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Tata Harrier diesel MT vs Jeep Compass diesel MT

Introduction

The all-new Tata Harrier versus the proven Jeep Compass is the ultimate example of a new boy taking on the boss. The Compass, as we know, has long been the benchmark sub-Rs 25 lakhs SUV and the recent additions to its variant line-up (Sport Plus and Limited Plus) have only made it better. Having proved superior to a bunch of capable SUVs in our mega off-road test (you can view the video here), the Compass is back for a scuffle with Tata’s most promising model in years, the Harrier. 

Naturally, the new boy walks its own distinctive path when it comes to looks. It isn’t seemingly as upright as the Compass, but nor does it have a raised hatchback-like look to it like the Hyundai Creta. With its perfectly squat stance and bulging wheel arches, the Harrier is far more voluptuous than the boxy Compass. It’s also got a few truly distinctive design touches like the low-set bumper mounted headlamps and the spear-like taillights which we like. Needless to say, the funky Harrier has better road presence of the two. 

Round one goes to Tata, then. 

Cabin comfort

If it’s a clear-cut round one win for the Harrier, then the Compass regains some ground with a more resounding interior. Like on the outside, the Jeep’s cabin is straight-forward and not too extravagant, however, there is no denying that it’s high on quality and solidly put together. That said, there are several dummy buttons on the steering wheel and the indicator stalks feel like they have come from FCA’s cheaper products. Also, the graining on the dash may seem like the hard, scratchy kind but it’s actually made of soft touch plastics. That, along with the supple leather upholstery lend a quality feel to the cabin. In comparison, the Harrier’s cabin not only looks more radical, it’s also made up of several different materials including faux wood, perforated leather and metallic highlights. Unfortunately, this interior is riddled with cheap, shiny plastics and poor finish. Bits like the hood release, window switch panel, rotary mirror control knob and the squeaky handbrake are poorly finished and simply do not belong in a car costing north of Rs 20 lakhs. 

Ergonomics aren’t the Harrier’s strongest suite, either. For instance, USB and aux input are ridiculously difficult to access – they are placed deep inside the centre console and because they are not backlit, it’s a tough job connecting your devices at night. Secondly, the wing mirrors are massive and offer good rear visibility but because they are so big and positioned a little too high, they create huge blind spots as you approach a busy junction – it is simply impossible to have a good enough view of the incoming traffic (especially two wheelers) without leaning sideward. Fortunately, the front seats are immensely supportive and the leather used is of good quality. 

As you go back, you will notice that the beltline rises, so over-the-shoulder visibility is not as good as the Compass and it only gets worse as you move further back as the C-pillars are rather thick and the rear glass is too small. Although both have similarly supportive seats, the base in the Compass is lower to the floor than the Harrier, resulting in less under thigh support. The latter beats the Compass fair and square for legroom and shoulder room, as well. The Harrier, then, wins the space contest but it’s the Compass that overall impresses with its high quality cabin and sound ergonomics. 

Bang for buck?

For this test, we have the Compass in its top-spec Limited Plus avatar and as you would expect, it’s got a long list of features. You get a full-size sunroof, dual-zone climate control, a stellar six-speaker audio system with smartphone mirroring tech, electrically adjustable driver’s seat and what not. That said, the lack of certain new-age features like LED DRLs, puddle lamps and wireless charging is a let-down, especially for the premium that the Compass commands.  

The Harrier XZ trim is well loaded for the price but then it misses out on bits such as dual-zone climate control, electric driver's seat and a sunroof. Contrary to the popular opinion, we found the nine-speaker audio system in the Harrier to be really underwhelming. As for the 8.8-inch infotainment display, it is quite big, however, the touch response is nowhere as slick as the Compass. Worse still, the rear view camera quality is terrible and you simply cannot see whatever is behind when reversing at night. We do like the semi digital instrument cluster, though – it looks great and various driving-related information is presented via some cool graphics.  

On the road

Both utilise the same two-litre, four cylinder motor from Fiat though there are some key differences. The Compass makes 173bhp at 3,750rpm but the Harrier is detuned to 140bhp at similar engine revs. The torque rating, meanwhile, is identical for both at 350Nm. While the torque is closely matched indeed, there is a significant difference in the way the Compass and the Harrier feel on the road. The Compass is impressively refined at both idle and low speeds with hardly any diesel clatter. It’s certainly more refined than the Tata, thanks to a better insulated cabin. The engine, however, suffers from turbo lag below 1,800rpm but as you go past it, it pulls rather hard all the way till 4,000rpm. Despite the strong mid-range punch, the surge of acceleration is linear on boost – it accelerates swiftly enough to put a smile on your face without being overwhelming. Likewise, the six-speed manual gearbox is a joy to use, with slick and reassuring shifts. That said, the clutch is too heavy for bumper-to-bumper driving and the long pedal travel only makes the whole deal worse.  

The Harrier’s engine clatter is more audible at idle though it smoothens out quickly as you gain some speed. Speaking of which, it does feel slower off the line than the Compass, lacking that crisp and immediate response of its rival. That said, the clutch is delightfully light and so are rest of the controls, making this SUV easy to drive in stop-and-go traffic. In terms of outright performance, the Harrier recorded a 0-100kmph time of 12.46 seconds which isn’t too bad, until you bring the Compass into the picture. The Jeep, in fact, hit 100kmph from standstill in 10.31 seconds which is plenty quick for a family SUV. Even during the 40-100kmph in-gear acceleration it’s quicker, recording a time of 11.25 seconds to the Harrier’s 12.55 seconds. 

The Compass, then, feels punchier, however, it’s no match for the Harrier when it comes to ride quality. Despite the fancy variable dampers, which detect the amount of load and compression on the springs and adjust the damping accordingly, the Compass’ ride is actually firm and a little too sensitive to surface changes. It tends to get fidgety across the same road where the Harrier remains calm and settled. In fact, over bad roads there is noticeably more lateral movement inside the Compass than the Harrier which flattens almost everything in its path. It also manages to iron out bigger bumps quite well. On the other hand, we would have liked a less noisy suspension setup as you cannot feel it working as much as you hear it clunking around. What you can clearly feel though is the overall heft - despite offering a surprisingly quick turn-in, the Harrier is slow to react and rolls considerably more than the Compass which displays a car-like poise and better body control.  

Fuel efficiency

Now it’s interesting to note that the Harrier is a rather large SUV, so much so that it renders the Compass to a segment below when parked next to it. Naturally, we weren’t expecting class-leading economy figures. Nonetheless, it delivered a fairly reasonable 12.60kmpl in the city and 16.30kmpl on the highway. The Compass, on the other hand, managed 12.15kmpl and 17.11kmpl respectively. 

Verdict

2nd Place

Tata Harrier XZ

Final score – 379/600

On-road price – Rs 19.84 lakhs 

What the new boy really needed to do in this shootout is prove that it can match the old boss for quality, performance and the all-important feel good factor, then seal the deal by offering more space. While it does nail the space and comfort brief rather well, the Tata Harrier is held back by a few major shortcomings. Its cabin is nowhere as well built as the Compass, nor is it as good to drive. Sure, it’s priced a lot lower than the Jeep but then the Harrier is down on equipment which is a dealmaker for majority of the buyers in this segment.     

 

1st Place 

Jeep Compass Limited Plus 

Final score – 390/600

On-road price – Rs 25.97 lakhs 

The Jeep Compass is not great value, we agree, especially this top-spec Limited Plus trim. However, there is no denying that it is solidly built, well equipped and brilliant to drive. The two-litre diesel motor is a strong performer yet also fuel efficient. Although slightly less spacious than the Harrier, the Compass is a hugely capable SUV and better than its rival on all other counts.  

 
Pictures by Kapil Angane

Specifications

CAR NAME Tata Harrier Jeep Compass
Variant XZ Limited Plus
ENGINE
Fuel Diesel Diesel 
Installation Front, transverse Front, transverse
Displacement 4 cyls, 1956cc 4 cyls, 1956cc
Power 140bhp at 3750rpm 170bhp at 3750rpm
Torque 350Nm at 1750rpm 350Nm at 1750rpm
Power to weight 83.83bhp per tonne  103.65bhp per tonne 
Torque to weight 209.58Nm per tonne 213.41Nm per tonne
Gearbox 6-speed manual 6-speed manual
CHASSIS & BODY
Kerb weight (measured) 1670kg 1640kg
Tyres 235/65 R17 225/60 R18
Spare Full-size Full-size
STEERING
Type Rack and pinion Rack and pinion
Type of assist Electric Electric
Turning circle

-

-
BRAKES
Front Discs Discs
Rear Discs Discs
ABS Yes Yes

Test data

CAR NAME Tata Harrier Jeep Compass
Variant XZ Limited Plus
PERFORMANCE & BRAKING
0-20kmph 1.51s 1.79s
0-40kmph 3.24s 3.10s
0-60kmph 5.76s 5.28s
0-80kmph 8.99s 7.99s
0-100kmph 12.46s 10.31s
0-120kmph 18.36s 13.55s
20-80kmph  10.89s 9.30s
40-100kmph  12.55s 11.25s
80-0kmph  27.13m at 2.41 secs 26.85m at 2.42 secs 
FUEL ECONOMY
City 12.61kmpl 12.15kmpl
Highway 16.30kmpl 17.11kmpl
Tank size 50 litres 60 litres
Range 620km 749km
INTERIOR MEASUREMENTS
Front
Legroom(Max/min) 840/620mm 820/600mm
Headroom 1020mm 1000mm
Shoulder room 1350mm 1300mm
Backrest height 620mm 630mm
Rear
Legroom(Max/min) 980/740mm 890/640mm
Ideal legroom 790mm 760mm
Headroom 950mm 900mm
Shoulder room 1320mm 1280mm
Seat base length 490mm 500mm
Backrest height 620mm 630mm
Boot
Length/width/height 920/1120/450mm 920/1090/440mm
Loading lip height 780mm 770mm

Score sheet

Parameters Max points

Tata Harrier

Jeep Compass

DRIVING FEEL
Steering response 20 9 11
Directional stability 25 16 17
Engine characteristics 25 14 15
Gearbox 20 15 14
Visibility 10 6 7
Intermediate results 100 60 64
SPACE
Front Space 25 14 13
Rear space 25 15 12
Feeling of space 20 15 15
Boot space/flexibility 20 16 16
Payload 10 5 5
Intermediate results 100 65 61
IN THE CABIN
Comfort equipment 25 14 16
Operatibility 15 10 11
Feel of quality 20 13 13
Front seats/ingress 20 17 16
Rear seat/ingress 20 17 16
Intermediate results 100 71 72
PERFORMANCE
Acceleration 25 16 19
Top speed 10 8 8
Driveability 30 26 29
Braking 25 19 19
Environment 10 6 6
Intermediate results 100 75 81
ROAD MANNERS
Ride quality 30 21 21
Turning circle 15 13 13
Handling 20 11 13
Manoeuvrability 15 10 11
Safety 20 11 12
Intermediate results 100 66 70
PRICE
Price 45 10 8
Resale 10 6 7
Warranty 10 6 7
Fuel efficiency 35 20 20
Intermediate results 100 42 42
Total 600 379 390

Photos

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Tata Harrier Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
New Delhi₹ 15.66 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 14.73 Lakhs onwards
Mumbai₹ 15.97 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 16.54 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 15.96 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 15.89 Lakhs onwards
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