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Old 17th February 2011, 18:59   #1
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Default Tata Safari- Bringing the black monster home!

I never thought I’d get hooked on to writing blogs or write-ups given my distant relation with reading books. But here I am now, wanting to write about my experiences so that I can have a read and laugh when age catches up and I can no longer do the fun things I enjoy now. Anyways, this is not about me but about the perplexed decision making process and the smile on my wifey’s face when we actually got the monster home.

Why buy a second car?

Well, I always had a vision in mind that my wifey will drive her own car so she can ferry my daughter around when she’s a bit older. So with that concept in mind, I gifted the i10 to her last year to celebrate the arrival of the little one. I also sold off my Indigo in December to Prerana motors for a no profit no loss deal. It had served me well for 60k kms but I had somehow gotten convinced that the car was now due for retirement given that it died on me during one of the trips. Plus, it needed a tyre change since my Bridgestone Turanzas were almost left with no treads.

My only hope was that she will drive the i10 all by herself someday and I can then think of getting another one for myself. And then the day came after 9 whole months of waiting (same of time it took for the baby to come out) when my wife could drive herself to work. And I was a happy man coz now I could get a set of wheels for myself and not worry about how to go around when she’s off to work.

Which car?

Now this was the toughest part coz my requirements kept changing over time. I had to go through a long three stage process to finally decide on it.

Stage 1: Even before I sold my car, I was looking out for an exchange scheme to see if there was any viable option in the cheaper sedan category. This was going to be a purchase under the company lease program which has some weird terms and conditions and buying a bigger car meant the EMIs became heavier than home loans. I was pretty convinced that buying a big car under the company scheme was a big no-no. The wisest thing to do was just look at a economy car to use for the next 3 years and then upgrade.

Basic requirements:
- 3-box sedan under 7Lacs to keep the EMIs low
- Reasonable looks and decent interiors (beige preferred)
- Diesel under the hood for all the long trips we keep doing
- Comfortable driving position for long drives
- Fuel economy – at least 15-18kmpl which matched the Indigo
- Reasonable maintenance – this wouldn’t be a show stopper if everything else worked out well
- Good GC so as to clear the speed breakers every 100m in Blore.

I had fewer options to come to a compromise in this segment:

Ford Ikon Diesel – This is one VFM car given its price under 6Lacs and presence on Indian roads for a decade now. I did a test drive at Metro Ford and was happy about the way the car handled the corners etc. However, the cabin noise was a bit high as compared to the Indigo and the driving position wasn’t all that great to talk about. But this was a steal at the price and I had almost booked it if it were not for the unfriendly behavior of the sales rep. He managed to piss me off totally and I walked off from the showroom wiping out the idea of buying a car from them anymore.

Swift Dzire Diesel – Buying a Maruti wasn’t on my list but I still went to check it out to see if it appeals to me. It didn’t! Reason, the interiors were a total put off. The car looks like the boot is stuck on to it, but that’s still an okay thing to live with given the amount of stuff it can take in. But the car didn’t have any life once you’re inside it, the dull grey really is depressing. May be it’s just me, but I just couldn’t imagine driving it for the next 3 years. The VDI was coming to approx 6.7L on road which was pretty much within budget.

Maruti SX4 – Now this wasn’t a Diesel, but it was a good option to consider for 7.5L. But the big question was whether to have two petrol cars and that too with less than 14kmpl mileage. I liked the macho look and the superb GC which makes this so different than the other cars in this segment. I test drove it and found it quite good but the plastics left a lot to be desired. Overall the package was quite good but the petrol under the hood kept me thinking.

Ford Fiesta – This is a tried and tested car for me. I’ve driven it on long drives and through the city coz we have two of these in my friend circle. The car is a true driver’s car and doesn’t disappoint you at all except when you go over those “humps” as they call it in B’lore. I find it very disturbing when the car just scrapes through every speed breaker when you have 4 adults in it. It feels like you’re leaving a part of the car behind each time it happens. But other than the GC issue there’s nothing to complain about in this car. I always loved driving it!

Indigo Manza – Well, this was again a Tata and I just got over one. But I decided to give it a shot and landed up at Prerana for a test drive. I drove the Linea to begin with so that I have comparative data when I test the Manza. To my surprise, the car held up pretty good in the comparison. The looks aren’t appealing as the Linea but that wasn’t my criteria here. The engine was the same in both but the Manza felt a little more peppier to me. The space inside was a big plus point and it almost felt like a higher segment car when you looked at how much space you had. The boot was big and wide, enough to pack off half the house in it. The quality of plastics etc looked reasonably good and I had no obvious complaints about the car. The price of the ABS variant was working out to be 7.25L which was quite nearby my budget of 7L. I almost got to the point of booking it until the lease company came back with their workings to tell me that it would be the same EMI for the Manza and Fiesta even though the Manza was 1L cheaper.

Not quite convinced by their calculations, I decided to put my idea on hold until the need arises. In the meanwhile, I was able to strike a deal with Prerana for my old Indigo and decided to sell it off before the year changed and it depreciated more.

Stage 2: A couple of months passed by and I was quite happy with the i10. Then came a plan to do a Mumbai trip for baby’s naming ceremony.
This was going to be a 2 week trip and it meant lots of luggage to lug around. A quick estimate and the i10 wasn’t going to deliver to the requirements this time. Finally, I had to exchange the i10 with a friend for his Fiesta so we could make the trip. This got me thinking about the need to have a bigger car for such trips, and yet again I started my hunt.

- Bigger car than entry level sedans
- Must have some exec status
- Preferably petrol
- Fuel economy not a big concern
- Under 6L in the used car sector

This time it wasn’t the economy sedan I was after. We were now thinking of looking at a car that had some status attached to it. So basically we had to move up a segment and look at the little bigger cars than the fiestas and manzas. Options were to consider the Corolla, Civic or the Optra, but this time I wasn’t looking at new ones. My uncle keeps dealing in used cars and I sounded him off to look for a used Corolla around 5-6L. The Corolla fitted my needs perfectly and though it was going to be petrol car, I was okay with it given the savings I’d have in the actual cost. It had a executive status to it but at the same time didn’t look flashy. It was reliable and reasonable on maintenance, plus it had nice space inside. I was damn convinced that this had to be my next car.

My uncle would have gotten me a MH registered car and driving in Karnataka would mean the threat of getting caught for tax payment. I was prepared to clear the tax after a year of purchase (allowed by the law) once I was convinced I’d want to stick with it. I waited while he searched and I also looked at a few used car options within Bangalore. It wasn’t working out somehow and soon my interest in this whole thing started diminishing. Moreover, I managed to spend a good part of the money I had kept aside for it. (all thanks to my Ladakh trip) Finally, after 3-4 months of waiting, I gave up on this idea and told my uncle to stop his search.

Stage 3: In July sometime, my wife had finally started going to work on her own. Given that I’d need to have some mode of transportation while she’s away, the need for another car started emerging. Till now it was always okay to delay the decision since I could only drive one car at a time. It was time that I gave a serious thought to it and made up my mind.

My Requirements:
- Should be a 4WD
- Aircon & Power Steering (for city driving)
- Should look and feel like a jeep
- In short I was fixed on the Bolero 4WD variant which had all of it as per the specs on their website.

A good test drive at the Mahindra dealership and the home ministry rejected my application straight up. To add to that, the guy said that I wont get the A/C and PS on the 4WD anymore. My plan was washed out on all fronts.

New Requirements: (signed off by the wife)
- SUV/MUV/higher C segment car
- Should have some status to it
- Around 10-11L budget
- Should be a highway car – easy cruising at 100-110kmph
- Loads of space needed
- Reliability is a critical need
- Ease of service/repair options across the country (needs good service network)
- Reasonable interiors

I had two or three choices to pick from this time. First I wanted to rule out the possibility of liking a car, so I tested the Optra before anything else. The car was nice but it looked and felt dated, moreover I was sold over the Cruze and tried to see if I can fit that in my budget. The 16L price tag was too big for my pocket so it was off the list.

Next I wanted to check the Innova with a hesitation on what if it fits into my budget. The G4 variant was around 10.5L ex-showroom which made it out of scope. This left us with two choices only, Safari vs Scorpio!

It was a fight between the heart and mind. Both me and my wife wanted to reclaim our lives but a conscious part of me wanted to avoid the Tata relationship and go with the Mahindra. There is enough talked about on comparisons between the two and I’m not going to add too much here.

For me, the main comparison points were:

Highway stability – Both are good but the Safari was a bit more reassuring

City Driving – The Scorpio was more agile in the city vs the awkward turning radius of the Safari

Seating – Safari wins in passenger comfort. The middle row is definitely more comfortable in the Safari as compared to the Scorpio.

Fuel Efficiency – Both are pretty much within 1-2 kmpl of each other so no big differentiator here

Service – I’ve had enough of Tata’s lack of quality and from what I’ve read Mahindra seems to be a tad better

Features – The Safari EX and Scorpio SLE were almost similar except for the ABS in the SLE. This was a big plus for the Scorpio in my books.

Cost – The Scorpio was working out to be 20% cheaper on EMIs for the lease due to higher resale value

Road Presence – Both have good presence on the road and can command respect from the smaller vehicles

Character – I always felt that the Safari had more character to it, may be because of good advertising!

The leasing company gave me a quotation which was significantly different for both cars even though their prices were the same. So obvious choice was the Scorpio based off the monthly outgo and the overall benefit from the leasing scheme. Something wasn’t right, my wife was not fully happy with the decision but she supported it nevertheless. We went around for a test drive and finalized the Scorpio SLE 8-seater variant with sliding middle row seats. My wife made it pretty clear that she’d be okay with the Scorpio only if it has the sliding middle row vs the fixed bench seat in the 7-seater configuration.

A twist in the tale

The India Garage dealership was offering a 20k cash discount which could be adjusted for any accessories I needed from them. From my previous buying experience, I decided to check it at the other dealership on Hosur road too. Here the guy offered me 26k in discounts for the same model and color. This was an opportunity for using the two quotes to get the best deal, so after a little back and forth between the two dealers I finally got 31k in discount as the final offer. I was pretty happy with the deal and already made selection of accessories that would be adjusted in that discount. The car was to arrive within 10 days and I was in no hurry, so I sent in a confirmation to the guy to block my booking.

After about a week, things changed after I spoke to my leasing agency. They were insisting that I book the 7-seater variant instead of the 8-seater because of some RTO clause on 8-seater vehicles being registered as commercial vehicles or something. The sales guy called to confirm that the car was in the yard and ready for PDI before allotment. I had to break the bad news to the poor fellow that it wont materialize now given that the company isn’t funding that model. He was a good guy and tried to convince me that its okay to get it registered as a 7-seater even though it would have an 8-seater configuration. But I didn’t want to take chances with a leased car since I may end up returning the car after 3 years if my plan changes. In the meanwhile, I had read almost all posts on TBHP concerning the Scorpio and was ready with my list of to-do things once the car is delivered. Now, all that time was going to go waste since I had to cancel my booking.

That day was a bit quiet in the house since both of us were convinced that there was no other option than to wait and increase our budget or to settle in for a regular C segment car. Just then, there’s the new Safari ad that plays on TV with the 7.75 lacs price tag on it. I never really believed in the power of advertising until that moment, it was just too timely for it to appear out of the blue. I checked their site and they had dropped their prices in that month. The quotation I had from the leasing company was with the old price and it meant that there was a ray of hope. Next thing I do was get back to the leasing company for a new quote on the Safari and though it wasn’t too different from the earlier one, it was good enough to make up my mind. Hopefully this was the last time I’m going to change!

Now the actual buying experience starts

Given my previous love-hate relationship with Tata, I really didn’t want to commit into a new one for the next 3-5 years. But I could see the shine in my wife’s eyes, she always wanted the Safari. So it was the final final final thing now, we wanted to close out on it before there’s any other thought that crossed our minds. The very next day we’re at KHT motors, we do a test drive as a formality but we were anyways firm on booking it already. The next question was which variant and this wasn’t a very tough decision to make. I wasn’t going in for the VX for sure, the GX had the leather upholstery which was a turn off, the LX had everything I needed as basics but the EX scored since it had the roof A/C which would be a good thing considering that my wife and kid now occupy the middle seats. I always wished to get a 4x4 but couldn’t go for it since this was a leased car and the waiting time etc would have been a mess to handle.
So we get the quote and all the paper work done from the company and we’re ready to get the allotment done. I’m a bit old school when it comes to the car color and the only colors I like are black and white. The i10 is black so we thought we’d get a white elephant to have some contrast in life. KHT confirmed availability of a white EX in their yard. I asked him to get it for inspection before he allotted it to me.

The car arrived at their service station the next day and I went along with the sales guy to check it out. What I saw wasn’t very pretty, the car interiors were in bad shape with most panels not matching each other. The panel gaps near the foot well were big enough for a finger to go through, there were scratches on the panels in the boot area. It looked like they had used it to shift some heavy things around which scratched the plastic panels. The date code was from March 2010 which means that the car must have been in his yard for atleast 3-4 months. This wouldn’t have been a big issue if the other things wouldn’t have been disappointing. The sales guy was very positive about the condition of the car and happily shrugged off the defects as a regular thing with Tata. A little more probing and it was clear that they wouldn’t be able to fix these issues for the PDI since they said the panel mismatch isn’t something that they’d be able to correct fully. The car was a big reject from my side and I made it very clear to the sales manager. Unfortunately this was the only one in stock and now I’d have to wait for them to order it for me unless I get it at any other dealership.

A quick check at Prerana did good, they had a black EX waiting at their yard. I asked them for an inspection and the car was available next day for a check up. This wasn’t perfect 10/10 on the panel matches, but it was something that I could live with. So it was going to be yet another black car in my garage, but I had no complaints. Prerana was quick in closing the deal since they had it served on a platter and all they had to do was execute it well. The delivery was finalized on the 9th of Sep 2010 after completing registration in the morning.

The day of delivery arrives and I’m pretty excited about it. My wife couldn’t miss work that day so it meant that I was to get the delivery with my 10 month old daughter. A few friends volunteered to tag along which was a big help. I could do the PDI thoroughly and also have a few more eyes to watch out for anything that I may miss out. The car was supposed to be ready at 5pm, but it was late by an hour or so since it had to go to their Lalbaug office after registration for cleaning etc. It was raining which meant that it’s not going to be all clean when it arrives, but that really wasn’t an issue with me. It finally arrives at 6pm and I checked it up thoroughly before the final go ahead. I’ve had a bitter experience for not having extended warranty on my Indigo, so this time I paid for it right away to have a 4-year coverage. The sales person showed me around the car and explained how things work etc which was good even though it wasn’t really different from what I’ve seen and used before. The only hiccup was that while doing a demo, he accidentally broke the cheap plastic cover for the charging socket. I couldn’t really blame him for it, it’s high time that Tata realizes that the center console panel material really sucks. The manager was prompt in acknowledging the issue and promised me that it’ll be taken care during the first service.

All papers are signed and I’m finally off at around 7pm. I don’t really like the new car hoo-haa that happens and it was good that there wasn’t a chance for it to be done as well. There was no ribbon on the car, no photo taken, nothing at all, just a plain simple handover of keys and a good-bye!

Next stop was at Tyre Empire at Whitefield to exchange the stock Bridgestones and put on the Michelin LTX AT2s. Ravi from Tyre Empire was kind enough to keep his guys available until after 8pm to finish my car. Tyres changed and wheels aligned/balanced, it was time to head out for some dinner and celebrate!

First impressions


- Road presence, everyone wants to make way for you!
- The reserve power it has even while you’re doing 100kph, overtaking is a breeze!
- Most comfortable seating except the last 2 seats, my wife loves it!
- High driving position, gives you good view while in traffic.
- Noise levels in the cabin are well controlled at all speeds. For the little noise that does creep in, the ICE takes care of it.

Dislikes: (nothing I can’t live with)

- Turning radius, makes you feel like a truck driver
- Wheel caps could be much better, have to switch to alloys sometime soon!
- Lack of finesse on the interiors, but that wasn’t a big expectation too.
- Stock headlamps are like holding a candle in the dark

Upgrades planned/done till now

- Tyres
- Reverse parking sensors/camera
- Alloys - TBD
- Aux lights – TBD
- Windscreen film for heat rejection - TBD

Hope you enjoyed reading!

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Old 17th February 2011, 19:36   #2
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Default re: Tata Safari- Bringing the black monster home!

Let me be the first guy to wish you.Congrats on the black monster, Amol.Your safari looks great and elegant.Waiting for more pictures of your safari.Drive her safe.
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Old 17th February 2011, 20:10   #3
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Default Re: Tata Safari- Bringing the black monster home!

Awesome decision, awesome beast!! hearty congratulations on the Safari and welcome to TBHP.

Wishing you unlimited safe and happy miles with HIM. Generally I get to say "her". Good to see Safaris around.

Safari will always be a revered SUV in India even a hundred years later. This vehicle taught us to use real capable SUVs...

Keep the updates coming...

More pictures please!!!

P.S. - Nice post. really detailed and covering every detail of your decision making and buying process.

Last edited by Reinhard : 17th February 2011 at 20:11.
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Old 17th February 2011, 20:50   #4
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Default Re: Tata Safari- Bringing the black monster home!

Good one Amol. Welcome to the Safari club. Enjoy the ride and have safe motoring.

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Old 17th February 2011, 20:51   #5
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Congratulations Amolpol, good decision and very detailed report about the buying experience. certainly helps people looking out to buy safari(am one of them )
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Old 17th February 2011, 20:57   #6
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Default Re: Tata Safari- Bringing the black monster home!

Congrats Amol!

Get the lights changed or add extra lights before your highway drive; absolutely right on the comparison there.

Stick to normal diesel.

Check the tire pressure; on the same brand as you have, I have found 30psi all around to be the best. 32psi was bouncy.

Happy and safe mile crunching.
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Old 17th February 2011, 22:40   #7
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Default Re: Tata Safari- Bringing the black monster home!

Congrats Amol. The black monster looks really good.
I just placed the order for a black Safari with Concorde just yesterday. Waiting to get the delivery..

What is the extra money you had to pay for exchanging the Bridgestone with Michelin?
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Old 18th February 2011, 10:07   #8
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Default Re: Tata Safari- Bringing the black monster home!

Woo hoo... I get very excited when someone else in Team BHP also buys a Black EX...

Forget any niggles, enjoy her for what she is, and she'll keep you king of the road grinning all the way! (She has been doing exactly that to me, 3 months into ownership)

Welcome welcome welcome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 18th February 2011, 10:24   #9
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Congrats Amol!

Wonderful write up! took me a while to read it!

Safari looks wonderful in black! have fun! drive safe!
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Old 18th February 2011, 10:47   #10
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Default Re: Tata Safari- Bringing the black monster home!

Thanks for the warm welcome!

@ravikn, wish you all the best for your purchase!

@happywheels, i've already installed the osram nightbreakers since the 100/90 would mean cutting the bracket and losing warranty. However, i'm still not very happy with the results which is why I need the aux lights. I usually keep 32psi on all tyres, have found it to be pretty good.

@recker, good choice! I paid 12k for the tyre exchange and another 1k for balancing/alignment/nitrogen etc.

@verditer, it took me a week to get over the smaller niggles as you call it. Post that it's been a sweet ride all through.

@mafia, i started writing almost 3 months back in bits and pieces so it took me longer to write as well!

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Old 18th February 2011, 11:01   #11
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Default Re: Tata Safari- Bringing the black monster home!


Really well written note on the buying experience.


Good to see how much importance you gave your wife's choise in deciding.

Keep writting in the further experiences with your beast.
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Old 18th February 2011, 11:11   #12
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Amol - Heartiest congratulations. Enjoy the black steed. Wishing you unlimited miles of fun. A nice good first post for you at T-BHP.

Nice photo too. Where did you take this ?
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Old 18th February 2011, 11:39   #13
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Congrats Amol. The Safari in black, looks at its best. Could sense your excitement in the writing, when you had switch between the dealers. Wish you may miles of happiness. Btw, the pic is top-notch!
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Old 18th February 2011, 16:20   #14
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Default Re: Tata Safari- Bringing the black monster home!

Thanks ACM! The wife's decision was critical since she accompanies me on every trip, I couldnt leave her out on this one. (she was also funding a lot of other things later on u see)

@jkrishnakj, the photo was taken at Maidenahalli blackbuck reserve

@aviorp, you got me there my friend. I was indeed a bit high on emotions when i had run around to change dealers.
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Old 18th February 2011, 18:36   #15
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Default Re: Tata Safari- Bringing the black monster home!

Many congrats for owning (or should I say taming) the Beast called Safari.

Excellent and very detailed write-up. Wish you many many happy miles with the beast!
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