The strong one

K Shivraj
Saturday, 19 January 2019

The five-seater SUV Tata Harrier looks sophisticated, feels tough and handles well

The Tata Harrier is based on an all-new Omega Arc platform, which is claimed to have been derived from Land Rover’s D8 platform (that supports products like the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque). The Harrier, in comparison, is engineered to meet the Indian market requirements. The front suspension may be similar to that of the Discovery Sport and Evoque, the rear is a non-independent torsion beam set-up. The engine and gearbox are Fiat sourced, and the sound and infotainment systems are JBL and Visteon sourced, respectively. Styled to meet the Tata design philosophy, the Harrier, keeping close to the H5X concept, looks striking. The low-set Xenon projector head lamps look good.  The blade-like LEDs at the top double up as daytime running lamps and turn indicators and add to the aggressive yet sophisticated look of the vehicle. 

SOPHISTICATED DESIGN
A three-fourths view has the SUV looking well proportioned and elegant. Drawing attention are the swollen wheel arches and a gently rising window line. The thick blacked-out D-pillar help to create a floating roof effect. 

Riding on 17-inch dia wheels and 235/65 R17 tyres (one size higher wheels would have filled the wheel arches well), the Harrier, at the rear, has a high-set windscreen that looks a bit smaller than would make functional sense. It stays true to the high-set rear windscreen of the H5X concept and is part of a design that involves a slender gloss-black strip that has the part-LED tail lamps at either end. 

The skid plate at the front and rear, along with the high ground clearance of 205mm, has the Harrier looking every bit an SUV. The black strip of plastic moulding that runs along the lower part of the vehicle, including the wheel arches, adds to the design sophistication. The interior contains a simple yet elegant dash with an imitation leather top that is soft to touch. The imitation wood inserts are hard to tell and the door handles have a nice metallic finish to them. 

8.8-INCH TOUCHSCREEN
The 8.8-inch touchscreen, along with the central AC vents, gives the impression of being a freestanding unit. Employing the latest version of Tata interface, it is smooth and features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. A 7.0-inch screen occupies a two-third area of the instrument panel and includes a digital tachometer and a detailed fuel computer. The screen also displays various driving modes and could even relay media and navigation info from the main screen so that the driver does not have to take eyes off the road.

The HVAC controls are situated in a neatly carved out recess and finished in perforated leather. The two USB ports, however, are not easily visible, and the winged door mirrors are set high enough to lead to a blind spot near the A-pillar. 

The front seats are big and comfy, and the rear seat is enough to seat three. The rear AC vents are cleverly positioned in the B-pillars. The five-seater SUV provides 425-litres of storage space at the rear and the dropping of the rear seat increases the storage space to 810-litres with the spare tyre located under the rear floor. Offering keyless entry and go, auto climate control, reverse camera and rear parking sensors, cruise control, six airbags, auto head lamps, and wipers, and cornering, the Harrier, like the Land Rover, comes with puddle lamps.  

ENGINE NOISE
Available in front-wheel drive configuration at the moment, the Harrier is powered by a Fiat-sourced 140bhp 2.0-litre common-rail turbo diesel engine that is also found on the Jeep Compass. An amount of engine noise finds its way into the cabin. The diesel din can get particularly noticeable above 3000rpm. 

Good to drive with a light clutch and smooth shifting gears (gearbox is six-speed manual), the Harrier responds well to inputs. The Sport mode feels most energetic and makes it tempting to engage it even in city traffic, despite the presence of the City mode. A good flow of power and torque is the reason, especially in the mid-range. On the highway, the mid-range pull may feel a little lacking in case of a quick overtake. Cruising at good three-digit speeds, the SUV stays planted.

The hydraulic power steering may feel heavy at low speeds but weighs up well to provide good feedback. A terrain response system on board tweaks the electronic aids to respond to wet and rough-road driving conditions. Equipped with off-road-specific ABS, hill-start assist, hill-descent control, traction control, stability control, corner stability control, rollover mitigation and hydraulic brake-fade compensation mechanism, the Harrier sheds speed well. 

VERDICT
Expected to be priced upwards of Rs 15 lakh, the Harrier does not feel not like a stripped down global product, but a global offering that has started its journey in India with good space, comfort and a good deal of sophistication to offer. It also feels tough and handles well. 

That said, it would make a winner if it were to undercut its rivals on price.

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