This is the chronology of getting my hands on Safari STORME (Pearl White VX 4x4) and how the ownership has been till now. It is somewhat lengthy as some of the events date quite a while back in time. However, the titles provided for different sections should help readers jump to relevant areas of interest. Please let me know if there are any specific questions and would be happy to answer them from my point of view.
Some Flashback The Search
The first time a car made me think 'I want to have that one day' was in 1994 while watching the movie KADHALAN (Hum Se Hai Muqabla in Hindi) - the scene where the antagonist (Raghuvaran) has parked his TATA SIERRA by the road, turns his head to look at the camera. There was something so stylish about that scene and particularly the parked car that got etched in my memory very deeply. Of course, owning a bike itself was beyond my means. So, the car was only a big wish.
Fast forward to 2000, by when I had managed to finish degree, find a job, buy my dream bike YAMAHA RX100 and had the means to finally think of buying a car. Not sure if Sierra was still under production then, but there was not a single person that concurred with my thought of going for it, new or pre-owned. I'd have to work overtime just to keep it running is what people said. Tough call to make - but decided to take the advice of my friends and well wishers and settled for a sedan. (That I regretted this decision for long is a different discussion altogether)
The next opportunity to think of a new car came in late 2005 when the Ford IKON had done over 110000+ kms and was starting to give frequent problems. By now, SIERRA is done and dusted and SAFARI seemed to be the next gen SIERRA. No luck this time also - wife wanted a sedan and sedan only. Settled for Honda City ZX in 2006 - no regrets with this one though.
Another 100000+ kms of happy ownership with Honda City, it was time again for the next car somewhere in mid 2012. No change in preferences still - wife needs a sedan and sedan only and I wanted my SUV. Without getting into the details of negotiation that went on for a couple of months, we agreed to keep the sedan and also buy a new SUV.
This is when the fun and work started together. The SUV market offered lot more choices, with Toyota, Mahindra, Renault, Honda, and Chevrolet offering options. Honda and Renault were the first to go even without test drive - did not quality as SUV. Captiva was next - primarily because of problems with my first car that was American. The Dealership
Took test drive of Fortuner, XUV5oo and DICOR – more details on this covered in 'Tata Safari Storme - Road Test Review' post #696. XUV5oo was next to go - just didn't belong behind the wheels.
And finally there were two - Fortuner and Safari. Most friends and family advised against Dicor for all its known issues and no one was optimistic about the upcoming new avatar STORME either. This is where I owe a lot (perhaps TML too) to our forum that kept articles and reviews about STORME coming in full flow. It definitely gave me hope for something good that was coming. The reviews didn't disappoint and addressed most concerns with Dicor. That was the last box to be ticked and STORME was the last one standing.
The test drive experience (absolute excellence from Lanson Toyota and the so so from Concorde) made me think of options for dealership for the purchase. Left messages for CONCORDE and TAFE Reach in Chennai about my interest in the STORME. None bothered to call from TAFE while CONCORDE went to the extent of saying STORME may never me launched in Chennai (perhaps trying to meet numbers for Dicor during December, while the phased launch of STORME was happening) Other Logistics
This is when a close friend of mine mentioned about this new dealership in Cuddalore - SCHAKRALAYA MOTORS, dealing only with TATA SUV's. Decided to check it out as this happens to be my hometown and I do visit often. The first think that impressed me was the neat showroom environment (no surprise for a new dealership, I guess). What impressed me even more was the candid nature of the staff who acknowledged that STORME launch was imminent and that it was a much better product that the Dicor. This conveyed two things - one, the dealership personnel are knowledgeable about the product and two, they were guiding the customer with right information.
The overall experience was very positive but wasn't sure if I should buy here. A couple of weeks later, SCHAKRALAYA MOTORS called to inform availability of test drive vehicle. Did the test drive and nothing happened to rethink my choice of STORME. Rather, the experience allowed me to get closer to choosing the dealership.
Some other factors that influenced my dealership choice - 2013 vehicle delivery possible in 2 to 3 weeks, temp registration will be taken care, assistance will be provided for permanent registration (for registration related logistics between purchasing there and registering in Chennai) in addition to the attention received and prompt response to queries from staff.
That was it - decided to go with SCHAKRALAYA MOTORS. So, finally on the 12th of February 2013, wired the initial deposit booking my PEARL White VX 4x4 STORME. Got confirmation, receipt via e-mail within the next few hours - first indications that the dealership choice was a good one.
Spent a bit of time for insurance and loan deals.
Insurance worked out to around 34K with TATA AIG. Thought it was a good deal when compared to the dealership quoted price. Dealership had no issues with buying my own insurance. TATA AIG messed up with the name in the policy document that caused a lot of inconvenience and stress on the day of delivery.
Looks like, even private companies are not used to getting things right the first time or equipped to handling exceptions promptly. Even worse, some of their call center staff drove me insane providing incorrect information by the minute. (I can write another article on this topic alone but will stop here for now)
Took quote from ICICI, Royal Sundaram, SBI and Indian Bank for the loan. Went with ICICI as the differential was only .25% more than nationalized banks – felt that was more than worthwhile considering the service levels received.
About a week after the booking, I had called to dealership to ask if the VIN number was available. To my pleasant surprise, received an e-mail with the details in the next few hours and also stating that my new ride was already in transit.
As this was earlier than expected, had to hustle around getting the insurance policy issued, the loan amount disbursed and the paperwork done. Meanwhile, dealership confirmed that vehicle had reached their yard and delivery could be made on Friday.
I could really feel butterflies in my stomach. It was quite surprising because I thought I was well beyond that age. However, to say the excitement level was very high would be an understatement. Meanwhile friends and relatives helped with the pre-delivery inspection that turned out fine.
No major surprises on delivery date. Insurance mess up was the only unexpected event that was delaying the temporary registration. Dealership helped sorting this out, at no additional expense. Similarly, there was a minor last minute hiccup with loan amount disbursement as SCHAKRALAYA MOTORS was not a valid payee in the ICICI systems. The dealership agreed to sort this out with ICICI and go ahead with the delivery as planned.
The delivery was scheduled for late evening, as I had to travel from Chennai. The dealership owner and staff waited and greeted us at the showroom and the beast was all dressed up and ready to go. After chit chatting with the owner and management staff for some time, the service advisor explained the key features, service schedule, etc. (to which I could only pay partial attention) That was it – the owner handed to keys, staff took pictures and clapped and finally I drove home with my dream car on the evening of Friday, 22/Feb/13.
Leaving the dealership, drove around a bit, met friends and relatives and finally went to bed around 01:00 am Saturday morning. Woke up early in the morning and went straight to the beach with some friends to check out performance of 4x4.
The beast hardly broke sweat handling the beach with five adults – used only 4H. Being the first day didn’t venture too deep into the shores but everybody was impressed with the performance. Three of the friends are professional drivers and had prior experience with Fortuner, XUV 5oo, Dicor and had strongly advised against Safari and favored Fortuner earlier. Their feedback was that STORME was nothing comparable to the Dicor and was a better pick than the Fortuner for the price and performance.
As the beautiful white beast turned out all muddy and dirty from the beach, went straight to the dealership for cleaning, horns replacement and carpets. OEM
horns were no good and so replaced them replaced with roots vibrosonic. Cost around 1800 including relay, wires and installation. STROME mats were not yet available and had to settle for Dicor mats for the time being.
Not much to say about performance yet as I am in the process of transitioning from a petrol vehicle to a diesel one. I was happy with how the beast handled in different roads, different speeds and gears.
The beast covered 1200 kms within the first 10 days and decided to get the first service done. (one month or 1000-1500 kms is the specification). The only complaint was that the doors required a real thud to get engaged. Service was completed within the day and whatever was done the doors work fine now. They are closing normally without having to bang them anymore. Registration
As promised, the dealership provided all documentation to facilitate the permanent registration and the process went through fine. Got a glimpse of how government offices function but nothing major to mention here. I guess registration is not a big deal if you have papers in order and also someone that is knowledgeable about the process to help. Accessories
There are conflicting views about the percentage visibility required as per government regulations for sun control films. Some say it is 70% and other 80%. Some even say no film, whatsoever.
I found the 70% visibility films from V-KOOL to be as good as transparent with around 45% reduction in heat. Got this done for Rs.9200 from auto mall – hoping the looks and color of the beast would keep me out of trouble from law enforcement.
The STORME body cover cost Rs.3600 that I purchased from the dealership itself.
At this time, STORME has done nearly 2000 kms and the experience so far has been absolutely fantastic. Will keep posted on how the ownership continues.
A couple more pictures of the beast - we are still debating if it should be named HIDALGO or IKRAN - will let you know once we make up our mind.