Hello Fellow BHPians,
I wish to present a conundrum that Iím facing and seek your feedback on getting it resolved. Some might think after reading the entire post, that I may already have an answer and Iím just looking for validation more than feedback. But trust me that isnít the case. And even if I have the answer subconsciously I donít see it myself. I would hate to waste the time of others for mere validation.
With the above disclaimer concluded, I would give a small brief of what I have been driving for the last approx 10 years. I have driven a -
- XUV500 (2014 model Manual W6 variant) from 2014 - 2018.
- I have been driving a Tata Hexa (2018 captain seat model Automatic XTA variant) since 2018.
With the Hexa completing its 5 years in a couple of months, I feel like getting a new one. Part of the decision to look for a replacement is also influenced by the end of warranty coming up for the car and the fact that while Tata can be trusted for major part replacement for the now discontinued Hexa, less significant parts like e.g. - steering wheel switches, power window switches, AC vent switches, etc. are mostly out of stock and can take forever to get sourced resulting in jugaads / aftermarket fitments being attempted by car owners or shelling out large bucks to replace the larger assembly (even if it was totally unwarranted)
. Courtesy some of the love given by me to my beast, it is still as good cosmetically as it was when bought in 2018, but I do worry when the above problems appear I will end up getting frustrated and it will take my ownership experience a few notches down, which is still riding high. The price to value King that the Hexa was, Iím quite aware that it wonít be repeated. Anything which is an upgrade over Hexa in all ways possible was previously a Ford Endeavor with 3.2L heart or the MG Gloster (Toyota Fortuner deliberately excluded as that has a terrible ride, which is exactly opposite of the magic carpet like ride of the Hexa)
. Gloster as of today has even breached the 50L mark and I donít see it even remotely as a value for money purchase even if it is the best upgrade over the Hexa.
We are a family of 5 mostly travelling together that includes my parents, my wife and my 6 years old son and occasionally my 35 kgs dog. If there is a side step my parents do not mind climbing into high GC vehicles. Being a past Mahindra and currently a Tata owner I have my expectations in place of what to expect from both in terms of after sales service. I need a vehicle which despite being tough to withstand bad roads, big craters and speed breakers on a daily basis isnít agricultural for its occupants. This is where Hexa shines and why the family still has 2nd thoughts on parting with it, because while being tough it has enough to pamper its occupants. In 5 years of ownership I have never had to ask the service centre to rectify any rattles, because no rattles appeared till date (Nothing disappoints me more than rattles on my car, which is also the reason XUV500 left after merely 4 years)
. The passengers in Hexa have a lot of storage space and creature comforts like 4 AC vents in the 02nd row (2 on the pillars and 2 behind the centre console), retractable sun blinds, lumbar adjustment for both captain seats, etc.
The following SUVs / MUVs despite being high on creature comfort where eventually ignored -
- Hyundai Tuscon - Low real world GC, not suitable for daily abuse of bad patches of road but otherwise a very good package.
- Mahindra XUV700 - Limited wheel articulation, soft rear suspension often bottoms out on tall speed breakers (in my test drives) and scrapes the underbelly. Doesnít give the feeling of being bad roads abuse friendly. It came really close to consideration but was eventually excluded.
- Jeep Compass - Just not value for money at the price. The Automatic transmission is SLOOW without any sports mode. As my son grows older, fitting 3 at the back seat is going to get tougher.
- Jeep Meridian - Makes even less sense than Compass due to further increase in price with not so equivalent increase in interior real estate. Plus that SLOOW transmission.
- Tata Harrier - With just a few extra thousand over the Harrierís price, I would rather take the Safari with the flexibility of extra 2 seats and otherwise a large boot space with the 3rd row seats folded.
- MG Hector - Looks donít appeal to me. Too skinny tyres (in terms of width for the size of the car) and no diesel automatic and the petrol automatic being a meh!
- Innova Hycross - Again not value for money like the Compass. Also has skinny tyres like Hector and also smaller wheels that look disproportionate. Loss of RWD is another bummer. Doesnít feel like a 30L plus ex-showroom vehicle from the inside.
This left me with 2 choices -
- Tata Safari 2023 facelift XZA+(O)
- Mahindra Scorpio-N Z8 Luxury Pack 4x4 (I had paid the booking amount last year thinking only 10% will be forfeited later. Now it may be made available by this month or next)
My only 3 major peeves with Hexa -
- Lack of Infotainment with Android Auto / Apple CarPlay - (sorted on both Safari + Scorpio-N)
- Braking being applied very slowly especially on high speeds with full load despite having all 4 disc brakes. There is no drama in stopping and ABS kicks in at the right time, but it stops like a locomotive without a real sense of urgency. Hence it limits the speeds on highway I can drive it at despite the engine and transmission being fully capable of delivering more than I actually extract out of them.
- Sometimes the heavy hydraulic steering at parking speeds on certain days seems like a chore. I have got used to it so on most days it doesnít hurt, but on some days I do wish it was lighter while taking it out of my parking lot.
Test Drive Observations Ride Quality and Drive Feel
In my test drive of both Scorpio-N and Safari (pre-2023 facelifted version), I felt the ride quality of both being almost similar. Scorpio-N was a new vehicle with barely 1.5k kms on the odometer but the Safari was a fairly abused 22k kms driven. So the slight difference in insulation of the suspension absorbing the bumps I have tried to ignore unless you guys tell me indeed the Scorpio-N is better. I donít anticipate myself doing hardcore offroading. So for me the GC of Safari in the real world may prove to be adequate enough. Safari takes less time to settle in a low speed ride but Scorpio-N is not far either and honestly on bad patches Scorpio-N feels almost indestructible. Safari is robust but being a monocoque probably not a tough as nail as Scorpio-N. Steering
The light steering of the Scorpio-N is quite a delight. Safariís steering is lighter than my Hexa but still a notch too heavy at parking speeds and sometimes there is quite a lot of feedback from it that can make you nervous at high speeds. Automatic Transmission
Both the vehicles do not have an eager automatic like the Punch Powerglide automatic transmission on the Hexa that drops gears just with a slight twist of the accelerator. I didnít see either of them climbing all the way to 3k rpm by dropping gears (more than 1 when necessary)
, that I see a lot on my Hexa. However, with the Scorpio-Nís more potent diesel engine, the progress is more brisk compared to Safari (on City mode) even without any drive modes on the 4x4 variant (no zip-zap-zoom on 4x4). On Safari, it is even more dull until you engage the sports mode. But being a FWD, there is a hint of understeer as well, as you press the pedal after engaging the sports mode while cutting through high speed traffic. But the steering feedback works in favour in this situation and lets the driver know when to go easy on the gas. Both of them from transmission standpoint are a downgrade to the Hexaís transmission but in overall acceleration I think Scorpio fares better in the default mode than the Safari but not by a lot. With Safari in Sports mode, the gap disappears or sometimes goes in favour of the Safari but it guzzles a lot of fuel that way. Braking
The braking is where I felt Scorpio-N was quite a bit ahead of the Safari despite the higher kerb weight. The brakes are too grabby and even at 100+ km/hr I could feel the car slowing down rapidly. On the Safari there was this locomotive-like stopping feeling as I have on the Hexa, and the perception was it wasnít losing speed as rapidly as I would have wanted it to be. Now the person from Tata said the car has worn out brake pads and needs replacement, but Iím not sure if he made it up or there was indeed a reduction in the Safariís actual braking performance in the Test Drive vehicle. Also I know that the more pronounced the nose-dive in a vehicle, the more the sensation of it slowing down rapidly appears, unless tested scientifically. So I donít know if the nose dive is more on Scorpio-N to make it appear more rapidly stopping than Safari. Cabin Space and packaging
Safari offers much better cabin space and interior packaging than the Scorpio-N. This is the place where the family is not getting immediately convinced by Scorpio-N despite acknowledging its strengths as tough as a nail BOF SUV with refined engine and decent performance. The shallow bottle holder in 2nd row with barely space for any other knick-knacks, etc on the Scorpio-N is not pleasing to the rest of the family. Features and Creature Comforts
Another place where Safari scores is create comforts - ventilated seats, driver seat with memory function, electric seat adjustment for both front seats, better positioning of 2nd row AC vents - on the pillars vs behind the centre console where the vents mostly cool the knees of the 3rd passenger in the middle tha everyone equally. I, along with my family, also found the 9 speaker JBL system of Safari to be significantly superior to the 12 speaker Sony system on Scorpio-N (though not sure if Iím an audiophile, I take the music output quality quite seriously)
. I tweaked settings on Scorpio-N (bass - max, vocals at -3 or so and treble at 7 or so) but nothing sounded as great and with a massive bass thump like on the Safari. The 360 camera on the new Safari Ď2023 along with much better resolution is another point to lose for Scorpio-N, though being a current Hexa driver I shouldnít complain much of Scorpio-Nís camera resolutions. The Electronic Parking Brake with Auto Hold on the Safari is another area where it trumps Scorpio-N and in Bangalore traffic itís such a boon. Opinions Requested (especially from existing owners of the 2 cars I have shortlisted)
I hope I have been able to mention the items that matter to me. Scorpio-N despite being a BOF RWD like Hexa is giving a more different drive feel vs the Hexa, so itís probably intriguing me more than the Safari as a driver. But with the novelty factor of change gone after a few weeks of ownership, I donít want to take a biassed decision and later repent of it, rather than decide based on the merits of both the machines.