Tata Harrier is the much awaited and the latest addition to the TATA’s SUV segment. Launching in early 2019, the Tata Harrier is the first real fruit of the company’s acquisition of JLR, being based on a Land Rover platform. Plus it packs striking looks and the best Tata interior yet.
It isn’t even one full year since the Tata Harrier started its journey as the H5X concept, and it is time already for it to march into hotly contested the premium-compact SUV segment. That said, there is no doubt in saying the Tata Harrier has been the most highly anticipated SUV in India. And why not it is the most premium SUV from Tata Motors yet, as also its first product to be co-developed with Land Rover. Some of the anticipation for it is also courtesy the innovations, technology and features it comes equipped with. Needless to say, the Harrier is of strategic importance for Tata and the manufacturer is betting big on it.
Tata Harrier – A quantum leap:
The Harrier is expected to bring a whole new set of buyers to Tata Motors’ showrooms. It is based on Tata’s Omegarc or Optimal Modular Efficient Global Advanced Architecture platform, a derivative of Land Rover’s D8 platform that underpins SUVs like the Land Rover Discovery Sport, Range Rover Evoque and Jaguar E-Pace. Of course, the Omegarc has been tweaked for Indian conditions with extensive use of high strength steel. However, it is told that all the architecture hard points have been retained. The suspension has been worked upon by Land Rover and Lotus both, the latter working on the rear suspension in particular.
Tata Harrier Design:
Most of the design traits of the H5X concept have been carried over. The distinctiveness of the Harrier’s face grabs your attention first thanks to the LED daytime running lamps sitting right on top of the Land Rover inspired, piano-black finished grille like a set of eyebrows, while the headlamp units sit way below.
In fact, the design makes for a very chic, European look, unlike any other Tata car. The DRLs are shaped like bolts of lightning and also function as turn indicators, adding to the upmarket feel. Headlamps on the top, XZ variant are Xenon HID projectors. Mirrors are large and chunky and compliment the SUV’s butch looking front well. Most importantly, the Tata Harrier stands tall and looks like a proper, purpose-built SUV, unlike many of the new-age crossovers and has a commanding presence on the road. It’s ground clearance of 205mm helps as well by adding to its stance.
Move to the side and you’ll almost be surprised by the Harrier’s length, as it is a big SUV with an overall length of 4,598mm. Flared wheel arches add to the muscular design, as do the fat, 235-section, 17 inch Good Year Wrangler tyres. The rear looks very distinctive thanks to the three-dimensional design of the tail lamps as also the gloss black strip connecting them from end to end. The rear three quarter looks unlike any other SUV in the market from the angle. On the whole, the Harrier is certainly a head turner especially though, with its unique looking front end and overall muscular design.
Tata Harrier Interior:
The Harrier’s interior design and the generous use of leather inside impress a lot. Taking centre stage on top of the dashboard is a floating, wide-format 8.8 inch touchscreen with a crisp resolution. Tata Motors has been focusing on extensively on dashboard designs of late and the Harrier’s dash looks and feels very premium. Not just that – fit-finish levels inside the cabin are the best we’ve seen from Tata yet which adds to the Harrier’s appeal as a premium SUV, apart from which the design of the dashboard is clean and looks very pleasing to the eye. The top of the dashboard is covered in soft touch plastic from end to end, followed by a faux textured wood finish on the central rib. Move further down and there’s a perforated leather-wrapped cavity to stow away knick-knacks. This deep cavity is also home to the USB port for connecting smartphones unfortunately, and it is really hard to use the USB slot without having to stoop down to search for it!
Door panels sport the same perforated brown leather as the seats which adds to the cabin’s premium feel. The parking brake lever looks like an aircraft’s thrust lever and while it does look fancy, it takes up a lot of space and also tends to hit items placed in the cup holders behind it when lowered. The steering wheel looks familiar but has more buttons on either side, though thankfully getting used to them is easy. Another highlight in the Harrier is the part digital instrument cluster which features a 7 inch display integrating the tachometer. The speedometer is a regular analogue unit and sits on the right side of the screen. And while we’re talking about the interiors, the Harrier’s AC deserves a mention here as well, for its excellent cooling abilities. The Harrier’s AC is powerful enough to cool its big cabin very quickly, to the point of the driver and front passenger beginning to feel cold.
The steering wheel offers both tilt and telescopic adjustability, which is welcome. Most importantly, the Tata Harrier is one of the largest vehicles in its segment, which translates to lots of space inside be it at the front or the rear or the boot. Driver and passenger have plenty of space to move around at the front, while the rear bench is comfortable with good recline angle and under thigh support.
Tata Harrier Equipment:
The infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, while the music system boasts good acoustics as it has been tuned by JBL and plays audio via 9 speakers. Additionally, the Harrier also gets a rotary knob that lets you select from three Terrain Response Modes. This is isn’t as advanced as the system on the Land Rovers though, as the Harrier is not a four-wheel drive SUV. The knob lets you choose from Normal, Rough and Wet modes which alter the traction control settings depending on your choice, apart from which the Harrier gets hill hold and hill descent functions as well. The Harrier also comes equipped with niceties like auto headlamp on, rain sensing wipers, rear parking sensors, rear parking camera with switchable views and a cornering function for the fog lamps. On the safety front the XZ variant comes equipped with six airbags while dual airbags are standard across the range. There’s a brake disc wiping function as well, which applies the brakes extremely mildly to clean the discs if sensors detect the presence of water or dirt on them. ORVMs also use a projector beam to create the Harrier’s silhouette in the dark on the road below instead of regular puddle lamps, inspired by the Range Rover, which is something buyers in the segment are sure to appreciate.
Under the Harrier’s hood is the Fiat-sourced 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, dubbed Kryotec by Tata Motors. It has been detuned in the interest of better fuel efficiency. The engine offers 140PS in this guise, unlike the 173PS it offers in the Compass, though the torque output for the Harrier is identical at 350Nm. The engine is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and this is the only engine-gearbox combination on offer currently and while an automatic transmission is expected, there is no time line for that yet.
The Tata Harrier gets launched as Tata Motors’ first salvo of the year. The manufacturer has worked meticulously on getting various aspects right with this one, also learning from its previous mistakes. The association with Land Rover for the project is clearly bearing some good fruits as well, given the Harrier’s impressive dynamics. Tata Motors’ efforts in terms of making the Harrier a likeable package as a premium SUV overall are commendable too, given the equipment levels, space, ambience inside the cabin and more. The SUV still has very few rough edges that need to smoothen out and I am hoping the production versions will come without the minor niggles our test cars had.