The Ultimate Safari

Speculations everywhere…. for more than 3 years!  A hefty number of spy pictures by auto blogs,
artistic impressions, expert predictions, etc. all whetted my curiosity about
the much-acclaimed 2012 Tata Safari. Is it just going to be a facelift for the
same aged but good-looking skeleton or a generation leap just like the Indigo

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Two of my cousins are die-hard fans of Tata Safari since
their teenage years. All they want is to buy a 4×4 Safari and enjoy its fun and
frolic. They are rigid on their dream plans who love Safari for its endearing
skeleton and appearance. I’m neither an exception to that. Every SUV fan will
appreciate that exterior manifestation. That can even be claimed as the USP of
the SUV, which poor Scorpio and Pajero are deprived of.  So, the upcoming 2012 Safari should retain
its iconic styling DNAs.

Tata’s prototypes tested in Sweden

But, it is an undeniable fact that the Safari’s chassis and
skeleton is almost 14 years old and it isn’t contemporary. The present trend of
SUVs adopting MUV’s characteristics to score some on-road presence – hosting
spare wheel underneath the vehicle unlike the earlier fashion of wheel hinged
to the rear tail-gate, a very basic gene of 20th century off-roaders – are
increasingly prevalent. So to be fashionable, the Safari should either adopt
this school of thought or it should be placed a notch higher borrowing design
cues from premium SUVs – just like Fortuner or a Landrover.

Some facts are obvious. The new Safari is based on company’s
latest X2 platform which has already been used for Tata’s crossover, the Aria.
This will have a number of structural advantages to the car including a more
refined engine and a strong hydro-formed chassis sections. The upcoming Safari
will be better in terms of ride and handling and is expected to be powered by
the Aria’s 2.2l DICOR motor mated to an upgraded G76-Mark II gearbox, this time
along with a unique dual-mass flywheel. And a decent safety and luxury features
are obviously reserved!

A Safari test mule codenamed ‘Merlin’. (Manroe??!!)
Now, the ultimate question is going to be this – Is it going
to be typical Safari SUV or an Aria-inspired Indicruz MUV?? It is speculated
that the new Safari will borrow some of its designing and styling cues from
Tata owned Land Rover’s SUVs. Just like a cornered mouse, we have to wait till
November this year for its launch.

Image Courtesy: Motoroids

Dhiyanesh Ravichandran

Editorial consultant (Automotive and Technology), academic, and blogger based in India. He can be reached at

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