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Why is Tata Killing My Safari?

posted 2 Mar 2012, 07:21 by olnf Admin
Author: Gikesh Nair

Why is Tata Killing My Safari?

The year was 1997, month of December that I begged my dad for Rs20 to bring the latest edition of Auto India which featured all the new launches at the 1998 Auto Expo. This particularly was for a handsome looking brute, a SUV from Tata at the right bottom corner of the cover page.This was followed by a one page article inside giving an insight about the vehicle.

It was to be priced upwards of 7lakh and had features which even the executive cars(Ford Escort & Opel Astra) did not have. It came with power windows,power steering(which incidentally sierra and estate from the same stable had) but also proper SUVcredentials.

It came with a proper low range gearbox,shift on fly Borg warner transfer case,electrically adjustable ovrms,big comfy seats and all round independent suspension.Then there was a first in the market,a turbo diesel engine (first gen kkk turbocharger),at a time when the more expensive escort did away with a 58bhp naturally aspirated unit.In short it was well ahead of time and had everything that an equivalent jeep Cherokee or a LR discovery would have had. It was a world class product from an Indian truck manufacturer.

When it came out it had quality problems and electricalniggles and was grossly underpowered but a whole generation was in awe of it. It was huge, towering and comfortable. It had a road presence that only Mercedes at that time could match.

It was my dream machine.

The production continued and the safari changed with time. It got more powerful,better in quality, more expensive, more comfortable and more illogical compared to the competition.

In 2008, ten years after its production started we brought the latest and best ever safari.Now after more than a lakh kilometres and a lakh niggles I still adore it. This is only because it has character, unlike the SUVs which followed it was never a taxi, it was far too impractical for a people carrier, but it was a SUV, It was comfortable and supremely off road worthy. Strong underpinnings but mostly the tough, butch looks which was more like an Italian businessman, not too successful but still looks elegant, still would command respect, still would look a million bucks(which it costs!!).

So when Tata announced a successor, after years of testing and perfecting, I expected it to be a pure through bred and boy did it disappoint.Case in point being the legacy it had to meet,but what it turned out was anything but the safari as it was, when the world first saw it on that cold winter morning in 1998.

The new vehicle is a perfected product based on the now famed Aria hydro form chassis. It has got a modified G76 (mk2) gearbox and the same 2.2 litre, 140 ps dicor engine from the Aria with a dual mass flywheel, reducing vibrations. The groundclearance has been reduced and the front suspension too is from the Aria. The new chassis has stiffened the body by 40% and upmarket touches like projector headlamps have been given.

All said and done this is logically the best safari to date, because it’s nothing more than a personified Aria. It is better built, has better dynamics and performance with better quality, but that’s how it should have been from the start. That’s nothing new, it’s like saying we have a new bottled water and unlike before its purified.

What I, like many others wanted a new safari, a new vehicle for the new generation to drool, a new benchmark, the new best. The safari has turned to be good, even better than all previous avatars, even the Scorpio but it still isn’t the best as it should be. That credit is sadly being given to the XUV 500.

So, at a sad note I would like to end, faced with the question why is Tata killing my safari? Bring it back or kill it and let it die like a hero.