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Tata Harrier fan in a quandry: To buy or not to buy

One test drive in the Tata Harrier and I was H-O-O-K-E-D

BHPian Rollingwheels26 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Harrier fan boy in a quandry

Dear Fellow BHPians, I have been trying to solve a quandary for the last few days and am unable to do so. I am at my wits end and finally have decided to seek opinions from all of you.

Part 1 : A not so brief intro (skip to part two if a petrol head's ravings aren't your cup of tea)

I and my wife (both in very early 30s in Bangalore) are planning to upgrade from our Manual Grand i10. It has been a faithful trusty steed that has served us well over the last 3 years over 18000 km of trips across various terrains. But since the last few months, there has been an itch to upgrade to something more....'meaty'. So after taking stock of our finances I have been doing window shopping.

I started out with the C and D segment sedans. Looked at Elantra (rejected because it lacked the drop dead looks of the previous version), Civic was stopped before I had a chance to buy it (as a fan of the 8th Gen Civic's handling and top end, I would have bought the petrol variant, despite it being an automatic, in a heart beat), Verna never appealed to me and finally I arrived at Honda City. My search seemed to be at an end since the I-vtec engine and the looks were enough to get me to open my purse strings when suddenly the Mrs. pointed out that why dont we look at SUVs ? And just like that, suddenly the search started afresh!

I started looking at the Creta and Seltos seriously. I had been a big fan of the previous generation Creta's looks and interior plus the Seltos was a stone cold killer in terms of looks! Based on my budget, I shortlisted the Seltos 1.4 Turbo petrol manual GTX+ and the Creta 1.5 Diesel manual SX(O) (If you are wondering why the oddball choices - I was particular on 6 airbags and a manual transmission, I was ok with either diesel or petrol).

I test drove the Creta and fell in love with its' comfort. Then I sat in the Seltos and fell in love with the features and interior that made me feel like I was in a spaceship designed by Elon Musk! Test drove both back to back and felt both engines excelled in their own way. Yet again I felt I had arrived at my top 2 contenders when suddenly I read about the recent Seltos accident where the car had split in two. That news bought back memories of the NCAP test as well as various discussions on Team-BHP about how Hyundai India had made certain changes to car's structures as compared to abroad (perhaps my brain had supressed these painful memories after experiencing the joy of test driving the Korean twins) along with other nuggets of information read in various forums that all pointed to the same unmistakable truth - the Korean twins were unsafe. And heaven forbid if during our highway trips if something happened to my co-passengers, I would never be able to forgive myself.

So the search started afresh for the third time. This time, I heard news of the Kushaq being launched. I felt hopeful. Skoda, while it had abysmal after sales, no one could doubt its safety (well they could until NCAP tests the car but I digress), or reliability (as long as you stayed clear of the DSG which is why I was looking at the 1.5L manual) and as a wise man said on this forum - don't let the pain of a once a year maintenance trip override the joy of driving for the remaining 364 days. While I was waiting for the pricing to be revealed, I decided to see what other cars were in the same price range. And I landed upon our homeboys - Tata Harrier and the XUV500. Ofcourse, I had read the horror stories of the reliability and niggles on Harrier and the safety issues on XUV (multipe reports of airbags failing to deploy), but I thought I would test drive them for the sake of it and push them out of my head.

Boy was I wrong!

One test drive in the Harrier and I was H-O-O-K-E-D, line and sinker! The commanding view, the pull of the engine post 2,000 RPM, the gorgeous looks that could make a grown man weep in joy, the acres of space enough to solve thee housing crisis...I barely saw the poor fit and finish or the random error messages that came up on the MID during the test drive. I had a look at the XUV too but the outdated interiors couldn't hold a candle to the Harrier in my eyes, plus the horror stories about airbags made me think twice since safety was paramount.

I quickly decided that the XZ manual variant made sense for me since it had the 6 airbags and it avoided the sunroof of the XZ+ variant which would eliminate potential leaking problems and the manual gearbox meant extra reliability over the slushbox. Additionally, the Kushaq's prices got revealed which meant that the 1.5L manual would cost me just 1.5 Lakhs less than Harrier XZ (post discounts) which made the decision even easier for me (or perhaps I was already in love with the Harrier ). I started discussions with the sales person and even shortlisted couple of accessories. But as someone who intends to use the car for trips with the wife across South India, I thought I should check the reliability factor once again (despite having read dozens and dozens of posts over the last two years about the niggles that keep cropping up) to see if I could find even 2-3 owners who seemed happy with the reliability to justify the decision.

Imagine my dejection when I saw that across the internet, regardless of the forums there are post after post of owners finding dozens of issues. If it isn't fuel tanks about to fall off, it is the ICE unit conking off or the gearbox throwing tantrums or the steering pulling to sides with a mind of its own. With every single article/post my heart sank further and further until I almost felt my heart break. I wanted, nay needed the Harrier, but the fear of spending 22 large ones and then having to deal with issues and an incompetent, apathetic after sales didnt seem right.

With a heavy heart I briefly considered the Korean twins again. After all barring the odd issue here and there, they atleast had there reliability down right...but after having driven the Harrier, I just couldn't go back to them. I briefly toyed with the idea of going for the Tucson but at 30 Lakhs on road, that was simply an unwise financial decision. I even considered the Jeep Compass Diesel Limited (O) Manual option since at ~25 L it was a doable stretch from the Harrier, but honestly spending 25L on it just didnt seem right - despite safety and reliability being assured. Honestly, if it had been priced at 19L I would have gone for it as a good enough consolation after the Harrier heartbreak, but 25L was just to much and not enough bang for buck.

Why oh why Tata couldn't you create a reliable car? Was it too much to ask? Hike the price by a lakh but make something more sorted. Damn you for doing this to me.

Part 2: The summary

These are all the cars I looked at and my views on them.

Seltos 1.4L Petrol Manual GTX+: Amazing to sit in and good enough to drive. Reliable with good after sales. 6 airbags but unsafe as per NCAP (not to mention the recent accident where the Seltos split into two) and hence a big big drawback for me.

Creta Diesel SX (O) Manual: Exactly the same as Seltos since it shares the same platform.

XUV 500 W11(O): Outdated interiors plus horror stories of airbags not deploying. Additional concern of it being phased out and availability of spares.

Harrier XZ Manual: LOVE the car. Period. Concerned about niggles and giving it for service every other week to fix some issue or the other. Also concerned about reliability and being stuck/stranded during our trips if we go to interior, off beat places with no service centres to rescue us.

Jeep Compass Diesel Limited (O) Manual: Fantastic car. Reliable. Safe. Simple over priced and lacks the street presence of Harrier/XUV.

We are open to petrol or diesel. Manual. With 6 airbags as well as a safe structure. Car will be mainly used in city with one long highway trip every month.

Would appreciate inputs from all and sundry since I am at my wits end since the last one week as to what car to decide upon and unable to think of anything else!

Thanks in advance.

Here's what BHPian yesyeswe had to say on the matter:

I know Kushaq has not yet been crash tested but according to GTO's insider information it's going to score 4 stars at least. Moreover going by the record of Skoda in terms of safety it's going to be a safe vehicle. Service in Bangalore is not bad either, I follow many threads and no one from Bangalore has complaints about service.

With Kushaq you are going to get everything you need in the manual variant, 6 airbags, a very long list of safety features and a very powerful 1.5 petrol engine. When compared to Harrier you get a very smooth 10 inch touchscreen and ventilated seats. Good driving dynamics, sorted build quality and excellent fit and finish is Skoda trademark.

For a city like Bangalore, Kushaq is going to be easier to drive and park than a full size SUV. On the highway, Harrier is going to shine but when you point that most of your drives are going to be city, then I think small crossover is better.

Where it's going to lose is in looks and road presence, I don't think any vehicle under 25 lakhs can beat Harrier in terms of looks. Whenever I see one on road I can't stop myself staring at it. But Kushaq isn't bad either, my advice to you is go and test drive the vehicle, see it for yourself and then decide.

Here's what BHPian Jatin247 had to say on the matter:

First thing which I would like to say is that, there is no perfect car. Every car has some cons.

I would suggest you to get Jeep Compass, if you are open to stretch your budget.

Positives:

  • Great build quality
  • Decently loaded
  • Looks classy (IMO)
  • Less niggles as compared to Tata

Negatives:

  • Would cost more
  • Lacks big car road presence

The 2nd option which I would suggest you to consider are Korean twins (any), as you are only considering manual you can't go wrong with either but with rising prices of fuel, my pick would be Creta Diesel. As you are considering only top end variants with six airbags, the safety would be decent plus both of these cars offer all safety features like ESP, traction control, Hill hold assist, etc. Electronic parking and auto hold are other features which I love in Creta.

The sole reason to stay away from Harrier are niggles. Recently I have seen so many posts on Facebook groups and Team-BHP that its just scary. All of us desire a fuss free ownership and going to dealership/workshop every few weeks is one big headache which no one likes. No doubt that Harrier is a great car but I would personally prefer my car to stay at home rather than a workshop.

Here's what BHPian The Riddler had to say on the matter:

I understand how you feel as I was in the same boat a few months ago.

I drove a Fiat Punto 90HP for 9.5 years and was looking for an upgrade. Budget was set at 25 lakhs.

Shortlisted Kia Seltos, Hyundai Creta and Tata Harrier (Safari wasn't launched then yet) and I only wanted a 5 seater. Was okay with either petrol or diesel. Kia dealer was the most responsive but then came the news of Seltos scoring 3 stars in NCAP. I shared the article to my Kia SA and he was dismissive about this. Seltos was out.

Did not test drive the Creta as its basically the same as Seltos.

NCAP hasn't tested Harrier yet - however, I feel Harrier will fare better than Seltos/Creta in the event of an accident. I asked Tata for a test drive. They got the Harrier XZA+ and boy was I hooked. I love the MJD from Fiat and this 2.0 felt like a proper upgrade for me from a 90HP to a 170HP. Creta / Seltos were 115HP.

Booked and got myself a Harrier XZA+ on March 20th. I've only covered about 3.6K kms till date but I absolutely love driving it. Harrier has loads of presence.

Will I recommend a Harrier?

It depends. Tata should definitely up its QC game. I found some rough edges especially near the boot and this is consistent with a lot of Harriers that I checked. Finish is not up to the mark. Buyers definitely need to do a thorough PDI before transferring funds.

I had mentally prepared myself for a few niggles but touchwood all is well till date. Super happy with the purchase and fingers crossed.

Attaching a picture of my steed:

Here's what BHPian fiat_tarun had to say on the matter:

If you liked the Harrier so much, I think you should get it lest you have buyers remorse every time you see one on the road. Tata's get more reliable after the initial batches and while the risk is still there, it is pretty low for the Harriers rolling out of the factory now.

It's natural tendency to get online when one has an issue but not everyone reports the good experience, so there are many owners out there happy with the overall experience. From what I have read, the more common issues seem to be with the infotainment while the fuel tank falling off, sunroof leaking, etc. are one off issues.

I think you should get the automatic though which is superbly mated to that engine. The reliability concerns do not apply to torque converter automatics and the unit in the Harrier is a proven Hyundai unit.

In case you have to choose between the Korean's, going by the images in this thread, the Creta is even worse than the Seltos in terms of the structure reinforcement. The Seltos get ultra high strength steel on both the driver & passenger side footwells whereas the Creta has it only on the driver's side.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

 
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