ABOUT 8 MILLIMETRES. That’s the difference between being a bullet-catcher and living to ride again. It’s also how thick automobile steel has to be to stop a barrage of bullets from a range of 10 metres, which the armoured Tata Safari claims to do. A lighter armour would stop only the first bullet.

To import an armoured luxury car, you would have to get government clearances and endure a long wait, whereas the new Safari can be bought minus the red tape. At Rs 60 lakh, the vehicle costs a fraction of imported luxury cars and is also delivered in four weeks.

This Safari has hand-grenade protection for the undercarriage, runflat tyres, protection for the fuel tank, engine and gear box, and an emergency exit. All that in a “concealed armour plating”, which means you can’t tell an armoured Safari from a normal one, says V.S. Noronha, head of Tata Motors’ defence business.

The bulletproof car niche, though small, is aimed at businessmen who travel for long hours, and deal in cash-intensive businesses such as diamonds and land. Besides the metros, demand is expected to come from cities such as Lucknow, Patna and Guwahati.

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