spare tyre under the floor which can be a little inconvenient while removing in case of a flat tyre.
Inside the Safari Storme, the interiors have the essence of the earlier version but then it has been completely improved. Safari Storme would endorse a new level of quality standards for the interiors and would be taken a lot more seriously than ever.
The 2012 Tata Safari Storme is powered by a 2.2L VariCOR engine which is an upgrade from the DICOR. It’s called the VariCOR as it uses the Variable Geometry Turbo technology. The new engine produces similar figures of the DICOR with a peak power of 140 PS at 4000 rpm and a pulling torque of 320 Nm at a range of 1700 to 2700 rpm. In addition to a refined engine, the gearbox has also been worked on making its operation very smooth and balanced.
Tall driving position is the first feeling that one gets after climbing inside the driver’s cabin. This feeling was there in the earlier model too. There have been improvements and changes in a number of aspects. The headlight switch is on the right; audio can be controlled with the help of a lever on the right just after the steering wheel.
Interestingly, just after our Safari Storme drive in Lavasa we were invited for the Monsoon Trails in Goa wherein we drove the earlier gen Safari DICOR 4x4. After driving the Safari DICOR on all types of roads, I finally learnt and realized the improvements of the Storme. First thing is the gearbox. The gearbox of the Storme has been refined and made very precise so in turn it offers a shorter throw. Even if the situation demands often gear shifts, one won’t feel lazy to do it. In the Safari, the gear shifts felt like a massive task.
Tata Motors have painstakingly reduced the NVH levels in the Storme. It does not make any irrelevant redundant noises inside while cruising on streets. The engine becomes very juicy once it enters the peak torque rpm range. Especially on the highways and straight patches the Safari Storme is very impressive with the short throw gear box.
It has a turning radius of 5.4 m which is superb. So even though it’s a massive vehicle, maneuvering it out of the tight corners is very easy. The only demerit of the engine is the initial torque which feels very flat. Also the turbo lag can be felt initially which can be a small let down while climbing the hilly terrain in the initial gears.
Handling of the Safari Storme has been improved with the new and stiffer chassis. Even though the chassis has been stiff the overall shape of the vehicle has been retained so there is some body roll. Push the negatives aside and there are tons of changes that will make you sit upright and make notice of. The braking on the Safari Storme has been improved by many rooms so the vehicle comes to a standstill without any drama and that too in a controlled way. With a better steering feedback and soft suspension springs, taking it in corners is super fun. Not just on the even and smooth tarmac, throw the Storme on a 4x4 terrain and jog dial the drive mode from 2 wheel drive to 4 wheel drive and the suspensions settings are noticeably active.
Just to illustrate the potential of the Safari Storme, Tata Motors devised a special terrapod track. Not that the Storme owner will often take it to such terrains still it was a superb opportunity for us to test the car as well as our off-roading skills. After battering the Safari Storme all through the terra pod track and testing everything from the suspensions to the axle verticulation, we finally realized the Safari Storme is a no-poser SUV and can get dirty if pushed hard.
|Engine Displacement (cc)||2179|
|Power in PS/RPM||140/4000|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||320/2700|
|Transmisson||Manual 5 speed|
|Tyre rating||235/70 r16|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||55 L|
|Average Mileage in KMPL||12|
|Dimensions in MM|
|Rurning circle radius||5.4 M|
|Ground clearance (mm)||200|
|Kerb Weight in Kgs||2000|
|Features||LX 4X2||EX 4X4||VX 4X2||VX 4X4|
|Ex-showroom Price Mumbai (in Lakhs)||995000||1075000||1235000||1365000|
|4WD Electronic shift||No||No||No||Yes|
|Limited slip differential||No||No||No||Yes|
|Roof mounted AC||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Power foldable mirrors||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Electrical rear glass Demister||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Height adjustable driver seat||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Arm rest for driver and co driver||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Reverse guide system with display||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Dual Exhaust with chrome finish||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ABS With EBD||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||VX 4X4||W8 AWD||VX|
|Ex-showroom price Mumbai (in Lakhs)||1365000||1396120||1363550|
|Power in PS/RPM||140/4000||140/3750||102/3600|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||320/2700||330/2800||200/3400|
|Turning circle radius||5.4M||5.6M||5.4 M|
|Fuel Tank in Liters||55||70||55|
|Seating||7 Seater||8 Seater||7 Seater|
|Mileage in KMPL||12||12||14|
|Roof mounted AC||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Power foldable mirrors||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Electrical rear glass Demister||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Height adjustable driver seat||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Arm rest for driver and co driver||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Reverse guide system with display||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Dual Exhaust with chrome finish||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ABS With EBD||Yes||Yes||No|
Tata Motors have decided not to substitute the safari DiCOR with the Safari Storme but instead keep it above making it a premium offering. The Safari Storme 4x2 LX BS4 is priced at Rs. 9,95,000 (Ex-Showroom Delhi ) while the Renault Duster RxL 110 PS is priced at Rs. 10,39,000 (Ex-Showroom Delhi ) and the Mahindra Scorpio EX is priced at Rs.7,79,158 (Ex-Showroom Delhi ).
The Tata Safari Storme scores more than the Renault Duster especially as it has got a bigger engine and is also a complete SUV thus making the Duster look pricy. However on the other hand the Mahindra Scorpio, which is a part Mahindra’s strong arsenal, is priced lower than the Safari Storme. The Scorpio has been ruling the segment for 10 years and will be getting an upgrade next year end. The Scorpio can prove to be a strong obstacle in the Storme’s path.
Main issue with Tata Motors not doing too well is not cause of the models being bad but because of other reasons. Many complain about the unpleasant after sales experience with Tata dealerships. This is something I still face with my 1 year old Tata Nano. There are also complaints about the quality of spares not being upto the mark wherein Toyota Innova is everyone’s favorite with its fantastic ownership experiences and very less complaints.
On a positive note, at a recent launch event Karl Slym Managing Director, Tata Motors assured that his agenda is very clear and would be striving hard towards achieving it with newer and better models as well as improving the customer experience. The overall experience in both pre-sales and post-sales are all set to change and to be made better soon.
The Safari Storme indeed impressed me and fits to the tagline of “Refined Beast”. Tata Motors took time to launch the Storme because they wanted to make sure everything is right with the Storme. Hope it creates a “Storme” in the Indian SUV market and helps Tata Motors Reclaim its position.