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Ninad Ambre Ninad Ambre Monday 16 March 2020

When we had first driven the Tata Harrier in December 2018, we were smitten by its design, spacious cabin, comfort, ride quality and more. However, it missed an automatic variant and now Tata Motors is offering one. In fact, the engine is more powerful and complies with the new BS6 norms. We are told that the carmaker has also made some changes to address the feedback received and packed it with new features too. So we recently drove its top-of-the-line versions both in the manual and automatic guise and here are its first impressions.

2020 Tata Harrier First Drive Review

The Harrier’s signature orange colour is now replaced by a ‘Calypso Copper’ red paint option. Apart from the usual colour palette, there's a sparkle cocoa colour too which is the manual variant in pictures here. Moreover, the 2020 Tata Harrier is even available with dual-tone options but only as red-black or white-black combo. That tells us the silver front skid plate is now gone but other design elements including bright DRLs, black grille and projector headlamps integrated into the bumpers are carried on. In fact, the butch stance, macho appeal and a unique shape at the rear with LED tail lamps also continue. The simple alloys are now replaced by dual-tone machined alloys that give the SUV a fresh look. Customers can now also opt for a chrome pack to add that extra bit of bling.

2020 Tata Harrier First Drive Review
2020 Tata Harrier First Drive Review

Inside the cabin too, things are familiar and similar to the older Harrier with a modern interior. The flowing dashboard continues to get soft-touch elements, a floating island 8.8-inch touchscreen system, silver and wood accents and a seven-inch digital instrument cluster. The tan-coloured perforated seats carry on a luxurious feel and provide adequate comfort. In fact, now these supportive seats along with the manual adjustment for lumbar get a six-way power-adjustable driver seat to help find the perfect commanding driving position. The placement of pedals still feels a bit odd, but what comes as a respite is a new set of ORVMs that improve the visibility of the surroundings. Otherwise the Harrier always boasted of plenty of storage compartments and stowage slots along with deep bottle-holders. Lest we forget, the huge new panoramic sunroof now adds to the sense of space to an already spacious cabin, especially the second row that's known for its good knee-, leg-, shoulder- and head-room.

2020 Tata Harrier First Drive Review

Equipment-wise too things have got better. The most expensive version of the 2020 Tata Harrier AT gets some segment-best features. This includes the afore-mentioned panoramic sunroof, a six-way adjustable electric driver’s seat, an auto-dimming IRVM and diamond-cut 17-inch alloy wheels. Other highlights including the touchscreen music system compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, customisable interface, a JBL nine-speaker with amplifier, automatic climate control, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, remote locking etc. are carried over. Yet, ESP, which was until recently on offer only on the XZ trims, is now standard across all trims. Other than this, the standard safety suite now includes dual airbags, ABS and EBD as standard, while the high-end variants even get six airbags, traction control, hill start and descent control.

2020 Tata Harrier First Drive Review
2020 Tata Harrier First Drive Review

The Harrier’s 2020 model line-up comes powered by a 2.0-litre Kryotec170 engine that will be shared with the Gravitas. It has a higher power output as against the earlier 140bhp. This time a maximum power of 168bhp and 350Nm of torque is churned out, while transmission duties are handled either by a six-speed manual or a Hyundai-sourced six-speed torque-converter unit. We sampled both these trims on our way from Pune to Panchgani giving us a mix of experiences over straight highways and winding ghats too.

2020 Tata Harrier First Drive Review

This Fiat-sourced oil-burner continues with its typical diesel clatter. However, what's worth mentioning is Tata Motors has worked on the cabin insulation and now the improvement in NVH levels is clearly evident. There's no running away from the engine noise, but it’s not that prominent now and only gets noisy post 3,500rpm. But the good thing is that one will be pottering around at 2,500rpm most of the times as the turbo spools in at around 1,800rpm. There's no pronounced turbo lag and loads of torque available from low revs to keep the momentum going without constantly changing gears.

2020 Tata Harrier First Drive Review

And be it the eco, city or sport mode, there's always a good mid-range that helps in the city to keep up with traffic. A switch-over in these driving modes instantly shows a nice difference in the in-gear acceleration though. As compared to the normal (city) mode, the response to throttle inputs is a little muted in the Eco mode in favour of returning more fuel economy. On the contrary, the sport mode lets you build revs quicker and eventually make progress faster. The light and progressive action of the clutch continues to be a boon, but what impressed us more is how smooth the gearbox feels now. There's no annoying drivetrain lash and clunk this time, with gearshifts being more accurate than before and throws shorter too.

2020 Tata Harrier First Drive Review

Then in the automatic variant, clutch-less gearshifts mean adding to the convenience of the driver. Here too, the SUV doesn't get off the mark quickly, but gradually makes progress. In the D mode it upshifts automatically at around 2,000rpm with gentle throttle inputs. However, mash the pedal and it holds on to the revs. Especially in the sport manual mode it revs up till 3,600rpm after which it automatically shifts to a higher gear. Similarly, if you are doing very slow speeds, it doesn't allow you to shift to upper gears which is a good thing. This auto-box complements the engine to put the power out nicely. Even on a decline, it held on to the gear and didn't freewheel. The cruise control works smartly too and cruising on the highway at 100kmph was easily done in the top gear with revs lower than 2,000rpm. And even if it might not be the quickest of gearboxes, it shifts to a lower gear without much delay whenever required. So planning a quick overtake is easy and the increment in power has only further helped its case.

2020 Tata Harrier First Drive Review

The Harrier pleasingly continues to be an easy-to-drive SUV with light controls. The steering is light and weighs up nicely with speeds to provide an engaging drive. The connected-feel experience isn't hampered even around corners. One can confidently make quick direction changes despite this being a bulky SUV. Sure, there is a slight body-roll but it’s well-contained. Even the side-to-side movement is minimal and it feels much planted whatever be the speeds. This good body control is thanks to Land Rover's underpinnings including a well-tuned suspension. It is well-suited to our road conditions as it will take on any surface without any hesitance. It also gets wet and rough road mode that work along with ESP smartly over unpaved roads/surfaces. That said, it does feel a little firm at low speeds but still tough to flatten whatever comes it way. Interestingly, the rear brakes are still a drum set-up as opposed to the front discs and yet do a fantastic job of stopping the SUV. There's enough bite and progression to confidently stop under hard braking.

Tech specs
Make Tata
Model Harrier
Fuel Diesel
Variant XZ
Engine Capacity 2.0-litre
Max. Power (bhp@rpm) 168bhp @ 3,750rpm
Max. torque (Nm@rpm) 350Nm @ 1,750rpm
Gears Six
Length mm 4598
Width mm 1894
Height mm 1706
Wheelbase mm 2741
Fuel Capacity (in litres) 50
Tyre size 235/65 R17
Six airbags, ABS and ESP with hill descent control Yes
17-inch alloy wheels Yes
205mm ground clearance Yes
Digital instrument cluster Yes
Automatic climate control, automatic headlamps Yes
Touch screen infotainment system with WiFi, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay Yes
Specifications Tata
Variant XZ Limited Plus
Fuel Diesel Diesel
Engine Capacity 2.0-litre 2.0-litre
Max. Power (bhp@rpm) 168bhp @ 3,750rpm 171bhp@3,750rpm
Max. torque (Nm@rpm) 350Nm @ 1,750rpm 350Nm @ 1,750rpm
Gears  Six Six
Length mm 4598 4395
Width mm 1894 1818
Height mm 1706 1640
Wheelbase mm 2741 2636
Fuel Capacity (in litres) 50 60
Tyre size 235/65 R17 225/60 R18
2020 Tata Harrier First Drive Review

The 2020 Tata Harrier automatic range is available in XMA, XZA and XZA trims, with the latter becoming the new range-topping variant. While the most affordable automatic variant's ex-showroom cost is Rs 16.25 lakhs, the XZA trim costs Rs 18.80 lakhs. Meanwhile, the top-spec XZA trim is priced at Rs 19.99 lakhs and the XZA Dark Edition retails at Rs 20.25 lakhs. This puts it slightly in a higher price bracket like the Jeep Compass, while the Mahindra XUV500 undercuts this pricing with the addition of another row of seats. However, the manual version of the Harrier starts at Rs 13.69 lakhs (ex-showroom). With a package that continues to offer striking looks, roomy cabin, good features, a robust suspension, praiseworthy ride and much more, buyers looking at the MG Hector, Kia Seltos and even the new Hyundai Creta might consider buying the Harrier. And why not, when it now comes with the much-needed automatic options and powerful drivetrain option as well.

2020 Tata Harrier First Drive Review

Pictures by Kapil Angane

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