For the past couple of years the native company had the team burning the mid night oil for the conception and development of the new Safari under the code name of 'Safari 18'. Built on the 4x2 Aria platform the new model is expected to unveil by the end of the year 2011 lauding the name Tata Merlin. Speculations are around that the Merlin would be priced in the bracket of 10 lakhs to challenge Mahindra's new launch XUV 500 priced at 10.88 lakhs (ex- showroom Delhi). The Tata Merlin, they say is not here to replace the old Safari but would mark a presence with a smarter personality and revamped specifications offering an option between the Safari and the Aria.
From the spy pictures the Tata Merlin promises to be a very suave and stylish SUV. The face showcases a completely refurbished look with the hood lower than before and the contours replaced with bold boxy look. New front and rear body colored bumpers with chic fog lights, L shaped sharp looking projector head lamps, body colored door handles are the new add on features making the Tata Merlin an entirely revived car. 5 spoke alloy wheel complete the aggressive persona with the fifth wheel hidden way under the boot showcasing a neat tail gate like the Aria. Borrowing style cues from the Land Rover the crisply crafted rear houses new square tail lamps.
Carrying the Tata legacy of luxury and style the cabin is expected to be at 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 would promise to make your drive comfortable with functional amenities like steering mounted controls, adjustable drivers seat, dash integrated music system, upgraded AC with power controls with two vents etc. fully redesigned electric door mirrors, panoramic sun roofs, rear wiper and defogger are some other features making the SUV an ultimate in comfort and opulence.
The car will possess well appointed safety features like Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), Anti Lock Braking System (ABS), traction control mechanism, parking sensors, 4 air bags, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), fog lamps to bring the safety quotient at par with the luxuries.
Sources suggest that the company tested the model with two engine options and later settled for the 2.2 litre DiCOR doing the duty for the ongoing model of the Aria. The diesel engine would deliver maximum power of 140 bhp at 4000 rpm and maximum torque of 320 nm at 1700 rpm. The Aria boasts of the same engine as of Safari but with fine-tuning and refinement in vibration. The Tata Merlin though a 140 bhp churner is expected to be very sensitive to control. Mated with a five speed manual gear box and low friction bearings the car is expected to be a real power performer. Speculations hint the Tata Merlin to deliver a mileage of 11 kmpl in city and about 15 kmpl on highway.
Better appointed than the previous model the car is also expected to be priced higher, somewhere between 10-12 lakhs.
As the Safari itself is a very popular model, its refurbished and technologically advanced model is already creating waves in anticipation. Being an affordable SUV the Tata Merlin is indeed promising to deliver its value content yet it will have to prove its mettle in the market loaded with sharp competition like the Mahindra XUV 500.