Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia
The Tata Harrier has been probably the most-awaited SUV of the year, ever since the concept H5X was showcased at the Auto Expo in early 2018. The one big USP it has: Its looks. It does turn more than a few heads. But is that enough?
The Quint was invited to Jodhpur recently for a test drive of the Tata Harrier on a route between Jodhpur to Khimsar and back. Here are our first impressions of this five-seater SUV, which is going after the likes of the Jeep Compass on one end of the price segment and Hyundai Creta on the other. At least, that's what Tata's indicated pricing is – between Rs 16 lakh to Rs 21 lakh on-road. Is it worth that?
Tata Harrier: What We Like
- Aggressive SUV styling
- Good all-round performance and ride quality
- Interior space & comfort
- Excellent JBL infotainment system
Tata Harrier: What We Don't Like
- No four-wheel drive or automatic transmission option
- Some blind spots & ergonomic issues
- Could do with more features for the price segment
The Tata Harrier is built on the D8 platform borrowed from Jaguar Land Rover, and called the Omega-arch platform. It is similar to what underpins the Discover Sport. It was shown as the H5X concept at the Auto Expo 2018 and at the Geneva International Motor Show. The final product is almost true to concept.
The front draws attention to the LED daytime running lamps cum turn indicators that look stunning. The twin beam, projector headlamps are placed in the bumper just below, but make no mistake, they are not as low as they seem. It is at conventional height.
The rear has LED tail-lamps that wrap around the boot and are connected by a horizontal blacked-out strip, which looks quite unique. It is quite long at 4,598 mm (longer than the Mahindra XUV500) and has a 2,741 mm wheelbase (again more than the XUV500 and Jeep Compass).
What this means is, it has incredible interior space, being a 5 seater. And the 205 mm ground clearance gives it an imposing stance. So much so, the 17-inch alloy wheels (with 235/65 R17 tyres – same as Scorpio & XUV500) look small compared to the rest of the body.
The Harrier is a five-seater, and a pretty spacious one at that. It gets a black and oakwood brown interior theme, with faux wood panelling on the dashboard that looks quite classy. Fit and finish overall is good, although there are a few rough edges to be ironed out in these pre-production cars.
The seats are plush and comfortable. The rear bench, especially, can seat three abreast in comfort, although there is some intrusion from the transmission tunnel for the middle passenger. Legroom and headroom is more than adequate. The front seats are quite supportive and the driver gets an 8-way manually adjustable seat.
The steering can adjust for tilt and reach, which is a good thing, because if you sit too close to the dashboard, your knee tends to foul with the centre console. Overall, you get a feeling of luxury sitting in the Harrier – which is what most buyers will want. It feels premium.
Being a 5-seater it gets a large 425 litre boot, with hidden space under the floor as well. The rear bench can be folded down for 810 litres of space when needed.
The Tata Harrier comes in four variants - XE, XM, XT and XZ. What we drove was the fully spec'd XZ variant. Now, here's the thing. If Tata is aiming for the Rs 16 lakh to Rs 21 lakh price segment, the Harrier will need a bit more than it already has. Below this bracket, it's more than adequate.
You get an 8.8 inch infotainment system dominating the centre console, which has Android Auto, Apple Car Play and reverse camera integration. It also has vehicle setup features and displays your driving style summary. The instrument panel is half digital, half analogue. There's a multi-information display that feels premium and shows fuel economy, trip meters, power-torque output and drive modes.
Other features include cruise control, speed limiter, six airbags and automatic climate control (single-zone). There are rear AC vents only in the door pillars. It has a chilled box under the centre arm rest and plenty of cupholders and bottle holders all around.
However, it could do with more. There is only a single 12-volt power socket. The USB ports (one in front, one at the back) are hard to reach. It doesn't get a sun-roof, ambient lighting or powered seats (Hyundai Creta and XUV500 offer them in this price segment).
Engine & Performance
The Harrier is powered by a Fiat-sourced 2-litre 'Kryotec' diesel engine, similar to the one in the Jeep Compass. It's been tuned differently though and puts out 140PS of power at 3,750 rpm and 350 Nm of torque at 1,750-2,500 rpm. It comes with a six-speed manual transmission only, and is offered only as a 4x2 model for now.
Tata has equipped the Harrier XZ model with a sort of terrain-response mode selection system, in addition to the Eco, Sport and City modes that the XM and XT variants have. This knob selects Wet and Rough modes, which plays with the ESP (traction control system) to give the Harrier moderate rough road capability even as a 4x2 vehicle. It also gets hill descent control & cornering stability control.
What is nice is the way the engine behaves – it has good response at low speeds and pulls away cleanly, accelerating fast to 100 kmph even in higher gears. That said, it is a bit noisy. The clutch has a long travel, but is quite light. It gets a hydraulic power steering that feels light at most speeds, but gives a good sense of the road.
The brakes have good bite, even though the Harrier comes with discs in front and drums at the rear (its rivals have all-round disc brakes).
How Does It Drive?
Our drive from Jodhpur to Khimsar via Osian was a mix of smooth highway, city roads and rough, broken tarmac. We also took the Harrier up a sand and gravel track near some windmills for a photo opportunity.
On the highway, the Harrier is great to drive. It has good ride comfort, swallowing up undulations easily, keeping passengers in comfort. At city speeds, you do feel the suspension being a bit stiff, but that's acceptable for an SUV of sorts. One thing we noticed though is the large rear-view mirrors, while great for rear visibility, do create a blind spot on right hand turns, because they are at eye-level.
On the gravel track, we switched to rough road mode and could feel the ESP play with braking each of the front wheels as it lost traction. And that was enough to pull it through some small sandy stretches and lose gravel. Make no mistake, this is not a 4x4, but can do about 80 percent of what all-wheel drive systems offer. Yet, we wish Tata had offered a top-spec all-wheel drive system on the Harrier – it deserves it.
To Buy or Not to Buy?
The Tata Harrier's prospects all come down to the price tag. It feels premium, it has a good build quality and looks stunning. It boasts of Land Rover pedigree as well. But the thing is, the Hyundai Creta and Mahindra XUV500 come loaded to the roof with features that entice Indian buyers.
In its current form, the Harrier will sell purely on its looks. It has solid road presence and a great sound system – things mall goers would love. To make it value for money with its current feature set, we think it should be priced between Rs 12 lakh to Rs 16 lakh ex-showroom to fly off the assembly line. In a Rs 16 lakh to Rs 21 lakh price segment – it may see fewer takers, quite like the Jeep Compass.
Those who want a robust, comfortable vehicle with good ground clearance and highway manners can definitely put the Tata Harrier on the shopping list.
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