Tata Safari Storme Detailed Expert Review – Jan 01, 2016

Tata Motors has been on a spree to revamp its cars and image. Over the last year or so, it has been steadily showing the door to its older models and in turn replacing them with newer or updated cars. One of the vehicles that got a significant update in the range was the Safari Storme SUV. It got the cosmetic treatment in May and has now got a retuned engine that produces more power and torque and to handle it all, there’s a new six-speed manual gearbox as well. Dubbed the Varicor400, here’s how it feels on the road.

Detailed  Tata Safari Storme Expert Review, Safari Storme Ratings - 206416 | CarTrade.com

Exterior

The Safari Storme got its first major styling facelift in late 2012 and then an update earlier this year. The 2015 changes included some revisions like a new grille as well as a new bumper that have given the SUV a brawnier (than normal) appearance.

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In this model there are no external changes to the SUV save for Varicor400 badging at the side and rear. However, our test car came with few additional accessories like a faux air intake on the bonnet and a large black piece of plastic cladding mounted above the grille. It looked like a unibrow on the fascia.

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If there is one thing that the Safari Storme has is spades, it is its ability to grab eyeballs. Everywhere we went, the Storme managed to turn heads be it on the outskirts on Mumbai or in and around the posh locales of South Mumbai. Clearly, even in the Varicor400 guise, the Storme remains THE SUV to be seen in for politicians, hired muscle, builders and basically anyone who likes to make an entrance everywhere they go.
Interior

There was a time when you could peek into the cabin of any Tata car and walk away unimpressed. There was resemblance across all vehicles then be it the Safari or the Indica. And that didn’t bode well for the Safari. This was despite the fact that the Safari actually came fully loaded for a vehicle in this part of the automotive woods.

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Now though thanks to the CONNECT NEXT design philosophy, the Safari Storme’s cabin has managed to gain some degree of individuality. One of the major changes that Tata made when it updated the car was to completely revise the interior. Out went the beige, faux wood inserts and grainy plastic and in came a new brown and grey trim, new dashboard and steering wheel.
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The instrument cluster and centre console have been completely revised while Tata has fitted a Harman music system developed specifically for the SUV. We expected at least one variant to come with the touchscreen system from the Zest and Bolt but probably this has been kept out to keep costs in check. One of the styling elements that caught my attention was that Tata has fitted soft touch plastics on points of regular contact but left the rest in the hard, grainy and long lasting plastic.
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The fit and finish however could have been better. The NVH levels are higher than desirable and surprisingly there were a few places that had already developed rattle. The SUV only had 2700km on the odometer. What’s fantastic about the Storme’s cabin is the overall visibility. It offers a commanding view; sitting in the driver’s seat you tower above everything else on the road; it is quite literally like watching a movie from the balcony section of a theatre.
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There is very little to separate this version of the Tata Safari Storme from its closest rival, the Mahindra Scorpio in the S10 4WD variant in terms of features though it seems that the Mahindra does have an upper hand as it gets climate control, cruise control and a touchscreen infotainment system al of which is missing on the Storme.
Performance

This is pretty much the highlight of this new car. It gets the same 2.2-litre four-cylinder mill but now producing 154bhp and 400Nm of torque (hence the name Varicor400). This is a 6bhp increase in terms of power and a massive 80Nm in terms of torque compared to the ‘standard’ model. This has now been paired to a six-speed manual gearbox.  In this state of tune, this engine is also expected to go in to the soon-to-be launched Tata Hexa MPV.

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The increase in torque is instantly beneficial as the vehicle is able to get off the line easier making driveability in low-speed situations much easier. Despite massive clutch travel, the Safari has now also become much easier to inch along in bumper-to-bumper traffic which is a boon when you consider the massive dimensions of the SUV.
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Out on the highway, you only feel the need for the sixth gear once you have crossed 110kmph mark and you can cruise at 120kmph at just 2100rpm. This is also expected to aid fuel efficiency. However, the six-speed gearbox while effective feels imprecise with regard to the throws especially when you attempt to slot the car into reverse. In terms of refinement, this is still an old school diesel mill and so is audible within the cabin.
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While refinement has never been one of Tata’s strong points, it did manage to get the ride quality right with the Safari Storme. Designed to be comfort oriented, most of the bumps and pot holes are absorbed with relative ease. It has a ground clearance of 200mm and combined with 235/70 R16 tyres, there is quite a bit of rubber between the car and the road.
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One of the things I found a bit cumbersome was the steering wheel at low speeds. It feels heavy and requires quite a bit of effort especially when you have to manoeuvre the car in tight spaces or in heavy traffic. It could definitely do with a bit more assistance at lower speeds.
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