From Baleno to Safari Storme: Ownership review with likes & dislikes

I wanted to get the Mahindra Scorpio N Diesel Automatic but looking at the cost, waiting period & my priorities, it was not making any sense.

BHPian puneetakhouri recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

  • Lol!
  • Seems you are earning way too much to be doing this kind of stuff.
  • Bhai, zabardast!
  • Awesome, man!
  • Are you serious?!

Well, these are the few comments I got when I disclosed to my near and dear ones what I had done. I ended up purchasing a Tata Safari Storme.


For folks short of time, here is a summary of my transition from a hatchback to a proper SUV.

What you will like

  • Road presence of a Storme is amazing. Takes time to adjust to the fact that small cars now do not try to fill in gaps ahead of you as they would do with other vehicles.
  • Excellent visibility all around with good large mirrors.
  • Ability to handle bad roads and sudden potholes without concern at all.
  • With the bonnet clearly visible, very easy to judge corners.
  • The turning radius is surprisingly small for such a large vehicle at 5.4m, can do most of the turns that a Baleno can do at 4.9m.
  • Superb headlights, typical of a Tata. Double barrel with the low beams being halogen projectors and high beams being reflectors.
  • Communicative hydraulic steering gives a lot of feedback.
  • Light but long clutch. Effortless in the city. In the Baleno, I had to use the accelerator while releasing the clutch. No such requirement here.
  • Independent armrest for both front occupants which is extremely comfortable.
  • Excellent under-thigh support in all the seats.
  • Gear throw is on the longer side but slots fine.
  • Sound system is very good with steering-mounted controls.
  • Large door pockets can hold a lot of things.
  • Rear has over 6 ac vents, 2 at the bottom and 4 at the top which cools the vehicle very quickly.
  • Good fuel efficiency given the size, currently giving me around 12 in Mumbai city with a lot of idling involved while driving around. Highways should be a 15 comfortably.
  • BS4 so no worries about DPF, however with increasing pollution levels in Mumbai, I suspect the 10-year rule would come to Mumbai very soon as well.

What I do not like

  • This is a 2018 make car and the second top model and yet it does not have airbags in it. Can you believe it! I still went for it because, in retrospect, I feel that a Safari without airbags is still a lot safer than a Baleno with airbags.
  • While people claim it to have a very good ride quality, for some reason I still find a hatchback to have a better ride on normal roads. The SUV, very typical of its nature, rides like a boat.
  • Takes time getting used to the feeling of sitting in the car vs climbing into a car. Not everybody likes it, especially the old folks in my family. However, once they are in, they really appreciate the seating position and comfort.
  • The door bins are so large that it is very hard to prevent anything from rattling in them.
  • Third-row seat is a joke, to be honest. In the Storme, they have placed the spare wheel below the car and raised the floor due to which the headroom has vanished. Better to use it just for luggage.
  • The fuel opening button is moody and works sometimes and sometimes it does not.
  • The driver-side window is auto-down but does not stop midway. Maybe it is the switch, but the auto-down should engage after reaching a certain point while pressing the button.
  • The sound of indicator clicks comes somewhere from the passenger side dashboard which is very weird.
  • Since people have to climb up and climb down, it involves a lot of dragging themselves on the seats, which would mean shorter life of seat covers.
  • Taking time to get used to the vibrations of a diesel engine coming from a super silent and refined petrol engine. Starts with a shake and shuts down with a shake as well. However, I feel changing the engine and gearbox mounts should take care of it.
  • No reversing aids available. No parking sensors, no cameras. Need to get one installed.


I am a Software Architect working in Mumbai for the past 11 years and own a 2015 Maruti Suzuki Baleno Delta Petrol. I have maintained a thread for it in our forums that a few of you might have seen. The Baleno is a very easy-to-drive and an easy to maintain vehicle which is very light on the pocket. The size is perfect for the city with ample amount of space inside the car for 5 to sit comfortably, with a good AC. On top of that, I had maintained my vehicle in excellent condition and it would have served me very comfortably for the next 8 years till it would hit the 15-year age and then I would have disposed it off.

The SUV Itch

Let's admit it, we Indians have that SUV itch in us. And so much of it, we have that the car makers have launched a plethora of pseudo SUVs that sell like hotcakes. I am no different but took it very casually.

The Trigger

For anybody who has driven in Mumbai knows that Mumbai has a lot of manhole covers on the roads that are never aligned with the roads. They are usually 2-3 inches lower than the road effectively making them potholes. So you are driving at 60kmph and suddenly there is a manhole cover in front with nowhere for you to go, and you eventually hit the manhole hard thereby unsettling small cars like the Baleno. This used to bother me quite a bit.

Then a couple of years back was traveling to Srivardhan, a coastal town of Maharashtra with my wife and a couple of friend in the month of November. The roads were so bad that it took me around 7 hours to do 180kms with me dropping to 1st gear every 300-400 metres which was very annoying. And during one of such slowdowns where I was dropping to the 1st, I could see a monster appear in my IRVM charging down the road. I quickly moved to the left only to see a Scorpio (original) just trample those potholes as if they were nothing and made a meal out of those bad roads. And that was the day I decided I need an SUV, and that too a proper body-on-frame one.

The Search

I wanted to get the new Scorpio-N Diesel Automatic for myself. But looking at the cost, the waiting and my priorities, it was not making any sense to me. The vehicle is overpriced, just like every other vehicle on the road (I still believe that a Creta should not cost more than 15 lacs, a Hector not more than 20 lacs and so on, I might be stupid but that's me). So the plan was dropped and thought of sticking to the Baleno for as long as I could.

One day was randomly searching on Olx and randomly searched for the Storme and came across a couple of listings. The one that I shortlisted was very close to my house and looked in excellent condition with less mileage. The car belonged to a premium used car dealer who used it as a personal vehicle for some time and was selling it. The amount quoted was pretty high but the vehicle looked in top shape so decided to check it out.

The car was scratchless with full-service history and details available. There was some rusting under one rear door which is normal given that my Baleno also has rusting issues being located in Mumbai. After a lot of negotiation, brought it down to the ballpark of where I would have liked it to be and closed the deal.

For your eyes

I really like the side profile of the vehicle as shown below. Looks very nice with the step-style seating where the rear sits higher than the front.

The steering is adjustable for height, however, in the comfortable position, it hits the legs while entering the vehicle.

The 320 Nm Varicor engine.

Rear seat has excellent underthigh support.

Underbody metal protector for the Engine.

Double barrel headlights and chrome telling everybody it's a Safari.

Pretty ordinary metre console. Does not show average fuel consumption and you have to rely on tank-to-tank methodology. Comes with 2 trip metres.

The tallboy rear look is very misleading in terms of space. The rear sucks in terms of both legroom and headroom. Also, the tiny footpeg to get into the vehicle is not visible from inside while coming out.

Tyres have some juice left for around 10k km.

Engine Review

Start the vehicle and the car shakes before the engine comes to life. I am not sure why I am calling this a car, this is a truck! The engine idles at around 900RPM.

The Storme is a Varicor 320 producing 320Nm of torque. There is turbo lag and the turbo spools up at 1800RPM following which you can hear the whistle and the power surge coming in. Below 1800RPM, the engine is very drivable in the city, however, overtakings become a challenge as the engine does not respond to the accelerator input as it should.

Coming from a Baleno, I can safely say that post the turbo kicks in, the truck pulls better than the Baleno. The truck can climb up inclines in first gear without accelerator input and that is a very funny feeling in the beginning. The body has a slight vibration during idle and you can feel that in the seats. I feel that the engine mounts, if replaced should take care of it but need some expert opinion here. The Engine is very fuel efficient as well given the load that it has to pull. It is giving me a decent 12-12.5kmpl in the Mumbai city which involves lots and lots of idling.

Suspension Review

I made a switch from a car to a boat coming from a hatchback and after driving hatches and sedans all my life, this definitely feels like a boat. You will feel lateral movement both sideways as well as front and back. However, the vertical movement is very well contained. But because of the lateral movement, changing directions while driving over undulating roads is a challenge. While a small vehicle immediately regains composure enabling you to change directions quicker, the truck takes time for the suspension to settle hence making it difficult to change directions immediately.

But the area where the vehicle truly shines is that although it rides like a boat, it rides like a boat on all surfaces. Be it potholes, be it no roads, be it sharp ruts and bumps, be it manholes, you do not feel anything inside. The slow speed (<60 kmph) ride is very good in that aspect.

Gearbox Review

One thing I observed is that the gear lever does not vibrate a lot during startup or shutdown or idling, which makes me inclined to believe that this is a cable-driven box unlike a linkage driven. Which is a good thing as it makes the experience inside the cabin very good. The gear shifts are long hence quick shifting is not a forte for this vehicle, however the gears slot in smoothly. The gearing is on the taller side with 80kmph coming up at around 1700 rpm in the 5th gear. This particular point is a bit tricky because the turbo has not kicked in yet and hence there is no acceleration at this point unless you drop down to 4th bring the turbo alive and the vehicle starts to move forward in a hurry. However, this also means that cruising at 100kmph at 5th gear would be highly fuel efficient as this would place the vehicle to be at around 2000rpm with turbo spooling giving the right power as well as low rpm giving efficiency.

All the gears are synchronized including the reverse hence slotting any gear is no problem at all. Unlike my brother's new Tata Nexon diesel MT which is such a pain to slot into reverse as it never engages at once. Tata itself has given instructions in the manual to wait for 5 seconds before engaging reverse for smooth slotting. Overall the gearing is satisfactory.

Interior Review

Once you have overcome the daunting task of climbing into the vehicle, everything is pretty normal/boring inside. There is no wow factor but everything is right where it should be. The dashboard has soft-touch plastic on top. Large door pockets to hold large bottles but no cupholders to hold your cups in the central panel. Indicator stalk is very flimsy and after making small turns, the indicator does not auto-cancel. Add to it the indicator clicking sound that comes from the passenger side making it inaudible most of the time and you end up continuing to drive with indicators on just like the two-wheelers do all the time.

There is rattling coming from the third row that I am still trying to figure out and fix. Given that I am coming from a small rattle free silent hatch, this is one of my priorities. Although I believe my effort would be futile.

The windows are very large which makes it very nice to be in the vehicle. The window lines are low and hence you can drive keeping your hands on them which feels awesome. The ORVMs are electrically adjustable but not collapsible. They are India friendly though and can turn backwards.

One thing based on my observation of old relatives trying to climb into the vehicle, I feel that there should have been a grab handle on the B-pillar for folks to hold onto. That is a sore miss.

Ergonomics Review

Ergonomics are fine except for a few things, the music system is placed way too low on the dash which means taking eyes off the road and looking down. Ideally, I would have preferred the blowers to be placed lower or beside the infotainment system, which should have been placed higher up.

People have mentioned the placement of fuel opening lid near power window switches, but I got used to it within a few minutes so that is not a problem for regular users. Also, the fuel lid never opens with one click of the button so even hitting it erroneously should be fine.

One thing that bothers me is the position of the accelerator pedal which is slightly higher IMO. This means that I have to hold the right toe higher putting some load on my shin muscles which get sore after a long drive. Had they been slightly lower or placed more outwards towards the right side of the wheel well, it would have made a lot of difference, at least for me.

Steering Review

Well, the steering is heavy. If you have ever driven with a phone in one hand, then turning the steering would feel really difficult. However, under other scenarios, this feels fine. Moreover, I have always been taught to use both hands and turn from the top of the steering rather than from the bottom, so I do not find the steering too difficult.

Music System Review

The sound quality is definitely better than my Baleno Delta, which might have something to do with better steel on the doors that do not flex as much. There are 4 speakers, one on each door along with tweeters near the ORVMs. The steering-mounted controls also work fine but changing track via the steering controls is slightly slower. The Bluetooth audio quality is very good and so is the mic. The experience is good but the system is placed too low and should have been placed higher up.


You hear the engine all the time in the vehicle, however, once the engine heats up, the engine sound does not bother you at all except for a mild humming. That humming will definitely increase once you cross 3500RPM so better to stay below that. The noise insulation is pretty good and once all the windows are shut and music played, hardly anything comes in. One bad thing about it is that recently an ambulance was a few vehicles behind me and trying to make its way but I could not hear anything about it unless the guy behind me flashed his headlights and then I realized and made way.


The AC is very good with a separate cooling coil and blower for the rear passengers. The truck has a very large glass area bringing in a lot of heat and hence requires a pretty powerful compressor to do the job which it does pretty well. One interesting thing I found was that the rear blowers have a switch to turn them on and off above the rear passenger's head. However, the blower would not turn on unless the driver turns on Rear AC from the dashboard console. I found this to be very helpful as the driver cannot reach the rear blower switches from his seat, so the rear ac button acts as a master control for the same.


  • In my vehicle, I observed that the outer foul smell would creep into the cabin a lot, and also when standing the AC would cool very well but during motion, the air was not that cool. I suspected that the recirculation button has malfunctioned. Got it checked and found that the motor had failed and the gate that allows outer air to come in was fully open. Changing it requires opening the dashboard, and hence the mechanic slid the gate close and said it should be fine for now.
  • Some rattling in the vehicle from the third row.
  • Fuel lid opener does not work every time.
  • The body lights are not working apart from when the door is opened. Need to get that checked.
  • Some metal rattle from the rear lower part. Probably the footrest bar is loose or something else.

Overall, I am pretty satisfied with my choice, keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for some long-distance runs to be done very comfortably.

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