2015 Tata Safari Storme 4x4 Facelift Review
‘Make in India’ might have found its vogue in the present but one company that started working on in it two decades back was Tata Motors. They were the first to make an SUV which was completely designed, developed and manufactured at their in-house facility back in 1998 making the Safari one of the longest running brands in India.
It always had a unique appeal coz of its street presence as it was ahead of its time and the options were very few. The Safari received an upgrade three years ago in the form of Storme with a new chassis and better interiors but with the advance of many players in the SUV segment, the fight has got a lot tougher than before.
In an attempt to make the Safari Storme appear better equipped and at par with its rivals, Tata Motors has given it a facelift. But will it be enough to make it a serious contender in the modern SUV battle? We find out.
It didn’t look like anything at the time of its launch. The Safari had a very unique appeal cause of its macho stance, rugged feel and grand proportions of bodywork. But then it has been there for a good 17 years now and the overall shape still looks the same. Even the new generation Storme could not deviate away from the earlier design.
Unfortunately, the facelift too doesn’t get any substantial additions other than a revised radiator grille which seeks inspiration from Land Rover SUVs. It looks better than the previous version but not to the extent of giving it a new look. It continues to get projector headlights with clear lens fog lamps. The boot lip gets a strong chorme bar with Storme etched on it.
The wheelbase too remains same at 2650mm. External mirrors are finished in chrome with integrated turn indicators. The lower LX 4x2 variant is offered with 235/75 R15 tyres while the EX and VX get bigger 235/70 R16 tyres. The only thing new on the side is the Varicor badge. Other than the new badges, it is difficult for anyone to spot the difference between the earlier and the new version.
The front gets a bigger change compared to the side which gets lesser change but the rear gets no change at all. In fact, it is identical to the existing version. The number of changes brought in the new version still does not justify the facelift tag. With the Bolt and Zest, the expectations on the upcoming Storme facelift were sky high however they weren’t met completely.
The ones who have always criticised the inside of Safari will no longer have reasons to do so. On the outside, the difference is negligible but in the inside, it is a different story altogether as the new Storme sports a more modern and premium interior with more convenient centric features.
Firstly, the new signature style steering wheel is a welcome change inside the new Storme as it does not feel commercial to drive instead it feels like a car. This has also affected the way it handles. Shall elaborate more on this in the performance section of this review. The new steering wheel has controls to operate the music system as well as Bluetooth telephony; glad they heard my long pending wish.
It seems like the new changes have brought in a fresh life inside the Storme. The front dashboard gets a modern gloss strip running along its width. The central console is the highlight of the new Storme as it gets more features with the single DIN music system integrated with the console. Unlike the Bluetooth receiver in the earlier version, this one can stream music too. The operational bit still has space for improvement but nonetheless it is a great addition.
To top it up, Tata Motors offers a premium line Harman music system with an improved playback quality. It is not exactly a friendly unit to operate but with time one can get used to it. The air-con knobs are similar with a chrome circle around it. The iPod and Aux-in jacks are slotted at the bottom of the console. It gets a chrome treated logo to compliment it. One thing that has been given a miss is the classy analogue watch, which was positioned between the central air-con vents.
Lighter trims have been replaced with a more appealing darker shade. Even the seat fabric has been replaced by a more rich material. The comfort level has gone up too. We did expect this variant to sport leathers as standard. The roominess of the cabin has been retained. The rear seats still lack an under thigh support. There are jump seats at rear, which are best for kids.
It continues to offer multiple storage options such as a large glovebox, litre class space on door trims, small pocket on the console and one large cup holder placed between the front seats. The rear armrest has been tweaked to accommodate twin foldable cup holders along with a storage tray.
The mechanical bits in the New Safari Storme have got an upgrade in the form of a power bump of 10 PS. Tata Motors have plonked in the same unit in the new Storme as on the Aria resulting in an increased power output. The 2.2L DOHC unit now makes an impressive 150PS at 4000 rpm. The torque figures remain same at 320Nm. They have also retained the GBS76 5-Speed manual gearbox.
Interestingly, the acoustics of the motor have also improved as it doesn’t sound like a tired rhino anymore; the exterior noise levels have come down drastically cause of improved noise insulation and a refined engine. The ignition key too is brand new with more buttons making it look worth that of an Rs 14 lakh SUV much better than the usual budget hatch type which was offered earlier.
The increase in power of 10PS has not changed its performance completely but has brought in more ease of drive. The lighter clutch makes shifting more convenient. The manual transmission continues to have a lethargic response and is tiresome to use in city traffic. The situation is fairly better on highways, where the Storme is in its comfort zone.
As we mentioned in the interiors, the new steering wheel has helped better the handling of this beasty of a car and the reason being its smaller diameter and easy accessibility. It turns more freely and has a better bolstered support to help manoeuvre it swiftly.
They have refurnished the dashboard and got in a plusher central console. They even borrowed the steering wheel from Zest / Bolt, which is again nice but wonder what stopped Tata Motors from borrowing the touchscreen infotainment unit and updating the dated instrumental cluster too. Even the Nano has a more modern cluster.
The suspension setup remains similar to the outgoing model. It gets a double wishbone type in front and a coil spring type 5 link rigid axle suspension in the rear. The ground clearance at 200mm is sufficient to tackle uneven surfaces. Some might argue that even the Ford EcoSport and Renault Duster have a similar ground clearance but these compact SUVs cannot trade in on a Safari territory especially with its bigger engine and a more capable 4x4 system with limited slip differential.
The handling has improved but even then there is sufficient body roll, which cannot be ignored. Its tall body styling forms a main reason for a less than precise way of handling. On sharp turns or quick overtaking manoeuvres, it feels very rigid to change its stance. However, it feels in control even at higher speeds as the disc brakes setup have enough bite to reduce the momentum without an awkward behaviour.
We couldn’t test it for long and therefore couldn’t calculate its mileage. Company officials claim that the efficiency has been improved. They have also fitted a bigger fuel tank of 63L (Previous model had 55L) which gives a better range than before.
|Price (Ex-Showroom)||To Be Announced|
|Power in PS/RPM||150 / 4000|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||320 Nm / 1700-2700 rpm|
|Wheel base mm||2650|
|Fuel tank capacity L||63|
|Adjustable Steering Column||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and AC)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Roof Mounted Rear AC||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|All Power Windows with Express Down Feature||Driver only||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Electrically Adjustable Side Mirrors||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Power Foldable Side Mirrors||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Electrically Operated Remote Fuel Flap||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Dual Airbags (For Driver and Front Passenger||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS 8.1) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Side impact Bars||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Interiors||Java Black/ Sandstone Beige||Java Black & Black||Java Black & Black||Java Black & Black|
|Seats||Fabric (Black)||Fabric (Black)||Fabric (Black)||Fabric (Black)|
|Finish on Centre Console||Java Black||Warm Silver||Warm Silver||Warm Silver|
|Motorised Head Lamps Adjustment||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Central Locking and Child Safety Lock||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Antiglare Rear-View Mirror||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Seat Belt Unfastened Warning||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||VX 4x4||RxZ AWD 110PS||S10 4WD|
|Price||To Be Announced||Rs 13,60,000||Rs 13,50,000|
|Power in PS/RPM||150 / 4000||108 / 3900||120 / 4000|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||320 / 1700||248 / 2250||280 / 1800|
|Wheel base mm||2650||2673||2680|
|Fuel tank capacity L||63||50||60|
The prolonged wait for the New Safari Storme facelift made all speculate on the different additions it would get. The new grille is agreeably a small change but then it drops a strong clue of the future. The new refurnished interiors offer a more engaging experience. The robust characteristics of the car have been retained.
Now if you compare it with its arch nemesis, the Mahindra Scorpio, the latter looks more matured with a completely redesigned front and rear. It gets projector headlamps, cornering lights, DRLs and LED tail lights. Even in terms of features and performance, the Scorpio scores a lot more as Mahindras have worked extremely hard to make sure the new version takes the benchmark higher than before.
Coming to the New Storme, Tata Motors have shown a sign of transformation with their brand new Horizonext philosophy. The Zest, Bolt and the newly launched GenX Nano are a testimony of it. They have also shown the Nexon and Hexa concepts which look very promising. Wondering what this has to do with the Safari Storme?
The facelift is more of a means to keep the model afloat with its rivals. The new grille symbolises a synergy of technologies between Tata Motors and Land Rover in the not so far future. It is known that the both the companies will share the Discovery Sport platform which will form a base for the next generation Safari Storme. Till then, think of it as a new beginning of a Raging Storme.