Tata Safari is one of the oldest SUVs around. It's big, brute and unlike the recently sprouted compact workhorses, it never shies away from its large footprints. Couple of years back, the Tata has bit softened its demeanor by launching Storme though the company made sure that design DNA of Safari remained intact. Safari Storme did manage to uplift the sales albeit for relatively short period of time. With competition like Mahindra resurrected Scorpio giving it a comprehensive makeover, Safari was once again pushed to the wall. Tata has now hit back by launching Storme Varicor 400 which comes with more grunt under the hood. We get behind the wheels to find out whether the extra power could make up for the lost sales.
Design, Style & Interiors
Externally and internally,Varicor 400 edition is similar to standard model with only exception of the badge that is pasted on the fender. That said, you can order add on to the cars to dealer as standard equipment coming from the company looks very much similar to standard version. The parts in the accessories offered by the dealership include a bonnet scoop and a bug deflector. Whether it suits the overall demeanor of the car is another matter of debate. That said, we expected Tata to have incorporated some changes to the nose. It could have come with DRLs or at least with some reimagined bumpers.
Inside the cabin too, Tata has done nothing to differentiate between the this new and standard model. Dashboard is similar and so is the colour scheme. The seats remain unchanged and the whole ambience is reminiscent of the standard version of the car. Here too we are disappointed by the way Tata has skimped on the efforts. The quality and layout although doesn't feel bad, it's far cry from the feel that its contemporaries offer. Another grouse we have is with the AC of the SUV that lacks in the cooling efficacy.
Engine, Transmission & Driving Dynamics
RUnder the hood, Varicor 400 comes with retuned version of the 2.2-litre 4-cylinder diesel engine. Power is up by 6PS and now stands at 150 PS. However, the real game changer here is increase in torque that now stands at whopping 400 Nm; a quarter increase in the original figures. So how the increase translate on to road? Well! For starters, the party throttle responses are much crispier than before. Safari feels very much at home while negotiating the congested traffic. Power dial down to wheels in a linear manner and the old, sudden spike is missing in this new variant.
Addition of extra torque also smoothen the mid-and top-end of the engine. Highway overtaking need not to be planned and execution is far easier than before. Top-end performance has also become more relaxed than before. Addition of 6thgear in the transmission further helps the Safari to cruise at ton-up speed without breaking the sweat.
The upgradations in the engine-tranny department are marginalized by the suspension and brakes which although should be revamped though it hasn't. This makes the new Storme feel quite nervous around the corners. You can sense the huge mass shifting the corners on the curves as Safari struggle to arrest the body roll. Ride quality, on the other hand, is class-leading. Safari insulates the occupants from the rough roads quite effectively.
So, how much difference the power boost has made to new Safari Storme? Well, it has made considerable difference in the way Safari now behave on the road. It’s easy to maneuver, feels at home on highway and owing to addition of sixth gear, cruises effortlessly. For Safari fans, Varicor 400 is a valuable addition though for rational minds, this upgrade doesn’t bring anything substantive on the table. Even Tata seems to have given this update halfheartedly.
At least we expected to have some cosmetic changes on the outside and inside. That would have made Safari Storme more desirable.
Style & Substance 4/5 Ride & Handling 3.5/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3.5/5 Safety & Equipment 3.5/5
Power-Plant & Transmission 4/5 Fuel Efficiency 3.5/5
Value for Money 4/5