How much of a difference do the additional 30 horses, ergonomic changes and a few more features make to the 2020 Tata Harrier?
Let’s wind the clock back two years. Tata Motors managed to raise a lot of eye brows as they pulled the wraps off the H5X concept at the Auto Expo 2018. They further retained the interest when they launched the production-spec iteration, the Harrier, at an extremely competitive price range of Rs 12.69 lakh to Rs 16.25 lakh in January 2019.
While the Tata flagship was impressive in the value for money, space and road presence departments, it had a few downsides like the absence of an automatic transmission, the need for more power and some ergonomic issues.
Tata recently brought in the 2020 Harrier and while it isn’t a face-lift, they have addressed some of the setbacks that its predecessor had. We got behind the wheel of the 2020 Harrier to find out if it is any better?
For the most part, the 2020 Harrier looks identical to its predecessor. The wide smiley grille, the sleek LED DRLs and the bottom mounted projector headlights have all been carried forward from before. The bumper is now completely finished in black, in comparison to the silver finish for the faux skid plate – and that’s the only noticeable change to the front fascia. Along the sides, the ORVMs have been redesigned and made smaller, and it also gets a new set of alloy diamond-cut alloy wheels – the same ones that were first seen on the Buzzard concept. The rear remains more or less unchanged.
On the inside too, the 2020 Harrier is not different from the model that was launched last year. The overall layout of the dashboard remains the same. It continues to get the same 7.0-inch TFT display that’s amply informative and easy to read. The central 8.8-inch touchscreen is intuitive but feels a bit small thanks to the wide bezels. Tata could have fitted a wider screen and utilised the negative space better.
A few small changes have really worked wonders in improving the overall ergonomics of the car. For instance, in the 2019 Harrier the USB port under the climate control was tucked too far inside, but has now been brought forward, which makes things a bit easier. There’s also another USB port in the central arm rest and one for the passengers at the back. The Harrier now also gets a panoramic sun roof that makes the cabin feel a lot airier. The outgoing Harrier’s massive ORVM really hampered visibility from the driver seat, but a smaller one in this 2020 iteration has addressed the issue. Other changes include electrically adjustable seats for the driver and auto dimming IRVM. In terms od space and comfort, the 2020 Harrier continues to be as impressive as the model before it.
The Tata Harrier will continue with the same 2.0-litre diesel motor as before, but as expected it has been updated to meet the upcoming BS-VI norms. But the bigger change is in its power out. The outgoing Harrier made 138bhp, this updated one makes 30 horses more. Torque rating, however, remains unchanged at 350Nm. One of the major downsides of the previous Harrier was that the 138bhp motor just didn’t seem enough for the near 1.7 tonne car. By fitting this motor with a larger turbo, Tata has essentially improved the power-to-weight ratio to more than 100 horses per tonne. The increase in power really reflects in its performance. The car now feels marginally quicker than before and is a more comfortable maintaining high speeds. That said, with this update the engine feels noisier inside the cabin, especially at low speeds.
Tata has also plonked a 6-speed automatic to the Harrier. In the drive mode, the car moves thorough the gears quite smoothly, but only as long as you are driving sedately. It isn’t a transmission that likes to be rushed. While driving aggressively, the need for quicker shifts is felt. Manual mode is marginally better especially in its upshifts. But then in this case the shifts on the lever feel quite rubbery.
We also got a chance to drive the 6-speed manual transmission variant. The first thing you’d notice about this one is just how light the clutch action is – it is almost petrol-car like. Coming to the transmission itself, it shifts smoothly, and the throws are short and precise too. In fact, it puts the power down to the road a lot better than the automatic and by that virtue, it does more justice to the increased output.
In the ride quality department, the 2020 Harrier feels exactly like the old one and that’s a great thing. Undulations and broken tarmac are tackled with great poise, especially when you are at speed. While tackling some larger potholes at lower speeds, the suspension does pass on the jerk to the occupants inside and it is accompanied by a cringe-worthy thud. The suspension performs well even when you are pushing the car around corners. While the overall body control is good, the steering does steal some of the fun. Although it is on the heavier side – something that I personally like – there’s a vagueness to the feel, especially while cornering and that takes away some of the confidence.
Tata has off-late gained the reputation of building some of the safest cars in the country. Aside from front airbags and ABS with EBD, the 2020 Harrier now also gets ESP as standard. Given that safety is given great importance at Tata, it is really surprising that the Harrier still doesn’t get disc brakes on all four corners, especially considering that it could do with the improved performance.
Better than before?
The 2020 Harrier is a good example of how small things make a huge difference. Repositioning the USB port, the smaller ORVMs and the addition of a sun roof and electric IRVM are signs that Tata is listening keenly to its customers and that’s a great thing.
As far as the engine goes, the 170bhp tune is definitely a better fit for this car especially in union with the manual transmission. The automatic does well in the city conditions, but when driving aggressively, the shifts could have been quicker.
Overall, however, all the changes to the 2020 Harrier are steps in the right direction and it surely makes a stronger case for itself than before.
- 2020 Tata Harrier
Transmission: 6-speed AT and MT / Front-Wheel Drive
Power: 168bhp @ 3,750rpm
Torque: 350Nm @ 1,750-2,500rpm
Price: ₹18.85 lakh (MT) and ₹20.15 lakh (AT) (Ex-Showroom)
X-Factor: Changes in the right areas ensure that the 2020 Harrier is a better all-round product than before.
• Improved ergonomics
• Light clutch action
• Braking performance
• Vague steering