Test drove the Mahindra Thar, Mahindra XUV700, Mahindra Scorpio & even the Tata Nexon, before going ahead with the purchase.
BHPian Jaisalmeriya recently shared this with other enthusiasts.
Dreams are not what you see in your sleep, Dreams are things which do not let you sleep. – Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam
I don’t know the timing of this quote from Dr Kalam, but I have had a dream that has kept me awake for almost 20 years. Having seen the mighty Mahindras, Pajeros, Safaris, and Sierras on roads while growing up in the desert town of Jaisalmer, and driving them in my college days, these machines always had a very inspiring effect on the boy inside me. Even though I scribbled in my journal to own a BIG BUTCH SUV one day, all while I was just a teenager. Although I lost the journal, the memory of that page and that dream etched on those pages remained fresh in my mind.
As with everything that grows organically, the process was slow, needed nurturing of the dream, and required a lot of hard and smart work. The dream was always fresh and got my patience tested multiple times due to multiple commitments – financial planning, growing a family (read 2 kids), prioritizing a house purchase and last but not least, the pandemic in the past 15 years since I first started working.
I had a humble beginning with a Hyundai Eon that came home in Jan-2013 that helped me get on my car journey and made amazing memories in the last 10 years. Many first was attached to it including my son’s “India Book of Records” title. My son (a petrolhead in making) had a hard time saying goodbye to the Eon.
This brings me to the context of this post I have been writing and editing for the last 15 days to be ready by the time we get the delivery of my Tata Harrier XZA+ Black Edition 2022 and realize a 20-year-old dream.
Bear with me as it might be a long post, to share with all the petrolheads on the forum, my journey of reaching to this milestone. As with all stories, this one is filled with ups and downs, plot twists, surprises and heart-over-head decisions.
Thank you for reading on!
The decision to change the car:
With the pandemic and its after-effects subsiding, we started to look out for options in Jan-2022. Interestingly, 2 of my close family friends also started looking out for new cars to replace their 10-year-old Alto K10 and WagonR respectively. The weekly family brunches and dinners turned into detailed car evaluation meetings that went on for hours on end. With all the available options being reviewed, test-driven multiple times and near-surgical levels of assessments on the pros and cons of each brand and model, they were able to zero in on VW Taigun (GT) and the Skoda Kushaq for themselves by end of Jun-2022.
This left me still unable to decide in spite of years of automotive passion and understanding of cars, the experience and expertise from our esteemed forum Team-bhp and what I thought would be an easy and straightforward decision, ended up being an agonizing 8-month period of indecisiveness and massive mental headache.
The 8-Month Analysis Paralysis
Given that I drove a small city hatchback, a humble Eon for almost 10 years with a fair amount of highway driving thrown in, I had a very good idea of what I wanted my next car to be – A full-size SUV (possibly even a 7-seater) that can take the entire family and their luggage to anywhere I wanted to go. The petrolhead in me even aspired to get a 4X4 SUV to be able to live the dune-bashing and Ladakh-tripping adventures in the future (no end to the aspirations here).
Also importantly, I really wanted to buy a car from the Indian brands only – either Tata or Mahindra. It may sound a bit unbelievable, but somewhere in my heart, I wanted to dedicate this purchase to the amazing efforts these two homegrown manufacturers have undertaken to give the Indian consumers not just world-class products that are safe, feature-rich with awe-inspiring designs but have managed to improve the safety awareness of the car-buying public single-handedly. I have been a vocal advocate of buying safer cars in my family and friends circle and tried my best to recommend products that have safety high on their strengths.
Options Considered (Again and Again)
The car that started it all. Unlike 99% of the Thar buyers, my entire family was sold on the Thar from the day of launch and fortunately I had zero convincing to do in that aspect. We did multiple test drives of the car to ensure we had a good understanding of what the car offered and what were our primary needs. With the 5-door Thar nowhere in sight and the current one not scoring too high on the practicality I needed, I had to let of this beast go from my very short list of contenders much to the chagrin of my daughter who is in love with the Thar.
- The Butch styling and the road presence
- High driving position
- Go-anywhere capabilities
- 4-Star Safety rating
- Decently equipped (willing to let go of features for what the car offered in the hardware department)
- The lure of the Mahindra Adventure off-road events
- Most importantly, the family didn’t need convincing
- Rear seat space (the convinced family needs to be comfortable on long journeys)
- Boot space – I intend to do cross-country drives in the car and needed the luggage space)
- Rear seat entry
Thar was the car that was under consideration for the longest duration and we took multiple test drives before concluding that the novelty may wear off in about a year and the reality might hit us hard after that.
Mahindra XUV 700
While I was contemplating the Thar, we always checked out the Mahindra XUV7OO during our showroom visits and went for a few test drives as well. This seemed to be the perfect package, of all that I needed, although the feature pack of the Diesel AX5 AT 7-seater left a lot to be desired. I even booked the car in April 2022 only to receive a delivery timeline of May 2023. Much to my disappointment, Mahindra decided to remove features from AX5 that didn’t sit well with me for the price I was expecting to pay by the delivery time and I cancelled my delivery within a month of booking.
- 5-Star safety rating
- Engines and the power (when you are upgrading from a city hatchback, it hits you the most)
- The overall feel of the cabin
- 7 seater option
- Delivery timelines (if not for this, we might just have ended up with this car perhaps)
- Feature pack at the booking and the removal of some features right after the booking
- Didn’t find the AX5 variant, particularly VFM
- Although a good design, I did not go head-over-heels on 7OO’s design and styling
One launch that I had high hopes for was the Scorpio. I had been following this car since the testing days and had come across multiple test cars during my trips to Mahabaleshwar and Rajasthan. Was in the showroom on the day of launch, and loved the size and the capabilities of the vehicle. However, the underwhelming 3rd row, badly designed boot, the feature distribution and the overall ride quality in the 2nd row left me wanting more. I still was positive that Mahindra would do a XUV7OO with the price announcement and I will be able to get a full size, BOF, 4X4 in under 20 lakhs on road. Alas, it was not to be.
- Imposing road presence
- Engines (again)
- 7 seat option
- 4X4 Gear
- Expected good safety rating
- Pricing – Mahindra decided to not do a XUV7OO type launch pricing
- Feature distribution – With the launch done, the feature distribution between Z4 AT 4WD and Z8 AT 4WD seemed heavily skewed to push Z8 sales which was quite steep in my opinion, even at launch.
- 2nd-row ride quality
- 3rd-row space
- Awkwardly designed boot
Although all Mahindra cars went out of consideration, the overall showroom experience including the test drives, SA’s willingness for updates even during the Scorpio N launch rush was commendable. I found the follow-ups after the 7OO booking and general customer focus to be really good as well.
With the entire Mahindra portfolio suddenly out of contention, I switched my attention to Tata and paid a visit to the Garve Tata showroom in Baner.
Normal Things Can Happen Strangely and strange things can happen normally.
As we already have 2 Tata cars in the family – a Tiago and Nexon, Tata was not unfamiliar territory for me, but I kept my expectations low due to all the stories and experiences I read about on the forum and my 2 friends who went for Taigun and
- 5-Star safety rating
- Feature loaded on top-end trims
- The Dark edition looked mean
- The AMT gearbox
- The next Gen update will happen soon
- The family did not want a second Nexon in the house
For some strange super-natural reason that I am yet to figure out, I test-drove the Nexon automatic, and in spite of the not-so-good AMT automatic, went ahead and booked the XZA+ Dark Edition just before Independence Day (note that I did not have my wife and kids with me during this booking). All this without even checking out the Harrier, that was right there in the showroom – God knows why!
Came home to share the news and was met with a hugely underwhelming response from everyone. I insisted that they have a look at the Dark edition and decide further. We visited the showroom again after a couple of days and at this point, my experience with the dealership, the SA and Tata Motors, in general, started to shape my decision. My SA, Mr Manish who was keenly engaged and observing our conversations, took us to their Tathawade showroom to check out the Nexon Dark in person, answered questions from the family and observed that the booking may not materialize to a delivery.
Upon return to the Baner showroom, Mr Manish informed me that there is 2 Harrier XZA+ in the inventory with the applicable discounts – Orcus White DT and a Dark Edition. The white car had been in the showroom for public experience since we booked Nexon and was not keen on the same. However, the moment the Dark edition was mentioned, my heart knew where it was going. The car was at the dealer stockyard, and I asked for the VIN to check the manufactured date (turned out to be a Jul-2022 model). With the initial impression positive, I requested to do a PDI before making a final decision.
The day turned out to be an impromptu work day leave – Reached the stockyard only to experience Love at first sight. The car sought attention like nothing else. I quickly opened the Team-Bhp PDI checklist and BHPian SMG’s detailed post on my phone, spent an hour checking the car and by the end of it, pretty much made up my mind to go for it.
And suddenly within an hour, what seemed like a casual enquiry, turned into an impromptu office leave, leading to a stockyard visit for a PDI with family. With the Team-BHP PDI list and BHPian SMG’s detailed post open on my phone, we reached the stockyard for the PDI.
Love at First Sight
Nothing had prepared me for this moment. Not even seeing the same car on the road every day, reading every page of the Harrier review on team-bhp, watching every possible video on YouTube or even checking out the car in the showroom. You just know “This is IT”. And that feeling of knowing that this was it, I started checking the car from all aspects based on the checklist. Close to an hour later with all vitals checked, I was happy with what I was seeing, and we decided to give a go-ahead to Manish to block the car for me and reached back to the showroom to discuss the final pricing and other details.
The Final Leg
We reached back to the showroom and spent the next hour discussing the discounts, exchange price and bonus of our Eon and other incentives that the dealer would provide. Decided to get the car registered with the “Bharat” series keeping flexibility in mind. All things considered, we landed on common ground and sealed the deal, shared a tentative delivery date in the Ganpati week (test of my patience started from this point)
Given that I have been on this journey for most of 8 months and dealt with multiple brands both at my home and showrooms namely Mahindra, Tata, Jeep, and VW; I’d say the experience has been great. Although we dropped VW from the race early on, credit where due, both from Mahindra and Tata, received test drives as and when requested (both long and short), need for follow-ups were minimal, updates were regular, was catered to during showrooms visits and to top it all, even my over-excited kids were given due care and attention at the dealership and test-drives.
Special mention to Mr Manish, who got the paperwork and other formalities completed for the delivery of my car. A cool-headed guy with a sober head on their shoulders who supported us through this tale of twists to bring home our beast – the TATA Harrier XZA+ Dark Edition.
- Menacing Looks and the Butch styling in that Oberon Black Color
- Engine-Gearbox Combo
- The feature list that ticked almost all my requirements (no end to the desires but the actual, usable features are all there)
- Rear Seat space and overall ride comfort
- High-speed stability, comfort and handling
- Fit & Finish of some plastic and Rubber parts in general, although panel gaps and alignment were spot on my car
- Found the steering a bit heavy but quite possible it is due to what I drove earlier. I am positive I will get used to it with more miles done
- Infotainment – I am used to Apple products and couldn’t help but notice the difference in the screen resolutions, crispness and overall response and sensitivity of the screen
- No TPMS – Surprising as the Nexon gets it
Accessories and TLC for the Beast
As part of my gratitude to the dealership for the great service provided, I decided to opt for accessories at the dealer end:
Being the super-excited, petrol head, I made several trips to both showrooms, multiple times to check out the car.
The car arrived at the stockyard to the showroom
Car back from the studio after the PPF Coating
During the accessories fitment
The entire staff across both showrooms had a receptive demeanour, helped with questions with a smile and never felt irritated either by frequent visits or by my enthusiastic son, who literally made the showroom a playground for himself.
Fixed up the delivery time for the evening of 08-Sep-2022, we informed Manish of the same. Arrived at the showroom with the family and friends, all the items for Pooja, although they had it ready from their end.
After completing the final payments, and reviewing the paperwork, without anything pending or a glitch, the BIG Moment arrived. Performed the Pooja from my daughter with mandatory photo sessions after that.
Met, thanked and distributed sweets to the entire showroom staff before driving off to the nearest temple.
With close to 350 km on ODO, sharing the very initial observations:
The car grabs attention by spades. Plan to stretch its legs on the expressway soon and understand the beast a bit more.
Will continue to keep the thread updated as I munch more miles and other key aspects like the PPF performance. Thanks for reading on.
Signing Off With Some Pictures.
Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.
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