Tata Safari Storme Varicor 400 vs Mahindra Scorpio comparison
9th Feb 2016 9:35 am
The updated Safari Varicor 400 takes on its old rival the Scorpio S10 in the battle of the homegrown stars.
Tata recently updated its Safari Storme SUV with a new top trim that comes with an uprated motor and some cosmetic changes. To see how this new variant fares in the SUVs race, we pit it against Mahindra's popular Scorpio.
Performance & refinement
The Safari’s 2.2-litre motor, has been updated and now makes 154bhp and an impressive 40.78kgm of torque. It gets a new six-speed manual gearbox. This has made the Safari faster, it does 0-100kph in 12.84 secs, making it 0.6 seconds faster than the Scorpio. The Safari takes its time to get going due to a big turbo. Post that, there is a step-up in performance and you feel a nice shove in the back as it accelerates out but the engine sounds coarse and gearbox feels rubbery.
The Scorpio’s mHawk engine makes just 118bhp in comparison. Despite this, it is the faster one to respond and picks up quite well from slow speeds. It is also the nicer and easier SUV to drive on crowded city streets.
However, on open roads, it lacks the Safari’s punch and the engine gets vocal when you wring it too hard. And as for the gearbox, the long rubbery shifts takes all the fun out of shifting gears.
Ride & handling
The Safari feels jiggly at slow speeds and rocks from side to side. But the long-travel suspension can gobble up potholes without a fuss and it feels more adept at handling rutted roads than the Scorpio. Overall ride is really good and so is the straightline stability. However, show it a series of bends and the Safari isn’t too happy. The skyscraper-like towering stance and the resulting body roll often gets unnerving as the speeds rise.
The Scorpio feels marginally stiffer than the Safari and you do feel most road undulations at slow speeds. It too, tends to rock from side to side and bobs a fair bit as well. The ride does settle down once you pick up speed and it absorbs road imperfections pretty silently. Its high-speed stability is decent and it feels more agile than the Safari. It rolls less and the top-heavy feeling of the Safari is not felt in the Scorpio.
The Safari’s updated interior looks much bigger. The dashboard colour scheme looks different and the buttons and knobs seem to be updated. Although there’s no touchscreen infotainment system, it does get functionality like Bluetooth telephony, aux and USB connectivity. The interior just doesn’t have that premium feel sought by car buyers at this price and even quality of materials is just about average.
Mahindra’s interiors feel well built and the quality of parts are much better. The black and grey dashboard looks more premium than the Safari’s and the touchscreen infotainment system works very nicely as well. The dials are quite easy to read and fit and finish is better than on the Tata. It definitely has the better cabin. However, closer inspection reveals some patchy quality; it’s still negligible compared to the Safari.
Space & practicality
Space on the inside is humongous. The high-set and large front seats are very spacious and comfortable, and the rear bench is massive with lots of room too.
The same can’t be said about the third-row jump seats though; they are not suited for use over long journeys. But folding this row does liberate masses of space for luggage. On the whole, the Safari has the more spacious cabin and it’s decently practical too.
The Scorpio may not have the enormous cabin of the Safari but it does offer sufficient space inside. The front seats are quite comfortable and the rear seat does have sufficient space as well.
Just like in the Safari, the third row has jump seats which won’t find much use, but can be folded for luggage space though there’s not as much space here as in the Tata; comfort levels are actually decent.
The more expensive Safari’s engine is available only on the top-spec VX variant which costs Rs 13.26 lakh for the 4X2 and Rs 14.60 lakh for the 4X4 variants. However, there’s no change to the equipment list. It gets electrically retractable mirrors, audio system with Bluetooth, aux and USB, and a CD player. It gets alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, two airbags and ABS also. But there’s no climate control system and for a vehicle this big, we’d have liked a reverse camera too.
The Scorpio S10 is available in both two-wheel and four-wheel-drive avatar, priced at Rs 12.63 lakh and Rs 13.76 lakh, respectively. It is more affordable than the Safari. In this top trim, it gets a touchscreen infotainment system with USB, aux-in, USB and Bluetooth telephony. There’s climate control, automatic headlamps, wipers and an automatic start-stop system as well. For safety, it gets two airbags and ABS as standard.
Tata's Safari Storme continues with its traditional strengths of unshakable ride quality and spacious interiors. The extra punch on the engine is a welcome addition and the SUV is faster now but the 2.2-litre unit still takes some time to get over its turbo lag. And given how fast competition is moving along, Tata really must do something about quality levels; the interiors simply lack the premium finish of rivals. Lack of a premium air is something that some may associate even the Mahindra Scorpio with, but all considered, it's still the better SUV. There are rough edges like the less-than-ideal ergonomics and poor low-speed ride. But It's also got a strong and refined engine, it's comfortable and levels of equipment are good for the price. Given that it is more affordable than the Tata, that's all the more reason for it to emerge the winner here.