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.