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Tata Safari Storme

The second generation Safari was launched in 2012 and is called the Storme. The Storme uses a shortened version of the Tata Aria’s chassis and also uses the same steering and engine. There is both a 2WD and 4WD version and the Storme competes with the Mahindra XUV500

2012 Tata Safari Storme

For the reasons that remain a mystery, Tata has taken a rather long time to launch the Storme after the SUV was shown at the Auto Expo earlier this year. The Safari when launched 14 years ago was the first SUV of its kind by an Indian manufacturer and though from the outside this might seem like a facelift over the previous gen Safari, this in fact is an all new SUV. Prices for the Storme start from Rs 9.95 lakh to Rs 12.5 lakh for the 4x2 and the only 4x4 variant costs Rs 13.7 lakhs ex-showroom New Delhi. The Safari became an extremely popular vehicle because of the value and space it provided and also because of its long-distance cruising comfort. It was patronized by politicians, industrialists and bullies and was one of the few aspirational vehicles that money could buy.

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Design

At first the Storme looks a bit too similar to the Safari but if you look deeper you can make out the changes. The most obvious being the changes to the front with the wide chrome grille and the sharper looking projector headlights. From the side the two SUV’s look identical even though the cladding for the doors and the wheel arches are different. Changes to the rear are more obvious with the spare wheel mounted under the floor and the tail lamps are new as well. What though remains disappointing is that Tata hasn’t completely changed the look of the SUV given the fact that this is the first time that the SUV has been given a redesign. The build quality has definitely improved, there is an all new front bumper and we really liked the twin chrome-tipped exhausts. The fog lamps at the front are round, the rear also has a spoiler and at the side is a new a wider running board and there is lots of use of chrome all around the car. The design of the alloy wheels is new and the bonnet is flatter.

Interiors

Step inside and immediately you notice the similarity between the Aria and the Storme. This isn’t a bad thing at all and more importantly the quality of plastic and build has improved as well. The cabin is in beige and the new dash has a completely different centre console and the Storme also uses wooden finish for its panelling.

Space as was the case with the previous Safari is excellent and both front and rear passengers get really good head and leg room. The third row is only for children but they too will feel cramped. The feature list huge as well and the rear two rows get climate control. The top of the line variant gets power windows all around, the seats are in leather, both the front occupants get air bags and the high driving position gives the driver a good view of the road.

The new instrument cluster comes with a new dial, the four spoke steering wheel is wrapped in leather and so is the gear knob. For the 4WD there is a round knob and other features include a Bluetooth-enabled single DIN music system, a smart key for switching on and off the headlights and reverse parking sensors with a display. Safety feature are excellent and you can opt for six airbags, ABS (Anti Lock Brake System) with ESC (Electronic Stability Control) but there are still some concerns with panel gaps.

Engine and Performance

The Safari Storme uses a 2.2-litre, DICOR engine which is an updated version of the motor that the Safari earlier used and this DOHC unit is the same as on the Aria and the Sumo Grande. The 4 cylinder unit produces 140PS and uses a variable geometry turbocharger. Tata now calls this engine the VariCor and this motor uses direct-injection, hydraulic valve adjusters and sixteen valves. The engine feels refined and it produces 320Nm of torque which allows it to motor along comfortably at most speeds. There is a bit of turbo lag but the engine revs well and the mid range is particularly meaty. There aren’t many vibrations seeping into the cabin and the engine accelerates to 100kmph in around 15seconds. Matched to the motor is a 5 speed manual gearbox which has been worked on and the transmission now has shortened throws but still doesn’t have a crisp feel to it. The Storme has a top speed of 160kmph with an ARAI claimed 13.2kmpl (4WD version) which is less than the Mahindra XUV500.

Ride

This part of the Storme is completely new and replacing the ladder chassis is the shortened version of the Aria’s hydroformed chassis. This makes the Storme stiffer and lighter. The SUV uses disc brakes all around with double wishbone front suspension along with a 5 link coil spring rear suspension. The ride quality is excellent which is what its customers like and the suspension glides over broken sections. The suspension is set on the softer side which results in body roll around corners. The handling has improved considerably from before and the 4WD version comes with an option of a low range and a limited-slip differential. The 4X4 can be changed on the fly and the steering which is also borrowed from theAria is better than before. The track is wider and this gives the Storme better composure.

Competition

The Mahindra XUV500 has been an instant hit with the Indian customer for the value it provides and for the imposing looks. This vehicle has put Mahindra in direct competition with the Japanese manufacturers and the design and styling is sure to turn heads. The interiors are stylish too and space is really good. The 2.2-litre is the same as on the Xylo and is refined and torquey. The gearbox isn’t the best and neither is the ride. The entry level Skoda Yeti 4X2 can match the top of the line Storme on price. The build quality, ride and handling and interiors are leagues ahead. The engine produces 110PS which is less powerful than the Storme but acceleration is better. The Yeti however is only a 5 seater.

Verdict

To the good bits first. The Storme uses a completely new monocoque chassis which replaces the earlier body on ladder chassis construction and this gives it far better ride and handling. The soft suspension works well over broken sections but around corners there is body roll. She handles nevertheless with improved composure and though the overall build quality has improved, the plastic quality could have been better and the panel gaps should have been more consistent. The engine is refined, torquey with a meaty mid range and the gearbox is improved from before. You do get 4WD and as well and the interior space is enough for five adults. Though there is no doubt that the Storme is an improved vehicle in the departments that matter but the styling for our liking is far too similar to the Safari. Given the fact that it’s been 14 years since the Safari was first launched, we expected the design to be completely different butTata obviously thinks otherwise. With the competition from theXUV500 the second innings of the Safari in the Storme avatar won’t be easy one but over the years the SUV has created a loyal base for itself and it still provides pretty good value.

Quotes from other reviews:
Autocar India: ‘The Safari Storme, then, comes across as a quantum leap ahead of the previous Safari. It’s well-equipped, refined, better built and comprehensively updated. And with prices starting from Rs 9.9 lakh for the base 4x2 model and going to Rs 13.7 lakh for the fully loaded 4x4 option, it’s great value for money. Also, as a long-distance cruiser, nothing can quite beat it for the money. The only grouse is that, even after 14 years, Tata hasn’t got around to changing the ageing body completely.’

Karanbir
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