Ramananda Sengupta takes the new Tata Safari 2.2 Dicor VTT for a weekend ride. And returns wanting more.
The Mitsubishi Lancer way up ahead was doing at least 120 kmph. Pedal to metal, 140 bhp of turbocharged horses, a climbing speedo -- and it was a fast disappearing blip on my rear view mirror.
Saturday morning, 8.30 am, and I was test driving the new Tata Safari VTT 2.2 DiCOR. VTT stands for Variable Turbine Technology, while DiCOR is short for Direct Injection Common Rail, also described as CRDi, CRDe, and Tdi by various manufacturers.
Tata Motors had magnanimously allowed me to keep the car over a weekend, so I decided to combine business with pleasure by taking my wife and daughter along for the ride to Pondicherry and back. The round trip, including trips around Auroville and a guided tour of Pondicherry, was 371 km according to the trip meter, which I set to zero before starting out.
Since I drive a Tata Indigo Marina, (albeit a petrol version) I had assumed that this would be a bigger, higher, slower and noisier version of the same thing.
The moment I stepped into the Safari on that early morning Saturday, I knew I was wrong.
Bigger (1918mm) and higher (1925 mm)? Of course.
Slower and noisier? No way.
This was the mid-range EX version, bracketed between the cheaper LX (Rs.6.7 lakhs) and the high-end 4WD VX (approx Rs 11.75 lakhs). I thus missed out on the shift-on-the-fly four wheel drive mechanism and goodies like ABS, dual airbags, a DVD player, an LCD camera for reversing and leather seats.
But I still had a keyless entry. A roof-mounted rear AC. Immense legroom. And all those lights: fog lamps, reading lamps, puddle lamps under the doors, courtesy lights, and even a "follow-me-home" feature, which essentially means the headlamps switch off 30 seconds after you switch off the car. It can get disconcerting unless you know about it.
More importantly, I still had the same engine. And this meant a hundred and forty horses under the rakish hood. And these horses were not only well trained and groomed, they were incredibly quiet. My trusted Marina sounds, and runs, like a steam locomotive - although a well-tuned one - in comparison.
Apart from the engine, the new Safari Dicor has an elegant horizontally split front grill and spare wheel cover.
Quick tip: BHP is the engine`s horsepower calculated without the loss in power caused by the gearbox, generator, differential, pumps and other auxiliaries before it reaches the wheels.