Right after the launch of the new Tata Safari Storme in New Delhi on the 17th, we got a chance to drive the vehicle through a two phase off-road track that highlighted the capabilities of the car off the tarmac and practically explaining the impressive departure from the previous model.
[can't see the video above? Head over to Youtube]
On paper you might believe that the changes were limited to just a couple of nips and tucks to the interior and a renamed engine but when it comes to the experience of driving, the Storme is a completely different car.
The Safari Storme provides a confidence-inspiring driving experience. The new platform has contained body roll and yaw to a great extent, the in-cabin NVH levels have been significantly decreased, the seats are very comfortable, there's a steady flow of torque, unlike the previous vehicle where one had to wait to move forwards, and disc brakes on all four wheels has improved the braking performance and feel considerably.
The best seat in the house has always been on the front row on the Safari, but the Storme's middle row is also supremely comfortable, more so than the Toyota Fortuner which costs twice as much!
The on-the-fly electronic 2WD to 4WD shifts is carried over from the previous generation, and they came in handy during our off-roading experience. A big letdown is the gear shifts with such long throws. Another disappointing bit was the brand new cars gave out a little squeak and rattle - are they standard features too?
We bashed up the Safari driving it hard in mud, sand and gravel surfaces, pulling off drifts (or shall we say slides) around the corners, hopping over speed bumps, but no amount of abuse could stop this car from proving the point that it is nothing like the car it replaces.
The second phase posed more serious challenges to the chassis - we had a steep climb and descent, axle breakers, steep side incline and a suspension breaker to pass through (check the video above). The car ascended and descended the steep 30O climb on the 1L gear with automatic acceleration and braking.
The axle breakers proved tricky to the eye, but the 4WD Safari Storme conquered it without a fuss. The side incline was indeed scary and the suspensions were working extra hard on that one. The most shaky and extreme assignment was the suspension breaker the forced the car to swivel left and right, like a trawler out at rough sea.
Bottom line -
Much work has been put into upgrading the Safari, and its the best off-roading family SUV on this side of 14 lakhs.
Tata Safari Storme off-roading experience
[can't see the slideshow above? Head over to Flickr]