Since the time Tata Motors announced it will name the Gravitas (its upcoming SUV, the seven-seat version of the Harrier) as the Safari (launched in the late 1990s, but discontinued now), there have been mixed reactions in both the media and from ‘original’ Safari owners. However, instead of the name, let’s focus on the product for now, which we drive in and around Delhi.
The new Safari is an extension of the Harrier, and therefore looks similar, but have a closer look and you will realise it’s a bigger and taller SUV. While there are no similarities with the ‘original’ Safari, some design elements have been retained—one such is the stepped roof, held between the roof-rails (which used to be an iconic ‘original’ Safari feature). Even though for the new Safari it’s been redesigned, it somewhat reminds you of the ‘original’.
While from the front one can mistake the new Safari for the Harrier, the rear and the side design stands out.
The top-end variant I drove for this review is luxurious. It’s different from the Harrier in terms of the new oyster white interior colour scheme, and then the Safari has six/seven seat configuration. The good thing is that the third row of seating area is quite spacious (and getting in and out of the third row is easy). Third row passengers also get a dedicated AC unit with vents, USB mobile charger, phone holder and cup holder, and reading lamp.
Top-end variants also get a panoramic sunroof.
The new Safari is powered by the Kryotec 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine (170 PS power and 350 Nm torque), mated to two gearbox options (six-speed manual or six-speed automatic). Like in many modern Tata cars, there are multi-drive modes (Eco, City, Sport) married to ESP terrain response modes (Normal, Rough, Wet) for driving on different terrains. However, unlike the ‘original’ Safari, there is no all-wheel drive currently being offered.
There is no petrol engine as yet.
How does it drive?
Six-speed manual: Gearshift is smooth, the gear-lever doesn’t vibrate or rattle, and power delivery of the engine through the gears is quite good.
Six-speed automatic: Gearshift is almost as imperceptible as in a DSG gearbox, and the Safari (despite being a heavy vehicle) never feels lethargic.
At the same time, there are two areas in particular that don’t really make the driver comfortable:
—The driving position is such that your left knee may often touch the bottom of the dashboard, which can be irritating.
—The plastic casing around the ORVM is glossy, and the in-cabin ORVM adjustor reflects back into the eyes of the driver.
While the new Safari doesn’t get all-wheel drive, it is very easy to manoeuvre off the road—the suspension soaks most bumps, and there is little rattle. At the same time, there is some amount of body roll—especially when going downhill and taking sharp turns.
The overall ride and handling is average. On the positive side, the steering feel is very good, the driver’s seat is very supportive, and there’s cruise control for you to drive all day long comfortably.
How much will it be priced?
We expect prices to start from Rs 15-16 lakh (ex-showroom), going up to a little over Rs 20 lakh for top-end variants. At such prices, the new Safari can be superb value for money—it’s a six/seven seat SUV that can seat six/seven people very comfortably (something which even SUVs a class bigger may not be able to, equally comfortably).
Engine: 1,956cc diesel
Power: 125kW (170PS)
Gearbox: 6-speed manual/AT
Brakes: All four disc brakes
Tyres: 235/70 R16 (XE/XM/XMA)
Tyres: 235/60 R18 (XT and above)
Fuel tank: 50 litres
Seats: 6 (XZ+/XZA+); 7 (all variants)
(Price will be announced on February 22)
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