The Tata Safari is an SUV which was the big brash brutish bully of the road in the early 2000s before the Toyota Fortuner snatched that crown. The car's styling still harkens back to the pre-Zest era of Tata Motors but there is still a whole lot more than what meets the eye. Therefore, the people at MotorBeam decided to induct the powerful Varicor 400 variant of the new Tata Safari Storme in their long term fleet to test out whether the big burly beast is still relevant or not.
The Tata Safari Storme was recently chosen as the vehicle which will eventually replace the indestructible Maruti Suzuki Gypsy as the official vehicle for the Indian Army.
We figured that if the vehicle was good enough for the Indian Army, it should be more than adequate for us mere mortals and our pesky little airport runs. And boy-o-boy were we delighted when we finally adopted the car in our long-term fleet.
We Indians love anything 'Macho'. But this car is no softy like those new cars with pseudo-rugged looking bits attached to an B-segment hatchback.
This car here is the real deal, the wheels which defined the segment in India due to its immense road presence and unadulterated large dimensions. But disappointingly enough, there is nothing to tell apart the V400 from the regular Safari, unless you glance hard on the front fenders!
Step inside and the familiarity to the Safari V400 is so striking that you are immediately transferred back to 2007. Plain, simple and yet elegant, the Safari's interior doesn't scream for attention but it has the bare necessities which make driving easy like the nice to hold steering wheel with ergonomically placed audio controls to the AC which is a chiller.
The biggest USP of the Tata Safari Storme is the 1 BHK equivalent of a Mumbai apartment' interior room of the vehicle.
Right from fitting 7 people in utmost comfort to storing a truck load of luggage in the boot, the Safari's generous dimensions mean you pretty much move house. The last row of passengers do complain about the side facing seats though.
A big SUV like the Tata Safari Storme, equipped with a monster of an engine which churns out 400 Nm of torque, has been a hot favourite of ours for its driving feel. No other SUV gives us the feel that a Safari does and thus we all want to get behind the wheel of this ladder frame SUV.
10 years ago, the Safari DICOR 2.2 in its top spec trim was equipped with LCD screens in the middle row and a refrigerator in the last row, it also had a reversing camera which sadly today's Safari doesn't get, not even as an option. But the VariCOR 400 isn't about fancy gizmos, it's about raw power.
As the name suggests, the Tata Safari Storme V400 is the torquiest SUV in its segment. Be a bit aggressive with the throttle and it wheelspins! There is so much amount of punch that doing overtakes on the highway is a cake walk, simply downshift and voila, you leave the world behind.
This beast can go well past 160 km/hr but the charm isn't to drive fast, it's to cruise at 120 km/hr and know that if you need the added punch, the V400 motor will deliver it to you on a platter.
In a typical Tata fashion, the car weighs an earth shattering 2-tonnes, and that weight obviously results in a lot of body roll. But that's fine because you make that a part of you and adapt to it with time.
The steering is well weighed at speed but a bit heavy at low speeds, making you take genuine effort while parking. Driving the Safari in the city is akin to a workout, only thing is, unlike the gym, this one is quite fun.
Conclusively, the Tata Safari Storme might seem like a dinosaur when compared to the more modern Hexa. But we were driving both these cars back to back recently and we would still opt for the Safari as it is more fun to drive and has immense character.
Sure it could do with more features, especially a reverse camera, given its huge dimensions. But in all honestly, there is not much to change about the V400. It's fast, fun and can go off-road without a second thought.