It would have been very surprising even for the employees of Tata Motors. It was that kind of deception. When the BS-VI norms kicked in and the Safari Storme was axed, many tears were shed and questions were afloat regarding its comeback. Even the Hexa was displayed in the Safari Edition at the 2020 Auto Expo. As the BS-VI norms kicked in, the Hexa was sent to an induced coma. Hopefully, it will return soon, but that is a story for another day. Now, in a move that surprised everyone and even shocked some, Tata Motors went ahead and slapped the Safari moniker to…the Gravitas! The Gravitas was first showcased at the 2020 Auto Expo as the Buzzard Concept, which is an extended, 7-seater version of the Harrier. Underpinning the new, third-gen ‘Safari’ will be the same OMEGARC platform that underpins the Harrier, which is derived from the D8 platform of Land Rover.
Say hello to the new Safari
The all-new Safari will be launched on January 26 and is expected to hit the showrooms much before. Bookings and other details will be revealed soon, but before we get into those details, let’s address the elephant in the room – will the new Safari be able to fill the gap left by the OG? Will it appeal to off-road enthusiasts and customers who liked the aura of a big, butch SUV that had a massive road presence? Will it have the commanding driving position of the Safari Storme it replaces? What about 4×4?
Shailesh Chandra – President, Passenger Vehicles Business Unit (PVBU), Tata Motors, on the new Safari
“We are proud and elated to re-introduce our flagship SUV-Safari. The Safari, an iconic brand with a strong following, has been the most sought-after SUV on Indian roads for well over two decades. In its new avatar, the Safari will appeal to socially active, fun-loving customers who seek out unique experiences and adventure. Its design, performance, versatility, features, and long-lasting build quality, reinforce the SUV lifestyle to provide unending pleasure. We are confident that the launch of the Safari will once again re-energize the market, amplifying its cult status.”
Big shoes to fill
Yes, it will appeal to many but it will take time for customers to get acquainted with the new Safari, simply because it is new. Sure, it has the looks, has an aggressive stance and no one can deny that it has a massive road presence. With the Harrier gaining traction and winning hearts for its design, ride quality, handling, and looks, it is safe to say that the path for Safari to succeed has become easy, courtesy of the Harrier. That said, the Safari has to carve an identity on its own, rather than being known as just ‘a 7-seat version of the Harrier’. No, that would be disastrous for the Safari moniker. So what can prevent that from happening?
A 4×4 can repel those thoughts and give the all-new Safari an edge. And some character. This is a possibility, as Tata Motors says that the platform has been adapted for plonking a 4×4 as well as electrification in the future. Now that is future-proofing a legendary moniker. But according to Tata Motors, very few customers actually opted for the 4×4 variant and spent the extra moolah for the same. S0 as a business case, a Safari with 4×2 version works well, too. As an enthusiast, you may feel bad about the lack of a 4×4 but ultimately, the focus is on the customer and what he/she wants. And practicality tops the list, which Safari will deliver, going by the looks of it.
What you can expect inside the Safari
Moving on to the interior, it is difficult to expect the commanding view of the Safari Storme. However, word on the street is that the second-row of the Safari might bring some fond memories of the Safari Storme in terms of the seating ergonomics – you sit higher than the front row and get a good view ahead. Tata has given a stepped roof treatment for the new Safari and you can expect some decent amount of space in the third row as well. Tata also says that captain seats will be available in the second row, which will add to the premium-ness of the SUV. Expect that to be in higher variants. It will have the same powertrain as the Harrier, but the change in dimensions and the addition of the third row can change the dynamics of the car, but it should not be too far away from how the Harrier handles and rides.
Many people love the new Safari while others were left scratching their heads at what Tata Motors have done. But the message is clear. With the company’s #NewForever theme, the old has made way for new and it is time to #ReclaimYourLife.