Hello I am new to the Forum and just saw this topic. I built and fly a Safari. I have about 250 hours on it and am happy to answer any questions you may have. I have no basis of comparison to other helicopters, however I do have several thousand hours of multi engine fixed wing time.
As far as performance the published numbers are pretty accurate. Performance changes dramatically with temperature however. Being primarily a fixed wing guy I was surprised how much better the performance is when cold out. I weigh 240 buck naked and I have flown with a passenger weighing 260 lbs. It will hover but care must be taken with power management. You won't be lifting straight up and over any obstacles with heavily loaded.
Speed is more a function of skill and flight conditions. Here the trim option really shines. It makes the control forces heavier but allows you to trim for whatever speed you want. If dead calm I have seen 100 mph. If its rough then 60 seems too fast.
Operating costs are very low. I just finished up a 250 hour inspection and my total parts cost was probably $100 including oil change. Maintenance between inspections has been nonexistent. At 1000 hours the factory recommends replacing the blades and overhauling the transmission, I think the total cost for this will be about $10-12,000.
Factory support is excellent.
If you are wanting to learn in your own ship, there are now 2 Designated Examiners available for checkrides. One in Wichita Ks the other on the east coast somewhere. Although I do not recommend it, I taught myself to fly in it and did my checkride in it also.
I have done a substantial amount of balancing work on my ship. I currently run less than 0.1 ips in both lateral and vertical. I am almost finished with a device to lower the 2/rev and hope to reveal it at OshKosh this summer.
Feel free to ask questions