When Tata Cars launched the Harrier in 2019, it looked very similar to its concept avatar – and that drew buyers to showroom floors in large numbers. It was everything the Indian car buyer was looking for in an SUV: great looks matched by terrific road presence, loads of space and comfort, a lot of equipment, a strong diesel engine and an automatic transmission, that followed later on the updated 2020. We tell you what makes it tick on our roads.
Size always matters…
It’s one huge SUV to behold, standing tall on those dual-tone 17-inch alloy wheels. The styling remains the same: muscular wheels arches, slender DRLs placed above the main headlamps, the sleek grille and the gloss black treatment between the stylish tail lights. What’s new is the contrast roof and the new door mirrors, which don’t cause a blind spot like the earlier ones did.
On the inside too
The beautifully laid-out interior remains plush, with lots of room on offer, but you’ll notice the huge panoramic sunroof on the top-of-the-line variant, which gives it an airier ambiance a gives it a premium feel. The USB port used for the infotainment unit is easier to reach out to, but apart from this, legroom and headroom remain the same, with sufficient space for three full-sized adults at the rear. The seats are also large, well-bolstered and comfortable to be seated on. The solid dashboard is retained, but there are some hard plastics that could’ve been deleted.
On the gas pedal
Tata have worked to ensure better NVH levels on the Harrier. Combustion has improved, further reducing the diesel clatter from the engine. However, some of it does find its way into the cabin, and it gets vocal as the speed increases. You can even hear road nose, but vibrations have reduced to an extent. The steering, however, gets a mild shake-up at high revs. Refinement levels too, still need to be worked on. Under the vast bonnet, lies the same Fiat-sourced 2.0-litre diesel engine that is now BS6 compliant. It now develops 167bhp and 350Nm of torque, thanks to a new turbocharger. The engine has been tuned to suit drivability, masking turbo lag as much as possible. A massive surge of torque can be felt being sent to the front wheels, and this is where improved performance is noticeable. It’s in the mid-range you just the enthusiasm of the engine. Push it even harder, and the revs begin to climb. However, the engine isn’t as free-revving as the Jeep in its segment. The clutch is light though, but the manual gearbox doesn’t shift very smoothly.
The driving modes are here to stay: Eco, City and Sport. In Eco mode, the updated motor feels restricted a bit, while Sport delivers the true experience. Acceleration too, has seen some improvement.
The automatic experience
What was added only last year to the Tata cars, is the Hyundai-sourced 6-speed torque-converter automatic transmission. Surprisingly, the nature of the gearbox is that of a smooth and effortless affair, but shifts are clearly no match for a dual-clutch auto ‘box. It potters about in the city easily, with the engine below 2,000rpm. What we noticed was, that when you lift your foot off the throttle, the engine still carries speed, and strangely, up-shifts when going down a slope. In Sport manual mode, you can shift manually but downshifts are never in its favour. In manual mode, the ‘box upshifts on its own and will downshift in the same manner, if the revs drop.
If you’re after quick acceleration, put in ‘D’, in City mode, as this will help it upshift naturally, keeping the engine its power band for the most part. Drive modes are offered on the automatic model too. You’ll be able to extract the best performance possible in all three modes, helping you make the most of its performance.
How does it drive?
The Harrier impresses with its handling and body control; the steering feels solid to hold, but steering it through traffic does demand for some effort since the steering is hydraulically assisted. And parking it requires a fair bit of muscle. However, the heavy steering also means the Harrier feels confident at three-digit speeds. The brakes could do with a stronger bite though. Also, grab the latest on the Kia Seltos, only at autoX.