Think Tata Harrier, and I bet the first thing that comes to your mind is a true-blue SUV with immense road presence that simply loves to flaunt its gorgeous curves.
Come 2020, and the Tata Harrier is now not just BS6 compliant with about 30bhp more, it also boasts of an automatic gearbox version with additional equipment. For now, this automatic has got serious competition from the Kia Seltos, Hyundai Creta, and the Jeep Compass.
For this review, we have handpicked five things that you’ll like about the 2020 Harrier, and two that you won’t.
1: Incredible Road Presence
Be it the towering bonnet armed with piercing DRLs, or the humungous air-dam look-alikes that house the headlamps, the Harrier’s nose is pretty wicked. This bit then flows on to a rather rugged profile; complete with a cladded lower section with serious clearance through those new diamond cut alloys.
It doesn’t end there. A blacked-out roof can be seen smoothly blending the roof to the tail portion with the signature ‘arrow’ tail lamps that sport snazzy LED internals. These slender tail lamps are quite the visual treat as they flow seamlessly on to either ends, thanks to some foxy glossy-black trim. Again, wicked!
2: Powerful Motor
The BS6-compliant 2.0-litre diesel output has increased by about 28bhp to 168bhp, but the torque remains identical at 350Nm. We have the auto, which uses a six-speed torque convertor gearbox. Upon cranking this engine, those familiar with the older Harrier will instantly appreciate the overall drop in NVH. Nevertheless, one can always hear the engine in the background.
And, as soon as one crosses 1,500rpm, there’s a noticeable surge in response, post which it pulls cleanly to the 4,600rpm redline. In reality, this engine only gets vocal if you keep the pedal pinned to the floor beyond 3,500rpm. Which isn’t necessary anyway. Furthermore, slotting into tiptronic mode (manual) automatically summons the ‘Sport’ mode to give you swifter responses.
We haven’t tested any of the Harrier’s diesel-auto competitors yet, so we couldn’t compare it to them. But a sub-10 second 0-100kmph for an SUV this large says a lot. Even the 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph runs in kick-down take just 5.94 and 7.36 seconds, respectively, which is an indication of how exciting your overtaking is going to be.
3: Smooth Automatic Transmission
One tends to immediately appreciate how this six-speed automatic torque convertor unit does a good job of sensing the throttle input to provide a linear power delivery. As for the shifts, they are actioned seamlessly, and actually facilitate driving this automatic all-day-long without breaking a sweat.
And since autos are all about convenience, there’s no need for constant braking or slotting into a lower gear while going downhill since it holds a favourable rpm to prevent freewheeling. And, if you ever miss upshifting yourself, the system will automatically upshift for you at about 3,600rpm to save the gearbox.
We especially loved the manner in which it covers ground while going long distance, as all you need to do is just feather the throttle for the Harrier to ride the torque curve effortlessly. What adds to the Harrier’s set of repertoires, is that the ESP terrain modes such as ‘Normal’, ‘Rough’, and ‘Wet’ come handy as the system feeds just the right amount of torque according to the mode selected. Although these offer some leverage over varied surfaces, they don’t call for serious off-roading as this is a front-wheel drive car after all.
4: Spacious and Comfortable Cabin
Additions to the 2020 Harrier are the electric controls for the driver’s seat, a panoramic sunroof, new aerodynamic door mirrors, and the auto dimming inner rear view mirror. But what's essentially nice about the Harrier, is that it is a spacious SUV. In fact, it’s even more spacious than the Seltos, Compass, and the Creta. So, there's generous legroom, shoulder-room and headroom in the front. That aside, the front seats have the right amount of lateral, shoulder, and lumbar support.
The recipe for space at the rear is spot-on thanks to massive legroom, foot-room, and headroom. This is complimented by a favourably inclined backrest angle that’s non-adjustable, good thigh support, and ample shoulder-room for three occupants. But more importantly, the middle passenger gets normal cushioning on the centre portion of the bench and only has a short transmission tunnel to deal with.
And lastly, in terms of safety features, all variants have got ESP, but the XZA plus we have here has six airbags, hill descent control, electronic traction and stability control, hill-hold, corner stability control, off-road ABS, and the rear parking sensors with a camera, to name some.
5: Adequate Storage Space
As for stowage in the front, there’s a small cubby space ahead of the gear lever that can get tricky to use if you plug in your phone cable; then, there are the cup-holders behind the gear shifter, the centre armrest behind it, more in the deep door pads, and a glove-box.
Second row occupants get a unique double-decker door-pad storage, more to store your knick-knacks in the centre console and front seatback pockets, and the twin cup-holders in the centre arm rest also double up as cubby space. Additionally, the boot can swallow at least three to four medium-sized suitcases and some soft bags. Plus, there’s a small compartment where the spare usually sits that can come handy in case the boot enclosure is full. And, if one needs even more, just flip the 60:40 bench almost flat, and that should take care of everything.
1: Quality, Fit and Finish in some areas
What we didn’t like though, are the fit and finish concerns like the rough cuts on the door-pads around the window and the panel that holds the power-mirror controls. Then, there are the misaligned sections that flow from the door onto the dash. In fact, we feel the designers should have matched the door-trim with the soft-touch ones found on the upper portion of the dash. It would have made a world of difference.
Then there are the aesthetic drawbacks too. Like the multi-functional steering for example. The horn and switches could have had more flair. Overall, although quality levels have improved over the previous Harrier, we still find it a shade below segment rivals such as the Compass, Creta, and the Seltos.
2: Infotainment System Lacks Finesse
After using the touchscreen infotainment system for three days, I have to admit, that it needs a bigger screen and a faster chip for better processing speeds and snappier touch responses. We also felt that the graphics could do with a makeover since it does have an aftermarket flair about it. And while at it, the footage from the reversing camera looks skewed on this display; it could have seriously benefitted from higher resolution.
What dampens the Harrier experience is in some quality, aesthetics, and fit and finish areas of the cabin. I may be picky, but it could also do with height adjustable front seat belts and the infotainment screen that could have been bigger, sported higher resolution, and offered snappier responses.
But, you’ll love the Harrier for its tremendous street presence, spacious and comfortable nature, powerful and bullying dynamics, and some extra bragging-right features (read panorama sunroof). While this top of the line XZA+ costs around 25 lakh OTR Mumbai, it’s much cheaper than the Compass but a few lakh more than the Seltos and the Creta.
Pictures: Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi