News

Upgrading from 2018 Tata Hexa: Confused between Safari & Scorpio N

I need a vehicle which despite being tough to withstand bad roads, big craters and speed breakers on a daily basis, isn’t agricultural for its occupants.

BHPian TORQUE_AANJANEY recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Hello Fellow BHPians,

I wish to present a conundrum that I’m 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 I’m just looking for validation more than feedback. But trust me that isn’t the case. And even if I have the answer subconsciously I don’t 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.

  • Have driven an XUV500 (2014 model Manual W6 variant) from 2014 - 2018
  • 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 a major part replacement for the now discontinued Hexa, less significant parts like 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 of 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, I’m quite aware that it won’t be repeated. Anything which is an upgrade over Hexa in all ways possible was previously a Ford Endeavor with a 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 don’t 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-year-old son and occasionally my 35 kg 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 isn’t 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 were eventually ignored:

  • Hyundai Tuscon - Low real-world GC, not suitable for daily abuse of bad patches of the 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. Doesn’t 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 in the back seat is going to get tougher.
  • Jeep Meridian - Makes even less sense than Compass due to a 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 Harrier’s 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 don’t 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. Doesn’t 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

  1. Lack of Infotainment with Android Auto / Apple CarPlay - (sorted on both Safari + Scorpio-N)
  2. 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 highways I can drive despite the engine and transmission being fully capable of delivering more than I actually extract out of them.
  3. Sometimes the heavy hydraulic steering at parking speeds on certain days seems like a chore. I have gotten used to it so on most days it doesn’t 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 the insulation of the suspension absorbing the bumps I have tried to ignore unless you guys tell me indeed the Scorpio-N is better.

I don’t 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 as tough as nail as Scorpio-N.

Steering

The light steering of the Scorpio-N is quite a delight. Safari’s 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 didn’t see either of them climbing all the way to 3k rpm by dropping gears (more than 1 when necessary), which I see a lot on my Hexa. However, with the Scorpio-N’s more potent diesel engine, the progress is brisker 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 duller until you engage the sports mode. But being an 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 a transmission standpoint are a downgrade to the Hexa’s 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 wasn’t 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 I’m not sure if he made it up or if there was indeed a reduction in the Safari’s 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 don’t 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 a 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 creature 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 that 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 I’m 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 ‘2023 along with much better resolution is another point to lose for Scorpio-N, though being a current Hexa driver I shouldn’t complain much about Scorpio-N’s camera resolutions. The Electronic Parking Brake with Auto Hold on the Safari is another area where it trumps Scorpio-N and in Bangalore traffic, it’s 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 it’s 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 don’t want to take a biased decision and later repent of it, rather than decide based on the merits of both the machines.

Here's what GTO had to say about the matter:

Frank opinion, keep your Hexa AT. You MUST read my two articles on the topic:

For more opinions on the Scorpio-N versus the Safari, we have a detailed discussion & poll (Mahindra Scorpio-N vs Tata Safari vs Hyundai Alcazar vs Mahindra XUV700 vs Others).

Here's what BHPian vaibhavyagnik had to say about the matter:

My advice is to hold on to the Hexa if there are no problems with it. In fact, you and your family are satisfied with Hexa. Since Hexa is out of production and 5 years old, the majority of the resale value is gone. Now the loss of resale value will be more gradual.

Like any other device, the cars also follow the bathtub curve failure model. Most of the failures will occur either when the device is very new or very old. Your Hexa is sitting right in the middle and I do not expect any major failures till 8-10 years into the life of the car.

You are also looking at long wait times on Scorpio-N and cars have gotten expensive. Bottom line, why fix something which isn't broken?

Here's what BHPian Ferruccio had to say about the matter:

As a fellow Hexa owner and being a member of several Hexa owner's groups I think the thing that keeps most of us awake at night is what will we replace the Hexa with… it is that good. I came out of a coffee break on a long drive to find a family in a Jaguar F Pace admiring my Hexa. They had recently sold their Hexa for the Jaguar and they told me they regretted the decision! Yes, it is that good.

I am an audiophile and therefore for me what comes closest to the list you put together is a Scorpio with an after-market audio replacement. The Scorpio wins hands down over all the other choices despite being a flawed angel on many fronts. Two words - ROAD PRESENCE. After the last decades of driving hoodlum cars, I am addicted to the unruly, crowded streets parting like the oceans parting before Moses when they see my vehicle in their rearview mirrors.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

 
Seat belts save lives