Tata Safari is associated with masculinity and strength, two characteristics that every SUV enthusiast desires. However, when the Indian SUV market evolved, Tata Motors chose to discontinue the old Safari to reintroduce it less than in a year later.
Like most modern SUVs, the new Safari features a monocoque chassis rather than the older body on frame design. Build on the same OMEGARC platform as the Harrier, an older Land Rover D8 platform that dates back to 2007. Additionally, the Safari no longer offers a 4x4, which seems to be the main gripe purists have. On paper, that may be the case for the new SUV being unworthy, but reality may be very different, and that is what we wanted to find out.
Let's begin with the new Safari's design, which appears very similar to the smaller Harrier with which it shares a platform. Nothing distinguishes the Harrier from the Safari from the SUV's nose to its C-pillar, except the redesigned front grille.
Beyond the C-pillar, the Safari features a longer rear overhang than the Harrier, roof rails with chrome inserts carrying the Safari inscription, a stepped roof design, and a bigger rear-quarter window, a more upright rear section with a new tailgate, and tweaked taillights.
Things are comfortable on the inside. If you've driven a Tata Harrier before, you'll feel right at home in the Tata Safari. While the two versions share a smart-looking dashboard, the top-spec Safari's Oyster White interior theme provides the required distinction. While this results in a very upmarket interior, customers with a passion for impeccable cleanliness will have difficulty keeping the light leatherette seats clean. The simple-to-use electronic parking brake, which replaces the cumbersome thrust lever-style manual handbrake on the top-spec Safari, is a great feature.
As with the updated Harrier, you have a superb view of the road, and most of the interior is of superior quality. Although there are still some ergonomic problems, the panel fit is considerably better than the original Harrier. The center console, for example, collides with the driver's left knee. Additionally, you'd wish Tata to update the infotainment system. By today's standards, the 8.8-inch touchscreen seems to be a bit small, and even the rearview camera could have used a few more pixels.
On the plus side, the feature list is lengthy, including a panoramic sunroof, an excellent JBL sound system, and a powered driver's seat. Tata has also included connected technology that allows you to monitor your car remotely, although there is no onboard wireless charging. Six airbags and hill-descent control are standard on the top-spec XZ+ cars, but it's noteworthy that ESC included.
The middle row is where you'll see a connection between previous and modern Safaris. The new Safari, like the original, has theatre-style seating, with the second-row seats being higher than those in the front. This elevated sitting position provides outstanding vision out the side windows and through the front windshield. The Safari equip with seven seats, the center row of which is bench-style. The seat is very comfortable, and the slightly higher H point results in an ideal seating position. Additionally, the Safari beats the Harrier by allowing you to move the 60:40 split seats back, and if you need even more space, a 'Boss mode' lever enables you to modify the co-driver’s seat from the back.
Additionally, a top-spec model is available. Safaris is a six-seat option that adds middle-row captain's seats. These seats are luxuriously cushioned, have an extensive range of adjustments, and include a fold-down armrest. Simply said, passengers with bigger frames will note that the seats are not as spacious as they might be. Additionally, sunblinds for the back windows are missing, and locating the USB ports near the center tunnel is quite a task.
The news is encouraging when we change our attention to the third row—the rear-most part of the cabin access through a small passage between the captains' seats. In seven-seater Safaris, via the kerbside middle row seat. The one-touch fold and tumble mechanism, as well as the damped operation, are outstanding, but the aperture isn't very wide, so you'll have to bend a little to get to the third row.
When you're seated, you'll enjoy the available space. Even though the seating position is not as knees-up as it is in standard third rows, average-sized passengers will find a good compromise on legroom with the middle row passenger. The wide windows contribute to the feeling of space, but the air-conditioning vents on the sill seem to be an afterthought. However, Tata has done well on the last row by including a blower control and two USB charging ports.
Unfortunately, traveling with a full house means no space for baggage. Lifting the heavy, manually controlled rear gate is a task that isn't worth it, considering the 73 liters available. When you need additional baggage room, you may split and fold the third-row seats. On 7-seat models, the middle row seats may fold flat to provide space for a huge cargo bay.
Engine and performance
The Tata Safari's second-generation power by the same 2.0-liter Kryotec turbodiesel engine that powers the Harrier generates 170hp and 350Nm, similar to its smaller sibling. Tata has two engine transmission options: a six-speed manual or an automated six-speed torque converter.
Because the new Safari base on the Omega architecture developed for Land Rover, Tata may create a 4x4 version in the future.
Tata Motors has changed over the last few years, and Safari is part of Tata's new design push. It's both attractive and feature-rich. According to Tata's history, it will be the safest and most affordable product in its class. Should you invest in one? Yes, if you're looking for a modern seven-seater SUV; no, if you're a fan of the old Safari.