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Old 8th May 2012, 18:45   #1
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Default Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47

Mod Note : Team-BHP's Tata Safari Storme Review has been uploaded at this link (Tata Safari Storme : Official Review). Please continue the discussion on the new thread. Thanks!



Can any Team Bhpian worth his salt refuse an invite by an automobile manufacturer to an all expense paid trip to his plant to test drive and give feedback on a yet to be launched vehicle?

That's exactly what happened to me, I get a call from Prerana Motors asking if I was willing to accompany their MD to Pune to get a preview and drive of the Tata Safari Storme, my plans of celebrating my birthday with family went for a full toss and a phone call to my wife asking for "permission" to ditch birthday plans. Once "permission" was granted, I called back Prerana Motors and gave them the go ahead.

The brief about the trip was :
Fly to Pune on Sunday evening, meet Tata Motors people in a hotel for introductions , the next morning ie. Monday, drive the Safari Storm for half a day, return to the plant and have an interactive session on feedback. Return to Bangalore on Monday evening.

Sunday evening I met Mr. Premanand Shenoy, the MD of Prerana Motors and another customer Mr. Madhukar at the airport, we were flown "Business Class" on Goair, "Business Class" in Goair meant, normal economy class seats in the first two rows with a seat left vacant between two passengers.

We reach Pune and were told we were to be staying at Sayaji. We were received at the airport by the hotel staff who handed our room numbers there itself and a Nissan Teana was our ride to the hotel, they apologised saying the Audi was on another trip so we had to make do with the Teana.

The room was very modern with everything from the curtains to the entertainment system controlled by an iPod.

The room at Sayaji
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-img_2410-1024x768.jpg

iPod enabled controls
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-img_2411-1024x768.jpg

Personal Home Theatre (there were more than 300 movies in the list)
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-img_2412-1024x768.jpg

Sunday evening there was a poolside cocktail session with people from Tata Motors joining us and introducing us to other dealers and customers who were flown in like us. There were two dealers from Ludhiana and Chandigarh respectively and one of their customers. We three were the only people from South region.

We were told that to avoid wastage of time, the vehicles would be brought to the hotel in the morning and we would be allowed to drive the vehicles to Amby valley via Lonavala and then we would return post lunch to their plant for an interaction.


Monday morning after breakfast we were divided into 5 teams comprising of 2 visitors and 2 people from Tata Motors, we were given scoring sheets with route maps and vehicle exchange points.

The vehicles in question were 3 Safari Stormes (called PL versions, meaning Pre Launch) an XUV500 and a Scorpio mhawk.

First look at The Safari Storme
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-1.jpg

The Lineup
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-2.jpg

Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-3.jpg

Our Team
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-5.jpg

Our first vehicle was PL14, the 4X2 top end Storme, I drove it all the way to Lonavala. First thing you notice as a Safari owner, as you crank the engine, the noise is much less than what we are accustomed to.

Gearshifting has the same spongy feeling and one will be unsure if it has slotted, more so when one is shifting from 2 to 3.

But throttle response is very good and there is almost no turbo lag (here again strictly from a current Safari owner's view), you don't feel the surge when you hit 2200rpm.

I overshot the turning to Lonavala and so had to take a U-Turn further ahead and then I realised the super short turning radius, it was almost like my Optra, I did not have to go to full turn of the wheel before we were facing back the way we came and it happened well before the edge of the road.

The steering seems very light, the difference is the rack and pinion mechanism.

Braking felt very good, I could feel better grab whenever I touched the brake pedals, on questioning about the improved braking, the Tata AGM in the back seat told me that all versions are equipped with disc brakes on all four wheels

There seems to be absolutely negligible body roll and swaying, no fishtailing feel when I braked hard, this again was attributed to the Hydroform Chassis borrowed from the Aria, suspension felt firm and tight, the vehicle seemed to bounce a little on the highway, I suspected overinflation of tyres, but I was told that it was due to the concrete road and it happens in all vehicles, my doubts were cleared when I drove the Scorpio back on the same road.

The handling was miles ahead of my Safari, taking curves at 120kmph was a breeze, no tilting and feel of "about to topple" as in my Safari. I touched a max speed of 160kmph and at that speed I could still there was reserve power whereas in my Safari, it feels like I've maxed it.

But on speeds above 110 kmph, there is the usual roar of the wind, increases as speed increases. For an existing Safari owner it will seem normal, but others will have to talk louder to be heard.

Airconditioning is as good/bad as the existing Safari, seats are the same so no surprises there, the dashboard is completely new and functional, the switches are of much better quality and the overall plastic finish is better than the current offering.

....Contd.

Last edited by GTO : 1st December 2012 at 21:40. Reason: Adding link to Official Review
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Old 8th May 2012, 19:47   #2
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Default re: Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47

The Stormes were shod with Bridgestone Dueler HTs, no tyre noise (or maybe the wind was louder) good road grip, so on Michelins or Yokos it can only get better.

The headlamp switching is via a rotary switch like in the Aria, when we entered a tunnel, by the time I figured out how to switch on headlamps, we were back in daylight.

The view from the driver's seat is the same as in the current Safari, very good, I felt that the XUV lacked this grossly, whereas the Scorpio had better all round view.

The rear view mirrors are again the same as in the current Safari, so good clear view of the rear and the absence of the spare wheel on the rear door improves the view in the roof mounted RVM.

We reached Lonavala and stopped at a food court kinda place on the road to Amby Valley, I did not look at the name, all the vehicles assembled here and after a few minutes of chit chat, it was time to switch vehicles, we were to drive the XUV next, I will not go into the XUV review as I want to keep this thread for the Storme.

We were made to drive the other Stormes and the Scorpio up and down from Lonavala to Amby Valley, by the time we were done with 2 trips up and down, our team had only the Scorpio to drive, we asked for a change in plan and said we'd take the Scorpio back to Pune instead of driving it up and down the roads moreover we were hungry and tired.

So we all trooped in for lunch and had an hour long discussion over lunch about the different opinions and feedback.

Now for the pics

The chit chat over lunch
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-6.jpg


Mr. Premanand Shenoy, MD of Prerana Motors and I
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-15.jpg

The XUV next to the Storme (note the height difference)
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-4.jpg
I found the head clearance much less in the XUV compared to the Storme or even the Scorpio.

The new headlamps, fog lamps and bumper of the Storme
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-16.jpg


Projectors for one beam
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-17.jpg

New design alloys
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-19.jpg

Similar functional side step (quality has improved)
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-20.jpg

The rear has retained the fixed glass but a new spoiler
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-25.jpg
Note the awkward cut in the cladding to make space for the fuel lid, it is like they discovered the "beautiful" cladding they designed covered the fuel tank lid, so to retain the already designed cladding they just cut it in shape.

The rear bumper is a new design too

The monogram at the rear
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-47.jpg
The plastic cladding and chrome garnish is common to all variants and is apparently given to break the huge metal area uncovered after the spare wheel was shifted.

The cladding all round is of much better quality and finish as compared to the existing Safari.
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-18.jpg

next interior pics.
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Old 8th May 2012, 20:20   #3
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Default re: Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47

New key fob with remote locking, no buttons on the key itself
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-7.jpg

Centre console with better quality rotary switches for HVAC, sadly they have retained the single DIN Alpine HU. We asked them to change it as part of feedback
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-8.jpg
Note the rectangular clock which is still analog.

The cigarette lighter and 4x4 switch (rotary type) now sit beside the driver
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-9.jpg
The cup holder are placed beneath the centre console, very awkward position to place and remove cups, we suggested it's removal and they said ok.

centre console spring loaded door can act as coin holder or to keep toll receipts
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-10.jpg
This compartment is only available in the top end version

driver side switches are of similar quality but the fuel tank opening switch is now on the door mounted console
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-11.jpg

joystick type mirror control, the top end version apparently has electrically folded mirrors
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-12.jpg

Centre row airconditioning vents are sleeker and occupy lesser space than earlier, even the roof mounted lights (all three) are of better finish.
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-13.jpg

Centre row is the same as in current Safaris
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-14.jpg

Door panels on all 4 doors are of a different improved quality design, the black sill is a nice touch from the beige one where it gets dirty in no time
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-21.jpg

View of dashboard from the passenger side, notice the different coloured trim levels (metallic and faux wood) on the panels, the glove compartment is a tad bigger
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-24.jpg

...contd.
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Old 8th May 2012, 21:23   #4
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Default re: Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47

Chrome handles with a noticeable improvement in quality
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-22.jpg

Front door panel with map pocket, now we can keep a litre of water in the given slot rather than next to our seat like taxi drivers
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-23.jpg

Rear door minus the spare wheel, cladding given to break the monotony, rear glass is retained from the Safari.
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-26.jpg

Rear door is way lighter to open and close and also has pockets to accumulate junk. Would have loved a foldable table instead.
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-27.jpg

Third row jump seats are standard across variants, no option of front facing seats.
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-28.jpg

Access to spare wheel mount, don't know if they give an extra spanner to access that nut.
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-30.jpg


Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-31.jpg

Nicely integrated exhaust tip in new design bumper, notice new rear fog lamps too, as also the step to climb in, but once you climb in you need to search for it while getting out.
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-32.jpg

Dual tip exhaust gives it that expensive look
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-35.jpg

Again, one has to run his hand along the bottom of the chrome strip to feel and then access the latch to open rear door.
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-36.jpg

...contd
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Old 8th May 2012, 21:55   #5
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Default re: Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47

Headlight control like the Aria, needs getting used to
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-34.jpg

Forgot to ask them if this is a grab handle above the rear fixed glass
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-33.jpg

New high mounted roof light on the sleeker spoiler
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-37.jpg

Door ajar warning light with puddle lamp is standard across variants
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-39.jpg

Absence of dead pedal, but better quality finish in the footwell
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-40.jpg

Under the hood
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-41.jpg

Again bad quality rubber boot to cover ECU
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-42.jpg

new brackets to hold damper in the bonnet
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-43.jpg

Roof mounted antenna as they were getting complaints of non reception of signal with the windscreen mounted antenna
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-44.jpg

Front mud flaps as standard
Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47-46.jpg


Now for the bouquets and brickbats.
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Old 8th May 2012, 22:47   #6
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Default re: Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47

The difference between the Current Safari 2.2 Dicor and the Safari Storme

Appearance
1. The front is redesigned, so is the rear
2. New headlamps
3. New Fog lamps
4. New Bumpers
5. All round new cladding

What makes Safari Storme better than the current Safari
1. All 4 disc brakes
2. New Hydroform Chassis
3. Lighter rack and pinion steering
4. Decreased turning radius
5. Better ride quality
6. Negligible body roll
7. Responsive engine
8. Good in cabin insulation
9. Better all round finish
10. Wider track

What is lacking or could be improved (purely my opinion)
1. Insulation from wind noise
2. Better steering wheel
3. Definitely a better integrated audio (rumour has it that we might get harman kardon)
4. Smoother gearshift

will add on more as I recollect.

Now for the questions asked by members here
(all answers as quoted by Tata Motors)

1. When is the launch?
Ans: Probably in the next 3 months

2.Pricing?
Ans: No clear picture yet, but between the current Safari and the Aria

3. Will both Safari and Safari Storme be sold alongside?
Ans: Probably yes.

4. 6 speed gearbox?
Ans. maybe on a later date

5. Auto transmission?
Ans. Again definitely in the future

6. Is there a weight reduction from the existing Safari?
Ans. yes

7. 4x4 in the LX version?
Ans. No.

But here, during the interactive session we had at the end of the day, I vociferously demanded that they give a 4x4 in all variants, they said they can but it will have to be manufactured on order, to which I replied, that a guy who wants a particular 4x4 will not mind waiting for 2 months especially if the vehicle is going to be manufactured for him. So, they said they will definitely give us 4x4 in the LX version on order. Now it remains to be seen if they keep up to their commitment.

8. 3rd Row front facing seats?
Ans. Not possible in any version or as an option as it seriously compromises legroom and head room and will cause further cause for complaints.

The interactive session was attended by about 25 people representing various departments of manufacture and it was really heartening to know that they were really keen on knowing what a customer wanted and how best to give it to him. There were no attitudes thrown or "nothing can be done about that" kind of talk.
Certain decisions were taken on the spot, for example, when I pointed out that the rear door is now lighter, hence easier to open, the damper given will get yanked harder and when it travels to it's extremity the ball and socket joint pops out and damages the rear bumper.
They immediately put their heads together and said they'd provide a hinge lock so that the damper does not have to travel to it's extremity.

I also asked for sturdier tow hooks in 4x4 versions to which they said they had reinforced the existing tow hooks but will have a relook.

Another request from me was that their foot step was very weak and kept getting damaged even on soft OTRs, so why not give a proper rock slider on a 4x4 version, again they said they'd do something about that.

There were a lot of other points discussed which I did not make a note of, if there is a query on any particular point here, and if it was discussed, I will clarify.

Over all it was a great experience and I would like to thank Prerana Motors for inviting me and also Tata Motors for their amazing hospitality.

Cheers,
Hari.

Disclaimer:
All photos are clicked with verbal permission from Tata Motors, and all opinions voiced here are completely my own, I do not work for Tata Motors nor do I have any commercial interest in the company. Also, I am no expert on automobiles and my understanding of technical issues could be faulted.

Last edited by GTO : 9th May 2012 at 16:39. Reason: Typo on Hydroform
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Old 8th May 2012, 23:13   #7
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Default re: Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47

Moderator's note: Thread moved to Test Drives section from Assembly Line.

What a fantastic review Hari. Excellent scoop. First proper review of the Storme that too from an existing Safari owner.
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Old 8th May 2012, 23:33   #8
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Thumbs up re: Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47

Thanks for such a wonderful crisp review of Storme.

Lot of people will be benefitted with this review who are eagerly waiting for its launch.

I hope that the Storme still has to go to ARAI for required certifications?

Cheers!
Irish
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Old 8th May 2012, 23:40   #9
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Default re: Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47

Thanks Lukeskywalker for sharing this info and thank you for the photos too. I guess this is the first time where a storme and xuv are captured in a single frame and posted on a public forum, thanks once again. Can you please go through your driving experience and capture it verbatim here on team-bhp so that we get a better idea of ride and handling.
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Old 8th May 2012, 23:56   #10
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Default re: Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47

This is an excellent review, but one disappoint is that no front facing seats for a 10+ lacs car. Since it would be positioned between safari and aria, i would have prefered a front facing seat. Xylo / Grande can offer one, so why not the Storme
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Old 9th May 2012, 00:02   #11
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Default re: Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lukeskywalker View Post
The difference between the Current Safari 2.2 Dicor and the Safari Storme

7. 4x4 in the LX version?
Ans. No.

But here, during the interactive session we had at the end of the day, I vociferously demanded that they give a 4x4 in all variants, they said they can but it will have to be manufactured on order, to which I replied, that a guy who wants a particular 4x4 will not mind waiting for 2 months especially if the vehicle is going to be manufactured for him. So, they said they will definitely give us 4x4 in the LX version on order. Now it remains to be seen if they keep up to their commitment.
Wow what a review, now I can dream about Storm.

You have put it very well with all the points/question/misconception covered. Personally I am very happy and excited to see all the improvements and 4x4 in LX (on order) however it should come in reality then this will be game changer. Tata calling existing Safari owner for feedback before launch is appreciated. Now wait started for launch and price tag, hope they don't kill our excitement about the Storm.

Thanks,
Vishal
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Old 9th May 2012, 00:21   #12
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Default re: Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47

Lucky you! Manufacturer paid trip to review an early production model, sounds very good indeed. Great work with the pictures and the review as well.

Now on to the Safari Storme - If they intend this to be a competitor for XUV, I think they have a long way to go especially in cabin tech, material and build quality etc. If it is going to be up against the Scorpio, no problem at all. I don't feel this is going to be competitive with the current model that you got to test.
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Old 9th May 2012, 00:39   #13
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Default re: Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47

Pricing between current Safari and Aria could be a gamble. Tata might find it difficult to compete with the Top End Scorpio/ XUV.

Also with Duster and Ecosport on the way, they may go the Aria way by slashing prices after few months of launch
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Old 9th May 2012, 01:17   #14
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Default re: Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47

Excellent review, @luke. Thanks for sharing.

The pictures 'Under the Hood' shows the engine as VariCOR? Have they renamed the Dicor?

Also, since you drove the Scorpio, XUV and the Storme back to back, could you put in a comparision? A brief one with the obvious differences would suffice.
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Old 9th May 2012, 01:23   #15
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Default re: Tata Safari Storme : Test Drive and Review. More pics: pg 47

Thanks Luke, wonderful review. Couldn't have asked for more.

Spot on about the music system. Looks horribly out of place on a 10 lakh+ car!


Some questions -
1. How many variants would be there in all?
2. ABS, EBD, ESP, Airbags - only on top end or possibility of optional extra?

Now, the pricing.
Top end Safari (VX 4x2) and the Aria Pleasure (4X2) have about a lakhs difference, how will they fit in the Storme there? or will the current one be available only in the lowest variant?

I feel there will be some amount of overlap between the Storme and Aria, specially between the top end of the former and lower/mid of the latter.

Lastly, do share more pics if you have.

PS: The Safari homepage now has a pic of Storme.
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