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Old 2nd August 2005, 01:30   #106
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Default Short Test Drive - Tata Safari DICOR

At about 8.30 pm today, I finally got a brief test ride on the "new improved" SUV in town.

Waited at the designated junction outside my car so that I could get a glimpse of the revised front end treatment on the road. I had only seen it up-close so far, which looked okay in an very unexciting sort of way.

As I caught sight of the vehicle, I had mixed reactions. It was apparant that the front bumper has seen a lot of nips and tucks, as a result of which the vehicle's chin seemed to be rather abruptly cut-off. As it came closer, it also seemed to have a nose-in-the-air stance about it and the reason was clear - the bumper was also SHORTER and ended way above where the original model's bumper did. Overall, the landcruiser grille and headlamp now looked a bit out of place - I would've much preferred the older model's sleeker grille.

The car came to a halt with a muted rumble and I was given the keys to the vehicle. Got in, and everything about the seating setup felt just right - I didnt have to make a single adjustment to feel at ease. For the record, the driver's seat features height adjustment and lumbar support adjustment in addition to the usual tilt and reach thingies.

The keyhole features a nice light to help you find it in the dark, which is just as well because the keyhole is a bit difficult to get at the first time around - its in the right place when you reach for it, but its set too deep into the steering column to be able to get at easily.

Fired the engine and released the slightly meaty parking brake lever (meatier and much better feeling than the rather deprived looking steering wheel). Hmmm, diesel vibrations....the sound wasnt noticeable but the vibrations at start were, though it settled down to a muted gurgle thereafter.

Selected first gear on a gearbox which felt like a younger, fresher and healthier version of the mushy Tata gearbox. Better, but mushy still. If the original Indica gearbox felt like it was held together with rubber bands, this one felt like it was held together with springs even if those springs were a bit undernourished. Still, no trouble selecting the right gear - an observation that endured throughout the drive as I had no mis-shifts nor was I left searching for the right gear.

The route I selected involved getting out into the bye-pass through the crowded main road of the city, and getting back to the starting point through some secondary (and broken) roads from a point halfway down the byepass. This was to ensure that the brief ride had a bit of city traffic, smooth highway and bad roads.

The clutch engaged as expected from a passenger vehicle and without any jerk despite the big capacity engine churning out pretty stiff torque (the chap said 25 nm, though he wasnt sure since he hadnt seen the spec sheet). Then came the first bad vibe - the engine shuddered because I hadnt revved it enough. TURBO LAG! Tried revving the engine and found the next bad bit - THROTTLE LAG!!! Apparantly this was a cable-less electronic throttle and it took a brief while to respond - more than the lag I have in the Accent, which is not good at all.

Anyway, got the beast moving and when it did the power delivery was seamless - joined the traffic heading out of town, engaged 2nd gear and before I knew it I was doing 85 kmph in 2nd gear. This, without any of the dramatic "pushed back into the seat" acceleration of the Hyundai CRDis. Or maybe it was the size and weight of the vehicle reducing the theatrics of that fantastic launch.

Shifted quickly as I realised I was red-lining the vehicle (red line starts at 3000 RPM and the Tacho is calibrated only to 4000 + !!!!!!!!!). The Tacho looks pretty dramatic as the entire dial is divided into just 4 portions with the needle racing across these vast spaces between 1,2 & 3 at the slightlest push of the throttle.

More bad news - there's a lot of vibration at 3000 rpm (probably why it was redlined there?) and above. The sales chap said its probably because the vehicle is a pre-production unit and has been trashed around. Whatever - cant expect a vehicle showing < 500 kms on the odo to be juddering like that. Anyway the chap said I was in 'red' territory at that time, but that shouldnt cause such judders.

The shift into 3rd brought up 100 before I could look back at the speedo. I was now racing through city traffic, and had to start dodging vehicles. Thats when I realised that the steering felt vague. Really vague, even though I still managed to dodge autos and some errant marutis without hitting anyone. Slowed my pace down so that I could come to grips with this steering, but pretty soon we were on the turn-off to the byepass where I took the sweeping turn at about 90 kmph. No tyre squeals or panic moments, though my wife did complain that she got thrown from one side of the vehicle to the other.

What we did not notice was that the road from the city leading to the byepass that we had just sped through wasnt in very good shape. Apparantly there were quite a few potholes on this road, though I didnt feel any. That should tell you a lot about how this vehicle can take bad roads.

Got onto the byepass and THEN I found out why it makes sense to buy a vehicle of these proportions in India. I just had to get behind some of those puny cars and flash my headlights into their rear views, and they would scurry away to the shoulders of the road. I've often suffered it out behind these drifters on my Accent flashing my headlights and honking in vain, but here they moved away almost magically. WOW! I felt like a dictator!

We were pushing 120 pretty soon and the vehicle was very quiet and composed at this speed. No wind noise, either. In fact I felt we could do more quite easily but the sales manager was now clearly nervous. He started asking me to take it easy as I started despatching various sundry vehicles to the rear view in quick succession. Did a couple of quick lane-change manouvers to overtake a lumbering truck and an overladen 3 wheeler, just to see how the vehicle behaved, and it obliged fairly well though in a slightly tail-happy manner. Touched 140 before we reached the turnoff from the byepass and it felt like the Safari had plenty more in store. Quite impressive and the straight line stability as well as a couple of simulated panic stops did not upset the composure of the vehicle as much as it did the sales manager's.

Took the turnoff and went through some moderately bad roads without any issues when I looked down at the speedo again to find that we were doing speeds of 80+ on these by-roads. Again, I hadnt realised that I was doing these speeds though the sales manager's face seemed to indicate that he was much more in touch with the speedo. Had to slow down pretty fast as we reached the really bad portions, and this is when I realised that this 10 lakh vehicle didnt have ABS. No we didnt skid, but I expected the ABS kickback from the pedals when I slammed on the brakes....big disappointment as any vehicle in this bracket SHOULD have ABS. STANDARD. The brakes, however, felt better than those in my Accent and Mondeo but neither of these two cars are worthy benchmarks in THAT department.

The Safari took the bad roads with aplomb and passed another test in the process. My ears are finely tuned to pick up ANY squeak, rattle or other such noise inside a vehicle. To the extent that I have my Accent's glovebox, door pockets and other plastic storage spaces padded with grey packing material to prevent noise from any contact between those surfaces and the stuff stored in them. The Safari did not exhibit a single rattle, squeak or any unwarranted cabin noise in about 3 kms of normally bone-jarring roads. We went through these roads like a sunday picnic, though my wife mentioned that her salad days were here again as she was tossed from one side to another on the rather huge rear seat. Tough luck - she should've belted herself up.

Gave the sales manager a few more things to think of before we got back to the starting point and handed the keys back to him. Thats when I realised how comfortable the front seats had been - they fit around you like a glove, and the lumbar support is excellent. I felt like I could keep driving this vehicle for days - thats how comfortable the whole experience was.

Okay, so whats the moral of the story:

The Safari is big, well built and comfortable. Its also really fast, though you wouldnt notice it unless your eyes were on the speedo - that should tell you a few things about the composure of this vehicle, too. Straight line speed and stability would put a lot of cars to shame, from my short experience. The vehicle is quiet when its not being pushed. Ergonomics are excellent, and it is still the most comfortable vehicle to travel on our roads.

Now the bad parts - vibrations are prevalent at various spots, though the sales manager said that they had fooled around with the vehicle a lot. The engine also needs to be revved, even if moving around in traffic slowly if you plan not to shift gears. If you dont revv when you downshift, the abovementioned vibrations return. The engine also seems a bit coarse near (or IN, as Mr. Sales Manager pointed out) the redline.

Refinement needs some looking into, unless this pre-production demo is not a true representative of the real thing. I've used some nice diesel twin-cabs in Southern Africa, where they are the preferred choice of wheels of upper management in any company. These twin cabs (mostly a Nissan known popularly as 'The Wolf', a Mazda known popularly as 'The Eagle' and an Isuzu that does not seem to have a nickname but is probably the best of the lot) are mostly diesel engined, and have similar specs as the Safari - 3 litre turbocharged oil drinkers all. However, the levels of refinement in those twin cabbies (or Bakkies) are better than those in the Safari. The Safari is NEARLY there, but in a race NEARLY doesnt count. You've GOT to be up there with the best.

Overall, its a mixed bag with amazing comfort, phenomenal power, good build, stability and oodles of space combined with some unwelcome vibrations, a vague steering, throttle lag, poor plastics and a slightly mushy gearbox. I need a longer drive before I can decide, but I'll have to find another Sales Manager first...

Last edited by Steeroid : 2nd August 2005 at 01:36.
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Old 2nd August 2005, 12:57   #107
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Default Kewl First Drive Review ....

Great First Drive Review, Was this Test Drive by any chance towards tumkur ......

Steeroid, PM me your number... thanks
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Old 2nd August 2005, 13:09   #108
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SUV
Great First Drive Review, Was this Test Drive by any chance towards tumkur ......
NO COMMENT.

You can PM me on the site or reach me on the Yahoo messenger ID "menonhigh".

MODS: YOU MAY WANT TO CHANGE THE TITLE OF THIS THREAD NOW THAT THINGS HAVE PROGRESSED FROM SPECULATION TO REALITY.
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Old 2nd August 2005, 14:48   #109
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I guess you will be able to get test drives easily once its launched. I am curious about the 3000rpm redline though. What was the RPM meter reading when you touched 140kmph in 5th cog.
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Old 2nd August 2005, 14:55   #110
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Great work Steeroid ... I guess each one of us will have to get behind it and then decide for ourselves ...
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Old 2nd August 2005, 14:56   #111
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Originally Posted by tsk1979
I guess you will be able to get test drives easily once its launched. I am curious about the 3000rpm redline though. What was the RPM meter reading when you touched 140kmph in 5th cog.
Sorry, I didnt notice and not possible to do it at that speed either. I could glance at either the Tach or the Speedo and I was more interested in the latter.

The tacho features a red line from 3000 to 4000. Like I said, it was like no other tacho I've seen before - just 4 calibrations in the whole dial !

Mr. Sales Manager also told me that the ECU has been programmed to limit power tremendously. Its probably bottom end power that's been restrained, since the vehicle didnt lunge forward in first gear like I thought it would. Its the 407 engine block, so unrestrained power from it might just rip those axles off and burn the clutch.

This should mean that there is scope to liberate much more power if you have the right equipment. Wonder if Pete's Tuning Box would help here.
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Old 2nd August 2005, 15:00   #112
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979
I guess you will be able to get test drives easily once its launched. I am curious about the 3000rpm redline though. What was the RPM meter reading when you touched 140kmph in 5th cog.
saw VOLVO bus which had redline at 3k
may be tata were compiting with them
chances are totally wrong calibration

@Steeroid: what was the RPM at idle ? if its close to 1000 then u have only 2000RPM to play with?

Last edited by adya33 : 2nd August 2005 at 15:02.
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Old 2nd August 2005, 15:07   #113
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adya33
saw VOLVO bus which had redline at 3k
That thought did cross my mind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by adya33
@Steeroid: what was the RPM at idle ? if its close to 1000 then u have only 2000RPM to play with?
Didnt notice what it was at idle, but I thought I saw the engine do 2000-odd at 120 kmph. Please note that this 'test drive' in the late evening lasted all of 20 minutes. You will appreciate that I was more interested in seeing if the vehicle would suit me than in collecting stats - could've done that if I had another TBHPian for a co-driver, though.

Post Script: In the event, I would recommend that you dont rely on my RPM readings, except for the facts that the Tacho was caliberated only till 4k + and that the redline started at 3K.

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 3rd August 2005 at 16:16.
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Old 3rd August 2005, 16:33   #114
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Steeriod,
Great follow up man, I have never seen such follow-up regarding any new machine.... really appreciate the effort, and thank you so much for sharing the experiences with the new safari... that too in a very up-to-date manner... I am also eagerly waiting for the arrival of the new safari.... But still no official news in the paper or in any magazines.....
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Old 3rd August 2005, 16:52   #115
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Diesels produce peak power at much lesser RPM than Petrols. So I thought, it was alright to redline at lesser RPM. Of course, I have no idea at what RPM does Accent CRDi or Indica redline. Any inputs from owners of these cars?
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Old 3rd August 2005, 17:19   #116
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Default Launch Date - Correction

Its slated for a 6th August Launch instead of 5th August .. I will confirm as soon as i get the Invite.

From a unconfirmed source (Tata R&D Chap whom i dont know) the Engine is good for 174 BHP. Tata have limited the Output for unknown reason's.

Do anybody have a idea if this is a TC or a NA ? Cos the 497 SP 3ltr DI are avialable in NA (65 BHP as on the 207 DI) and in TC Form (close 100 BHP as on the 407 Turbo Military Spec 4x4).
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Old 3rd August 2005, 17:38   #117
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guess wat this is
me drove it 2day



[img=http://img124.imageshack.us/img124/5580/p80400442ux.th.jpg]

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Old 3rd August 2005, 18:02   #118
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sorry for da quality of pic
waz thrown around......


[img=http://img150.imageshack.us/img150/2285/p80400367vp.th.jpg]
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Old 3rd August 2005, 18:18   #119
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steeroid
torque (the chap said 25 nm, though he wasnt sure since he hadnt seen the spec sheet)
shouldn't it be 25 Kgm.
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Old 3rd August 2005, 18:24   #120
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RX135
I have no idea at what RPM does Accent CRDi or Indica redline. Any inputs from owners of these cars?
Accent reldlines at 4500, dont know about Indica.
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