Two strategies often seem to work in the Indian SUV market in terms of sales success. The first involves creating affordable vehicles loaded with features to the brim, and the second involves offering a proper utility vehicle with good performance and a long list of features. Now, the Tata Safari has always been more or less in the second category – it’s not what one would call affordable per se, but it’s known for its go-anywhere ability and premium interior. The latest-generation Tata Safari, however, inherited the Land Rover-derived D8 platform from the Harrier, which made it a better on-road vehicle but at the expense of utility. And while it still had a premium interior, highway-devouring touring capability, and a torquey engine, in some ways, it felt like an extension of the Harrier. This year, Tata Motors launched the new 2023 Tata Harrier and Safari simultaneously, each infused with different flavours. So, what sets the new Tata Safari apart from the outgoing version? Let’s find out!
2023 Tata Safari Review: Exterior Design & Dimensions
The 2023 Tata Safari is 7mm longer, 28mm wider, and 9mm taller than its outgoing version, which means that despite the increased dimensions, the new model appears more or less similar in size. Even in terms of design, the difference between the two models is not quite apparent, especially from a distance. A closer and more preceptive look, however, will allow you to differentiate the new Safari from the outgoing model. The biggest design changes are at the front. For instance, there is a larger, bolder parametric front grille with body-coloured inserts, which Tata Motors refers to as chicklets, along with a one-piece LED DRL strip on top and a two-tier LED headlamp on either side. The one-piece LED DRL, along with a one-piece LED taillamp, also gets a welcome and goodbye animation function, which adds to the overall premium aspect of the SUV.
The new 2023 Tata Safari now comes with 19-inch two-tone alloy wheels, shod with 245-section tyres. The design and size of these alloys and tyres feel more or less perfect, making the 18-inch alloys and 235-section rubber combination on the new Tata Harrier feel under-tyred in comparison. Now, while the overall design changes may not be a lot, I think they are enough to add to a bit of panache to the overall persona of the SUV without completely changing it. Tata Motors has also introduced new colour combinations for the SUV, and the Cosmic Gold shade you see in the pictures here looks even more elegant and beautiful in person.
Now, Tata Motors is also offering the 2023 Tata Safari in the #Dark variant from the start, which, as you might have guessed, sports a black paint scheme, with black alloy wheels and blacked-out interior design. Overall, the new Tata Safari features subtle changes in terms of design and styling, which works in its favour.
2023 Tata Safari Review: Interior Design & Features
Unlike the exterior, the interior of the new 2023 Tata Safari is a vast improvement over that of the outgoing version. The dashboard has been redesigned, and it now houses a new 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which is a significant improvement over that of the outgoing version in terms of look and feel. Not only does it have a better display and touch feedback, along with crisp graphics, but also added features such as a 360-degree parking camera. All the cameras offer high-quality images, with well-balanced colours. The new infotainment system also includes a fantastic 10-speaker JBL sound system with different sound modes. There is one small problem with the system though – while using maps, the image from the Blind-Spot View Monitor is displayed over the entire map. I think a minimised display of the map in this case would have been better.
The new 2023 Tata Safari also comes with touch-based HVAC controls, which look extremely upmarket and are easy to use. Nevertheless, I do have a couple of niggles about it. The first is that the fan speed indicator is static, and while it is illuminated, it doesn’t change on changing the fan speed. The other issue is the lack of space between the blower controls and hazard light switch.
In keeping the modern design touches, the new Tata Safari features a new 4-spoke steering wheel design with an illuminated Tata logo in the middle. The new wheel feels chunky and good to hold, and the steering wheel controls are quite easily within the reach of your fingers. Another big addition is a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, which we first saw in the new Tata Nexon. The system, like the infotainment unit, has stepped the game up in terms of features and graphics. The display is crisp, and the system is extremely user-friendly. Plus, you also get features like the ability to cast your smartphone navigation onto the screen for a more comfortable driving experience.
The 2023 Tata Safari gets a redesigned centre console with new automatic/manual gear levers, an electric handbrake, and a new bejewelled Terrain Response Mode dial. There are three driving and three terrain modes, but more on that later.
In terms of comfort, the new Safari gets large and extremely cushiony front seats, which ensure your comfort even during long journeys. However, the issue of white dirt-prone upholstery option remains. That said, you do get darker brown upholstery in lower trims. One of the biggest highlights of the new Safari is the number of features it offers for improved comfort and practicality. You now get a 6-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and 4-way power-adjustable co-driver seat. What’s more, the front seats are also ventilated and cooled. If you opt for the high-end trim with captain seats, you get ventilated and cooled second-row seats as well. The front co-driver seat also gets adjustment buttons on the side for ease of use. The new Tata Safari is a better family vehicle too, for not only does it get a two-zone climate control for the front passengers but also offers second- and third-row passengers the option to adjust the speed of the AC fan. Furthermore, there are multiple fast charging ports in all three rows, along with multiple storage compartments throughout the cabin. Add cooled storage areas to the mix, and what you find is a vehicle that is not just a capable driver’s SUV but also a multi-talented family vehicle.
2023 Tata Safari Review: Engine & Transmission Performance
The 2023 Tata Safari continues with the engine and gearbox combination of the outgoing version. You get a 2.0-litre Kryotec turbo-diesel engine, which produces 170bhp and 350Nm of peak torque. For transmission, you can choose between a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic gearbox – our test car was the automatic variant. The combination of the torquey turbo-diesel and the silky-smooth 6-speed auto box is simply excellent. The engine offers strong but linear power delivery and isn’t afraid of being pushed to its limit. The 2023 Safari, like the outgoing version, can be brought up to triple-digit speeds rather quickly and has no problem holding those speeds for hours.
The most significant mechanical update in the new Tata Safari is the inclusion of a fly-by-wire e-gear system, which replaces the hydraulic torque converter of the outgoing model. This has made switching between gears more intuitive, whether in the composed Eco mode or the dynamic Sport mode. The difference in shift times of all three modes is quite discernible and well-tuned, and so is the throttle response. While the Eco mode offers a composed performance, which is good for city driving and stop/go traffic, the Sport mode transforms it into a high-performance vehicle. You also get the option of choosing between three terrain modes – Normal, Rough, and Wet. Now, while we didn’t get the opportunity to thoroughly test all three of them, we did manage to test the Rough mode a bit, which offers lower gearing, prolonged gear engagement, heightened throttle response, and reduced intervention from traction control electronics.
2023 Tata Safari Review: Ride & Handling
In terms of ride and handling, both the outgoing Tata Harrier and Safari are quite capable vehicles. Despite the fact that they do not get AWD or extreme rough-road capability, they are extremely balanced SUVs both on and off-road. The new 2023 Tata Safari not only retains its excellent dynamic capability but also improves it, thanks to its new electronic power steering system. The steering response now feels more direct and intuitive, responding a lot quicker to inputs, and inspires a lot of confidence. Consequently, the new Safari handles different driving conditions better than before. Be it straight highways, flowing corners, or small city traffic, the new 2023 Tata Safari feels a lot easier to live with. However, what you gain in tractability, you lose in terms of feel. The new electronic system is almost completely devoid of feel.
While things have definitely improved in terms of handling, the ride remains exactly the same as the previous Safari – in other words, it is excellent! The new 2023 Tata Safari, like the outgoing model, has the ability to absolutely absorb all kinds of road imperfections, offering a comfortable ride experience at all speeds and on all roads, be it uneven highways, rough roads, or large pothole-ridden surfaces. What’s more, the suspension also remains extremely stable at high speeds. Overall, the new Tata Safari is an extremely capable vehicle in terms of ride and handling, with the ability to take on the sharpest of corners and the worst of roads. In fact, not a lot of vehicles on sale in India today can match the Tata Safari’s driving dynamics and comfort, especially those in the same price bracket.
2023 Tata Safari Review: Safety
While the new Safari has a head-turning style, a feature-ridden interior, and good driving dynamics, what really sets it apart is the fact that it offers unparalleled safety. Even the basic variants of the new 2023 Tata Safari managed to receive a 5-star GNCAP rating for both adult and child safety. Once you start climbing up the variant ladder, you get features like 7 airbags, 360-degree surround view camera, front & rear parking sensors, hill hold control, ISOFIX child seat anchors, and IRA 2.0 connected car tech. What’s more, it also gets ADAS features like Adaptive Cruise Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Rear Collision Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Change Alert, Door Open Alert, and High Beam Assist. Plus, the electronic power steering also provides lane change warning through subtle vibrations.
2023 Tata Safari Review: Verdict
The new 2023 Tata Safari brings a host of changes in terms of styling, features list, and driving experience. I think Tata Motors has done a fantastic job with the new Safari, for it’s now more comfortable and has more features and better driving dynamics. If you are looking for a mid-size premium family SUV without extreme off-road capabilities, the new Tata Safari is one of the most competent products you can buy in its price range, which starts at Rs 16.19 lakh and goes up to Rs 25.49 lakh (ex-showroom).