We’ve known it as a TATA H7X, we’ve known it as a TATA Buzzard, we’ve also learned a TATA Gravitas. But this familiar yet unique Car is finally available at a showroom near you branded the all-new TATA Safari.
The original safari had a huge colossal fan following. Does this one have the ingredient to take the story forward? Let’s See.
First things first, Tata says this SUV was always going to sell as the new safari. The little name game was to keep the secret from getting out too soon; while there have been strong opinions on the name, let’s judge the SUV for what it is. And what it is immediately identifiable as, at least from upfront, is a larger version of the TATA Harrier.
The split headlamp arrangement is shared, and the only difference is the new chrome finished dry arrow pattern for the safaris grille from other angles though you won’t mistake one for the other.
They are designed to accommodate the third row of seats—the safari sports a higher roofline and a longer rear overhang that features a full-size rear quarter glass. And the tail end is more upright, too. Even the tail lights, though similar in treatment, are different. Adding some flavor The TATA is its chunky roof rails styled to suggest a stepped roof, somewhat of a trademark element on the original safari.
In dimensions, the new safari is 80 millimeters taller and 63 millimeters longer than a harrier though width and wheelbase are unchanged. All in all, the unique safari has a great stance that’s only helped by the 18 inches. Diamond cut alloy wheels and visible through the wheels are the new rear disc brakes which I’ll get to in a bit curiously. While the rims are a size up on the harriers, they’re still of the same design inside too.
Some things are familiar; if you’ve been behind the wheel of a TATA Harrier, you’ll immediately feel at home in the TATA Safari. The dashboard is shared between the two models, and the only points of difference are the ash wood trim on the dashboard and this new oyster white leatherette upholstery.
Now the leatherette upholstery in this light and the bright shade looks good at first glance, but I can tell you that it will be a pain to keep clean. We’ve been struggling to keep it clean.
One of the other changes on the safari is the switch to an electronic parking brake. The Tata Harrier’s manual thrust lever-like parking has now gone and what you get is this excellent and easy-to-use button system.
In other areas, everything you like about the Harrier is carried forward into the safari as well. I like the effect of this massive panoramic Sunroof. It opens up the safari’s cabin. I also like the mix of materials on the inside, especially the soft-touch surface on the dash top.
At the same time things are not perfect; for instance, there is a jagged edge to the dashboard that keeps following with your left knee. And I would have also liked it if TATA had the infotainment system. The 8.8-inch touchscreen looks a bit smaller by today’s standards, and even things like the rearview camera could have seen a few more pixels added.
Shifting the focus to the back, there’s a detail that’ll immediately strike a chord with fans of the original safari. If there’s one that connects safari is old and new, it’s got to be this theater-style seating, what that means in the middle row seats are set higher than the front row seats, and what that gets you is an excellent view of the world outside.
Do note the safari will be available as standard with seven seats, while the range-topping version will get the option of a six-seat configuration.
If you are looking for the safari six-seater; you will get the captain’s chairs for the middle row. But the seat is on standard 7-Seater for all the adjustability that it also packs in. Using the boss mode function, you can push the front seat all the way forward, you take your head back, and you also have the option to recline the backrest.
There is also a nice comfortable armrest packed within the seat itself is also comfortable. The seat cushioning is well-judged, and almost everyone will find themselves very comfy on this perch. I say nearly everyone because perhaps people with larger physiques or healthier Body types will find the seats aren’t quite as generously wide as you would have liked.
There is no sunshade for the rear windows, and the USB slots are frustratingly hidden from view and what of the third row, now getting to The TATA Safari third row requires some level of flexibility. The best way to get to the back is through this narrow passage between the middle-row seats on the six-seat version.
So what’s it like at the back? Now tata had boldly said that safari’s third-row would not be an excuse for the third row, and I think there was some truth. Now the front and the middle row seat at a comfortable Position for some of 6 feet, yet there is enough for some like 6 ft to be satisfied at the very back.
Yes, the headroom is in short supply, but anyone shorter than 6ft will be comfortable. Again the seating position is not as knee up as we are used to in typical third-row seats. And TATA has also done well to pack in a blower control for the very last row, you also get USB slots, and there is an excellent window through the aircon vents at the very back to hamper visibility.
Traveling with a whole house does sadly mean no room for luggage. Lifting the heavy, manually operated tailgate is a task and isn’t worth the effort given the mere 73 liters of luggage space on offer. You do have the option to split and fold the third-row seats to free up the luggage room when you need them.
The seven-seat version offers more flexibility with its split and folds middle row bench, and the added practicality doesn’t come at the cost of comfort. The seven-seat TATA Safari will have greater appeal for buyers with more prominent families.
Now just as the six-seater, it is a car that scores very well on middle passenger comfort. Now again, you have a boss mode so that you can take the front passenger seat forward. You can move your heart forward and backward; you can recline the backrest.
As you please and the real point of distinction is just how comfortable the seat is in back support and thigh support. This is a place you can be comfortable for long, long hours.
Access to the seven-seat safari’s third row is via the curbside. The aperture isn’t the largest but the one-touch operation for the seat fold and tumble. And the damped movement is well-executed, and once you’re settled in, you will also find that space is more than acceptable at the very back.
The third row is one of the safari’s big highlights. Before we get moving, here’s a quick look at the feature you get on the TATA Safari.
Features TATA Safari XZA+
- HID headlamps
- Leastherette upholstery
- Powered driver’s seat
- Panoramic sunroof
- 8.8-inch touchscreen
- Android Auto/Apple Carplay
- Connected tech
- JBL sound system
- Mood lighting
- Auto headlamps/wipers
- Drive modes
- Electronic parking brake
Highlights include the panoramic sunroof and impressive JBL sound system, and it’s nice that connected tech is part of the package too. The list of safety features is long as well, with ESP impressively offered as standard.
Safety Equipment TATA Safari XZA+
- 6 Airbags
- ABS with EBD
- All discbrakes
- Hill hold control
- Hill descent control
- Tyre pressure monitor
The TATA Safari uses the same engine and gearboxes as the Harrier. That’s a 170 Horsepower 2 liter 4 cylinder diesel engine with the option of 6-speed manual and automatic transmissions; from behind the wheel, the driving experience is similar too.
There’s good power, but you have to contend with a clutch that’s not progressive enough in the case of the manual. And gears that need some effort to the slot.
Without a doubt, it’s the safari automatic that’s the one to buy. The fiat source 2-liter diesel engine branded cryptic 170 by TATA motors is best enjoyed with the Hyundai source 6-speed automatic transmission. Now, this gearbox is well in tune with the characteristics of this engine.
Gear shifts are always timely, they’re always smooth, and when you do want to take manual control via the gear level, you will find that the unit is quite responsive.
The engine tends to groan and moan when you start and sounds a bit gravelly when you are loaded up. But things settled down quickly enough; in fact, you like this engine for its widespread power and how effortlessly it gets the Safari up to speed.
Driving modes, namely eco, city, and sport, alter the power and help fine-tune the driving experience. What does Safari feel like with a whole load of passengers? Is something we’ll put to the test soon.
Our quick timing runs did reveal the safari that’s heavier by 75kgs to be just as brisk as the Harrier.
TATA has enhanced the braking system for the safari. The TATA Safari will carry more passengers hence more weight than the standard Harrier. And thus, it was almost imperative for it to have stronger brakes.
TATA has addressed this issue by equipping the Safari with rear disc brakes. Now, if you used the TATA Harrier, you’ll find the effectiveness of the brakes far superior on the TATA Safari. Stopping power is good, but the brakes do feel a bit mushy at the pedal.
What TATA could have worked on is the steering. It feels heavy at low speeds and tends to kick back too. When you build the momentum, you’ll also find that it’s a bit inconsistent; there slack at a straight-ahead position, but give a few more degrees of lock, and the big Safari will dart into another direction, and that can be disconcerting.
TATA has mildly softened the suspension of the Safari for a bit more comfort. The TATA Safari is an effortless cruiser and gobbles up the miles without much fuss, but on baby surfaces at high speeds, you will find that it’s not quite as well tied down as something like a jeep compass.
Low-speed bump absorption is what the safari does best. Like the area, the TATA Safari makes light work of bad roads on potholes. This is one of those cars that tend to feel better and better. The worse, the road, and that are where its rugged build shines through.
Now for the elephant in the room is the new Safari. Safari enough when there are no roads with its monocoque construction and front-wheel-drive layout, it’s a radical departure from the script to the old body or frame 4×4 model.
And the fact is any soul-searching mission to reclaim your life can’t be too extreme; for its part, the new safari does get wet, and rough terrain response modes and ground clearance is enough to tackle a mild trail.
The good news is that Safari’s omega architecture does support the all-wheel drive, and TATA says if there’s enough demand, it could consider bringing out a Safari AWD.
Likely priced between 15 and 21 lakh rupees ex-showroom, the Safari will command a premium of about 1 lakh rupees over the Harrier. The Safari goes up against the MG Hector plus and will also see new Competition from the new Mahindra XUV500 and 7-seat Hyundai Creta over the year.
The new Safari is attractive, plush, and well equipped, and the third row is genuinely impressive. Sure it’s not a versatile 4×4 as the original Safari was but see it as the three-row SUV for the family that it is, and you’ll find that the new Safari scores where it matters.