For the last two years, the native company had the team burn the midnight oil for the conception and development of the new Safari under the code name ‘Safari 18’. Built on the 4×2 Aria platform, the new model is expected to be unveiled in late 2011, lauding the Tata Merlin name. It is speculated that the Merlin would be priced in the 10 lakh range to challenge Mahindra’s new launch XUV 500 priced at 10.88 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi). They say the Tata Merlin isn’t here to replace the old Safari, but would instead mark a presence with a smarter personality and refreshed specs that offer a choice between the Safari and Aria.
According to the spy images, the Tata Merlin promises to be a very smooth and elegant SUV. The face shows a completely revamped look with the hood lower than before and the contours replaced with a bold boxy look. New body color front and rear bumpers with stylish fog lights, sharp looking L shaped projector headlamps, body color door handles are the new added features that make the Tata Merlin a completely refreshed car. 5-spoke alloy wheels complete the aggressive personality with the fifth wheel hidden under the trunk that shows off a neat Aria-like tailgate. Borrowing styling cues from Land Rover, the carefully designed rear is home to new square taillights.
Carrying on Tata’s legacy of luxury and style, the cabin is expected to be on a par with the Aria. We can expect the car to boast of all the opulent features like exotic looking leather upholstery, power windows, remote fuel filler etc. Being a spacious seven-seater, the car promises to make your drive comfortable with functional amenities like steering wheel-mounted controls, adjustable driver’s seat, in-dash music system, upgraded air conditioning with dual-vent power controls, etc. Completely redesigned power exterior mirrors, panoramic moonroofs, rear wiper and defroster are a few other features that make the SUV the ultimate in comfort and opulence.
The car will come with well-equipped safety features such as Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Traction Control Mechanism, Parking Sensors, 4 Airbags, Electronic Stability Program ( ESP), fog lights to provide the safety quotient. along with the luxuries.
Sources suggest the company tested the model with two engine options, then settled for the 2.2-liter DiCOR for the Aria’s current model. The diesel engine would deliver a maximum power of 140 PS at 4,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 320 Nm at 1,700 rpm. The Aria boasts the same engine as the Safari but with tuned and refined vibration. The Tata Merlin, although rated at 140 bhp, is expected to be very sensitive to control. Combined with a five-speed manual gearbox and low-friction bearings, the car is expected to be a real power performer. Speculations hint that the Tata Merlin will deliver a mileage of 11 kmpl in the city and around 15 kmpl on the highway.
Better equipped than the previous model, the car is also expected to be priced higher by 10-12 lakhs.