April 1, 2019

TEST DRIVE REVIEW – TATA HARRIER CAN IT UPSET THE HYUNDAI CRETA AND THE JEEP COMPASS?

Words Aninda Sardar

Based on a Land Rover architecture, the Tata Harrier is a quantum leap ahead of what we’ve been used to from Tata Motors. And then, there’s the pricing!

THE TATA HARRIER IS BIGGER THAN THE HYUNDAI TUCSON AND IS FAIRLY LOADED AS WELL. PRICED BETWEEN THE SMALLER HYUNDAI CRETA AND THE MORE ASPIRATIONAL JEEP COMPASS, THIS COULD WELL BE TATA MOTORS’ MASTER STROKE

THE TATA HARRIER IS TOO BIG TO HIDE

It’s initially quite amusing, but soon enough you’ll get tired of people congratulating you for no reason. That’s what happened to me when Tata Motors loaned me a pristine white Tata Harrier for a review. Now, my parking is in the basement and the vehicle is actually exposed for just the few seconds that it takes to get from the main gate to the entrance of the slope to the parking lot. Yet, in that time a bunch of people saw the car and next thing I know, I’m explaining to a horde that that is not my car!

The new Tata Harrier is just too big to hide. Which means its massive presence doesn’t go unnoticed even when you’re trying to be all discreet about it. The fact that the design language is something entirely new and utterly futuristic, which says a lot for a manufacturer who I wouldn’t have hesitated to put down as borderline orthodox just a few years ago, and simply marvelous doesn’t help retain the element of surprise either if you’re planning on a surgical strike to your basement parking lot. As a matter of fact, the Tata Harrier is bigger than vehicles above its price segment! Which is great on most days but a problem when you’re trying to reverse park in a crowded mall or negotiating through peak rush hour.

THE SPACE, MY GOD!

On the plus side, there’s just acres and acres of room inside the big and very butch SUV. Releasing more cabin space than its rivals has always been a bit of a Tata Motors hallmark, but this? It’s a romance killer, this one. For the first time in a long time, when I took the wifey out for a drive our elbows wouldn’t touch even when we were sharing the central armrest behind that fancy shmancy handbrake flap. The leather wrapped seats are nice too, but that tunnel where your legs disappear as your feet latch on to the pedals? That’s shaped rather weird and you’ll end up resting your left knee on the hard plastic. Uncomfortable for sure, but more annoying really. You just can’t help thinking why that bit couldn’t have been shaped better, or at least wrapped in soft touch something. The Tata Harrier will also help you develop finger tip memory (sort of like muscle memory) since that’s what you’ll have to use to get to the USB port or the Aux-In port for the 17.78cm touchscreen infotainment system. These aside and the somewhat flimsy mirror inside the interior of the Tata Harrier is actually rather a nice place to be. The faux wood finish, the general layout of the dash and the overall finish on the product is very nice. Certainly makes it feel premium. The rear seat is super comfortable too and just as spacious.

WHAT’S UNDER THE TATA HARRIER’S BONNET?

Well, to be quite frank it’s the same engine that powers the Jeep Compass, but in the Tata Harrier it has been retuned for less power and the entire spread of power has been shifted to make the SUV easier to drive. Transmission is a 6-speed manual and there is no automatic or 4WD as of now. Which is a bit disappointing honestly, but not a deal breaker unless you really want an automatic. And the 4WD, frankly, you can live without.

The point is, the Tata Harrier drives quite well. With most of the grunt spread low down, you won’t have to rev too hard or sort through that gearbox all the time when the going is slow. As speeds rise, the Harrier continues to keep up but it reaches its limit by the time you get to the early triple digits. Beyond that there’s just a lot of stressing from that motor and nothing much else. That really is disappointing if you’re an enthusiast but if you’re an average motorist who enjoys his drive at an unhurried pace, the Harrier will do quite nicely as it irons out the rough stuff under the wheels with confidence and authority while not handling too bad either.

THE NUMBERS GAME

And it is here that Tata Motors delivers the death blow to its rivals, the Hyundai Creta at one end and the Jeep Compass at the other. The cheapest of the four variants is Rs 12.69 lakh, ex-showroom, while the top-of-the-line will set you back by Rs 16.25 lakh. Which means from a price perspective this SUV, about one and a half times the size of the Creta, is uncomfortably close to the Hyundai. Ideally, this should have put it too far away from the Compass. But then the Harrier with its size and features, Land Rover underpinnings and the same engine as the Jeep comes for about half as much money. That’s just too good to ignore. For most people anyway.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Tata Harrier
Engine type 2.0L, 4 cyl, turbocharged, diesel
Transmission 6-speed manual
Max power 140hp @ 3750rpm
Max torque 350Nm @ 1750-2500rpm

VARIANTS & PRICING (EX-SHOWROOM)

XE Rs 12.69 lakh
XM Rs 13.75 lakh
XT Rs 14.95 lakh
XZ Rs 16.25 lakh
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