Take a look at the Tata Safari Storme and you can be forgiven for thinking that not much has changed. Apart from some cosmetic changes to the grille, bumpers, headlamp and taillights, everything seems identical. But peel back the visible layers and the Storme is a totally different car from its predecessor.
Up until now, the Safari was built on the old Tata Mobile chassis from the late 1980s but with the new vehicle, they have used the hydroformed body on frame X2 platform. This is a good thing because this new chassis is a full 50% stiffer while at the same time weighing 35 kilos less. Other bits and bobs result the Safari Storme shedding 75 kg of weight but by no means is it a sylph, as it still tips the scales to beyond the two ton mark.
Powering the Safari Storme is the same old 2.2 litre, 4 cylinder VariCOR (remember the DiCORs of the older Safari? It’s the same thing) diesel engine that puts out 138 bhp and a torque figure of 32.6 kgm. Fuel economy is quite decent; this SUV returns around 10 kpl in the city and a little over 13 kpl on the highway. This engine has a linear power delivery and can pull the car quite nicely till the tachometer gets up to 4,500 RPM; although be warned that things do get rather loud once you’re past 3,500 RPM. The short throw gearbox feels true but it does require a little effort in operating it. If you have driven the previous Safari, one improvement that you will notice right away is the fact that the Storme feels a lot smoother and refined. And thanks to new sound deadening features, the passenger cabin is a lot quieter as well. Also adding to this feeling of refinement is the new wishbone suspension with coil springs at the front. A wider track at both ends does increase stability but not by all that much; go around twisty roads at speed and it feels like trying to run on a water bed!
The Safaris of old have been notorious for their quality being extremely dodgy. Tata Safari Storme reviews have been going on about this issue for a long time now but this has been addressed to a good extent in the new Storme. Interior plastics, soft touch materials and the chrome detailing on certain parts feel really good. Some other bits still do feel like cut-price parts though; like for instance, the electric window buttons, AC control knobs, seat adjusters, the ancient audio system and so on. While the middle row of seats is very comfortable indeed, the front and last rows sadly are not. The seat back is as straight as the chairs found in a school and with the last row being essentially jump seats, its best that they are used only on (very!) short hops. But overall, the quality is far better than what it used to be and so are the ergonomics.
Although the top end variants are not easy on the wallet, the car is pretty good value for money. With the Tata Safari Storme price range hovering between Rs. 12.5 lakhs and just under Rs. 18 lakhs depending on the variant and where the purchase is made, Tata Motors has put forward a well equipped SUV that is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor in many ways.