Ever since Mayank Pareek came on board Tata Motors as the president of the company's passenger vehicle business, four models have been launched which have helped revive the OEM's sinking fortunes in the passenger vehicle market. The Harrier, the fifth model, scheduled for launch early next year, is special. It is the first model based on the Omega platform architecture and the first of a slew of models that will be based on the same architecture and on the Alpha platform architecture.
"On these (platforms) we will have 12-14 products. That will give us coverage of 90-95 percent," says Pareek in an interview with Autocar Professional after a test drive event of the Harrier. The 12-14 products will hit the market by 2022-23. Along with the bigger portfolio, Tata Motors plans to expand its geographical presence. It plans to expand its number of outlets from the current 780 to 2,000 outlets by 2021.
With the Harrier, Tata Motors' presence will expand to around 65 percent of the total passenger vehicle market. Pareek is bullish on the Harrier's market prospects, and much of that has a connection with the compact SUV – a segment which has grown phenomenally over the past six years or so. The industry veteran is betting on a good number of those customers to upgrade to the Harrier. Pareek says, "Going forward, compact SUV will not grow much. Those customers will start going to bigger SUVs."
The five-seater Harrier is powered by a 2.0-litre diesel 140 PS engine sourced from Fiat Chrysler. A seven-seater and a petrol version are also on the cards. The platform could also see an electric and/or hybrid or two, according to Rajendra Petkar, CTO, Tata Motors. Around 200 suppliers were part of the Harrier project.
Tata's next PV salvo
Tata Motors calls the Harrier a 'global SUV'. Built on the D8 platform borrowed from Land Rover, we found that the SUV's strengths to be its exterior design, ride quality and interior space. What we didn't like is the engine noise level. Wish the NVH level was also better. Like some of the other Tata models, the Harrier gets the multiple drive modes of 'City', 'Sport' and 'Eco'. It's the 'Sport' mode where the SUV feels spirited. What it also gets is a multi-terrain mode switch to shift from normal to 'wet' and 'rough road' modes with the ESP electronics doing the required job.
The interior of the Harrier feels quite premium. The leather seats, sourced from Continental-owned Benecke-Kaliko, feel comfortable and plush. It is to be noted that we were driving the top-end Harrier. There will be four variants of the Harrier. The 8.8-inch infotainment screen is quite responsive. We liked the part-digital, part-analogue instrument cluster sourced from Visteon. A small but interesting feature is the fuel indicator where it mimics the fuel in a tank.
The Harrier is a good package, though not a perfect, package. It is a key milestone in Tata Motors' efforts to 'win sustainably' in the passenger vehicle industry under its Turnaround 2.0 plan. The Harrier will compete with the likes of Mahindra XUV 500 and even the Jeep Compass. If the Harrier is any indication, the subsequent models on the Omega platform architecture should be interesting as well. And the ones on the Alpha should be strong propositions for Tata Motors to be a strong player in the passenger vehicle market.
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