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All-new 2021 Tata Safari first drive review on video

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Tata has definitely surprised most of us by bringing back the legendary Safari nameplate to the Indian market. The all-new Safari, which was named as the Gravitas at 2020 Auto Expo is Tata’s second vehicle on the OMEGA-Arc platform after the Harrier. We did spend a few hours with the all-new Safari and this is what we think about the all-new model.

2021 Tata Safari: Looks

From the front, the all-new Tata Safari looks strikingly similar to the Harrier. In fact, Tata has not changed anything in the front apart from a tri-arrow chrome grille. While the Harrier has a commanding look with split headlamps and dual-purpose DRLs and indicators, we would have definitely liked to see some more tweaks because it is the “Safari”. Come to the side and you will notice the 18-inch alloy wheels but the design is again similar to the Harrier’s alloys. Tata has added a few nice touches to the side. The stepped roof design and the rear quarter glass look like good additions and add more character to the SUV.

At the rear, the tail lamps have become narrower and sleeker. It becomes boxier when compared to the Harrier. Tata has not made any changes to the bumper of the car too. While the Safari looks interesting, Tata could have changed a few more details when it comes to the design. It is about 80mm taller and 60mm longer than the Harrier so it does have a better road presence.

2021 Tata Safari: Cabin and features

The all-new Tata Safari gets three-row seating. There are a six-seater and seven-seater versions of the SUV. We only drove the six-seater version with captain seats in the middle row. Even the dashboard looks very familiar and there is no change in the layout when compared to the Harrier. Tata has, however, changed the colour theme and the ambience. The dashboard now gets a black wood finish while the seats are now white in colour. Yes, it adds a sense of space inside the cabin and makes the Safari’s cabin look premium. But it is difficult to maintain the colour in India, especially in the dusty conditions.

The feature list remains similar to the Harrier. It gets a digital-analogue instrument cluster, an 8.8-inch touchscreen in the middle, 6 airbags and so on. Tata has also added the iRA feature to the Safari that connects your smartphone to the vehicle. There are several features like Geo-fencing the car, getting to know the live location and so on that you can do using the new iRA.

Tata has also added an electronic parking brake and auto hold in the Safari. These features are missing from the Harrier. Also, the co-driver seat can be adjusted with the help of a lever by the passengers in the middle row. The top-end version also gets a panoramic sunroof.

2021 Tata Safari: Space

There is a lot of space inside the car. Let’s start with the third row. It is a typical third-row seat where you have to sit with the knees up. Not comfortable for adults if they have to sit there for more than an hour or two. There is an AC control on the right and USB on the left of the third row. You also get adjustable headrests and space is adequate. There is ample headroom due to the stepped roof design too.

The second-row seats can be adjusted by sliding them. Also, in the 6-seater version, you need to use the space between the seats to reach the third row. The second-row captain seats are very comfortable and Tata has added the new Stadium Seating arrange that allows the passengers in the middle row to get a clear view of the road ahead. There is a lot of space inside the car to keep your things. Even the doors get double storage space.

2021 Tata Safari: Engine and transmission

Tata has continued to offer the same 2.0-litre diesel engine that is also available with the Harrier. The engine comes from Fiat and packs the same 170 PS and 350 Nm. Tata offers a manual transmission and a 6-speed automatic sourced from Hyundai in the Safari. It is a front-wheel-drive vehicle and there are no AWD or 4X4 systems in the car.

Tata Safari automatic

This is the smoothest automatic transmission that I have driven in a long time. The engine and the automatic transmission are a perfect match. Inside the city, where you keep the throttle at about 50% to 70% of the throttle, you do not even notice the gear shifts. The shifts are very quick and smooth. The only time you notice the gear changes is when you put the throttle against the floor. Even then the shifts are very quick. Tata offers the Eco, City and Sports modes that change the power output and throttle sensitivity. In Eco Mode, the engine delivers linear power while in the Sport mode, it becomes quite aggressive.

Tata Safari manual

We drove the manual across the city and got fuel efficiency of around 19.5 km/l. It was display-indicated efficiency and even if we consider an error of 10%, it is extremely good as the Safari is heavy and a bulky vehicle and we drove it through the city at 9 AM, in the rush hour traffic. The manual transmission is quite good too and the gears slot well. The third gear is quite tall so you can use it inside the city without feeling the need to shift much.

Can it do off-roading?

We took the Safari on a few obstacles around ORAZ. It does quite well and has a lot of articulation too. Yes, it is not a proper off-roader but Tata offers wet mode and the rough road mode in the Safari that plays with the ESP setting and makes the Safari more capable. It can climb up the inclines, go downhill, go over the chicken holes without much of a problem. It can do a lot, much more than what 90% of the customers will make it do. Since it is a new platform, Tata has not developed an AWD or 4X4 system yet but it will take years and multi-crore budget. 4X4 vehicles are not very popular in India and Tata used to sell around 1% of them in the past. So there is almost no demand for the 4X4 vehicles in India.

Should you buy it?

While there are a few things that I did not like about the car like the fixed armrest, the similarity with the Harrier, a few missing features like wireless charger, and the phone holder not being easily accessible, the Safari will be a worthy challenger to the Hector Plus and the Mahindra XUV500. Tata is yet to announce the price but as always, we feel that they will play the value-for-money strategy and keep the Safari price lower than the competition. Almost everything changes with the time and so did the Safari. Tata will announce the prices later this month.