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The Tata Harrier is the first direct physical manifestation of Tata’s Jaguar Land Rover acquisition and expectations are high. Tata’s products have been getting progressively better with every launch and the Harrier takes it even further ahead. We’ve driven the SUV and told you what it’s like, but it doesn’t exist in isolation. It is time to line it up against the competition. Time to gain some perspective as to how good the Harrier is, when put up against the benchmarks.
It’s pretty simple — if you’re a sensible person and you want a sensible SUV, you’re going to get yourself a Hyundai Creta. It checks all the boxes — it is comfortable, easy to drive and stress-free to own. The controls, like the steering and clutch, are light, and the dash is simple and intuitive. There’s nothing fancy going on — it’s all just functional and to-the-point. The Hyundai Creta also rides on the back of Hyundai’s reliability, quality and vast network. You’ll never get complaints about a Creta’s interiors rattling 10,000km into ownership, or a turbo hose coming loose. A Creta is always a smart buy.
The lines between traditional segments are blurring more and more, but it is clear that the Harrier sits a little above the Creta in the SUV pecking order. It’s bigger, has more space and comes with a larger engine. The question we are looking to answer is this: can the Harrier match the Creta when it comes to sheer comfort and convenience?
For starters, the Harrier’s controls aren’t as light. The clutch, steering, gear shifts and even the unconventional handbrake have a certain heft to them. They aren’t as effortless to use as the Creta’s. An enthusiast would call it sporty, everyone else would call it inconvenient. This heft makes the Harrier feel more SUV-like, but it makes the Creta feel like an easier car to manoeuvre in the city. There’s also a lot more going on — three drive modes on a dial, two on the dash — it isn’t just a get-in-and-drive sort of car, as it asks more of you as a driver. Not necessarily a bad thing, but this stuff remains vastly ignored by most people.
The Hyundai Creta also gets some more features. This mainly includes Apple CarPlay that the Harrier is due to receive soon and a wireless phone charger. The biggest miss on the Harrier’s part though is the lack of an automatic gearbox. These SUVs end up doing the urban crawl more often than any sort of enthusiastic driving and an automatic gearbox has become something close to a necessity with our traffic. There’s no petrol on offer either. It also cannot match the Creta in terms of sheer refinement — Hyundai’s range of diesel engines are fabulous and this 1.6 is no different.
The Tata Harrier does have its positives though. It is more spacious, both in terms of legroom and shoulder room. What it also has, is a larger boot compared to the Creta. It isn’t just roomier — the materials in the Harrier seem more expensive and it makes for a more welcoming space. Bits like the floating touchscreen and leather seats add a hint of luxury that the Creta lacks. The TFT display in the instrument cluster is really cool and holds a lot of information. You can tell your money has gone into uplifting the space you’re going to be spending a lot of your time in. The Harrier also has great ride quality and is far more composed over the kind of bad road that would make the softly-sprung Tata Creta a little bit jumpy.
Whether the Tata Harrier will age well — in terms of how buttons and switches in the cabin will hold up, how the rattling is resisted — is yet to be seen. The Hyundai Creta, meanwhile, has proven its reliability and build quality. It is also slightly more efficient than the Harrier, though the Harrier managed a respectable 13.6kmpl under hard city driving. The Creta still remains the sensible choice if you want something no-frills and easy to drive in the city, however, if you’re keen on a little indulgence, the Tata Harrier does step up to the mark.