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Old 16th February 2007, 01:06   #1
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Hello Everyone,

I got myself a Tata Safari LX 4x2 in black on the 12th of November 2006 and its been about 3 months. Over the last 3 months and some 6000 kilometres, I have had a love and hate relationship with the Safari. Why have I not posted earlier, well I wanted to post a complete ownership experience right from the beginning to the after the first service.

I'll be diving this review into three sections

a) Purchase considerations and buying experience
b) Living with the beast
c) Pros and cons


Here goes...

Part I : Purchase considerations and buying experience
------------------------------------------------------------

After owning the Ford Fiesta 1.6 ZXI for about 6 months, I realised that its a great car but I wanted something more and different since I had the following requirements:

a) I am currently single so dont really have to lug around a vehicle everywhere I go... but when I do, I wanted something very different from the oridinary

b) Have to go to visit parents more than 2-3 in a week - about 125 kilometres round trip

c) Regular errands in the city are mostly done on the bike

d) Loads of attitude

c) Mileage and running costs were a plus but not something that I was looking for

d) Constrained by budget of 8-9 lacs on road


So basically had the Safari and scorpio in consideration. Innova was out since the family and I personally didn't like the shape of the vehicle.

Scorpio went out since I found the Safari beating the Scorpio in the following areas:

a) Ride quality
b) Image & Road presence
c) handling
d) Looks ( the new scorpio really sealed it against the Scorpio)

I spoke to some safari owners, read a lot of reviews and inputs from safari owners on the forum ( steeriod, suman, etc) and realised that I would need to live with the niggling or irritating problems that are part of the package if I wanted to go ahead with the Safari.. but that is the price you pay for having an experience called "Reclaiming your life"...

The normal process of getting test drive of both the safari and scorpio started. I was very impressed with Tata motors Sales guy's cooperation. Test drive was scheduled for a particular time and bang on time, the sales rep was at the office.

I found the test drive to confirm couple of things:

a) The engine was noisy
b) The engine vibrations at low rpm were being sent right through the gear lever and the cabin
c) wider turning radius.. you have to plan to take U turns... or don't take them altogether..


Good things that the test drive proved:

a) Engine was not tired compared to the older TCIC engine
b) Nice commanding vision of the road
c) The vehicle comes into its own on the highways... definitely happier to stay on the highway than the city... which is one of the reasons I wanted it in the first place


Got quotations from the dealer, Nawab motors in this case along with Sterling auto and found the nawab motors quote to be better and booked a black color safari.. Some areas where this forum helped me was in picking the tyres for the safari..

I found out that the LX, EX versions come with Apollo tyres while the VX version comes with bridgestone tyres. I insisted on getting bridgestone tyres for my "Lilliput" and the dealership obliged. Later when I went to a tyre shop for upgrading I was told that I had in the process saved around 7-9K for the five tyres by getting bridgestone typres instead of the apollo tyres.

The dealership promised delivery in a week's time and the vehicle was delivered within one week flat. I was a happy man.. End of Part I... Next Section talks about living with the beast

Part II: Living with the beast
--------------------------------------------

I think a lot of credits go to this forum and its members for preparing me to take the rough with the smooth in case of owning a Safari. As I summed up my experience, you can't ignore this vehicle... You either love it or hate it and there have been times when I kicked myself for buying and then there were times I had a smile as wide as the amazon for making the right choice

I got the following accessories from the dealership itself since I found the pricing to be decent:

Front bullbar and rear protection bar
Sunfilm (something ordinary and local I guess)
Security system
Gear Lock

After having driven it for about 6000 kilometres, the following observations come to mind:

a) Basic engineering of the Tata safari is great.. The suspension, ride quality, AC, engine are all good and the vehicle feels very stable at 120+ speeds

b) Quality and reliability of 3rd party fitments like seatbelt covers, seats, window rollers, door latches is below par. Someone once mentioned that Tata outsources its QC to the Indian public.. I feel its true after you read the list of problems I have faced

c) The Tata roadside service is good.. The single experience I had dealing with them made me believe they knew a lot about the Safari as vehicle and a well trained to handle any situation

d) The Safari takes speed brakers, pot holes, no roads , uneven roads like it was meant for them.. I am amazed and my respect for this vehicle is increasing as I drive it through more of these scenarios

A particular incident comes to mind when the Safari totally gave up on me ( and this was a vehicle that was less than one month old). The family was planning to go out of station in the morning. When we started the Safari and took it out after heating the engine..We had barely driven 500 metres.. The vehicle coughed and stopped at a turn. Thinking this was due to the morning, I tried to start it again .. and then again.. and then again.. but it never started after that. I wasn't sure what was happening and this was at 6:00 AM in the morning.

When it didn't start after 6-7 times, I realised something was wrong so basically got the vehicle pushed towards the side. The vehicle would crank but it would not start. we tried to get some local mechanics to help waking people up from their sleep...and this went on till 9:00 AM when each mechanic/electrician told us that they could not touch the engine and/or electrical system since it was fully computerised. We were stuck in a small town which had a newly opened tata authorised centre. We went there and realised their machine to check the safari was not there and that they would not be able to help us. Called the showroom guys at 11:00 AM in the morning to help us with the problem.. they took around 1.5 hours to figure out who could come to help us and then help was on its way. The help reached us by 5:00 PM in the evening. The service help guys saw the vehicle, tried starting it and then said... Sir, this is very common problem.. electrical points cleaning karna padega.. it will be all good :-(.. They took next 10 minutes to clear the electrical points and then started the vehicle and she was alive then..

THen... they left saying we should tell this to the showroom guys because this is a very common problem in the Safaris. I had lost one complete day to this minor problem tata decided to leave in their newly released vehicles..and would have also lost the trip for the rest of the family if it was not for the Fiesta...


So... my confidence in the vehicle was at an all time low and i was hating it to the core. Next morning I went to dealership to give my feedback and tell them about these problems ( some niggling problems) and though the service guys were listening patiently.. I somehow felt that they had all but heard these problems before.. so just came back after giving them a piece of my mind.

On the positive side, we have just completed a family trip which involved 80% roads ( no road scenario) .. With a family of 7 people and some party stuff... the safari was into its own when out in the elements.. and everyone loved the space, comfort and ride the safari offered.. I as a driver loved the commanding view, pick up and the effortless nature of the engine.


This is the end of part II.... Part III contains the list of problems along with some positives I couldn't cover earlier

Part III : Pros and Cons
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Over here, I am listing out all the problems I have faced in the last 3 months over a distance of about 5-6K distance.


Cons:
------

Nothing major apart from the incident where the safari died on me.. lucky for me , I was close to them to get help..

Irritating problems:

- Weak brakes : I upset the rear many times initially expecting sedan like braking performance. I have since tried keeping the size and weight of this vehicle in consideration. Since my fiesta as ABS, I kick myself for not getting the ABS model :-( since I feel that would make a big difference

- Clutch movement not free: The clutch would sometime get stuck at the bottom and not come up. I would have to kick it in for it to release. Got this fixed at the servicing where they did some elaborate procedure to fix this problem.. (Current status: Not an issue)

- Vehicle moving towards the left: This was party because of the alignment, tyre pressure and steering not being centered properly ( Alignment and tyre pressure: resolved, Steering : Still an issue)

- Steering play: reminds me of the old times when Shammy kapoor would be driving in the jeep while trying to control the play of the steering.. ( Okay, maybe I am taking things to seriously, but this is still an issue)

- Rattling: From everywhere in the cabin including windows, seats, belts, etc ( almost all resolved during service but its starting to creep in )

- Hissing sound at full steering cut: Strong hissing sound when the steering is fully cut. Service center guy told me this will be there . Asked him to make a note. After service the sound has been considerably reduced but once in a while still makes its presence felt

- Nuts and bolts unscrewing themselves: this has happened over the past 5k and somehow still keeps happening...Its like all the bolts want to run away from the vehicle or something


and very recently, the front left light just fogged up... its fully functional.. but still fogged up.. Don't know why.. but its kind of not expected in a vehicle in this class.. infact, my bike never had a fogged up light because of the moisture in the environment.

Pros:
------

I think I am in love with this vehicle... I still think the reasons I bought it for, there is no beating the Safari aka "Lilliput".


Anyway.. these are my observations so far.. and its only 5800 KM.. I am sure many more will follow.

Thanks
-Sumit

Last edited by tsk1979 : 17th February 2007 at 12:17. Reason: No need for multiple posts
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Old 16th February 2007, 01:23   #2
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Congatulations and you have already gained a lot of practical insights behind the ownership factor involved in owning the beast!

Hoping to get more feedback on your experience over the time you have spent so far with it.
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Old 16th February 2007, 04:40   #3
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Wow.One of the detailed review ever posted in Teambhp..
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Old 16th February 2007, 09:04   #4
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that is one awesome review. Very detailed.

One thing did you get your tyres changed from the bridgestones? Was alignment and balancing done after that?

You have big list of cons but only one pro? :-)

Looks like another love story with some drama.
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Old 16th February 2007, 09:46   #5
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Talking Great Review...Made my Day!

Great review specially the part where you talk about the niggles you already knew of before buying but still went for it ;-) Explains why the safari owners are proud of their possession. Also helps people like me (new DiCOR VX on the way) to look at the brighter side of things.

You mentioned that you got a Gear lock installed. Which model/make? I was thinking of going in for a Xenos U Type. Does the gear lock get mounted to the chasis?

I know its stupid to ask about mileage for such a beast, but just for reference, what is your mileage?

Which type of diesel are your using? Ordinary or XtraMile?

Reading about break wear....I thank my wife for insisting to go with the VX, albeit for her the LCDs were the reason :-)

Keep posting and enjoy the taming of your beast
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Old 16th February 2007, 09:51   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sumitsingh View Post
and very recently, the front left light just fogged up... its fully functional.. but still fogged up.. Don't know why.. but its kind of not expected in a vehicle in this class.. -Sumit
Very detailed writeup. I am sure reading other ownership experiences prior to buying, helped you a lot in bracing yourself up for the beast.
Last week I saw a brand new Safari (with temp regn) in one accessary shop, with fogged headlight. Looks like you are not the only one
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Old 16th February 2007, 10:51   #7
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Very nice review, but I am really wondering about so many problems on new vehicle. How people buy Tata vehicles in huge numbers? Aren't Tatas playing with safty of people by compromising on quality? BTW did you write to Tata Motors directly? Dealer may not convey this to Tata Motors.
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Old 16th February 2007, 13:49   #8
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Thanx for your inputs, i myself have the EX model 6 mths old clocked 8000kms, for once i've had no problems with the vehicle, and my vehicle has gone all across karnataka with my family of 5.
Great review. Let me look out for some niggling problems you've faced and rectify them before it resurfaces.
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Old 16th February 2007, 17:52   #9
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A very enlightning review. Possibly these small niggling problems are inherent of tata's

well, you really have a long list of cons but still love the car, thats really good to know. you havent mentioned anything about its average nor its top speed etc. posting some pics here would also be great.

Enjoy and safe driving
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Old 16th February 2007, 19:48   #10
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Default Some photographs

Hey everyone,

Thanks for your responses and feedback.

Here are some photographs of Lilliput.


Lilliput - Front three Quarters


Lilliput - Side Profile



Lilliput - top view


Don't get me wrong when I say there is only one pro... there are tangible as well as intangible pros associated with this. I find the running costs to be very low compared to my fiesta in terms of the diesel. Ride quality is amazing and the vehicle takes no road scenarios like it was built for it. There is so much space in it sometimes you get an eerie feeling but all the rattling sound in the SUV keeps you company :-).

My driving conditions are about 75+ highway condition and around 25% city condition.. and I get around 11-12 in the city and around 13 on the highway... and its all on diesel...

Hope to answer the other questions a little later.

Take care.
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Old 16th February 2007, 19:51   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SumitB View Post
Great review specially the part where you talk about the niggles you already knew of before buying but still went for it ;-) Explains why the safari owners are proud of their possession. Also helps people like me (new DiCOR VX on the way) to look at the brighter side of things.

You mentioned that you got a Gear lock installed. Which model/make? I was thinking of going in for a Xenos U Type. Does the gear lock get mounted to the chasis?

I know its stupid to ask about mileage for such a beast, but just for reference, what is your mileage?

Which type of diesel are your using? Ordinary or XtraMile?

Reading about break wear....I thank my wife for insisting to go with the VX, albeit for her the LCDs were the reason :-)

Keep posting and enjoy the taming of your beast
:-).. good call going for the VX. I got the gear lock from the dealership itself.. don't know which company.. I'll check and post it back.

I use only Hi-Speed Diesel from BP and though I stay in Noida and have to travel to other western UP cities, I try to feed it with Hi-speed diesel from Delhi pumps. Touch wood, it has not been throwing any black smoke at all :-).. She might be black but she doesn't throw any around.
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Old 16th February 2007, 19:54   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vid6639 View Post
that is one awesome review. Very detailed.

One thing did you get your tyres changed from the bridgestones? Was alignment and balancing done after that?

You have big list of cons but only one pro? :-)

Looks like another love story with some drama.
The tyres were changed at the dealership itself from the regular Apollos to Bridgestones that come on the VX model and its very possible those guys didn't do the alignment... but, its all good now except the steering being a tad off center.

Watch this space for more.. just looking for excuses to go around the place.
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Old 16th February 2007, 20:14   #13
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Detailed, Excellent, Objective and a well organised/written review.

Glad that you prepared yourself mentally before the purchase, this in a large way has removed the "surprise factor" from the ownership experience.

Good to know that you are in sum total happy with the beast.

All the best.

Regards
Tifosi.
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Old 17th February 2007, 10:29   #14
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Very nice maintained car. Keep it that way
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Old 18th February 2007, 19:43   #15
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Excellant review, I do agree lot of neggling issues with TATA cars, I wish in couple of years they improve, FIAT should train them and tune their cars!

I love TATA cars but afraid to buy because of their neggling issues.

Ravi.
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