Tata Merlin will be reborn this New Year leaving behind its Safari avatar. It will be one of most the eagerly awaited launches in the SUV segment since 1998 from the house of Tata Motors. The Merlin is born out of the same X2 platform of the Tata Aria but has improvised in terms of the looks and interiors. The Merlin still holds the same power factor of 140bhp run by a 2.2-litre Dicor engine which is a lot healthier with more refinement.
Tata Merlin will crash in on the early part of the New Year giving auto fans an extended New Year hangover. The new projector headlights, a squarish grille that looks more imposing than before, and a pronounced chin with a lip under the bonnet are the major front-end revisions. The rear gets two chrome-tipped exhausts and an oversized chrome bar over the number plate. As seen from the spy pictures, the new Safari gets up-market looking interiors with an all-new dash and fascia. There's plenty of plastic 'wood' all over the dash.
The dials are minimalist with white numbers on a black background and the circular air-con dials look attractive too. However the tall gear-lever looks like it is carried over. The typically Tata four-spoke steering wheel however doesn’t get steering-mounted audio controls.
The biggest change, however, will be adopting the new X2 platform from the Aria. Shortened to the Safari’s 2650mm wheelbase, it will massively improve the SUV’s ride and handling characteristics. It also gets twin exhausts like the ones on the Aria. Power will come from the same 140bhp, 2.2-litre DiCOR motor, but it will be more refined. Expect a price-tag of Rs 11 lakh. Tata Merlin will be eagerly awaited by its arch rivals like the Mahindra XUV500, Hyundai Santa Fe and the market leader Toyota Innova.