The car you see here is the new Safari Storme. It looks like a facelift, but underneath, it is completely different from its predecessor. This is both a good thing and a bad thing, as you will soon see. Built on Tata’s hydroformed body-on-frame X2 platform, the Safari promises to be a whole lot better to drive and a lot more refined too. Prices start at Rs 9.9 lakh for the base 4x2 and go on to Rs 13.7 lakh for this top-end 4x4 VX. Question is, do the new underpinnings help the Safari take the big leap into the present?
The biggest step up over the old car is the way the Safari behaves on the road. It’s genuinely among the best-riding SUVs we’ve driven. The combination of its pliant, tall springs and stiff chassis delivers a ride quality that is so absorbent and silent, it gives you the confidence to drive over ruts and potholes without scaling back the pace much.
The slow steering offers very little feedback, the body rolls quite a bit, and it simply doesn’t feel agile. Even in the city, the Storme isn’t the most nimble SUV to drive. You always feel its girth and the slow steering, combined with the large turning circle, is not the most ideal for tackling heavy traffic. What does help, though, is that the traditional Safari strengths of a low window line, the big windscreen and the high seats give you a bird’s eye view out.
Off the road, the Storme gets all the four-wheel-drive hardware (low ratios, limited-slip differential) you need to tackle the toughest of terrain.
The Storme betters the old Safari on fuel efficiency. It gave us 10.1kpl in the city and 13.2kpl on the highway against the old one’s 8.7kpl and 13.1kpl, respectively. We put these improvements down to the Storme’s 35kg lighter kerb weight. That said, the highway figure should have been better as the Storme’s gearing is taller than the old car’s. But remember, its aerodynamic properties are still similar to the old car’s.