Ownership review: My 2021 Tata Safari XZA 7 seater AT

Call it the Buzzard or the Gravitas or the Safari, it is no brainer to see that it is just the 7-seat version of the Harrier, which in itself is a good car to start with. I am no Safari fanboy and am not going to carry bricks or bats to fight over its naming.

BHPian Jude300 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

My earlier car was a Ford Ecosport, and I loved it so much that I bought it twice; the 2013 launch version and the 2017 facelift version. In my ownership reviews, I had proudly called them The machine I love (Ford Ecosport 1.5L Diesel Titanium (Facelift) – The machine I love). The ownership experience was excellent and both the cars are with people close to my heart.

Coming to 2021, on the hunt for the proper 7-seater, automatic variant, and SUV appeal, I zeroed in on the new Tata Safari 2021 not because I was in love with it but that was the only option that at the least looked like a SUV among the Innova Crysta, MG Hector Plus, Alcatraz, XUV700. But this time I wasn’t in love with the car, and thus was unable to have a clear decision. My confusions were:

  • Buying the Safari with sunroof or not: I love the panoramic sunroof and it looked so nice on the Safari. But I wasn’t sure if I would use it in Chennai’s hot weather and even if I did, it will be just used as a moon roof (with just the shade open) as I don’t like to keep the car with the windows open and let pollution in. Also, I wasn’t sure if after the initial frenzy settles down and the show-off is done, whether I will even remember to use it. It was a very tough decision to make and finally went with what my mind had to say.
  • Buying the Innova Crysta Gx variant: The 2 big concerns of buying the Tata Safari were “Reliability” and “Service Quality”. This is where the Innova ticked the boxes. However, the Innova had automatic only in the Gx and the Zx (top end) variants. The top end was nearly Rs. 30 lakhs and hence a bit too far from my budget. The Gx missed on more air bags, some nifty features the Safari XZA offered and most importantly both myself and wife didn’t like the MPV look of the Innova Crysta. It turned out to be the deal breaker for not going for the Innova Crysta. The Safari on the other hand look classy and SUVish (except that it doesn’t have the tail mounted spare wheel) and felt more appropriate for our age. Here I went with what the heart had to say.
  • Fear factor: The biggest factor that I had to overcome was the “Fear Factor”. I put my money on the Ford Ecosport twice but never had this element in the decision-making process. Now, I can tell you confidently that it takes a strong heart to put Rs. 25 lakhs on a Tata. I read a lot, did thorough research and the outcome was the fear of being delivered a lemon that lingers till you get your hands on the car and is still in my mind as I write this review. However, seems like most of the issues are sorted now and those that are out there are relating to those from initial batches.

Decision:

I finally took the leap of faith and booked the 7-seater XZA variant of the Tata Safari (Automatic, top end, without sunroof). I took the test drive with Derik Tata, Nagercoil but couldn’t book with them due to the company lease requirements and thus made the booking with Lakshmi Tata, Chennai. While I would have loved the Black shade, since it was not available, I had to settle for the Royal Blue colour. I was quite excited and this helped me break the deliberate long hiatus that I took from the social network indulgence. The only network which I was still actively following was Team BHP but I wasn’t contributing to it. It felt quite nice to be back in the conversation and the delivery updates by a few members gave me more confidence.

On 17th September, the day I did a virtual PDI of my car as I was in my hometown, Tata Motors launched the Gold Edition of the Tata Safari and along with it silently updated the feature list to include wireless Android Auto / Car Play, wireless charging and air purifier to all XZ variants with a 12k increase to the price. I was a bit disappointed as my car that was August manufactured didn’t have these features.

There were no discounts except for the reduced Insurance premium that was matched with the external quote. I was offered the floor mats and the mud flaps for free. The dealership had also promised to give the sun visor for free but was denied later. Anyway, I wasn’t going to fix that as it came with a chrome lining which I personally didn’t like.

Delivery:

The 2 months wait, thanks to the long lease process in our company was indeed quite tiresome due to the “fear factor” and the handsome dose of negative news.

The delivery process is nothing to write about. I took the delivery at around 8pm after waiting there for nearly 2 hours due to the delay in getting the HSRP number plate. I have shared my feedback about the dealer in a separate section at the end.

Add-ons:

I am usually not a fan of adding additional electronics or accessories that just add to the visual appeal (mostly they look awkward). However, I wanted the below add-ons / accessories the details of which I will elaborate in their respective sections in the review

  • 7D Floor mats.
  • Dashcam: 70mai Pro Plus+ A500S Dash Cam + right-angled USB adapter.
  • Extended warranty: Unlike the confidence I had in the Ecosport for which I didn’t take the extended warranty, it took me a lot of self-convincing to buy a Tata. When I took the plunge, I vowed to myself that I would go for the extended warranty.
  • Paint Protection film for the door sills, edges and ORVM (from Tufkote- DIY Project)
  • Screen guard for Infotainment screen: Amazon

Call it the Buzzard or the Gravitas or the Safari, it is no brainer to see that it is just the 7-seat version of the Harrier, which in itself is a good car to start with. I am no Safari fanboy and am not going to carry bricks or bats to fight over its naming.

Enough said, please hop on to my Sapphire for a Safari.

What I like:

  • Has the bold SUV DNA. It’s not imposing but has good road presence and is a head turner.
  • Solid build; good set of safety features (6 airbags, ABS, EBD, ESP, hill hold, hill descent control, brake disc wiping etc. give you loads of confidence.
  • Most comfortable 3rd row seats in the segment. Sliding and reclining 2nd row seats gives added comfort.
  • My most loved & useful features include Electronic Park Brake with Auto hold, auto-dimming IVRM, charging port for almost all occupants, Eco, City & Sport modes, auto headlamps & wipers, cruise control, auto folding ORVM and more.
  • Excellent drivability in the city and the highways. Has enough juice to put a smile on your face (don’t expect a race car though)
  • Though huge in size, it drives more like a car and is easy to maneuver. The monocoque platform shows its strengths in the way it handles too.
  • NVH levels are well controlled; when the engine is warm its hard to believe its a diesel mill.
  • Amazing audio system is more than sufficient to entertain me and most of us.
  • The automatic gearbox is simply superb. As already mentioned in many reviews, this is the option to go with.

What I don’t like:

  • Limited colours and too much of chrome. The Dark edition of the Harrier looks smashing; something similar on the Safari would have been my pick.
  • The 8.8” screen is too small especially with Android Auto active.
  • White Interiors; hard to maintain (especially with young kids); would have preferred a darker shade.
  • No Wireless Android Auto / Car play / wireless charging. SHAME ON YOU TATA for not launching with these features. (I missed it by a whisker as an update to feature list included it in from the following month. Those buying now would not have this problem)
  • Very small boot but it wasn’t a deal breaker. I would be using it mostly with 4 / 6 occupants and hence with one seat of the 50:50 foldable third row will give me the required space to carry luggage.
  • It only has leatherette seats and not genuine leather seats. The brochure misleads us by mentioning “Premium Benecke Kaliko™ Signature Oyster White Leather# Seat Upholstery & Door Pad Inserts and Leather# Wrapped Steering Wheel & Gear Shift Knob”. I missed to see what the “#” was for as many would do. Later noticed “#Leatherette” somewhere in the bottom in a font I barely can read. WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO SHORTEN “Leatherette” to “Leather” – Purely with an intention to mislead the customer.

Exterior:

Look from the front and you will easily make out that it is the big brother from the Tata family. The familiar touches found in the Nexon is evident in the Harrier and the Safari. The huge windscreen and the high seating make it evident that it will give you a great view of the road:

All variants without the sunroof come with the stepped -up roof that are ribbed for better strength. It makes these variants look taller than the sunroof variants:

What I don’t like is the tri-arrow chrome accents in the front grill and the chrome around the head lamp cluster. It adds so much bling to the otherwise neutral car:

The plastic skid plate in Silver adds an SUV touch but are not functional. The towing hook is hidden under the skid plate and the cover needs to be removed to access it. Screw driver provided as part of the tool kit (Quite thoughtful ):

Adequate underbody protection:

The black ORVM looks classy though it doesn’t stand out in the Royal Blue colour:

The headlamp cluster is nicely done. Hate the cheesy chrome garnish though. The headlamps on the XZ variants are Xenon HID projector headlamps for the low beam:

Look closely and you can see a growling lion:

Turn to the sides and that’s where the Safari shouts of its SUV character than the cross-over silhouette the Harrier carries. The rear quarter glass is large and well proportioned. The integration of the rear is well designed that it doesn’t look like it was an afterthought:

The silver plastic that runs from the D-pillar to the roofrails look good to me while some might not like it. The variants without sunroof get functional roof rails that can carry luggage. See how the stepped-up roof is seen through the roof rails. The sunroof variants get a cheesy chrome element instead:

The chrome door handles and the window line are subtle and break the monotonous paint work:

A closer look at the door handle:

The fuel cap is on the driver side of the car. A gentle push and it opens wide:

The 18” rims add to the height and the ground clearance of the car. It fills the wheel arches well but the increased size with lower profile = slightly bouncier ride + more expensive to change tires. The stock tires are Bridgestone Ecopia EP850 (235/60 R18) that are known for lower roll resistance that contribute to better fuel efficiency (Bridgestone claims 10% increase). I am not an expert with judging the tires and hence can’t really comment on them but to me it offers ample grip and not noisy:

The R18 machined alloys also look neat, mature and syncs with the character of the car:

The LED tail lamps have deep cuts and wrap through the rear corner. It looks sleek and neat:

Look at how deep the cuts are:

The rear of the car doesn’t carry the otherwise bulky look of the car. It is tighter and makes the car look smaller than it is. Compare it with the rear end of the Innova. The Safari mascot is a neat touch but there is no variant badge:

The XZ variants get the shark fin antenna while the others get the stubby type ones. The rear spoiler adds character too. The ribbed stepped up roof for rigidity:

The bumper gets faux exhaust vents and the single exhaust pipe is tucked away neatly and not visible in normal view. The spare tyre is 235/70 R16 with steel rims hence only a 4-wheel rotation is possible:

The Safari comes with the “Vocal for local” branding (looks like it was designed by a 5th grade student) which is placed awkwardly in the rear glass. Not that I am not vocal for local but as with any other unnecessary sticker, I have removed it. Same goes for the dealership sticker:

I like to view the Safari in these angles:

Continue reading Jude300’s review of his 2021 Tata Safari XZA 7 seater AT for BHPian comments, insights and more information.

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