Latest crossover from India will offer practicality and luxury.

Johannesburg Motor Show - First shown at the Delhi Auto Expo more than three years ago, Tata's half minivan, half SUV Aria crossover will soon be available in South Africa.

Introduced at JIMS this week, the Aria gets seats for five and 200mm ground clearance, which could come in handy for those family weekends away at Kruger Park. The raised ride height is not only for show either, as one of the two model derivatives available locally is indeed equipped with an all-wheel drive system.

That said, it's probably not wise to attempt any deep donga crossings with this Indian-built softroader, but for the occasional gravel loop or muddy side road the Aria will do just fine. A five-link suspension system at the rear, as opposed to similar vehicles' solid axles, should make for a comfortable ride too.

LOADED WITH ‘PRIDE’

Both 4x2 (rear-wheel drive) and 4x4 models available in our market come in identical Pride specification only, which means leather seats, USB audio inputs, Bluetooth phone connectivity, cruise control, keyless entry, 17” alloys, and air conditioning all come standard.

Safety is covered with six airbags, ABS with EBD and a stability control system. Drive in both variants comes from a 2.2-litre diesel engine with 103kW and 320Nm.

Also on show at Tata's stand is a new four-wheel drive SUV called the Storme. The Storme, which became available overseas last year, is a continuation of the previous Tata Safari that was sold in SA since 2005. Basically just a facelifted model with a new name, the Storme comes with the same engine as the Aria and is equipped with air conditioning, power windows, 17” wheels (smaller 16” are optional), and a CD player with auxiliary and USB inputs.

The Aria and Storme are scheduled for South African release early next year, along with a new 66kW/200Nm 1.4-litre turbodiesel engine option in the existing Vista hatch. Pricing will be announced closer to the time.