That the Tata Safari has been continuing in the Indian SUV scene for quite a long time is something which everyone knows. Going by the spy pics floating around on the net and the talks of a new version coming into picture pretty much soon is pointing towards the thing that a new Tata Safari is on the way. Moreover, going by the ad campaigns that Tata Motors is currently running for the current version of the Safari, it is but imperative that they want to clear the stocks of the existing one before the new one makes its debut. We have got a sneak preview of how the 2011 Tata Safari Merlin in India would look like and plus its other somehow shady details.
This one is just said to be a stop gap arrangement kinda thing before the all new Safari slated for a late 2012 or even 2013 launch comes in. The front and the rear look is where Tata designers have concentrated their design bulk on. The design language has been certainly taken up from the likes of Jaguar Land Rover. The front is where most of the design elements have been concentrated on. A somewhat squarish looking grille is what the Tata Safari Merlin in India should present. Larger wheels and with alloys shod on even the base variant is to be expected. The side profile would vastly remain the same with minor alterations to suit the new overall look. The rear would also be a shade away from the usual Christmas tree tail lamps that the Safari traditionally used. Twin tail pipes may also be the order of the day to make the Safari a visually alluring thing and less bulky.
The interior is where more of the Land Rover theme would be carried forward. The parts used would be of high quality while the fit and finish would be very un-like Tata. The Aria was one product which had some of the Land Rover design cues embedded in it and it has got a very nice road presence going for it. Moreover the features list would be something that would give its competitors a run for their money. The interiors are also said to be almost similar to the Aria in terms of fit and finish with quality of the parts being significantly improved. Space would remain a forte and Tata would be happy providing captain chair seats for all the rows. Adding to the features list would be a reverse camera plus navigation system and other goodies. There would be steering mounted audio control systems along with a Bluetooth enabled audio system with touch screen interface.
The steering system would be a new unit and one which would be electronically powered. Also, Tata is said to provide the Merlin with an all new 4×4 system or even continue with present system. However, this 4×4 system would be available only on the top end Merlin. The ride quality would also be good considering that the suspension would share some of its configuration from the Jaguar bin. Tata Motors have taken care to ensure that the NVH inside the cabin of this car remains very low and almost similar to the Aria, if not less. The earlier vague handling is in for a big change especially with Tata Motors set to change the image of this SUV.
The 2.2 liter DICOR motor from the earlier Safari is expected to be carried over to the new model as well. The common rail motor will produce 140 Bhp of power with 320 Nm of torque. A 5 speed manual gearbox would do the cog shifting duties. Like in the Aria, Tata Motors would bring in the dual mass flywheel. The latter would aid in better NVH as also a smooth gear shifting mechanism. Single air bags along with ABS would be offered even on the base variant. The top end variants would get 4 airbags, EBD, ABS and also traction control. The fuel efficiency is also said to be improved, however, by what degree, still remains to be seen. Now, the pricing. Going by the prices wherein the current Safari range is being advertised for Rs 7.99 lakhs, the Tata Safari Merlin price in India is expected to be in the Rs 8.30 lakhs to Rs 12 lakhs range. The expected date of launch stands to be September 29th 2011, just a day after the launch of the Mahindra XUV 500, its main competitor. Of course, once it is launched, we would carry out the review or test drive of the Tata Safari Merlin in our usual Indiandrives way.
Image source bharathautos.com.