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  • Solidly built interiors are unchanged; still include many...
    Solidly built interiors are unchanged; still include many high-quality materials and textures.
  • 425-litre boot is reasonably spacious; there’s storage be...
    425-litre boot is reasonably spacious; there’s storage below boot floor too.
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Rating 8 8

2020 Tata Harrier review, road test

28th Aug 2020 8:00 am

Tata’s flagship SUV now gets more power, new features and a long-overdue automatic transmission.

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  • Make : Tata
  • Model : Harrier
We Like
Tough build
Spacious, well-appointed interiors
Smooth automatic
We Don't Like
Heavy steering at low speeds
Brake feel

On the face of it, the Tata Harrier has everything that an SUV buyer in India is looking for – imposing road presence, ample space and comfort, a diesel engine and, finally, a much-needed automatic transmission. The 2020 Harrier also gets more power, a panoramic sunroof and other features to enhance its appeal. With a lot more thrown into the latest Harrier, it’s certainly a step forward from the 2019 model. But how big is that step? That’s the question we answer in this full-blown and fully instrumented road test.

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Xenon lights for low beam are satisfactory. High beam is halogen.

 

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New wheels look smarter than before, but still appear a bit small.

With its sizeable footprint and striking design, the 2020 Harrier, in its new ‘Calypso Red’ paint shade, doesn’t fail to turn heads. While there aren’t many changes to its styling, what’s new are the dual-tone 17-inch alloy wheels, which though of the same size, appear far more premium than the earlier set. Another crucial change are the redesigned door mirrors, which are now shorter in height and therefore don’t create as much of a blind spot as before.

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Redesigned mirrors don’t create as much of a blind spot as before.

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The full-length panoramic sunroof does well to lift the cabin’s premium quotient by a few notches.

The plush, spacious interiors remain largely unchanged, but the cabin welcomes you with a massive panoramic sunroof on the top-spec car, which elevates the premium feel by several notches. A smaller, yet significant change is that the USB port for the infotainment system is much easier to access than before (a criticism we had in the past). These aside, there is no other change to the interior, which remains a comfortable place to be in.

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USB and AUX ports for the infotainment system have been repositioned to be easier to access.

 

For this 2020 update, Tata engineers have tried to improve the Harrier’s NVH (noise, vibration, harshness), which was one of the sore points of the 2019 version. The engine mounts have been softened for better absorption of vibrations, additional sound insulation has been used, and the injection timing of the BS6 engine has been recalibrated for more progressive combustion, thereby reducing the harsh diesel clatter. Our sound meter did indicate lower decibels at idle, but the diesel rattle is still audible inside the cabin, and it becomes louder with an increase in engine speed. Road noise too is on the higher side. Vibrations have been reduced, but some still filter through the pedals, steering wheel and gear lever. Refinement, overall, is still not as good as the MG Hector, which is considerably quieter with fewer vibrations, despite using the same engine. 

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Engine more refined, and now makes 30hp more than before.

Speaking of which, it is the same FCA-sourced 2.0-litre diesel engine as before, dubbed ‘Kryotec170’ in this BS6 avatar. Power has been bumped up by 30hp to 170hp thanks to a new, larger turbocharger, so it now makes as much power as the Hector and only 3hp less than the Jeep Compass, which also uses the same engine. The Harrier’s torque output remains unchanged, so all the three cars sharing this engine make an identical 350Nm of torque.

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Automatic gear lever feels sticky when shifting in manual mode.

Tata has tuned this diesel engine rather well, and it is very drivable, with turbo lag being nicely contained. The additional 30hp can be felt once the turbo spools up past 1,800rpm, after which there is a noticeable step up in performance and a strong surge of torque to the front wheels. This engine’s sweet spot lies in the mid-range and it feels strongest between 1,800 and 3,500rpm. Because of the loud clatter beyond 3,000rpm, you will be happier upshifting early. But if you prod even further, the revs climb till 4,200rpm, after which there is a momentary pause as though you’ve hit a wall, and then the tachometer needle rises further, till its 5,000rpm redline. The Harrier’s top-end performance in the last 1,500rpm of the rev band isn’t as punchy as the freer-revving Compass, which has been calibrated for a stronger top end. The Tata’s clutch, however, is lighter than the Jeep’s, and though a bit more progressive than before, it’s still a bit snatchy. The manual gearbox has well-defined gates, but the shift isn’t as slick as the Compass’ 6-speeder. 

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Hill descent control is limited to 12kph in first, 22kph in second gear.

Like before, there are driving modes on offer – Eco, City and Sport – but the difference in performance between them isn’t as apparent, especially under hard acceleration or heavy engine load. The outgoing Harrier had its max revs restricted in Eco and City, compared to a slightly higher revving Sport mode. In this version, however, that isn’t the case, and in all modes, it revs till 5,000rpm in the lower gears. What’s noticeable is, at part-throttle in Eco mode, the engine feels less eager and the accelerator pedal offers a bit more resistance, compared to Sport. 

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Comfy front seats; driver’s gets 6-way electric adjust, manual lumbar adjust.

Owing to the stronger performance, flat-out acceleration from 0-100kph has improved by 2.3sec and 1sec, respectively, in City and Sport modes, compared to the 140hp version. However, the improvement in Eco mode is drastic – nearly 4sec quicker than before, at 13.22sec. In-gear acceleration times have marginally improved in fifth and sixth gears, but performance remains near identical in the first four gears.

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Huge space in the rear seats, with ample storage spaces available too.

Recently added to the Harrier’s range is a Hyundai-sourced 6-speed automatic, driven by an old-school torque converter. This transmission gives a much-needed dose of convenience with its smooth and seamless character. This gearbox doesn’t disappoint, provided you don’t expect shifts to be as quick as you’d get from a dual-clutch auto (or even the Hexa’s torque converter, for that matter). The Harrier auto ambles around lazily and it will even keep the engine below 2,000rpm for the most part, adding to a sense of calm into the cabin. Some peculiarities in the way this auto-box behaves are that it continues to carry the same amount of speed for a short while after you lift off the throttle, and it will automatically shift up a gear while going downhill, even without any throttle input, which can get unnerving.

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Rain-sensing wipers slow to react; requires manual intervention.

While there are no gearshift paddles, flick the lever to the left and it engages ‘Sport Manual’ mode. You can shift manually this way, but the lever’s sticky action takes away from the joy of tapping through ratios, and it doesn’t support aggressive downshifts either. Even in manual mode, it upshifts automatically at max revs, and will also downshift automatically if the revs fall too low.

Here’s a tip – if you are in a hurry, or want to extract the quickest times out of your Harrier automatic, leave it in ‘D’ in ‘City’ mode, as it performs the best this way. It’ll upshift optimally and keep the motor in the meat of its power band at all times. As with the manual, there are drive modes here too, and it is only at part throttle where the differences are noticeable. Stomp on the accelerator and under heavy engine load, all three modes perform the same way, delivering full performance. Interestingly, the Harrier automatic is almost as quick as the Compass diesel with its 9-speed automatic, be it from 0-100kph with is 11.75sec (versus 11.4sec), or from 20-80kph which is 6.82sec (versus 6.66sec).

Broken roads that would make some of its competitors wince are a piece of cake for this hardy Tata SUV. Its Land-Rover-derived underpinnings give it a sense of toughness and solidity that you’d otherwise get only from some body-on-frame SUVs. For this version, the suspension mount point stiffness has been altered to reduce component sounds inside the cabin. The large, 235mm-wide tyres do well to iron out tinier road imperfections and dismiss potholes. But, being on the firmer side, the suspension doesn’t deal with sharper bumps as nicely as the MG Hector does, and like the earlier version, passengers seated at the back especially will feel more of the road shocks. The manual version feels a bit tauter and more composed than the automatic, and while both variants are well behaved on the highway, neither feel as rock-stable as the Jeep Compass.

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Land-Rover underpinnings give it a sense of toughness that you’d otherwise get only in body-on-frame SUVs.

With its wide track, firm suspension and wheels pushed to each corner, the Harrier does boast of a solid mechanical grip, and even its handling and body control really impress. Its steering is chunky to hold, but piloting this SUV does require some effort, as the hydraulically assisted power steering is on the heavier side, particularly at low and parking speeds. This heft does offer a degree of confidence at high speeds, but the manual’s steering especially feels a bit too sharp and sporty for this SUV, with no free play at the straight-ahead position. Its brakes require a firmer press than usual to shed speed, and still lack a strong bite (as reported in our earlier road test), and the pedal feel isn’t very confidence-inspiring.

An area where the Tata Harrier has improved is fuel efficiency. In its BS6 avatar, with 170hp to boot, the manual Harrier returned 10.8kpl in the city and 15.3kpl on the highway, an improvement of 1kpl and 1.1kpl, respectively, over the 140hp version. Interestingly the manual’s gear ratios are identical to the outgoing version. The automatic version managed a rather respectable 9.6kpl in the city and 14.36kpl on the highway.

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An auto-dimming inside rear-view mirror is one of the new features added to the Harrier’s list.

New equipment on the 2020 version includes electric adjustment for the driver’s seat, an auto-dimming inside mirror and the rain-sensing panoramic sunroof. As before, you get ESP, hill-start assist, hill-descent control, six airbags, Xenon projector headlamps with LED DRLs, leatherette upholstery, a part-colour-screen instrument cluster, drive modes (Eco, City, Sport), Terrain Response Modes (Normal, Rough, Wet), auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control and an 8.8-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and a nine-speaker audio system from JBL. Stuff like LED headlamps, 360-degree cameras, connected-car tech and a powered tailgate are features we’d have liked to have seen on the Harrier, all of which are available on the MG Hector.

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Sound quality from the nine JBL speakers is crisp, clear and punchy.

 

The Harrier’s updated diesel engine offers better performance as well as improved fuel efficiency (manual), over the outgoing version. But while it is quieter than before, this diesel is still quite clattery, and the overall refinement falls short of class standards. What’s nice are the new panoramic sunroof and additional equipment, which lift the cabin experience. Spec-for-spec, the Harrier is pricier than its key rival, the MG Hector, by as much as Rs 1 lakh, but the real ace up the Tata’s sleeve is its diesel-automatic configuration, which gives it an edge over the MG, as well as the much more expensive Jeep Compass. This 6-speed automatic is smooth, seamless and the answer to what the majority of Harrier buyers were looking for. The addition of an automatic and extra features builds on the Harrier existing strengths to make it a complete SUV and a far more compelling buy.

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PRICE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Price Range Ex-showroom - Delhi Rs 13.69-20.25 lakh (ex-showroom, India)
Warranty 2 years/1,00,000 km 2 years/1,00,000 km
ENGINE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Fuel Type / Propulsion Diesel Diesel
Engine Installation Front, transverse Front, transverse
Type 4-cyl, turbo-diesel 4-cyl, turbo-diesel
Cubic Capacity (cc) 1956cc 1956cc
Bore/Stroke (mm) 83/90.4mm 83/90.4mm
Compression Ratio 16.5:1 16.5:1
Valve Train 4 valves per cyl, DOHC 4 valves per cyl, DOHC
Max Power (hp @ rpm) 170hp at 3750rpm 170hp at 3750rpm
Max Torque (Nm @ rpm) 350Nm at 1750-2500rpm 350Nm at 1750-2500rpm
Power to Weight Ratio (hp/tonne) 99.41hp per tonne 98.89hp per tonne
Torque to Weight Ratio (Nm/tonne) 204.67Nm per tonne 203.61Nm per tonne
Specific Output (hp/litre) 86.91hp per litre 86.91hp per litre
TRANSMISSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Drive Layout Front-wheel drive Front-wheel drive
Gearbox Type Manual Torque converter automatic
No of Gears 6 6
1st Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 4.154/7.89 4.252/9.56
2nd Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 2.118/15.48 2.654/15.32
3rd Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 1.361/24.09 1.804/22.55
4th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 0.978/33.53 1.386/29.35
5th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 0.756/43.38 1.000/40.68
6th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 0.622/52.72 0.772/52.69
Final Drive Ratio 4.118:1 3.32:1
BRAKING Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
80 - 0 kph (mts, sec) 26.77m, 2.39s 26.77m, 2.39s
EFFICIENCY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
City (kpl) 10.8kpl 9.6kpl
Highway (kpl) 15.3kpl 14.4kpl
Tank size (lts) 50 litres 50 litres
ACCELERATION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
0 - 10 kph (sec) 0.55s 0.62s
0 - 20 kph (sec) 1.3s 1.31s
0 - 30 kph (sec) 1.89s 2.09s
0 - 40 kph (sec) 2.94s 3.14s
0 - 50 kph (sec) 3.85s 4.18s
0 - 60 kph (sec) 4.85s 5.32s
0 - 70 kph (sec) 6.14s 6.74s
0 - 80 kph (sec) 7.72s 8.17s
0 - 90 kph (sec) 9.32s 10.03s
0 - 100 kph (sec) 11.25s 11.75s
0 - 110 kph (sec) 13.84s 14.08s
0 - 120 kph (sec) 16.47s 16.84s
0 - 130 kph (sec) 19.58s 19.98s
0 - 140 kph (sec) 23.77s 23.67s
1/4 mile (sec) 17.77s 18.12s
20-80kph (sec) 10.49s 8.32s
40-100kph (sec) 11.22s 6.82s
MAX SPEED IN GEAR Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
1st (kph @rpm) 39kph at 4900rpm 39kph at 4100rpm
2nd (kph @rpm) 76kph at 4900rpm 63kph at 4100rpm
3rd (kph @rpm) 119kph at 4900rpm 92kph at 4100rpm
4th (kph @rpm) 139kph at 4100rpm 119kph at 4100rpm
5th (kph @rpm) 170kph at 3900rpm 159kph at 3900rpm
6th (kph @rpm) 190kph at 3600rpm 190kph at 3600rpm
NOISE LEVEL Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Idle (dB) 44.6dB 45.9dB
Idle with AC blower at half (dB) 60.2dB 60.4dB
Full Revs, AC off (dB) 75.9dB at 5000rpm 75.6dB at 4000rpm
50 kph AC off (dB) 67.1dB 67.9dB
80 kph AC off (dB) 71.4dB 72.4dB
BODY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Construction 5-door SUV, monocoque 5-door SUV, monocoque
Weight (kg) 1710kg 1719kg
Front Tyre 235/65 R17 235/65 R17
Rear Tyre 235/65 R17 235/65 R17
Spare Tyre 235/70 R16 235/70 R16
SUSPENSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Front Independent, lower wishbone, MacPherson strut with Independent, lower wishbone, MacPherson strut with
Rear Non-independent, twist blade with panhard rod and Non-independent, twist blade with panhard rod and
STEERING Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Type Rack and pinion Rack and pinion
Type of power assist Hydraulic Hydraulic
Turning Circle Diameter (mts) 11.6m 11.6m
BRAKES Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Front Discs Discs
Rear Drums Drums
Dimensions Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Length 4598mm 4598mm
Width (mm) 1894mm 1894mm
Height 1706mm 1706mm
Wheel base 2741mm 2741mm
Front Track (mm) 1616mm 1616mm
Rear Track (mm) 1630mm 1630mm
Rear Interior Width (mm) 1410mm 1410mm
Ground Clearance (mm) 150mm (laden) 150mm (laden)
Boot Capacity (Lts) 425 litres 425 litres
INTERIOR Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Cruise control Yes Yes
Heated / Cooled Seats NA NA
HVAC type Automatic climate control Automatic climate control
Touchscreen 8.8-inch 8.8-inch
Android Auto Yes Yes
Apple Car Play Yes Yes
Sunroof Panoramic Panoramic
EXTERIOR Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Automatic headlamps Yes Yes
Rain sensing wipers Yes Yes
Parking camera Yes Yes
SAFETY FEATURES Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
ESP Yes Yes
2020 Tata Harrier review, road test
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