TATA Harrier - More Car Per Car!
Updated: Oct 30, 2020
It's been more than a Year since Ishaan took the first generation, TATA Harrier, to Kinnaur Valley, up in the Himalayas and was highly impressed by its credentials. There were a few niggles in the car and many key points that made it stand out of the crowd too. So, after many months and a pandemic later, here we have the updated version of India's favourite homegrown SUV. The Harrier indeed is a Perfect SUV which ticks all boxes and does the job ever so well while not even breaking a sweat at it, so should it be called a baby Land Rover? Well, it sure can be called that, as the basic design is from the Land Rover D8 Platform and it truly shows be it in its suspension and ride quality of high speed handling it just does the job oh so so well !!.
Coming back to the ride quality, well why again? because we simply cannot get enough of it. In the front, the Harrier uses a fully independent single wishbone with McPherson strut setup with standard coil springs and shocks while at the rear, it uses a semi-independent twist blade, Panhard rod type suspension setup which is way easier and lighter setup then multilink suspension and does a very similar job as multilink. But at the same time being lighter, thus reducing the unsprung mass resulting in superb suspension response front and back with perfectly tuned springs and shocks which just gives the correct ride quality be it on bad or no roads to perfectly laid interstate highways. While doing triple-digit speeds in any condition, it is super compliant and stable, also the ride is neither soft nor stiff it's just Spot-on!
Something that has also impressed me, on the whole, is the steering response. Here, I would like to applaud TATA for retaining enthusiasts favourite hydraulic power steering setup which gives superb feedback while filtering out un-necessary kicks of the road surface, but at the same time letting you know what the front wheels are doing, a trait which isn’t easy to get it right. At slow parking speeds, it's not as lightweight as electric power steering setup but at the same time, it's not heavy at all it's just smooth and refined to use. So what is the catch? Well! if it could only get variable power steering assistance then it would be an icing on the cake but are just being a little nitpicky here! The hydraulic power steering setup coupled with the such finely balanced and sprung suspension setup makes the Harrier behave like its couple of segments higher and you can corner this SUV hard without the fear of it slipping off.
Stock tyres which are supplied which are Apollo Apterras are also adequate for the job and complement the suspension and steering well and they don’t complain, even when pushed hard. Also since it runs a 65 section side profile thus no need to be worried about ruining the tyres on bad or broken roads. This SUV has good go-anywhere capability although it could have been called true go-anywhere SUV had it been given 4x4 setup but at the same time, majority of the time it is going spend drive time within city limits and highways, so will we miss the 4x4 setup? Not really!
The Multi-Mode ESP does a damn good job to distribute power effectively through front wheels as well as individually braking all 4 wheels to keep the car on the correct path be it on the tarmac of full slush, It can handle the majority of situations extremely well, Only when it comes thick mud and very very slushy condition we saw it struggling but at no point, did we feel the car will get stuck and it’ll need a pull-out. The switchable ESP modes on the fly with central knob is good addition giving full control to the driver and if one just feels lazy or cant select correct mode by leaving it in Auto it does the job perfectly well of adapting to different and challenging road conditions.
Under the hood, the engine is the updated BS6 Harrier get a 2.0L Kryotec Turbo Diesel with 170bhp which is 30bhp more than before and 350Nm of torque coming in 1750rpm, the torque also has a good spread till 3000rpm giving smoother and linear power delivery. Never in the Rev band does it feel lacking the grunt or having a flat spot, it could be well done with the torque coming in a tad bit earlier making it even more fun. But in all fairness, it’s a far far superior and better unit than what competition has to offer. Inside the cabin, the noise and vibrations are very well insulated you can only come to know that there is a diesel powerplant under the hood when it is revved above 3500rpm, but again revving it beyond that doesn’t make sense as that’s not its powerband.
Also being BS6 this engine also get urea injection as part of exhaust-gas after-treatment, this is to keep tail-pipe emissions in check. Pretty good stuff must say.
Coupled to the engine is Butter smooth 6-speed Torque converter automatic gearbox which makes driving the Harrier a breeze and it was the single biggest missing piece of the puzzle in the old Harrier. Seamless is the one single word which I would like to use to describe this gearbox. It is super smooth and to realise that the car is shifting gears, one needs to look at the tachometer needle to know that shifts have happened, it's indeed that smooth! Also, the response is very good in downshifts and upshifts, there is zero fuss or drama and gives a seamless power delivery and does the job of keeping the engine in its peak torque band all the band the ratios are very well tunes to the engine. Further, as opposed to its competition and several auto-boxes in segments above this offers a very well-tuned engine braking which is super helpful when one wants to shed some serious speed in a short time.
Fuel efficiency for the size of this car is pretty good highway, driving with heavy foot got us 14.5kmpl and relaxed driving in ECO mode which dials down the turbos and quickens the transmission upshifts got us staggering 22kmpl which are some mad numbers for the weight and size of this tank. In City traffic of Mumbai got us overall fuel efficiency of 12kmpl.
Coming to the stopping bit which is brakes, this uses a servo-assistance with ABS, ESP with front disc and rear drum to get the job done adequately. But brake pedal feel could have been better although the car stops from seriously high speeds without a fuss with confidence to a certain extent.
Now enough of road tripping through the Mechanical land, Coming to the exterior and Interior design.
Exterior design is part of the TATA's new Impact Design 2.0.
It gets a 17’ Diamond cut wheels which now see a home in this top of the line XZA+ trim level which has a combination of gloss black and diamond face finish which look striking yet super classy and owing to thick spokes cleaning them is super easy for those who have OCD for car detailing and keeping them clean.
Body styling which again is an individual taste for us, and we honestly quite like it as its something very different from what competition offers. The big bulges on the side with big wheel arches and sharp cut lines with the curves all around, it makes the overall design very striking. And at the same time, it keeps it classy, thus making it useable for youth and old, and is just something which other people on the road will surely turn their heads and notice it. The placement of headlights is spot on neither high nor far too low also headlights get Low-Beam projectors with Xenons which are way better in night time especially during monsoon than non-adaptive based LED light kudos to TATA for going the Xenon way. Lights are very good in terms of lighting up the road and coupled with cornering lights function which is present makes spotting odd hidden bits through the Indian roads a breeze. Also, the fog lights have good reach and wide throw to them. Rear-end styling is well done with the Black bar which goes through the full width of the tailgate coupled with 3D looking LED tail lamps which look apart in the night.
The Dual-Tone combo with black roof and Calypso Red shade which our test car has looked very vibrant, fresh and young looker but at the same time, it gets approval from the elderly crowd as well which is a feat not many cars can pull off while having a very striking design kudos to Tata Design Team for this.
The addition of the almost full length and huge Panoramic sunroof just makes things a lot more interesting and one more party feature then its competitors, complemented with a shark fin radio antenna on the roof.
On the Inside, it has oodles and oodles of space, even if you’re a 6+ feet a tall person. The rear and the front seats are super comfortable and the ginormous panoramic sunroof makes the interior cabin look roomy and a much more airy environment making long journeys in the this a lot more comfortable.
It’s a very upmarket and plush place to be in, the colour combo of brown seats with Oak brown matt dashboard trim with soft-touch given on top of the dash along with leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear-knob, overall interiors just feel a radically good place to be in, the do not feel its segment and materials look and feel like they are built to last.
Overall ergonomics are quite good with the placement of steering and pedals being cohesive with the seat positioning. Front seats are very supportive to the back and base, but severely lacking under-thigh support especially if you’re a tall person, is it a deal-breaker? No! but can it be made better? Yes definitely.
It’s a much much better story at the back though, seats being extremely supportive although backrest angle is not adjustable. And unlike front seats, the rear seats have a decent amount under-thigh support and quite ergonomic overall. Seats overall are a bit firm but comfortable and on a day to day basis will make you tired, neither long journeys nor short stints within the city.
The infotainment system in the Harrier is mated to a 9-speaker JBL Harman system with dedicated subwoofer in trunk side panel does sound good but needs deeper and punchier bass overall sound quality, it could have been better for a car of this price point. Touchscreen infotainment is a tad bit slow but pretty good in terms of the information shown. The Matt effect screen is good to read on very bright days and the overall icon layout is very well placed too. Unlike its rivals, this infotainment system also gets quick access buttons which makes life much much easier while using it on the move. Bluetooth telephony Is very good especially the user interface which makes calling on the fly a breeze.
The build quality and solidness of how the Harrier is constructed makes you feel like you are sitting inside a VAULT, and this has been impressing us the most from day 1, which the rivals cannot simply match, add to that it is one of the top safest SUVs in India today which just adds a lot more Peace of Mind.
It absolutely is one brilliant piece of engineering which has blown us away with what it offers at this price point and yet it is so simple, sophisticated and classy indeed. No wonder it is the most popular SUV in the Indian market today. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that the Harrier is designed and developed in India and it really truly is a remarkable feat to Indian Automotive Excellence!