Tata Harrier caught testing with new automatic transmission

by IndianAuto Team | 28/03/2019
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With shots of a new Harrier covered in camouflage, doing the rounds, could this be the new automatic variant of the new Tata? Our post will tell you how good the car is and how this will make it better

Tata’s design dominance in our market started to taper off in the late 2000s. Its car designs started to look dated and its most popular model, the Indica’s offsprings were left for dead as competitors from all corners of the globe introduced newer, more appealing designs in every segment they were present in. However, in recent times, the company has shown a return to their futuristic-looking car designing roots, along with their stress in making world-class premium cars to compete with the big brands. The first example to highlight this statement is the recently launched Tata Harrier, the first model to be developed using the by the company’s new Impact Design 2.0 philosophy.

Unveiled as the H5X concept at Auto Expo in Delhi last year, the new SUV is a bold design that will turn heads from even a mile away. At the time of launch, when questioned about the introduction of a manual transmission in the Harrier, the company promised us that they will be open to the idea if demands grow larger. Well, it seems, they have. New media flooding the internet has showcased a Tata Harrier being tested under heavy camouflage near the company’s plant in Pune. This can only be the new automatic transmission undergoing development testing to be put in use with the Harrier. However, before we get to the juicy bits, let’s first rewind and tell you how the Harrier is, as it is being sold today.

 

Starting with the design, the Tata Harrier is unlike any other SUV currently being sold in our market. It’s sleek, almost coupe-like design gives the new Harrier a very European-style ensemble and in our opinion, is definitely the best looking in the segment by a margin. While its sharp nose, broad shoulders and floating-type roof design catch everyone’s fancy, our main gripe would be the undersized alloys. Agreed, Tata Motors has done so keeping passenger comfort and our road conditions in mind but the Harrier would look much better with those gaping spaces in the wheel arches filled out.

As sporty as the Harrier is to look from the outside, the car is equally classy and well-appointed inside. You get soft touch material everywhere you look, premium faux accents on the dashboard, plush rexine upholstery and a classy piano-black finish on the centre console. Another major highlight is the 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which is the widest touch screen ever fitted by the company. It comes loaded with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, all encompassed using one of the best on-screen graphics we have seen on this side of the INR 50 lakh barrier. Comfort is another big talking point for the Harrier. Thanks to the 8-way adjustable driver's seat, generous front-row space and plenty of shoulder room, the cabin is an absolute delight. The backseat, though, is best suited for three passenger but the middle seat occupant will find himself adjusting for comfort more than expected. Overall, the new Tata Harrier’s cabin design and features rival that of many European models in its class, or even higher but sadly, the fit and finish doesn’t. On closer inspection there were a few shortcomings in quality in places like the steering wheel grips, materials surrounding the door handles and the AC control. Despite all of this though, it is a far cry from Tata’s earlier models and all in all, a very nice place to be.

For engine duties, Tata Motors approached the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles group and have borrowed the familiar, but still very loveable 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel from the Jeep Compass. In the Harrier, it has been christened Krotec and has been detuned by 33bhp, making 140bhp. However, torque remains the same and it definitely feels so. The Harrier weighs more than 100kg over the Jeep but still has enough grunt to keep every member of the family happy. While the driver gets to play with the power on tap, the passenger will be smiling when that grunt allows for less annoying gear changes and endless cruising comfort. The unit also controls turbo lag well, with a boost from the chargers coming in from just 1,750rpm onwards. We aren’t done though because the Harrier offers another ace up its sleeve - a drive-mode selector. With neatly-placed switches on the centre console, the driver has the choice to choose between three modes - ‘Eco’ for extreme fuel saving measures, ‘City’ for the best balance of performance and efficiency and ‘Sport’ best left for when it’s time to let your hair down and have a bit of fun at the wheel. We chose to stick to sport mode throughout our journey but did see a substantial rise in fuel-consumption within 5-minutes of just testing the ‘Eco’ mode. The six-speed manual transmission works well in most situations but feels slightly notchy, adding to the vows of a long travel from the clutch pedal. And this is where we get to the best bit about the new Harrier which we have seen doing the rounds of testing.

After the Impact Design 2.0 philosophy, what makes the Harrier truly unique is its architecture and the platform it is built on. Called the Omega-ARC platform, this structure has been heavily- derived from the brilliant D8 platform which does duty on the Land Rover defender. This also translates to brilliant driving dynamics for the Harrier. The car is supremely compliant over all road surfaces, even large potholes are over without any hassle or fuss. This is because a lot of its suspension tuning and development was done taking the rough roads of Ladakh as base. On tarmac, the ride is silky smooth even at high triple-digit speeds. While comfort takes the upper hand, sharp corners and sudden lane maneuvers do not upset the Harrier all that much, this coming as no surprise as the Omega platform also has Lotus engineering fed into its DNA. As a bi-product, the Harrier also features Land Rover’s Terrain Response System which we also got to test. Despite the car being front-wheel drive, the terrain response system adjusts engine power according to the conditions it is driving on. We tested the car with a light bit of sand driving and the car surprised us with a constant onslaught of torque and easy sailing though the entire endeavour.

Coming out of our first-drive review, we opinionated that the Harrier had exceeded all our expectations the minute that first kilometre in the driver's seat were up. However, even with its blindingly-good looks, space, passenger comfort and performance, we felt that the car lacked the mind-easing functionality of an automatic. That is all about to change because, along with the six-speed manual, the Harrier will soon be launched with a six-speed automatic transmission on offer. Reports mention that Tata Motors had approached Hyundai and borrowed its automatic transmission, which the company offers in the Creta. While the new, soon-to-be-launched seven-seater H7X will be the one to debut the new transmission in any Tata model, the next update of the Harrier will see the SUV get the option of speccing the car with the six-speed automatic gearbox. Rumours doing the rounds suggest, the new H7X gets a more powerful version of the 2.0-litre Kryotec diesel mill and that the same engine is also likely to be offered when the new automatic variant gets launched. Summing the car up, none of us in the team can deny the appeal of the new Harrier. Being the auto journalists we are, we can’t help ourselves but suggest the car to friends looking to buy a new SUV as well. While not perfect, the new Harrier has taken Indian automotive design flying into the 21st century.

 

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