Tuesday, December 18, 2012

SUV Tata Safari EX 4x4 Review

Tata Safari is a popular SUV from the stable of Tata Motors. Over the years it has evolved considerably and at present, a fully overhauled Tata Safari Storme is in the market. However, I didn’t have an opportunity to drive the Safari till date- none of my relatives owned one and no agencies had this on self drive. Recently I managed to rent one on self drive (from San Carz Bangalore). Drove it for close to 1200kms between Friday night and Monday morning, covering wide range of terrain. In this post, I am sharing my experience of spending few days with this vehicle.

Exterior Design:
Safari is a big car and has considerable road presence. An added body cladding contributes to the muscular look. I am sure you’ve seen enough safari’s on the road and I don’t have to elaborate much on how Safari looks. The looks haven't changed much over the years and hence has begun to feel old school. Even the new Storme has by and large same design curves, except for a revamped front and rear.

Interior Design:
·         The front AC vents of Tata Safari are forcefully moved to be part of door frame. To support this, air vents have been extended into the door- refer image below. I do not know what value it adds, since keeping the air vent in the dashboard itself would have saved some extra work and money. Not sure if there’s any specific advantages keeping the ac vents this way. I can’t think of any. (in new Tata Safari Storme, the AC vents are back on dashboard) I didn’t find the AC powerful enough- but this could be due to high temperature outside and inside, plus a big cabin takes longer time to cool. There’s an AC vent for middle row, but nothing for third row. Similarly the heater also wasn’t so effective- probably we didn’t understand the controls well or there’s some issue specific to the vehicle I drove. I don’t want to generalize it and blame the vehicle as a whole.
·         A rotating knob for selecting 4H, 4L or 2H is located near the console, but this button’s view is hidden by steering wheel. Extra effort is needed to check in which mode the vehicle is.

·         An analog clock on the central console looks good. But from the driver’s seat, I found it hard to read it. Both hands(hours and minute) look similar and without any numbers on the dial, takes time to get used to the clock.
  • Third row side facing seats are not impressive. A front facing seat could have been better. No AC vents for 3rd row. 
  • Red light on door which glows when open is nice. Helps recognize if a door is open and also throws some light on ground to keep our feet on during the night
  • Boot space is huge enough to play a kabaddi match, but the side facing jump seats were a let down. Good for kids/short distances but not for long drives. Hope Tata launches some variants with buckets seats and front facing last row seats
My first few moments were not that great- I felt the gear liver very loose and shaky, but got used to it couple of minutes into the drive. I couldn’t cross 130kmph, partially due to shortage of straight road and partially due to the pickup, which I felt could have been better. The engine is powerful on paper, but when put to work, it is like a lazy boy not at all willing to wake up early on a Sunday morning. It felt somewhat similar to first gen ford endeavor I'd tried 2 years ago. In a drag race, old safari is unlikely to beat its rivals- Scorpios and Innovas. Tata Safari has designated top speed of 160kmph, while comparatively low spec Innova reaches that speed easily. Tata Aria had relatively better engine and I hear new Storme has an improvised engine. Please note that this comment of mine could also be because of my over expectation from the vehicle, additional weight and mechanicals of four wheel drive system and or maintenance of the 3 year old engine. I do not want to generalize it across all Safaris

Seat height adjustment was a good value add. With increased height I could see the left extreme of the bonnet and could drive with increased confidence.

Did some mild off roading and Safari didn't complain. Thanks to its design, Safari has better approach and departure angle compared to Tata Aria (despite the same ground clearance, Safari is better at off roading than Aria. A 300mm water wading depth is good feature

Safari comes with a proper jack and jack rod, not the toy types provided with other cars.

About the new Tata Safari Storme: New Safari Storme has dual exhaust pipes in rear, similar to Aria, better than the single pipe in 2.2 Dicor. New Storme is also a thoroughly re-engineered car with stronger body, more improved engine (vericor), 4 disc brakes and fresh interiors.

Fuel economy: For over 1200kms, we spent about Rs 6600 on diesel (diesel price varied between Rs 50 to Rs 53 per litre), close to 130 liters (two tank),averages to about 9.6 kmpl,(keeping some provision for fuel left in the tank) with full load of people and luggage, AC used at times. Please note that this vehicle had already logged over 1 lakh kms.

Disclaimer: One I drove was an old vehicle, some of the experience could be due to factors not generic to all vehicles. Please use your discretion.

Also see: Safari EX photoshoot * Kannada article on self drive * Tata Aria * 


Desi Traveler said...

I have never driven one but traveled a few time with friends... and it gives you a feeling you are in a tank...

Jay Singh said...

Hi Shrinidhi,

Good all-round review. Nice boot space in the car.
Thanks for the review.

Keep up the good work



Debopam said...

Nice review.... Looks like a sturdy one....

Niranjan said...

Hi Shrinidhi,

Thanks for the nice and precised review. It was a pleasure providing you the vehicle :)


Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Desi Traveler, Jay Singh, Debopam and Niranjan

jake tyler said...
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