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The good & bad of my Tata Harrier after 3 years & 50000 km of ownership

Graduating from the Hyundai Verna, the first thing that I noticed when I sat in this SUV was the high seats & the commanding view.

BHPian Mechanto recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

The GOLD completed 50,000 km, 40 months of ownership, and a mixed bag of emotions. I thought this write-up will help potential buyers, more so, people who are looking to buy a used Harrier.

Retrospectively, I wanted to break this into three main segments - what went good, what went wrong and what could have gone better. Before that, a brief timeline of my car choosing experience.

My previous drive was a 2011 Hyundai Verna Fluidic VTVT SX. The car looked sleek and drove silky smooth. Breezy ownership experience. No problems whatsoever, visited the service center just for yearly maintenance. The car had done ~62,000 km and at the end of the 7th year, the clutch became hard, service center recommended replacing the clutch.

Come 2018 - Auto Expo, Tata unveils the H5X concept, which immediately caught my attention. I owned a Tata Indica before the Verna, and back then decided that I would never buy a Tata car again. I happened to drive a close relative's Tata Nexon petrol in 2018 and found the car was very good and drives way better than my Hyundai Verna which had a horror-full suspension set up. That was when Tata was turning things around, and brought in the safety aspects to their car, making me wait for the launch of the H5X.

Come January 2019 - Harrier is launched. Verna started giving problems. I didn't want to wait for the launch of MG Hector (would have never bought it anyway) or the Kia Seltos (would have been a strong contender). Shortlisted 2 cars - Harrier and Creta.

Variants considered

  • Harrier XZ
  • Creta SX(O) Executive VTVT

Creta didn't look like an upgrade at all, as it was the same engine, similar dimensions. Also, ~17L on road for the same petrol engine put me off.

Harrier seemed to be a proper upgrade on every aspect except for the seamless Hyundai service experience.

Mind said "No TATA", the heart said "Harrier". Finally went by what my heart said. Team-BHP's review was late BTW.

Booked a car / color that was readily available. No discounts were offered as it was newly launched. Got delivery within a week. No sunroof, no automatic, no color of choice (black / red). But still went ahead and bought the Thermisto Gold (color was discontinued within a year) Tata Harrier XZ. On-road price was ~20L.

Now coming to the ownership experience.

What went good

Looks

The car is a looker, turns heads even today. Back in the day, it was drop-dead unique and had an amazing road presence.

Once on the highway, a two-wheeler was driving fast, crazy, wanting to overtake me. Finally, he overtook and then showed a thumbs up (conveying the car is beautiful). I have also experienced multiple cases where people stop by, ask about the car, performance, fuel efficiency, how it drives and if I recommend buying the car etc.

I don't think any other car in the Indian market would have garnered so much attention in the recent past for the way the car looks. Gave that proud feeling of flaunting your beautiful girlfriend.

Engine

Gem of a diesel mill, if I may call it. But why Tata detuned it to 140 bhp is still a mystery.

Handling, platform and braking

I wouldn't be exaggerating if I say, I was saved by this car once because of the platform and the stability it offers in terms of handling tight situations at some speed. The braking, although with drum brakes at the rear, is adequate for sane driving.

Sound system

The 8.1 speakers from JBL sound great. The car is full of rattles and there's considerable wind noise at around 120 kmph. But this sound system kind of masks everything, making it a perfect highway cruiser.

Seating comfort

I have taken several highway trips. My longest drive in a day has been 900 km, Chennai - Madurai - Tirunelveli - Thisayanvilai - Madurai. Absolute breeze to drive, very little fatigue for both me and the passengers. This car is made for the highways.

Very spacious, supportive seating, except for the center console hitting the left knee of the driver.

Interiors and commanding view

The interiors of the car grab attention, especially the wooden finish console at the center. The head unit is average, with a lot of real estate being wasted because of the margins. The different color themes add to the appeal of the screen. The MID is pretty cool, and the steering is nice to hold.

Graduating from a low sedan like the Verna, the first thing I noticed in the Harrier when I sat in was the high seats and the commanding view. You literally have to see d-o-w-n on other sedans on the road. A proud feeling to have. Also, I have experienced multiple times where vehicles on the road give way for the Harrier, maybe because of the imposing looks and the rude-looking front DRLs.

Build quality

No complaints about the strength of the materials used, the car is S-T-R-O-N-G. I am ~85kg, and I have taken several pictures sitting on the bonnet of the car. Fit and finish could have been better though.

What went wrong

Several niggles and QC issues

Typical of TATA cars, Harrier comes with its own set of niggles and QC issues.

  • The day I took delivery of my car, the rear parking sensors didn't work. They were replaced under warranty.
  • The car is full of rattles - from door pads, B-Pillar etc. To some extent, this can be masked by playing music at a high volume.
  • The front right had a thud noise on potholes and the engine A-mount had to be replaced under warranty. This fixed the issue.
  • There is some weird belt noise during hard acceleration in 4th, 5th and 6th gear, around the 1500 rpm range. Several service center visits, several parts being replaced (idler, belt assembly, belt itself) under warranty with little help. The noise still persists.
  • Car vibrates (wobbles) occasionally during idle. It was diagnosed as a faulty Clutch kit - part replaced under warranty recently. Yet to see if it fixed the issue.

Service intervals

6 months and 7500 km service interval is horrible these days when 15000 km and 1 year is the norm. Add to that several niggles that need a visit to the service center. On average, in a year, my car spends at least 10 to 15 days in the service center.

Service centers and personnel's competency

The Tata Authorized Service centers are dated and cramped for space. It is very clear that neither Tata anticipated selling these many cars, nor the service centers were prepared for handling the number of cars they are handling today. In a city like Chennai, the service centers are very less and severely short-staffed. Every regular service visit takes 2 days for them to deliver the car, that too with the issues not fixed.

Also, the service personnel are not competent enough to handle cars like Harrier / Safari. They are very poor at diagnosing the root cause of the issues and just perform trial and error in the customer's cars.

Only good thing is, the service center is very co-operative, staffs are understanding. They admit there is a problem, and warranty claims are seamless. In the last 3 years, except for regular service, I have not paid for any part that is replaced. Good that I got the Pentacare (5 years extended warranty).

HU / software

More than 3 years since the launch, Tata is still not able to nail the HU / Software issues. The HU still crashes, hangs, responds late etc.

What could have been better

Proper launch with all variants and colors

The Harrier was launched with just one engine, one transmission, 4 variants and 5 colors. All BS4 owners at one point felt cheated when TATA launched the revised version in just 1 year of the initial launch. BS6 is understood, but 170 BHP, AT, Sunroof, attractive colors, bigger wheels and addressing several niggles on the initial launch left initial owners furious. There were several Whatsapp and Telegram groups going around with discussions specific to this.

170 bhp engine tune

Much has already been discussed about this.

Better refinement

Refinement has been a big letdown. The engine sounds ugly when accelerated at high RPMs. Vibrations, typical of diesel cars, is on the slightly higher side.

Better quality parts

Given the niggles, rattles and other problems, raises the question, if TATA has actually used good quality parts in the car.

AWD option

Given the SUV nature of the car, an AWD would have added a lot of value to this car. The terrain control system provided in this car is more of a gimmick than a functional feature - we (a bunch of Harriers) ended up stranded on a beach trusting the ability of this car. The car can do mild off-roading though.

Given all the above, the moment I sit in the car and start driving, the pleasant feel kind of overshadows all the hard feelings the car gives. Given my driving style, 50,000 km in 3 years is a lot for me and speaks volumes about how much I like driving this car. More than me, my family loves the car so much, that it has become an emotion.

I have replaced all 4 tires with Yokohoma Geolander AT.

Maximum speed tried - 160 kmph for a second or two, just to check the car's performance. I tried this in absolutely safe conditions.

Best FE - 21.5 kmpl, tank full method. Driven 450 km, sedately, at 80 - 90 kmph

Will I recommend Harrier to anybody - definitely yes, with a warning that - "Be prepared for multiple visits to the service center". It is still a great car.

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