So it finally begins, a story spanning over 10 years (Sanjay Leela Bhansali eat your heart out, a longer story than you can come up with)
It all started many many years ago when I saw the now Iconic Tata Safari. It was like WOW that’s a lovely machine. Wanted to own one from the day I saw it. In 2002, I decided to purchase my 4th. Vehicle and the safari was on the list. Everyone I talked to said only one thing, its not a first vehicle but a second one as it has too many niggles/problems. Well ended up buying an Accent CRDI instead at that time.
Off and on saw a safari on the roads and was like someday I will buy one. Then in 2007 a colleague bought one and that’s when I drove it for the first time. How I loved it. Went for a test drive in 2008 when the 2.2 VTT Dicor came. First reaction was, looks like TATA has finally got it right. But then again, life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. So it wasn’t bought then. In the meanwhile started hearing about niggles and issues with the vehicle and well put it on the back burner while I got myself another car.
Come 2011, a colleague of mine bought the Safari and brought it to Chandigarh for registration. Drove it for 2 days and decided that’s what I’m gonna buy, niggles or otherwise.
Fast forward to July 2012 – decided to buy a new vehicle.
1. Should seat 5 – 6 people.
2. Should have good ground clearance.
3. Should be decently powerful.
4. Should be good for offroading.
5. Should be good to carry decent amount of weight (business requirement.)
6. Should be comfortable and easy to drive.
7. Should be a diesel (clock 3K – 4K Kms every month)
8. Budget fixed at 12.00 lacs OTR
Looking at the requirements above, sedans were out in the first go.
So vehicles considered
1. Toyota Innova
2. Renault Duster
3. Tata Safari
4. Mahindra Scorpio
5. Mahindra Xylo
6. Mahindra XUV 500
7. After its Launch – The TATA Safari Storme
8. Mahindra Quanto
The shortlisting process:
1. The Toyota Innova – a very nice vehicle, proven, niggle free. In my budget I can’t have one with the rear Ac installed. Have had the misfortune of travelling in an innova without rear Ac and goodness it was misery. Would never subject anyone to that ever. Also I didn’t want to look like I was driving a taxi.
2. Renault Duster – test drove the Duster (my brother did buy the Woodland Brown Color). For me it was not the kind of vehicle I was looking for. I found it too cramped and I was rubbing elbows with the co-driver. Even my kids (aged 3 and 11) weren’t so happy with it.
3. TATA Safari – Had already driven it and had loved it, but now I decided to really check it out as a personal ownership vehicle. Loved it, kids loved it, mother loved it, wife loved it – but more on the safari testing later.
4. Mahindra Scorpio: Have had the pleasure of being given one for about 2 years (from the company). Very unstable at high speeds. Tested it at 140 on the greater Noida expressway. Peppy engine but too damn uncomfortable on bad roads. Too much body roll. A colleague almost toppled it once.
5. Mahindra Xylo – Friend owns it. Drove it for 3 Kms. Never want to drive it again. Not my cup of tea.
6. Mahindra XUV 500 – Went to the Showroom to see it. Loved its come hither look at me looks. Sat in it. Blown away by the gizmos installed. But wait a minute, am I buying gizmos or a vehicle? So a serious look at the vehicle from an ownership point of view. First up, seating, comfortable. Seats 5-6 yes. Space to carry stuff in the vehicle – with third row up – nope. Driving position – I like to have a higher seating position. When I took the seat to that position – surprise surprise – the space between the roof of the vehicle and the top of my head – exactly 2 fingers. Every speed breaker is gonna result in me banging my head on the roof in case of a lil jump. Plastics – cheap. Feeling while in the driving seat – cramped (again feeling not actually so.) Front fenders of the vehicle are made of plastic – the bumper kind. Think a two wheeler driven carelessly scratches it up. If small no problem just paint it over, but if deep, then no option but to replace. I’m the replace kinda guy so …
7. TATA Safari Storme – Didn’t like the looks of the vehicle when I saw it first in the pics. Then saw it and drove it pre – launch. Was wonderful to drive but found its seats to be a lil hard and just that bit uncomfortable (the leather ones). This is of the pre lunch vehicles. Also had an issue with the seats which I’ll talk about later. Come launch, went to see the vehicle, again, no problems there except what I’d noticed earlier. Took the Test drive vehicle out for a spin. Loved it but steering and seat issues remained. More on that later.
8. Mahindra Quanto – saw it, sat in it, drove it, (Btw
the SA who was in the car during the test drive was hanging on to the rear roof handle during the entire test drive even though I’m a sedate driver) end of matter – the less said the better.
So finally vehicles shortlisted were the TATA Safari or the Storme.
Just to put a timeline to this process, started in July 2012 and has ended now.
After test driving the safari for the first time in July, I started looking up all the threads I could find on it. Since I had heard soo much about this vehicle in terms of niggles etc that I wanted to be sure of what I was getting into. To my utter surprise, almost everything has been taken care of and now it’s an almost niggle free vehicle. But I now do know what I will be facing over the ownership period. Was so paranoid about it that went to the extent of speaking to a whole lot of current safari owners. Everyone had praise for it. The day finally came when I informed my extended family of my decision (read In-laws).
The reaction there was like – how did you come to the conclusion that you could buy a safari? Don’t you know how bad a vehicle it is? The pressure to not buy the vehicle was amazingly high. Taken for test driving the innova again (to satisfy the concerned). Budget constraint explained. Didn’t cut any ice with them. (This all happened over a period of 3 months from aug onwards)
IMHO anyone who doesnt own one has an opinion that says bad bad bad. Everyone who owns one says good good good. So went with the owners take rather than non-owners take. Extended family notwithstanding. They still aren’t happy. Oh well you can’t satisfy everyone and be happy yourself too.
Now coming to the real testing of the vehicle:
Drove it on the usual metal roads, was very good. Took it out on the highway, felt well planted even at 145 (Chandigarh Pinjore highway). Then took it to where I’m planning to start my farms. Into the fields, into the river (no roads just drive through the river), into the fields and it performed very well. Now just to update, when I do there, I tend to take my brother-in-laws fortunner. It’s an effortless drive for that vehicle, and I did struggle with the 4X2 Safari. Overall I have loved it for all that I could do with it. Would I go in for a 4X4 nope cos I don’t have a requirement for that.
Coming to the Storme, I have loved this vehicle. My only issue with it has been the seats. As some of you who have been following the storme would have noticed, there has been a lot of talk about the seating position. Well I am one of those people who have a serious issue with it. First of all I’d like to say that I give a serious completion to thunder thighs sridevi. That has been my bane. Whenever I release the clutch in the storme, my thigh touches the steering wheel, not just touches but rather goes seriously into it so much that I have to move it sideways to get my foot off the clutch. Apart from this one issue, I would buy the storme without thinking twice.
So finally The TATA Safari GX Pearl White it is. Booked today. Will pick it up hopefully by the month end when Vit M is fully in stock. Not going in for Finance.
The offer: Ex-showroom – Rs. 11,00,000.00
1. Insurance (Bumper to Bumper DEB)
2. Rs. 10,000.00 worth of accessories.
3. Extended warranty.
4. Logistics charges.
5. Temp registration charges.
Saga Begins soon.