This week at 4wheelreviews, we stirred up a “Storme 400”, all of you who are familiar with the Safari Storme know I mean that literally! Well, there has to be some reason, after almost 18 years on Indian soil, this car still light up the eyes of most petrol-heads and Yes I am absolutely one of them. Ever since I was kid I have been a Safari and Sierra fan and why not, these were the only SUV’s available back then.
Spending next week with Safari Storme varicor 400 was one of the best things happened to me as an Auto enthusiast and I made sure I will make most out of it. The first question that came to my mind was why STORME? Do I pronounce it ‘storm’ or as ‘store-may’? The clarification came in stating it was pronounced as ‘Storm’. Out of curiosity, I googled for ‘Storme’ and found out the meaning. Guess what, Storme means ‘one with an impulsive nature’!!! The name itself illustrates the behaviour of the car.
Over a couple of years Tata has given time-to-time upgrades to Safari. Storme was launched three years back, though it couldn’t woo auto enthusiast across the nation. Tata has updated the Storme, So is this the best Safari Storme yet? Well, Tata Motors didn’t think in a similar way, they gave an upgrade with 400 NM torque and Varicor engine and now it’s known as Safari Strome 400!
I’ll be a fool to sit and explain you how it looks, how design lines flows, how things are designed. We all have seen Safari for 15 years and Storme for 3 years. Though cars like Safari Storme are not supposed to be aesthetically pleasing, the only visual upgrade is the honeycomb grill at the front inspired from the British cousin Land Rover and ‘VARICOR 400’ branding on the side. Front end also gets a small black air-dam and a false hood scoop (which looks horrible). This gives a strong look at front and from cabin it looks similar to Toyota Fortuner. Another added bit is DRL to this SUV front. Though these DRLs are the most basic one, these are much needed upgrade to Safari Strome. The rest remains the same, a huge manly SUV that can scare the sh*t out of every small car on the road. Hope I’m not exaggerating, but one may feel it looks a bit like Land Rovers. Why not?, its design elements are purely JLR inspired.
You have to climb up two steps to get inside Storme, thanks to my height I didn’t find it tricky. Engineers at Tata Motors has a magical power they can fit acres and acres of space irrespective of car size and this applies to Storme as well. We have a new dash, I think Tata tried to create chestnut leather and brushed aluminum feel with plastics, not that inspiring but I’m ok with it as far as the fit and finish is good. Finally, we have a new steering wheel with mounted controls. The design is same as that on Tata Zest/Bolt and will be followed on upcoming Tata models. Infotainment system incorporated with dash looks decent than the predecessor. Bluetooth works fine, easy to connect and works fast with steering mounted control. You don’t have to wait after the steering mounted commands. Seat cushioning is new and material feels good though front seat lack thigh support. This is the main area where Tata Motors need to work on. The Storme seats designs are same as old seats and lack bolster and thigh support. There are ample of cubbyholes, infact one door pocket can accommodate up to five 1 liter bottles and one 1.5 liter (tried and tested) beat that. Overall the cabin feels fresh and roomy. The doors felt like of an armoured car needing lot of strength to shut, maybe that’s just Tata’s way of conveying we own a giant steel industry. You sit almost three feet high from the ground what that means is you get a commanding view like a watchtower, you can actually see every freaking thing around you while driving, a perfect 180º view of immediate surroundings.
The very moment you ignite it, you can feel its power, talking about the power new Storme gets 2.2-litre VariCOR diesel mill, the output has been upped from 140bhp to 156bhp of power and 400Nm of torque. The new thing in Storme 400 is a six speed gearbox. In the previous version, Dicor 2.2 VTT stood for Direct injection common rail 2.2 with variable turbine technology. The Storme’s engine is the same 2.2 Varicor VTT. 2.2 diesel with variable geometry turbo which is essentially same as VTT.
I liked how this motor behaves at low RPM’s, you don’t need much of gear shifts, torque is just available for you every time you push the accelerator. At times it feels high revving, gear box is clumsy and you have to be precise while shifting gears. Clutch travel is now improved, but the notchy gearbox disappoints you at times. I drove this car for more than 500 kms including Mumbai traffic and Pune highways.
I was stuck in Mumbai’s traffic for more than two hours and maneuvering this elephant from bumper to bumper traffic was unwary. It’s a 2 ton SUV with softer suspension set up so it is going to feel lumpy on the road. The suspension work is one of the best parts of this SUV. Even at 25kmph speed you can go smoothly over speed breaker and you will not get any jerk in the cabin.
Also read: Safari Storme Review.
After spending a week with Storme, I didn’t realize how and where I covered 500 km. You can just go munching miles Irrespective of the terrain and road conditions. On the highhway, it is rock solid, I attained a top speed of around 180 kmph, but I don’t care about top speed as far as I can effortlessly cruise with a speed of 120-130 kmph for hours and hours. The 6th gear at 80 kmph keep the rpm at 1500 and that’s the best way to get more fuel efficient drive from this massive SUV. I am sure that if i just want to get more fuel economy from this SUV, 6th gear and 80kmph will be the best way to squeeze out 15kmpl with ease.
All you have to do is sit and enjoy the drive. Don’t distract yourself by comparing it with other cars. It’s a Safari and it is going to be like this, An old school kick ass SUV. I’m pretty sure a few years down the line Tata will redefine the Safari Storme all over again and considering future designs of Tata it’ll be worth the wait.
Photos by: Sumit Gaikwad.