The wraps are off the all new Tata Safari and what we have is an undoubtedly modern, premium SUV from the Tata stable. The 7-seater SUV is built on the Land Rover-derived D8 platform, on which more than a million vehicles have been built so far worldwide. The elements from the OMEGA-Arc architecture in Land Rover cars have been customised for Indian conditions, and put to test in more than 2 million kilometers of test-driving under diverse terrain conditions.
Pure, raw power
The 2.0 litre turbo-charged Kryotec diesel engine is a super refined mill that churns out 170 BHP of power and 350 nm of torque to offer seamless power delivery both in the manual and automatic variants. The power surge at each gear is incredibly promising, and you are left with more to spend even while cruising on overdrive. While the manual is full of pure raw power unleashed in measured surges, the torque converter automatic transmission is a breeze.
For comparison -- if the Safari moniker warrants it -- the Safari Storme's mammoth 2.1 tonne mass was hauled by the Varicor 400 engine that produced 150 bhp of power. At 1825 kg, the all new Safari is much lighter, and with 170 PS of power the car is a lithe dancer on the freeway.
Great handling, loves bad roads
And the handling is excellent; the car is absolutely unsurprised if you ever have to swerve it to the rough shoulders at moderately high speeds. The earlier Safaris loved bad roads and the all new Safari does it too, with more panache and thoughtfulness for the passengers. It's as much a driver's car as it is the passengers'. Tata has arrived.
Rugged, yet refined
Safari is a full size, 7-seater SUV, and it keeps its ruggedness while being immensely refined. Its connection to the earlier generation of Safaris is nuanced as it's clear that the car gets all of its design elements from the Impact 2.0 theme followed in Harrier. From the majestic skydome to Ashwood dashboard and from multi-drive modes to 8.8" floating island touchscreen infotainment system, the car gives a broad spectrum of creature comforts.
Panache to please
You can easily say that Tata has taken the decades-old Safari nameplate to a new perch, driven by an urge to please even the naysayers. Of course the 4 Wheel Drive option is missing, but the Land-Rover derived platform supports it, and as per Tata Motors leadership, this can make an appearance later.
Monocoque body, front-wheel drivetrain
The new Safari is built on a monocoque body and gets the front-wheel drive train as opposed to the RWD in the outgoing model. With no 4X4 offered in the all new Safari at the moment, the FWD comes handy in mild-mannered offroading. The new iteration's ground clearance is a tad less than the older Safari and Safari Storme, but this, surprisingly does not cut into your confidence while zipping the car through rough terrain. The reduced overall height of the vehicle also makes it more planted on the road.
Visually, the new car isn't as boxy as the iconic Safari but its front facia and body line flaunt inescapable masculinity. At the rear, it's obvious that the delectably original finish seen in Harrier is compromised. This happens as the third row is added while avoiding the long-play overhang seen in the older Safari.
Wider than previous iteration, longer wheelbase
When it comes to dimensions, the new Safari has the same length as the old one, is wider by a notch and considerably less tall. But significantly, its wheelbase is longer at 2741mm compared with 2650mm in the older Safari.
For a 360 degree view of the exterior, click here.
For a 360 degree view of the interiors, click here.
Engine 2.0-litre Kryotec diesel
Power 170 PS
Torque 350 Nm
Transmission 6-speed MT/6-speed AT
Length -4,661 mm
Width - 1,894 mm
Height - 1,786 mm
Wheelbase - 2,741 mm
Push button start
Three engine drive modes - Eco, City and Sport
Three terrain response modes - Normal, Rough and Wet
R18 Machined alloys
Front suspension from Hydra Bush carried over from Landrover D-8 platform
Rear twst suspension designed in UK
Electronic parking brakes with auto hold
Al disc brakes
Tyre pressure monitor
Perimeter alarm system
Reverse parking sensors
ABS with EBD
Corner stability control
Off Road ABS
Electronic traction control and stability control
Hill Hold control and hill descent control
Premium perforated leather seats
Soft touch dashboard with reflective Nappa Grain top layer
Leather wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob
Skydome that automatically closes when the ignition is turned offRain sensing closure for Skydome
COMFORTS AND INFOTAINMENT HIGHLIGHTS
Dedicated AC unit with AC vent for the 3rd row
Multiple USB chargers, mobile holder and cup holders
Instrument cluster with 7" coloured TFT display
Media, phone and navigation mirroring infotainment cluster
Voice recognition and SMA readout
A host of location based services like navigation, TML service station roadside assistance, weather updates, geo fencing and time fencing
Obviously, the new Safari has come a long way from the previous Safari iterations. This, and Harrier before it, showcases Tata's resoluteness in breaking barriers and pushing the envelope. The carmaker that moved India for decades isn't any longer looking at anything less than winning praise and credit, which it deserved but quite didn't get all these years.
The pricing details are awaited.