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Old 18th April 2013, 13:03   #1
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Default Tata Safari Storme 4x4 : Official Review

The Tata Safari Storme 4x4 has been launched in India at a price of Rs. 14.11 lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you’ll like:

• Low range 4x4 transfer case, limited slip differential and sufficient rear wheel articulation
• Considerably improved in nearly every way. The best Safari till date
• Rugged body-on-frame construction. Substantial size & presence
• Competent 2.2L diesel motor. Excellent driveability. Smoother gearbox
• 1st & 2nd seat rows have enormous space and comfort
• Outstanding ride quality at low as well as high speeds
• Better handling, steering & brakes than the older Safari

What you won’t:

• Critical electronic bits & fuel tank are placed too low. No protective plate against splashes either
• Massive size & kerb weight negatively affect its offroad performance
• Imperfect fit & finish. Ample rough edges, especially on the inside
• Effectively a 5 seater. The 3rd row jump seats aren't suitable even for kids
• Not as dynamically accomplished as the XUV500, Duster or its sibling, the Aria
• No MID, climate control or dead pedal. Reversing camera removed from the Storme
• Niggling issues & problems. Tata's after-sales service remains a gamble


Last edited by GTO : 18th April 2013 at 16:03.
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Old 18th April 2013, 13:03   #2
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Default re: Tata Safari Storme 4x4 : Official Review

This report will only focus on the 4x4 variant, since the Tata Safari Storme 4x2 has already been reviewed by Team-BHP. For easy reference, here are direct links to the complete Storme Review:

Exterior Design & Build Quality (Tata Safari Storme : Official Review)

Interior design, space, practicality & features (Tata Safari Storme : Official Review)

Engine, gearbox, suspension & on-road behaviour (Tata Safari Storme : Official Review)

The Smaller yet Significant Things (Tata Safari Storme : Official Review)

Last edited by GTO : 18th April 2013 at 16:02.
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Old 18th April 2013, 13:03   #3
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Tata Safari Storme 4x4 : Official Review-tata-safari-storme-price-specs.png

Tata Safari Storme 4x4 : Official Review-tata-safari-storme-features.png

There's not much to visually differentiate between the 4x2 & 4x4 variants. The 4x4 badging is the only giveaway; gone are the big stickers from the side cladding:


The main difference on the inside (from the 4x2 variant) is the 4x4 control switch. A user-friendly rotary dial has been provided. This is much preferred over the tiny dash-mounted switch of the older Safari:


Though the 4x4's transfer case & ECU remain largely similar, there is one difference = No front locking hubs. The cups are firmly fitted, unlike the earlier ones that fell off easily:


Instead of auto-locking hubs, you have an axle ECU mounted right above the front axle (left side of the vehicle). You need to remove the front engine protection plate to access it. Even then, this location appears quite prone to getting wet. How good is the waterproofing? It's anybody's guess.

The transfer case still doesn't get a rudimentary protection plate. If the underbody gets splashed by water, the transfer case may malfunction:


The good news is that it's placed on the higher side, so there's no worry of damage from impact. As for the rest of the components, Tata has retained the massive protection plates:


Moving the spare to the underbody results in the fuel tank receiving step-motherly treatment. Its capacity has gone down by 10 liters (to a total of 55). The effective tank range is a 100 kms shorter. Mixed city, highway and offroad usage had my ol' Safari 4x4 hover around the 12.0 kpl mark. The Storme delivers a higher 12.6 - 12.8 kpl in the same conditions (ARAI FE = 13.2 kpl). The diesel tank now sits lower, ahead of the diff. There's a tiny protection plate, instead of a proper wraparound fixture which would have been more useful:


The other major change (vis a vis the old Safari) is the suspension. New suspension:


Old suspension:


Though the Storme is a far superior vehicle, Tata hasn't made any improvements to the 4x4 variant. Perhaps, the company figured that most users won't even use this SUV's basic 4x4 capability, so why bother. Personally, I'd have welcomed some changes and additions. Namely, a protection plate for the transfer case, a protection plate for the fuel tank, relocation of the axle ECU to a higher spot etc. could have made the Storme a tougher offroader.

Last edited by Rehaan : 19th April 2013 at 16:49.
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Old 18th April 2013, 13:03   #4
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The first thing you notice with the 4x4 Storme is that the steering is heavier at parking speeds. This is understandable & expected, due to the driven front axle. The second is the fact that the 4x4 loses some of the handling prowess of the 4x2. Taking a rumble strip or hitting a pothole at speed can unsettle this SUV. Additionally, heavy braking causes the front end to dive. However, compared to the old 4x4, the Storme 4x4 is literally miles ahead. If you've experienced the vague steering and nervous demeanour of the earlier Safari, you won't be disappointed.

The biggest strength of the Storme is that it's an even more effective trail driver. Bumps and rocks are soaked in effortlessly, and you can push through at really good speeds on dirt tracks without making your passengers squirm. Apart from the handling on dirt, there is the added advantage of additional (effective) ground clearance vis a vis the old Safari:


The earlier Safari had dampers hanging low and, at this very point, I used to scrape the center. The Storme clears it without breaking into a sweat. When you go off the beaten track, you'll find lots of trails covered by heavy vehicles with a raised center. This is where the Storme truly shines. The high-placed center diff is a boon.

If you decide to leave the trail, don't fret. The vehicle has enough articulation to handle most situations that a typical SUV driver will get into:


This means, unless you go looking for trouble, you'll find it difficult to lift a "leg". And if you do manage to, the rear LSD (limited slip differential) works its magic. I took the vehicle in 2WD mode on some sections where one wheel lost traction. Revving hard could free the Storme in 2WD itself. This is the beauty of LSD. Of course, a diff lock would've been better, but the Storme is a soft-roader at the end of the day. Most owners won't ever venture beyond the basic dirt / slush trail.

The real strength of the Storme lies in the engine area. At times, all you need is the sheer brute of 138 BHP / 320 Nm torque with low range engaged. What you see below is the aftermath. I managed to land the rear wheels inside a ditch. At first, I tried to slowly get her out in 4L. That didn't work. Before calling for the tractor to tow me out, I decided to give it one last push using max power. After some wheel spin, the Storme simply jumped out of the predicament I planted her in:


As compared to the old Safari, there's ample torque in 1st gear @ low rpms. The reverse gear ratio has been shortened, and makes backing up slopes that much easier. The old 4x4 was an accomplished mountain tourer, albeit with the sore point of not having enough grunt for low speed climbing exercises. With the Storme, that point has been taken care of.

Last but not the least, no dust makes its way inside the cabin. In the old Safari, even in air-con recirculation mode, driving through fine dust would leave you choking. Not so in the Storme. Tata has fixed a major flaw.

So, all is perfect? Nope. There are a couple of weaknesses. As mentioned in the previous post, I have my concerns on the waterproofing of the 4x4 electronics, including the transfer case solenoid. Then, the fuel tank's new position makes it prone to damage. If you're traversing through rocky ground, you have to be cautious. Then, the cladding is body coloured. No full black (paintless) option means ugly scratches are easily had:


Its massive weight works against the Storme off the road. In sand or slush, you will sink. The old 4x4 loved to sink, and the new Storme (even if a bit lighter) isn't any better. Tata needs to go on a serious diet. If you intend to drive out on tricky trails, I recommend fatter, high quality all-terrain tyres.

Love it or hate it, you just can't ignore it!

Last edited by Rehaan : 23rd April 2013 at 11:43.
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Old 18th April 2013, 13:03   #5
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An electronic shift on the fly Borg Warner transfer case with low range. The low range goes down to 1:2.48, resulting in tremendous pulling power & speed control:


Another shot of the rear suspension:


The X2 platform hasn't taken anything away on the articulation front. Look at this picture and you'll agree that the Storme has good articulation. The limited slip differential + 200 mm of ground clearance further help it in the rough. One drawback with a large SUV on offroad trails is that you keep losing bits and pieces. Notice the missing chrome exhaust tip (on the right):


The front end doesn't articulate as competently:


Highway tyres are a major letdown in this terrain:


Wheel well clearance is limited, thus fitting bigger tyres a problem:


For a family SUV, the Storme is a decent offroader. The low range works when needed and the articulation is acceptable. Do keep in mind the limitations from its 2 tonne kerb weight and tall, narrow stance though:

Last edited by GTO : 18th April 2013 at 15:59.
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Old 18th April 2013, 16:05   #6
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Default Re: Tata Safari Storme 4x4 : Official Review

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Official Reviews. Thanks for sharing!

*Rates thread a well-deserved 5 stars*

Last edited by GTO : 18th April 2013 at 16:16.
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Old 18th April 2013, 16:48   #7
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Default Re: Tata Safari Storme 4x4 : Official Review

In post No #3, in the third pic which shows the "The cups are firmly fitted, unlike the earlier ones that fell off easily:" is the nut rusted?
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Old 18th April 2013, 16:54   #8
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Default Re: Tata Safari Storme 4x4 : Official Review

Excellent review TSK1979! Informative captions with plenty of pictures makes this thread very readable and interesting. Well done! Rating it a well deserved 5 stars!

Quote:
The real strength of the Storme lies in the engine area...I managed to land the rear wheels inside a ditch. At first, I tried to slowly get her out in 4L. That didn't work. Before calling for the tractor to tow me out, I decided to give it one last push using max power. After some wheel spin, the Storme simply jumped out of the predicament I planted her in
Do you have a video of this incident? How deep was the water?

Off Topic:
@GTO:
Quote:
*Rates thread a well-deserved 5 stars*
I think there's a typo there!
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Old 18th April 2013, 17:00   #9
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Default Re: Tata Safari Storme 4x4 : Official Review

nice review Tanveer!

looks like Tata still needs to fix some niggles (read: refer to the list above)
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Old 18th April 2013, 17:17   #10
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Default Re: Tata Safari Storme 4x4 : Official Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
This is the beauty of LSD. Of course, a diff lock would've been better, but the Storme is a soft-roader at the end of the day. Most owners won't ever venture beyond the basic dirt / slush trail.
Thanks for the Review Tanveer, the above section of the post got me confused. Were you thinking of Thar or some hard-core off-roading SUV while typing that?

Currently in the market, the other alternatives are Fortuner, XUV, Rexton, Scorpio. Vis-a-vis its competition would you rate Storme as a soft roader?

Last edited by mayankjha1806 : 18th April 2013 at 17:41.
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Old 18th April 2013, 17:18   #11
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Default Re: Tata Safari Storme 4x4 : Official Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
The second is the fact that the 4x4 loses some of the handling prowess of the 4x2. Taking a rumble strip or hitting a pothole at speed can unsettle this SUV.
Tanveer - first of all thanks a lot for such a detailed review of the 4x4.

Just one thought - could you just explain in little detail as to what made you feel 4x4 losing out on the handling compared to the 4x2.

I mean if you get it 4L/H mode - not at high speeds however during ghats or twist turns wouldnt all traction on make it a better handler.
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Old 18th April 2013, 17:36   #12
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Default Re: Tata Safari Storme 4x4 : Official Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
The second is the fact that the 4x4 loses some of the handling prowess of the 4x2. Taking a rumble strip or hitting a pothole at speed can unsettle this SUV.
This is an interesting evolution over the old Safari where the 4wd version with the torsion beam setup was much better (stiffer/lesser-boat-like) than the coil-sprung 2wd version.
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Old 18th April 2013, 17:47   #13
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Default Re: Tata Safari Storme 4x4 : Official Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post

Something is not right in this pic?
What's that right tyre doing?
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Old 18th April 2013, 18:29   #14
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Default Re: Tata Safari Storme 4x4 : Official Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by neel385 View Post
In post No #3, in the third pic which shows the "The cups are firmly fitted, unlike the earlier ones that fell off easily:" is the nut rusted?
Yes it is!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loud View Post

Do you have a video of this incident? How deep was the water?
I was alone, so did not get a chance to make a video.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankjha1806 View Post
Thanks for the Review Tanveer, the above section of the post got me confused. Were you thinking of Thar or some hard-core off-roading SUV while typing that?

Currently in the market, the other alternatives are Fortuner, XUV, Rexton, Scorpio. Vis-a-vis its competition would you rate Storme as a soft roader?
Yes, Thar is one candidate which comes to mind. As for other SUVs the fotuner 4x4 is 100kgs lighter, and rides on bigger wider tires (265 section width 17 inchers)
220mm GC gives fotuner a 20mm advantage too. Moreover the fuel tank in fortuner is better placed, and manual shift 4x4 means no electronics to go bust. And the engine is more powerful. So fortuner wins here.
XUV? Well thats a true soft roader missing a low range proper 4x4 system. So we won't even compare.
Scorpio has a low placed center diff and 180mm GC is limiting.
As for Rexton, I don't have much idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by scofield View Post
Tanveer - first of all thanks a lot for such a detailed review of the 4x4.

Just one thought - could you just explain in little detail as to what made you feel 4x4 losing out on the handling compared to the 4x2.

I mean if you get it 4L/H mode - not at high speeds however during ghats or twist turns wouldnt all traction on make it a better handler.
I was talking about on road handling in 2H mode(standard mode). More front end dive, more body role and the tendency of the vehicle to lose composure on things like rumble strips.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anandpadhye View Post
Something is not right in this pic?
What's that right tyre doing?
It wanted to leave the vehicle and run away.

*Just kidding* Shot taken with an ultra wide hence the perspective warp
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Old 18th April 2013, 18:48   #15
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Default Re: Tata Safari Storme 4x4 : Official Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by anandpadhye View Post
Something is not right in this pic?
What's that right tyre doing?
Looks scary isn't it, gives an impression that right tyre assembly and suspension is out of whack.

I think this is TSKs camera at work, looks like the wide angle lens is contributing to the effect.
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