23 August, 2005:
The Tata Safari is back. Yawn.
Yawn - because its still the same old Safari to look at. Yawn, because the air dam and driving lights look too much like the new Indica's. Yawn, because there is only so much anyone can do to an old warhorse. Yawn, because your average street-side car designer seems to have more design-sense than Tata's design department.
Before I get carried away - let me tell you the good things about the new Tata Safari Dicor. Once we get those out of the way, I can crib to my heart's content.
The Safari Dicor has a Common Rail Direct Injection (CRDi) engine. Its 3000cc inline-four develops 114 bhp at 3000 rpm. There is 30 kgm of torque to keep you happy. There is both a 4WD version and a 2WD version.
In Mumbai, the lower-end version will cost you just about Rs 8 lakh, while the top-end version is approx. Rs 13 lakh. This is what I have a problem with.
In these days of the Scorpio and the Innova, a 10 year old design that costs Rs 13 lakh? That's well into the Ford Endeavour-Chevrolet Forester-Honda CR-V range, and that is outrageous. An old vehicle should be priced like an old vehicle.
Maybe I crib too much - I shouldn't. I don't think there will be many who will spend Rs 13 lakh on the top-end version of the Tata Safari Dicor. At that price point, I suppose one can easily go for a used Pajero or LandCruiser.
The design - I just can't help coming back to that. That face! Vehicles look often animal-like, reptile-like, canine or feline-like. This is the one vehicle that has consistently managed to keep the look of a car salesman! I still remember a Tata Safari I once saw - the owner had only changed the front grill to one with vertical slats - no other obvious modification. And this Safari - it looked like an attacking shark.
That makes me think again. It is not possible that someone at Tata Motors had not at least once slapped on a vertical grill on that featureless face, and thought, "Wow!" So why don't we get to see a decent face on this SUV? It must be the marketing department, which told them to play it safe.
Buy the Tata Safari Dicor if you love Tata Safaris. Otherwise,
save your money and hope this doesn't sell and
Tata Motors would make something much,. much
cheaper and more powerful, and better-looking than
this old grandmother. Sure they can. Sure they
will, in a while. Just my guess.