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First Drive Review: It has been more than 10 months since the Tata Harrier first made its way to the headlines as the H5X concept, which was showcased back at Auto Expo 2018. Since then, the anticipation for the new SUV from Tata Motors started to build and the same was spotted testing multiple times on Indian roads.
Tata Motors tried their best to conceal all details of their latest product till it was fully ready — the test mules were heavily camouflaged than usual, officials teasers explained very less and even the name "Harrier" was announced only recently. The legendary Indian brand wanted it to be a game changer for them (and for good reason).
The Harrier is the new flagship under Tata Motors which claims to be #LikeNoOther, as it is commercially promoted. It brings a lot to the segment it competes in — premium five-seater SUVs. But is that enough to take on the likes of the Hyundai Creta, Mahindra XUV 500 or even the Jeep Compass?
Well, let us find out!
The Tata Harrier is available in four variants: XE, XM, XT and XZ; of which the review car was in the XZ format. Hence, some of the features and highlights mentioned below will not be available in other trims.
Design And Styling
The Tata Harrier features the brand's latest aesthetic philosophy — Impact Design 2.0. Its initial iteration was first seen in the Tata Tiago and the approach was bettered in the models which followed. Bold proportions, sharp details and modernity, are some of the factors which underpin the design theme.
Starting with the front profile, the Tata Harrier has a unique lighting arrangement. The LED DRLs are placed at the top, while the headlamps take their position on the bumper. This is a like-it-or-hate-it design and even though we are not a huge fan of it, the setup certainly looks interesting. The other frontal components follow a polygonal pattern.
Towards the side, the Harrier is noticeably larger than most other five-seater SUVs on the market. The main reason for this is its OMEGA architecture, which is derived from Land Rover D8 platform; the same which underpins the Land Rover Discovery Sport. In fact, the overall proportions of the Tata Harrier are quite similar to the Discovery Sport.
The 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels look a bit small for its body, but the 235/65-section tyres promise better cushioning and noise insulation. One thing which concerns us is that the Tata Harrier does not come with disc brakes at the rear.
The tail lamps feature an organic design approach and are embedded in a gloss black layout, on which the ‘T' logo proudly rests. Badges are put to a minimal with only "H A R R I E R" written at the centre. The bumper has a silver garnish and there are some edgy bits on it (including the rear fog lamps), while a spoiler and shark fin antenna at the top add a tinge of sportiness.
The interiors of the Tata Harrier is certainly a shift from the usuals. There is a good mix of wooden panels, leather, silver and gloss black; together which give the cabin, a fresh and modern feel. The insides follow an angular design in general (with the least roundness) and the brand's logo on the steering wheel could be the only thing which breaks the flow.
Talking more about the steering wheel, the leather-covered rim is quite thick and responds well at high speeds, while low speeds make it a bit heavy. This is because it is not an electric unit but a traditional hydraulic system; reasons for this being cost-cutting and the complications of the front-axle setup.As expected, the buttons on it bring the most to keep the driver's attention always on the road.
The instrument console, with its semi-digital layout, is at least five years ahead of its competitors in terms of design and functionality. The speedometer is the only analogue unit, while the tachometer and a range of data are shown in a neat TFT environment. We would still prefer a fully-digital unit over this, but the current setup has a charm of its own.
Other highlights include the unusual handbrake design. It is made in such a way that it resembles the thrust lever of an aircraft; only that it isn't the most ergonomic. A good majority would prefer a conventional rod lever, but this does make things a bit interesting.
We found some issues (a lot, to be honest) in terms of fit and finish, in the pre-production review vehicles we drove. Tata Motors promised that all of this will be rectified in the market-ready versions, and for the same reason, we are not getting into too much detail on it.
Stereo And Infotainment
The infotainment system on the Harrier is an 8.8-inch touchscreen unit with a clean User Interface (UI). The system is laid out on a platform which Tata refers to as the ‘Floating Island', and supports Android Auto (Apple CarPlay will be introduced soon). The lower variants get a smaller 7.0-inch unit which brings almost all the functionalities.
Modern Tata models have always been praised for the excellent acoustic experience they offer. While most of the models come with a best-in-class audio unit from Harman, the Tata Harrier gets a nine-speaker (four door speakers; four tweeters; one subwoofer) music system from JBL; complete with an amplifier. Needless to say, the music lover in you will not be worried.
Practicality, Comfort And Boot
In terms of practicality, the Tata Harrier comes with enough space and the cabin feels airy. Sensibly-located storage spaces are something which a good majority of Indians look forward to in their car, and the Harrier does not disappoint on that matter. Owing to this, the central armrest can be opened to reveal a really convenient place to keep some essentials.
The front seats offer decent cushioning and the bolsters keep passengers in place without much discomfort. For some, the headrests could feel a bit oddly-placed in its lowest position, even though this can easily be rectified by raising them. The driver seat is manually adjustable in eight ways.
The rear seats are wide and six-footers can easily travel behind without their body having to touch the roof or the front seats. The rear seats are relatively flat; meaning that the middle passenger gets almost the same comfort (no headrests though) as the ones sitting on either side. The armrest is certainly wide, if not long enough, and fits too cup holders.
At the back, the exhaust tunnel makes a large bump on the floor. The rear AC vents are located on the B-pillars rather than at the middle; thus owing some amount of legroom.
However, the pillar-mounted AC vents are very low on efficiencyand take a lot of time to cool down the cabin (even at full blower speed).
The Tata Harrier comes with a boot space of 425 litres; quite a decent amount, but not so much considering its size. With the 60:40 split-folding rear seats down, the luggage capacity can be extended to a good 810 litres.
Engine, Performance And Driving Impressions
Powering the Tata Harrier is a 2.0-litre Kryotec four-cylinder diesel engine which makes 138bhp and 350Nm of torque. Interestingly enough, it is the same Fiat-sourced engine which powers the Jeep Compass (170bhp/350Nm).
The power plant is locally-made at the facility in Ranjangaon (jointly owned by Tata Motors and Fiat). On the Harrier, the engine has been tuned to provide a different driving character, keeping the Indian environment in mind.
The Tata Harrier comes with only to a six-speed manual and this is a letdown for the rising haters of the third pedal. Whether Tata will bring an automatic transmission eventually, is something we would have to wait and see (initial rumours said that it will have the nine-speed automatic found in various Jaguar Land Rover products).
The engine is smooth and the cliché statement in diesel car reviews is true to a good extent — "there is no turbo lag"; or more precisely, the engine really pulls from as low as 1200rpm. It is tuned well for the city as well as the highway, but the diesel-clatter creeps in harshly once the revs climb past. Cabin insulation might not be the Harrier's strong suit, but this could be a sole issue for the pre-production models.
The best cruising range lies between 1500 – 2500rpm and shifting at the 3500-mark is the ideal way to squeeze out the best performance. The power plant loses breath at an alarming rate after 4000rpm. However, this is not an issue at all since Tata Motors never wanted the Harrier to be an outright performer or a lazy mammoth; but instead, a little bit of everything.
The throw of the gear lever is satisfactory and the clutch pedal digs deep, yet being light. The dead pedal is quite literally dead in function and is there just for a namesake.
While that might not disappoint everyone, the next fact will — the Tata Harrier does not get an all-wheel-drive system! Yes, and in fact, it is a front-wheel-drive SUV. After so much hype and expectations, Tata Motors just failed to deliver one of the most crucial elements of a true SUV.
To make things even more questionable, the Tata Harrier comes with a Terrain Response feature, which is essentially three off-road driving modes: Normal, Wet and Rough — for a front-wheel-drive vehicle. But wait, this feature isn't completely pointless.
Combined with the 205mm ground clearance, Terrain Response does make it a decent choice for mild off-roading. The modes function in conjunction with the TCS, ESP, ABS and throttle inputs. Further assistance is offered by Hill Hold Assist and Hill Descent Control. Still, the inability to send power to all the wheels limits the Harrier's potential to a good margin.
Meanwhile, the suspension setup is really impressive and can take on most undulations and potholes with ease. The front suspension has been developed by Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Lotus Engineering, using the same subframe and MacPherson struts as that of the Land Rover Discovery Sport.
Body roll, on the other hand, is well-controlled. We noticed that the rear passengers have seldom chances of rubbing against each other, at reasonably-fast turns.
To summarise, the Tata Harrier is the SUV which the average Indian buyer needs to have. Yes, all-wheel-drive is a miss and yet this reciprocates into a compelling price tag and furthermore, the Tata Harrier is nothing short of a good mild-off-roader.
|No. Of Cylinders||In-Line 4|
|Power (bhp)||138 @ 3750rpm|
|Torque (Nm)||350 @ 1750–2500rpm|
|Tyres (mm)||235/65 R17|
|Kerb Weight (kg)||1675|
|Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres)||50|
Variants, Mileage And Colours
The Tata Harrier comes in four variants: XE, XM, XT and XZ. The base trim does not disappoint too much on an equipment perspective — check out all the variants in detail.
Tata Motors is yet to share an official mileage figure for the Harrier. However, in our brief testing period through a variety of paths, we could average a fuel economy close to 13km/l. As for the highways, the Tata Harrier can run for around 16 kilometres with one litre of fuel.
You can choose the new Tata Harrier in five colour choices: Calisto Copper (review vehicle), Ariel Silver, Thermisto Gold, Orcus White and Telesto Grey. We expect the Harrier to sell the most in Calisto Copper, since it is easily the best-suiting.
The base XE trim comes only in Orcus White and Calisto Copper is not available in XM.
Safety And Key Features
To have an edge over its competitors, the Tata Harrier doesn't miss out on the needs, but does a bit on the wants — check out some of its top features now. The lower two variants miss out on alloy wheels even though having projector headlamps. On the other hand, the higher trims lack a sunroof while it comes with Terrain Response.
Tata Motors has also concentrated a lot on making the Harrier, a safe vehicle to travel in. The top-end variant gets six airbags, ESP, TCS, Corner Stability Control and Brake Disc Wiping, as well — confused by the abbreviations? Click here to know how they all function.
Below are some of the other things which the Tata Harrier offers:
- Driving modes (Eco, City, Sport)
- Reverse parking camera and sensors
- Push-button start
- Extensive usage of leather
- Climate control
- Auto headlamps and wipers
- Powered ORVMs
- Puddle lamps
Competitors And Fact-Check
As per reports, the Tata Harrier rivals the higher variants of the Hyundai Creta and lower variants of the Jeep Compass. This is true since Tata Motors themselves have confirmed that the on-road prices for the Harrier are in the range of Rs 16 – 21 lakh.
Below is a fact-check comparison between the Harrier and two of its main rivals:
|Specifications||Tata Harrier||Hyundai Creta||Jeep Compass|
|Engine||2.0-litre diesel||1.6-litre diesel||2.0-litre diesel|
|Power (bhp)||138||128||170 |
|Transmission||6-speed MT||6-Speed MT (AT)||6-speed MT|
The Tata Harrier is not only the brand's flagship, but also a new benchmark for all future Tata products to come. It does not excel at anything in particular and it was never meant to do so. However, a long list of features, best-in-class suspension, market-specific engine tune and finally, a compelling price tag are some of the things which make the new Tata Harrier #LikeNoOther.
What We Liked
- Smooth and linear power delivery, adapted for both city and highway driving
- The audio experience from the JBL unit is spectacular
- Terrain Response ‘almost' makes up for the lack of all-wheel-drive
- Top-class riding comfort with good interior space and a well-tuned suspension
- Appreciable value for what you pay
What We Didn't Like
- Cost-cutting is evident; especially at joints and panel edges
- No all-wheel-drive; no automatic transmission
- Cabin insulation or NVH controls are not great, especially at high speeds
- Accessing the spare wheel is a difficult process, and so is finding the USB ports for the first time
- Driver's knee keeps knocking on the dashboard
What You Need To Know
- Production: New Tata Motors facility in Pune
- Launch Date: Mid-January 2019 (Deliveries to start at the same time)
- Expected Ex-Showroom (Delhi) Price: Rs 14 - 19.5 lakh
- Booking Amount: Rs 30,000
- Future Updates: Seven-seater version (H7X) to be showcased at Auto Expo 2020 and will have a different name.
Did You Know?
Tata Motors has not shared why the name "Harrier" was chosen for their latest product. Some say that it signifies the sharp and agile nature of a Hawk (bird) species, collectively termed as the Harrier.
Meanwhile, some others claim that the name is inspired from the iconic VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) aircraft called the Harrier Jump Jet.
Which one do you think is more accurate? You can let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.