Tata Motors will reveal its new SUV at the upcoming Auto Expo on February 7, 2018, but here at Autocar India we already have a detailed preview. Expected to hit showrooms somewhere by the end of 2018 , Tata’s new SUV is a landmark car; it will be the first time a Tata Motors’ car and a model from Jaguar Land Rover will share a platform. Tata’s new Harrier or the H5, however, is anything but a ‘badge engineering’ job.
Platform sharing apart, the design of the SUV, however, is pure Tata Motors, with the design sensibilities of Tata design chief, Pratap Bose, clearly visible. Known as Impact 2.0, the new design highlights on this SUV include bolder lines, more striking details and more flared fenders and wheel arches. The Harrier or H5 also has a more prominent three-dimensional ‘Humanity Line’ – Tata’s way of describing the link between the headlights and grille – and there’s a new tri-arrow pattern in the fog light nacelles. What can also be seen in our illustration is that the H5 has a more robust chin than any recent Tata, and in keeping with its cutting-edge looks, it gets a heavily raked windscreen too.
What will give the H5 a massive tech advantage is platform sharing. Unlike all Tata’s current cars and SUVs, the Harrier will be built on the same platform as the Land Rover Discovery Sport (Code L550), currently already being assembled at the Tata plant in Pimpri. Know internally in Land Rover as the MS platform, this robust mechanical architecture will help give Tata a leg up in areas like ride, handling and safety. Slated to be built both as a five- (H5) and seven-seater (H7), just like the Discovery Sport, the new SUV will use a very similar floor pan, a near-identical all-independent suspension setup and similarly configured steering gear. To keep costs down, many of the components are in the process of being localised and insiders say Tata engineers may even alter bits to make them more suitable for our conditions and roads. Some of the expensive aluminium sections and parts will be substituted with more affordable and robust steel members.
The engine and transmission won’t come from JLR either. The new Ingenium 2.0-litre diesel was considered to be too expensive for use in the Tata car and, as a result, the manufacturer decided to go with Fiat’s 2.0 Multijet diesel, already seen under the hood of the Jeep Compass. The advantage of this engine is that it is already heavily localised and in production at Fiat’s high-tech facility in Rajangaon. So it is capable, comparatively affordable and a known quantity. The engine isn’t the most silent unit around, but like all Fiat diesels, it is very efficient and has a punchy mid-range which should make it fun to drive.
Tata will use a lower-powered 140hp engine onthe H5 that will come out first, followed by the H7 with a more powerful 180hp unit.
Also on the cards is ZF’s soon to be locally produced nine-speed automatic transmission, a gearbox Jeep will also use in the Compass. Known as the 9HP, this gearbox has been designed to work along with a four-wheel-drive system from scratch. Only 1/4 of an inch longer than a regular six-speed automatic, this gearbox is also used in the Discovery Sport, making things easier engineering-wise. Tata, however, will use its own 4x4 system and not one taken from Land Rover. This again has been done to keep costs down, but those who drive in mud, slush, sand and snow will surely miss the tried-and-tested LR system.
Where Tata has managed to pull the rabbit out of the hat is in keeping the weight of the car down; this is despite the reduction in the use of lightweight aluminium. Tata insiders say kerb weight is unlikely to exceed 1,650kg and that’s quite impressive for a vehicle of this size.
What’s unlikely to be altered too much is the long 2,741mm wheelbase that gives the MS platform tremendous flexibility, allowing for both a five- and seven-seat configuration. And there’s likely to be a bit more space in the third row as compared to the Discovery Sport too; Tata has reportedly used smart packaging and the inherent ‘theatre seating’ of the platform to good effect. Unlike the Compass that is a bit narrow in the rear, the Harrier is expected to be extremely wide and roomy in the back. And in keeping with the focus on the rear of the cabin, ride comfort is expected to be class leading as well, with the H5 using large 19-inch wheels and wide MRF Wanderer tyres, similar to those used on the Hexa. Details up front are sketchy, but there will be a large-sized touch screen on top of the centre console, high-quality buttons on the dash and Tata’s rotary knob-based drive selector programme that on certain versions will also work with its four-wheel-drive system.
With Tata’s eternal focus on cost, expect the H5 to be launched at a Hyundai Creta-rivalling price, with higher-spec versions possibly running parallel to the Jeep Compass. One thing is for sure, however, Tata’s Harrier will be one of the showstoppers at the Auto Expo.