You read about the Tata Harrier petrol first on Autocar India and we can now reveal that the final product is in the pipeline. The Harrier petrol will come powered by Tata’s new 1.5-litre, direct-injection turbo-petrol engine. Basically a four-cylinder version of the 1.2 Revotron turbo found under the bonnet of the Nexon, the engine is likely to put out power in excess of 150hp. “We’ve always had the four-cylinder version of this engine in mind,” says Rajendra Petkar, chief technology officer, Tata Motors. “And with 65-70 percent of Nexon sales now going to a petrol, this is the next step”.
The arrival of the Harrier petrol will open up the Tata SUV to a whole new set of buyers. The sales breakup of the Harrier’s closest rival, the MG Hector, sure points at the additional numbers a petrol version could bring in. Of the 19,060 Hectors sold in the July 2019-January 2020 period, 10,448 were petrols (including 2,468 hybrids), with diesels making up the remaining 8,612 sales. The Harrier that was launched in diesel-manual form only has been averaging 1,226 units since January 2019. A new diesel-automatic should help sales but the bigger bump could be courtesy the upcoming petrol. The 7-seat derivative of the Harrier, the Tata Gravitas, will also sport the same engine.
As with the Nexon unit, this new 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine will come with drive modes. Tata will also have an automatic version of the Harrier and Gravitas petrol available at a later stage – it’ll come with paddle shifters and there’s even the possibility of a ‘Sport’ mode. Smooth progression and improved fuel efficiency will be the biggest challenges for Tata.
What remains to be seen is if the 1.5-litre petrol engine can deliver the sort of punch people expect in an SUV. Of the SUVs the Harrier will go up against, the MG Hector’s 1.5-litre petrol engine makes 143hp/ 250Nm, with or without the hybrid assist. The Jeep Compass petrol, on the other hand, features a 163hp, 1.4-litre turbo-petrol unit. Mahindra’s next-gen XUV500 will be the segment leader in terms of sheer power, with approximately 190hp and 380Nm of torque from a 2.0-litre, mStallion family engine.
Tata is also working on other permutations and combinations of this engine with other aggregates. A larger variable geometry turbo could easily take power past 160hp, and then Tata is also looking at an electrified version with hybrid motor assist. What works out depends on how CO2-efficient the Tata Motors fleet is, come the CAFE II norms in 2022. Should Tata’s electric vehicles sell really well, the hybrids may not be needed, CAFE being calculated by adding CO2 for the fleet. So the company has two options looking into the future – a strong hybrid with the 1.2 engine or a mild-hybrid for the 1.5. What Tata goes for eventually will be interesting to see.
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