A few days back we brought you yet another photo of the 2012 Tata Safari / Merlin after having shown you an early scoop pic and lots of spy shots of the heavily cladded SUV. What we have here now are even more photos of what could be called the 2012 Tata Safari Merlin along with lots of info provided to us by sources close to Tata. But since there is too much speculation regarding this vehicle, we suggest you take this info with a pinch of salt.
The Tata Safari Merlin project took birth on paper back in 2007 and was called ‘Safari Eighteen’. The ‘Eighteen’ stands for a target completion time of 18 months that Tata had set for itself. And since this project started in 2007, the early test mules of the Tata Aria which were spotted testing in Sweden’s snow capped tracks, were being reported as test mules of the ‘all new Safari’. But after the J-LR takeover, Tata had an all new knowledge base that could be looked into and hence both the projects – the Safari Eighteen and the Aria were indefinitely delayed.
We have already seen what the J-LR involvement has done to the Tata Aria – with its luxurious interiors, improved fit and finish and lots of creature comforts previously unseen on Tata products. The same treatment will now filter down to the 2012 Tata Safari Merlin as well. Though we have posted some scoop shots of the interiors as well, there is hardly any detail visible apart from the fact the new Safari Merlin uses blue illumination for its dashboard/console. Expect these interiors to be on par or even better than what we have already seen in the Tata Aria.
The Tata Merlin will be powered by the same 2.2-litre DICOR mill to begin with, however, it gets all the improvements that we have seen in the Aria. The revised 2.2-litre DICOR mill will use a dual mass fly-wheel for smoother operation and will considerably reduce the NVH levels. We have also hinted towards the development of a new 3.0-litre diesel powerplant when we first posted the photos the 2012 Safari being tested under heavy cladding. Sources close to Tata are now confirming that a 3.0-litre diesel is indeed being tested on the Safari Merlin but the results aren’t satisfactory yet. Also under initial testing is a V6 petrol engine but the same sources have immediately confirmed that the Merlin is just one of the test benches for this engine and will not be available with the same when it goes on sale next year.
The list of creature comforts will be similar to the Tata Aria, but we are being told that a few more features are being considered to make sure the Safari Merlin will have enough firepower to take on Mahindra’ World SUV codenamed (W201). The 2012 Safari Merlin is expected to be unveiled by Q2 2011 and is expected to be priced between Rs. 11-lakh to 15-lakh across multiple variants. This model will co-exist alongside the current Tata Safari. The current model is expected to get a facelift by January 2010, when it will be garnished with even more chrome, a few tweaks to the interiors and a few added features to its in-car entertainment system. Stay tuned to Motoroids as we bring you more information on the 2012 Tata Safari Merlin and the current Safari’s facelift as and when it is available to us!