IAB Exclusive: Tata Safari Merlin spied inside out

05/09/2011 - 04:44 | ,  ,   | Kaustubh Shinde

After the Aria 4X2 and the Vista upgrade, the next big launch from Tata Motors is going to be the Safari Merlin. Ever since the Safari was launched in 1998, it has achieved a cult SUV status like the Scorpio from Mahindra.

The Tata Safari was always an aspirational product from Tata Motors. You didn’t buy the Safari because it fitted your budget, but because you wanted one badly.

It was also a popular car for the who’s who of the country such as the politicians and film stars. But over the years, the Safari aged and the sales started dwindling. So Tata Motors has decided to breathe new life in the Safari with the Merlin.

Kapil Jagtap, an ardent IAB reader and a Tata Safari fanboy from Pune has sent us some kickass images of the new Tata Safari Merlin completely revealing the interiors.

If you have seen the test mule you are not sure whether the Merlin is a whole new Safari built from grounds up or is just a major facelift of the current Safari.

However, the test mules of the Merlin are being tested for months now. No manufacturer would test a facelift so vigorously. Tata Motors always wanted to use the Aria’s X2 platform for the new Safari so there is a high chance that this is a whole new Safari rather than just a facelift.

Tata Safari Merlin

Let’s start with the exteriors first. The new Safari doesn’t seem to be any bigger, wider or longer than the earlier Safari. The front reveals a rather conventional boxy design than a curvy one. A close photo of the headlamps reveals it will have a single projector lamp and not a dual one.

The headlamp design itself has been completely changed. The old Safari had rectangular headlamps. The new one will feature a swept back design. There is no smiling grille which is a signature element on Tata products. Plus, there are also turn indicators on the OVRMs which is a safety feature more than anything else.

Tata Safari Merlin headlamps

Although this test mule is covered in heavy camouflage, the rear reveals something every interesting. Notice the design of the tail lamps, the alloy wheels and the trapezoid exhaust pipes. Don’t they look very familiar to this undisguised image that was leaked back in July?

Tata Safari Merlin rear

This means that the image which was leaked in July (above) was of the actual Merlin before the psychedelic paint scheme. The back also reveals a tiny spoiler and a wiper to get a clear view while reversing. Tata should continue offering the rear view camera and sensors.

Tata Safari Merlin rear

Now we come to the juicy part – the interiors. Yes, this image clearly demonstrates what the new Safari interiors has in store for us. As you can see, the Safari interiors are NOT inspired by the Aria and are more or less the same like the old Safari. A few things that we have noticed are:

Tata Safari Merlin interiors

  • The steering wheel will be leather wrapped.
  • The new Safari will have Airbags like the old one. Notice the new gear lever and console.
  • The stereo in this test mule looks like an aftermarket pioneer unit.
  • There is no low ratio gearbox.
  • There is a storage pocket above the central AC vents.
  • It will not have a dead pedal
  • It may not have steering mounted controls
  • The rear seats have been redesigned

Tata Safari Merlin dashboard

Or course, we have extensively covered the Safari Merlin throughout its testing phase in our archives. You can browse though, by scrolling below for more information.

However, it still remains a mystery whether the Safari Merlin will be positioned above, below or at par with the Aria 4x2. There is a rumor that the Safari Merlin will be launched on the very next day the wraps are taken off the Mahindra XUV500.

Does this mean that the Safari has its eyes set on Mahindra's global SUV? Or will Tata Motors try to undercut the Mahindra XUV500?

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