What is it?
Why would I buy it?
More power, automatic drivability, sorted dynamics
Why would I avoid it?
Low speed ride, fit and finish
What is it?
Think Tata Harrier, and the first thing that comes to your mind is a true-blue SUV with immense road presence. More so in its sexy all-black attire termed ‘Black-Edition’ which simply flaunts 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 version with more equipment. But before we dig deeper, let’s get the looks out of the way.
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!
How is it on the inside?
So, the eye-catching design layout continues. But with subtle additions such as the electric controls for the driver’s seat, a panoramic sunroof, new aerodynamic door mirrors, and the auto dimming inner rear view mirror. Undoubtedly, the Harrier’s cabin is a nice place to be in. There’s a nice flowing design, from the door pads on to the layered dash.
Tata has done a good job by lending a premium feel by splashing some oak-wood coloured trim all across along with the oak-wood trim and matching oak-brown leather upholstery. But the party piece has to be the trendy floating-island base that holds the touchscreen infotainment system, air-con vents and buttons to the car’s functions.
As for stowage, there’s enough space in the cubby spaces ahead of the lever, the cup-holders and centre armrest behind it, and more in the deep door pads and glove-box. Now overall, although quality levels have improved over the previous car, we still find it a shade below segment rivals such as the Jeep Compass.
But what's nice about the Harrier is that it is a spacious SUV. There's generous legroom, shoulder-room and headroom both at the front and rear. Even the seats at both ends are large and comfortable, with lots of support making them good even for long journeys. Even the middle occupant at the rear can be seated with reasonable comfort.
However, we felt that the raked window-line does reduce visibility for the rear occupants. As for the 425-litre boot, there's enough space for three medium-sized suitcases and some soft bags. And if that's not enough, just flip the 60:40 bench over to unveil up to a total of 810-litres, enough for most requirements.
In the features department, the top-end XZ+/XZA+ version gets a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, auto-dimming inner mirror, diamond-cut alloys and electric adjust for the driver’s seat among others. You also get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility with the music system that boasts of nine JBL speakers and an amplifier. And lastly, safety is taken care of by the ESP (all variants), 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.
How does it drive?
With the updated BS6 Kryotec 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel, output has increased from 140bhp to 168bhp, but the torque remains identical at 350Nm. Likewise, the new Harrier also gets a six-speed automatic version to accompany its six speed manual transmission variant. Upon cranking this engine, those familiar with the older Harrier will instantly appreciate the overall drop in NVH.
Keen on knowing how this automatic felt to drive, I slotted the shifter into ‘D’ and released the brakes. The Harrier crept ahead progressively, after which, as I applied some throttle, it nudged ahead smoothly and purposefully. I immediately appreciated how this six-speed automatic torque convertor unit did a good job of sensing the throttle input to provide a linear power delivery.
And, as soon as one crosses 1500rpm, there’s a noticeable surge in response, post which it pulls cleanly to the 4600rpm redline. In reality, this engine only gets vocal if you keep the pedal pinned to the floor beyond 3500rpm. As for the shifts, they are actioned seamlessly, and actually facilitates driving this automatic all-day-long without breaking a sweat.
And since we’re talking 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 (coasting). What’s more, we admired the stress-free nature of the motor when we glanced at the rev-clock to see it managing under 2000rpm at over 100kmph. Going ahead, slotting into tiptronic mode (manual) automatically summons the ‘Sport’ mode to give you swifter responses.
All you need to do now is feather the throttle for the Harrier to ride the torque curve, and cover ground like an aerial combat vehicle. And, if you ever miss upshifting yourself, the system will automatically upshift for you at about 3600rpm to save the gearbox. But having said that, ‘City’ mode is more than what you’ll ever need, as it delivers enough response for most driving circumstances. And, for those who are low on fuel or are anal about fuel efficiency, ‘Eco’ with its relaxed response, does the job; 14.63kmpl to be exact.
Let’s talk about the manual version now. With the 30-odd extra horses, there’s no need for downshifting to access more performance from this motor anymore. You just need to hover around the 1500rpm mark so that a simple tap on the accelerator pedal will gain you access to the meaty portion of the power band; like for a quick overtake. So much so, that we never felt the need for more from this engine.
Also, even if you are not driving in the optimum rev-range, it doesn’t bog down or anything. The flexibility of this powertrain allows you to lug along in the same gear. So, one can easily amble around in third gear through slow moving city traffic without a fuss. Which brings us to a welcome change. The six speed gear shifter is much smoother to go through now, and coupled with the short lever and light clutch, allows for easy shifts.
Now, although the NVH is better contained than before, we could feel some buzz creep through the pedals and gear shifter once the motor revved beyond 3400rpm or so. As is the case with the automatic, the manual also gets the drive modes which lend the same behaviour we discussed earlier. And, when the going gets tough, the ESP terrain modes such as ‘Normal’ ‘Rough’ and ‘Wet’ come handy too. And lest we forget, Tata Motors claims the manual version to return 16.35km to a litre of diesel.
As for the steering, the two-and-a-half turns from lock-to-lock make for good response in most driving situations. Moreover, being light with good progression around the centre makes manoeuvring the Harrier that bit easier. Even when it comes to braking, despite the drum brake setup at the rear, there’s no dearth of confidence even under hard braking.
We have to admit that this monocoque with Land Rover underpinnings lends it clean handling manners with minimal roll. In terms of ride, the strong suspension setup feels indestructible even when you plough through our road hurdles. Sure, the ride is taut at lower speeds, but as you venture into three digit ones, the Harrier simply decimates everything that our Indian roads throw at it.
Should I buy one?
In the absence of an automatic version, Tata Motors was simply not able to tap into the Harrier's absolute potential. But that’s about to change, and definitely for the better due to the ease of driving offered by the automatic. All for just an extra Rs 1.5 lakhs over its manual stable-mate.
Let’s just say you’re still in doubt. Now, the Harrier was already known for its spacious and comfortable nature, a striking road presence and also for being packaged reasonably well. What makes the 2020 Tata Harrier compelling over the earlier one, is the extra power and resultant revised dynamics, addition of new features, convincing revisions and the mouth-watering new red paint shade to stand out of any crowd. If you’re sold on the 2020 Tata Harrier after reading this story, what are you waiting for?
Where does it fit in?
Now although the automatic Harrier (Rs 19.83 - 24.60 lakhs, on-road Mumbai) is more expensive than the Kia Seltos, Hyundai Creta and Mahindra’s XUV500, it is much cheaper to buy than the Jeep Compass. Similarily, the manual Harrier (Rs 16.78 - 23.05 lakhs, on-road Mumbai) is more expensive to start off with than the cars mentioned above, with the addition of the MG hector. But again, the top-end versions of the Jeep Compass are way more expensive.
Pictures - Kapil Angane