Storming the SUV market?

Dec 15 2012, 01:50 IST
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SummaryThe Safari Storme is a brave attempt by Tata to up its luxury SUV quotient. But is the endeavour enough?

Tata Safari doesn’t need much introduction. Since it was launched in the late-1990s, the SUV by Tata Motors has been loved and lapped up by the masses. But the love affair lost its intensity first after consumers got a cheaper and fresher option in the form of Mahindra Scorpio since early 2000s, and lately after Mahindra launched its hugely-successful XUV 500. Recently, a lot of people who want to be seen in an SUV have even started shifting their loyalties to the pseudo-SUV from Renault—the Duster. All this meant that the Safari was losing its customers, and heavily so.

Enter the Safari Storme—the first major Safari update in its entire lifespan. Showcased at the Auto Expo in Delhi earlier this year, the SUV is finally on Indian roads. With its brute looks, it makes a great first impression. Massive road presence the Safari was already endowed with; the Storme takes it a class higher. The most recognisable change is the front end, which now has a new grille with a chrome strip on top and projector-type headlamps. The side profile remains more or less the same; the only noticeable changes being the pull-type door handles and better designed foot-steps. While on the rear the tailgate-mounted spare wheel is gone for good (so, the view from the interior rear-view mirror is better) and it is now placed the body. You also have new lamps at the rear but the most exciting change is the twin exhaust pipes that add to the Storme’s sportiness.

Being seated in Safari Storme gives you mixed feelings. While the overall fit and finish levels are far improved, there is an eyesore in the form of the analogue clock on the centre fascia—the clock looks really out of place in a R10-lakh-plus premium SUV. On the positive side, you have leather-upholstered large and comfortable front seats (with 3-position lumbar support), supportive middle seats, foldable rear jump seats, a neatly laid out dashboard, grippy steering wheel, fabric-rich door paddings, velvet-lined glovebox, massive interior space, dual AC with roof-mounted separate blower for the rear passengers and as many as 10 air vents that are enough to keep the entire car cool or hot. On the not-so-positive side, there is a surprise exclusion of a dead pedal, no cruise control, no climate control, a stereo system that looks like an after-market fitment and no reverse camera (although you have rear parking sensors

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