When there’s a version that ‘broke the net’ in 2018, it was the Tata Harrier. Right from the time the SUV was shown as the H5X concept at the 2018 Auto Expo, there was unrelenting curiosity about what’s Tata’s toughest SUV up to now. Along with the interest-only piqued when the last product’s pricing was announced in early 2019. See it as a larger-than-average mid-segment SUV or an exceedingly well-priced premium one, if there is one common thread, it is that the Harrier is big on value.
The Harrier can be a landmark item, being the first model constructed on Tata’s new OMEGA Arc platform that is derived from Land Rover’s D8 platform. In fact, the Harrier is your first new Tata constructed with subsidiary Land Rover’s know-how from the return. In the pipeline is an automatic-transmission-equipped edition, a higher-powered and BS-VI emission norms-compliant diesel that will come by April a year ago, a 1.6-liter turbo-petrol is in evolution and also an all-wheel-drive option is an outside possibility as well. Come 2020, a bigger seven-seat edition, previewed from the Buzzard concept earlier this season, will also go on sale. For now, however, there’s only 1 version — a 140hp diesel with a 6-speed manual — available and that’s the one who’ll be under the scanner in this test.
Detailed Review of Tata Harrier 2019 Variant
Tata Motors struck it out of the park with the futuristic H5X but few thought the production version would remain so true to the concept. Sure, certain components have been toned down for generation but the Harrier still resembles a concept car for the road. The styling makes heads turn and, without fail, you’ll notice a feeling of shock when folks notice the Tata badge on the grille. The Harrier is the very first product styled to Tata Motors’ evolved Impact Design 2.0 philosophy and the look sure makes an impact.
Being 4,598mm long, 1,894mm wide and 1,706mm tall, the Harrier is a fairly substantial SUV, to begin with, and also the high-set bonnet simply gives it more street presence. You could explain the Harrier’s rectal styling as busy and it may not resonate with buyers who enjoy their SUVs plain and simple but, moving by online chatter, the groundbreaking encounter has more fans than haters’. The front end is distinguished by means of a strip of high-set LEDs that apparently flow to the large grille. The split headlight seem is radical but, curiously enough, the Harrier won’t be the only SUV to sport it. The Hyundai Venue compact SUV and MG Hector (which will compete with all the Harrier) additionally feature a similar arrangement. Lower down, there is the de rigueur scuff plate, and what is also nice is how Tata’s designers have employed body cladding to provide the Harrier a high riding appearance.
The Harrier is identifying in profile too along with the pinched glasshouse is particularly attractive. However, while the huge wheel arches, which are a vital element of Impact Design 2.0, include mass into the design, they also make the 17-inch rims (16-inches on reduced trims) look a size small. Snazzier wheels are in keeping with the Tata’s look too. Styling at the back is slick, however. The linked tail-lights are particularly smart and, even if you look carefully, you’ll also note the pronounced crease on the tailgate looks fantastic.
As mentioned, Tata’s OMEGA Arc platform is derived from Land Rover’s transverse engine D8 platform that underpins the Land Rover Discovery Sport. Notice,’ derived’ is the operative word here. And that’s because, although the Harrier shares many challenging points together with the Discovery Sport, the platform itself has been re-engineered for lower prices. Aluminum has made way for high- strength steel, the Disco Sport’s complex integral link rear suspension has been replaced by a simpler torsion beam arrangement (tuned by Lotus) and hydraulic assist was adopted rather than the more expensive but more efficient electrical power steering. What’s a shame is that the Harrier also overlooks rear disk brakes, which is something that you’d expect on an SUV that weighs up of 1.6 tonnes. The Harrier does but conforms to India’s latest safety norms, with foundation versions built with dual airbags, front-seat seatbelt reminder, rate warning system, and rear parking sensors. Top-spec versions get six airbags and see the addition of traction control and ESP with off-road manners.
Thanks to a cottage that sits in just the right height, you walk into instead of climb aboard into the Harrier. Along with the large doors open to welcome you to Tata’s best interior to date. Top-spec XZ trim Harriers, such as our test car, make ample use of leather (like in the door pads), the faux wood onto the neatly styled dash looks persuasive, the freestanding 8.8-inch touchscreen is sleek and even the metal-like element that divides the dash horizontally (à la the Nexon) appears superior. An all-digital instrument cluster could have taken things to the next level but even the educational part-digital (the speedo is analog) display does its bit to up the ambiance. Yet there are a number of average plastics at the cottage but you must hand it to Tata for the strides it has made at the department of quality.
Of being in something substantial — something that SUV buyers tend to love. However, all are not ideal. Over long stints, a number of us saw the large, lumbar-adjustable front chairs excessively bolstered in the area of the lower spine. And though there’s a dead pedal, folding your leg will lead to your knee brushing uncomfortably from the middle console. A bigger issue is that the sheer size of the outside mirrors. They’re large and make a blind spot big enough to cover SUVs, let alone two-wheelers. If there’s a version that requires the Audi e-Tron’s camera-based digital Mirrors, this is it. Even inside the cottage, you’ll have a tough time locating the USB slots that are put from view below the center console. We also weren’t sold on the thrust control-like lever for the handbrake. You do learn to live with these items but they’re irritants nonetheless.
Tata Harrier Performance
The Harrier may share its 2.0-liter diesel engine using the Compass but the Tata can’t quite match the Jeep on outright performance. On the Tata, the motor makes 140hp and 350Nm (the Compass uses a 173hp and 350Nm version of the unit) and has to drag almost 100kg more of SUV. This should partly explain the major difference in their 0-100kph acceleration times; the Harrier takes 12.24sec to 100 while the corresponding Compass 4×2 records a sub-10sec time of 9.97sec. On the other hand, the gap becomes much smaller when talking of the more important yardstick of in-gear acceleration. The Compass is only marginally faster from 10-30kph in second, 30-50kph in third, 50-80kph in fourth and 80-100kph in fifth gears. The Harrier’s relatively low-geared final driveway comes into play and also helps the Tata better the 300kg lighter Hyundai Creta through the gears.
While performance is not electrifying, it’s more than sufficient. Drive modes also let you change how the engine produces its power. The efficiency-enhancing Eco mode curtails power and revs and makes the build of speed leisurely. The motor has more to provide in’City’ and feels its freest and best in the Sport mode. Power comes in easily and there’s a small bump at about 1,800rpm. The Harrier gets to highway cruising speeds effortlessly but, occasionally, you do wish there was more punch in the mid-range; this powerful explosion on the Compass is missing. The more powerful BS-VI-compliant version of the engine could address the matter. Engine refinement was a critical issue on our pre-launch driveway of this Harrier but the good thing is that Tata engineers took the feedback to heart and there’s been a noticeable improvement from the production automobiles. In fact, among the explanations for the production delays is because of the NVH tweaks carried out retrospectively. The engine is now quieter and also the vibrations coming through the pedals tend to be somewhat more subdued. However, it is still not as refined as we’d have liked. Idle is grumbly, the engine sounds buzzy after 2,000rpm and you will even hear a clunk from the driveline ever so frequently. The 6-speed gearbox does not operate with the same slickness as it does in the Compass but it’s mild enough. Thankfully, that the Harrier clutch is not heavy or snappy such as the Compass’, and it is really quite convenient to modulate but you need to give it a wee bit of gas’ to avoid stalling the engine. Also, we can not help but wonder how much better than the whole experience could be after the Hyundai-sourced, smooth-shifting torque converter 6-speed automated gearbox eventually makes its way on the Harrier.
Features of Tata Harrier
The Tata Harrier is available in four variants. Base XE trim versions (Rs 12.69 lakh), strangely only available in white paint, capture the safety basics of dual airbags and ABS, but only few relaxation features like power windows, power steering, tilt and telescopic steering and projector headlamps. The XM (Rs 13.75 lakh) adds into a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, steering-mounted audio controls and drive modes. However, if you want the maximum frills (and safety equipment), you’ll have to stretch and pick the XZ (Rs 16.25 lakh). It is also the only one with xenon headlights, Isofix child seat mounts, six airbags, ESP, hill descent control and hill hold control.
Using its Land Rover-derived stage and Fiat-sourced engine wrapped in a certain and new-age Tata layout, the Harrier guarantees the very best of all worlds. And for the most part, it delivers. The striking look is going to be the hook for many however, the Harrier’s advantages extend to its spacious cottage, tough build, and excellent high-speed ride.
The absence of all-wheel drive is going to be missed by just a small number of off-roaders however, the lack of an automatic will probably be a deal-breaker for many and should have been a choice right from launch. However, see what you get for the cost and it’s difficult not to believe you’re getting more than your money’s worth.
Tata’s reinvention started with the Tiago and Hexa. And just like the Nexon did two decades ago, that the Harrier takes the procedure to a higher gear.