Legacies, I think, often are a case of neighbors envy, owners pride. Most millennials will not get the reference but I am reasonably confident most of them are aware of the legacy of the Tata Safari. The Safari was the cool SUV before SUVs were cool and it was a proper one at that, not a crossover masquerading as an SUV. Tata is ad campaign for the Safari, Reclaim your life, struck the right chord with everyone, not just petrol heads. From the urban family man to politicians to the Indian Army, everyone had a Safari and the rest wanted one. The Safari didn't age well, though, and the competition caught up, quicker than the Safari could. Tata is taken a couple of years, but the new Safari is ready and here.
First seen as Buzzard at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show and then as the Gravitas at the 2020 Auto Expo, you will be excused for thinking this is just a bigger Harrier. Except a new grille, there are a lot of similarities between the new Safari and its smaller sibling. A profile view, and an eye for detail, will help you notice the differences though like a longer rear over hang, roof rails with Safari inscription, a larger rear quarter glass, a new tail-gate and the stepped roof design which may remind you of the original Safari. The exterior design I feel is a missed opportunity for Tata, not to say the Safari does not have road presence or looks bad. It looks good, but it does not look like a Safari is all I mean to say.
The inside, is a massive upgrade compared to the older Safari but if you are familiar with the Harrier then there isn't a lot new for you. The top spec variants will get Signature Oyster White Interior colour scheme, with white perforated leather upholstery and a soft touch dashboard with anti- reflective Nappa leather all of which looks and feels premium. The familiar floating touchscreen infotainment is the centre-piece and is easy to use, supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the JBL audio system with nine speakers is good too. What is not like the Harrier is the seating options. The new Safari will come with six and seven seat layout options, with the third row getting more attention than it usually does. For someone my height, about six feet, the third row may not be optimal for long drives. But the third row gets dedicated air-conditioning, USB ports and cup holder so you are as comfortable as you can be.
The list of features on the new Safari is long and impressive too it gets six airbags (front, side and curtain), cruise control, ABS, ESP, hill-descent control, terrain response modes (Normal, Rough and Wet), three driving modes (Eco, City, Sport) an electronic parking brake with auto-hold, 18-inch machined alloy wheels, , a 7.0-inch digital display in the instrument cluster, tyre pressure monitoring system, a 6-way power adjustable driver's seat, a panoramic sunroof, Boss mode which allows you to move the front passenger seat and much more. The new Safari is a connected car and comes with Tata is iRA (Integrated Real Time Assist) technology which helps you track the car, your driving habits, remotely lock/unlock and it will even wish you happy birthday.
The engine is shared with the Harrier and is the same Kryotec 2.0 diesel unit which makes 170 hp and 350Nm. I drove both the AT and Manual variants and while the AT is more comfortable, the Manual is my choice if you want to extract something from this engine. The clutch is a little snatchy and you can hear the engine inside when being pushed, but it is nothing you cannot live with. Drivability is good and the car feels stable at triple digit speeds. The steering is chunky to hold, and maneuvering the new Safari does require some effort, especially at low and parking speeds. Brakes on the AT variant I drove required a firmer press than usual, but there is sufficient bite.
The new Safari has everything a modern SUV buyer wants space, comfort, technology, road presence and hopefully it will have a 4x4 variant soon. Keeping the competition, within the Tata family and outside, in mind I expect Tata to price the new Safari between 15-20 lakh, ex-showroom. Anything lower could make the new Safari, great value for money. Anything over might make the competitions life easier. Bookings for the new Safari open on February 4, 2021 and it would be interesting to see how many customers rush to reclaim their life.