It is said that Legends are not born again for example there is just one Amitabh Bachchan who can’t be replaced. The Tata Safari is one such legend that Tata Motors is all set to give a rebirth to. The 2021 Tata Safari will be the Pune based car maker’s flagship car model when launched. We have driven the All New Tata Safari for this extensive road test review that will get you all the information and more on the iconic SUV model that is come back to help you Reclaim Your Life.
Food for Thought
The 2021 Tata Safari uses the OMEGARC architecture from the D8 Land Rover platform that is also shared with the Harrier. Tata Motors code named the H7X as the Buzzard at the Geneva Auto Show and as the Gravitas at the 2020 Delhi Auto Expo. Finally the iconic Safari name was chosen over the others for the full sized SUV. The Tata Safari was the car which started it all, the car which made India familiar with the silhouette of a modern-day SUV that we know today. The 1st gen Safari was introduced at the 1998 Delhi Auto Expo powered then by a 2.0L Turbocharged diesel engine that made 90BHP mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. 2003 saw the Safari get a 2.1L petrol engine with 135BHP. In 2005 the updated and highly refreshed Safari Dicor was launched powered by the 3.0L (116BHP) Dicor engine from the Tata 407 commercial vehicle. Then came the Safari Storme in 2012 with a 2.2L Varicor engine that made 150BHP. Finally in 2015 the Safari Storme got a heart transplant with the 2.2L Varicor 400 engine with 156BHO and 400Nm torque and loads of styling updates inspired from Land Rover. The 2021 Safari is the 6/7 seater version of the Harrier with an extended body, loads of changes outside in and with engineering tweaks on it.
The 2021 Tata Safari at first glance upfront does remind you of the Harrier to some extent but there are loads of changes done to it that gives it its own unique identity. In terms of proportions, the 2021 Safari is 4,661mm long, 1,884mm wide and 1,786mm tall. The new model is 63mm longer, 72mm wider and 80mm taller than the Harrier, which is 4598mm long, 1894mm wide and 1706mm tall. The wheelbase of the new Tata Safari is exactly similar to the Harrier that of 2741mm. The face of the 2021 Safari is distinguished with a large Tata Motors signature grille with tri-arrow chrome motif placed surrounded by the humanity line in chrome outlining it. The front fascia also gets the Harrier like slim design DRL strip placed just at the bonnet lip line, xenon HID headlight assembly placed under it surrounded with chrome line, round fog lamps below it along with a large air dam and a silver faux skid plate integrated into the bumper.
The bonnet gets character lines that flow back defining the nose of the SUV. The fenders comes with muscular flex bulge on them along with character lines and fiber inserts to add to its butch SUV look. The sides also get a chrome grab door handles, blacked out B pillar and a chrome beltline. The lower section gets fiber inserts while the rear fender also gets the flexed muscular look. The interesting bit on the side profile is the raised roof rails towards the rear section that instantly reminds you of the legendary Safari. The roof is flat but the roofline is very cleverly designed that kind of makes you think the roofline is raised. This roof rail also gets the iconic Safari branding on it in chrome along with a fiber moniker that’s placed vertically around the quarter glass on the sides to again remind you of the older Safari. What make the sides of the Safari totally different from that of the Harrier is the large quarter glass and the chunky D pillar body panel that finishes the side profile very nicely.
The Safari drives on 235/60 R18 chunky tyres mounted on dual tone alloys. Enhancing the sides the wing mirrors come in glossy black housing. What we missed on the sides is the step board which we are told will be a part of the accessory pack later but it could have been a part of the SUV itself. The roof gets a huge electric sun roof along with a large shark fin antenna. This sun roof comes with anti pinch safety, global closure feature that closes the sun roof when ignition is turned off and also closes if it starts raining.
Coming to the rear profile the Safari gets a large bumper with a large silver faux skid plate placed low, unpainted bumper section above it and then the painted bumper above it. This bumper also houses faux exhausts and stop reflectors on it. The tail gate also gets a large SAFARI branding on it in chrome along with a huge spoiler with stop lamp. The tail lights come with dual LED glow filament and are very nicely integrated into the bodyline. Joining the tail lamps is a glossy black plastic body panel that again is very well styled and finished. The 2021 Safari does remind you of the Land Rover Freelander 2 to a large extent, the SUV looks very well put together and is a complete head turner.
Step inside the 2021 Tata Safari and you are instantly welcomed with a super bright and a very spacious cabin area. The large dash is made of premium soft material and also gets neat satin wood insert along with silver inserts running across it. The lower dash is finished in beige. The highlight of the dash is the 8.8 inch color touch screen which comes loaded with all the connectivity options along with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, IRA Connected car features, Bluetooth etc. The sound system on the top end Safari we drove is the 9 speaker premium JBL system which includes 4 speakers, 4 tweeters, sub-woofer and a amplifier. The climate control unit is a single zone unit with vents in the middle and third row. The center console along with the gear shifter houses the terrain response control dial, electro mechanical hand brake and auto hold button. The steering is a 4 spoke design with leather wrapping and also gets silver inserts on it. This steering can be adjusted for height and reach. The MFD control buttons placed on it are very bold making them easy to read or use. The instrument cluster is a 7 inch display combined with a analogue speedo same as the one on the Harrier.
The airy feel to the cabin on the Safari is mostly due to its size and also due to the perforated Oyster white faux leather upholstery on the seats. The driver seat gets full electric adjust. You don’t get ventilation feature on these seats. You also get lumbar support adjust for the driver’s seat. The front seats offer excellent support and comfort while the visibility is unmatched due to the sheer seating height and the huge glass area all around.
The second row seats can be got as regular bench seats or also as twin captain seats on the XZ+ and XZA+ trim. The middle row seats are placed at a slighter higher position than the front row seats giving a stadium like seating feel. Seat comfort is excellent with loads of knee, leg, and shoulder and head room. The seat can be slide ahead or behind to extend space if needed. Middle row passengers also get AC vents placed in the door pillars and twin USB charge ports placed in the middle under the cleverly designed mobile holder in the center console. The middle row seats get two adjustable headrests along with a foldable arm rest. The key highlight for the middle row is the Boss mode feature by which you can slide ahead the front passenger seat using the knob placed on the side of the front seat, this is a unique feature that will be appreciated by many who are chauffeured around. The audio system on the Safari is powered by a 9 speaker setup by JBL and plays out some top class audio quality.
What makes the Safari different from the Harrier is the third row seats, for getting into them you need to fold and tumble the 40:60 split middle row seats and hop in. Once here you will instantly feel the spaciousness of the seat. You surprisingly get lots of leg room, knee room and head room for its placing. You also can extend the leg and knee room if needed by sliding ahead the middle row seats. Here you get AC vents with blower speed control, bottle holder; mobile holder and also USB charge points.
Engine – Drive – Transmission
Powering the 2021 Tata Safari is the Kryotec 2.0L turbocharged Diesel engine that also powers the Harrier, MG Hector, Jeep Compass. This engine makes 170PS of power and 350Nm of torque. Transmission options include a 6-speed manual or a Hyundai sourced 6-speed torque convertor automatic. We drove both the variants so let us tell you how they feel.
First things first the 2.0L Diesel motor feels highly refined and extra silent. There is no vibrations or undulations that is felt at idle or even when the engine is revved hard. We drove the Automatic first, the Safari feels very spirited and holds loads of power as and when needed. The automatic transmission is flawless with quick shifts and zero juddering or lag. The steering feels well weighted and is tuned to feel a bit heavy for that SUV feel. Power delivery is linear with the Safari feeling totally at home at all speeds.
Driving this beast in traffic conditions is super easy mainly due to the visibility from the drivers seat and the way the SUV drives. In city you just need to let off your foot from the brake and the 2.0L oil burner will crawl ahead in style with uber ease. The manual version is for them who want to be in control of their shifts always. The clutch is on the heavier side but you will get used to it in some time. Power is immense across all gears. The transmission is tuned for highway runs with perfect and positive shift feedback on the shifter.
Body roll is not too much considering the sheer size of the SUV. The key highlight is the excellent drive quality that the Safari offers. This easily will now be the best in class overall comfort and ride quality in its segment. The broad chunky tyres add to the overall premium drive feel and driving the Safari you feel invincible and super confident. The all wheel disc brakes with ABS work flawlessly bringing the 2 ton SUV to a halt very confidently and securely offering just the right bite. You also get the preset drive modes (City, Sport) and the terrain response modes (Rough Road, Wet, Auto) to toggle between on the SUV.
Which variant did we like?
Well both the Automatic and the Manual versions of the 2021 Safari are excellent in their own virtues. If you like being always in control of your shifts and are the enthusiasts type then go for the manual for us it will be the auto version for more comfort and relaxed drive feel.
The 2021 Tata Safari comes loaded with a long list of safety features that include dual airbags on the base trim and upto 6 airbags on the XZ/XZA and above trims, ABS with EBD, hill hold, hill descent, auto brake hold, ESP, traction control, corner stability control, roll over mitigation, rain sensing wipers, auto dimming mirrors, cruise control reverse parktronics with camera to name a few.
Things we missed
Well the 2021 Tata Safari does offer an excellent packaging in terms of tech specs, features but still we think a few things were missed by us which include – All Wheel drive variant, wireless charger, ventilated seats, step board, dark color shade option for upholstery, 360 degree camera.
As we mentioned in the start of this review legends can’t be replaced easily but Tata Motors has just done that with the 2021 Safari. The Flagship model from the car maker not only looks very nice but also drives excellent. It has everything going right for it, best in class drive feel, butch and robust styling, excellent engine, taut automatic transmission, cozy yet airy cabin, best in class third row seating and much more. So yes we have no option but to agree with Tata Motors to reclaim your life with the 2021 Tata Safari.
Words – Ritesh Madhok
Photography & Video – Govind Gadekar