Tata is going to launch a new Safari early next year. Codenamed ‘Merlin’, this will be the SUV’s most thorough update since its launch in 1998.
New projector headlights, a squarish grille that looks more imposing than before, and a pronounced chin with a lip under the bonnet are major front-end revisions. The rear gets two chrome-tipped exhausts and an oversized chrome bar over the number plate. As seen in the spy pictures, the new Safari gets up-market looking interiors with an all-new dash and fascia. There's plenty of plastic 'wood' all over the dash.
The dials are minimalist with white numbers on a black background and the circular air-con dials look attractive too. However the tall gear-lever looks like it is carried over. The typically Tata four-spoke steering wheel however doesn’t get steering-mounted audio controls.
The biggest change, however, will be adopting the new X2 platform from the Aria. Shortened to the Safari’s 2650mm wheelbase, it will massively improve the SUV’s ride and handling characteristics. It also gets twin exhausts like the ones on the Aria. Power will come from the same 140bhp, 2.2-litre DiCOR motor, but it will be more refined. Expect a price-tag of Rs 11 lakh.
Issue: 166 | June 2013
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