How I ended up buying a Tata Harrier as my old Duster AWD replacement
We checked out multiple cars like the Skoda Kushaq, VW Taigun, Kia Sonet & Seltos. Tata Motors wasn’t even on our radar.
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This is an overview of the selection process and buying experience of my Harrier XZA+ Kaziranga edition.
For a detailed review of this vehicle, please refer to this.
My previous ride – Duster AWD – in its 7th year nearing 70K. Significant expenditure on the following components in the past 18 months, but also meant it was running like new:
- 3/4 Injectors
- Diesel rail
- Front shocks
Undertook damping on doors and boot from 3M (acoustic solution) recently and the Duster was in top shape.
A parting shot of the 7-yr old Duster AWD
Since the start of the 7th year, my thinking has been that I should reduce vehicle footprint – a 5-seater compact or even sub-compact SUV should be my next buy. I realised that most of my use will be for commuting to work in Mumbai region, with occasional long drives.
A 5-seater SUV that also must offer: Diesel, auto-box, > avg ride quality for long drives (err, 6+ yrs of Duster AWD – need I say more?), high-ground clearance, ventilated (at least front) seats (yes, a must-have now).
A vehicle that also offered as many contemporary features as possible for the target price point.
Been eying Kia Sonet diesel auto as it ticked most items on my wish list. Also, have been watching upgrades to Venue (I like its less busy design) though secretly wishing the Renegade or Jimny arrive soon (for AWD). My wife and I seemed sure (until that Saturday afternoon) that we would stick with the Duster for another 12-18 months given the wait times and lack of credible upgrade (i.e. AWD) in similar or near-about price points. In addition to the experience with wait time for parts, Renault’s announcement about stopping Duster production triggered something.
The new car selection process – no logic!
Early March, one Saturday afternoon we just set out for test drives.
The Compass, though aspirational in its 2022 avatar, was not a serious contender because it was beyond our budget. Yet for some unexplained reason on that Saturday afternoon, we made our first stop at the nearest Landmark showroom. No other customer except us and we were pleasantly surprised when we were immediately offered a test drive of Limited AWD (diesel auto) with 11K on Odo. Drove it only for 20 mins and came out really impressed at the quality of ride, fit and finish. Compass had suddenly become a serious contender even with its exorbitant (for us) price tag. We also took a look at one S variant that was being prepared for delivery. Incidentally, the Trailhawk was being launched that evening and we were invited to the ceremony (nice of them, but we couldn’t attend).
Likes and dislikes
- + executive interior – fit-n-finish, NVH, and I thought tan+ colour interior of limited is fantastic
- + drive – ride, power, high seating position (note I am coming from a brute 6+ yrs old Duster K9K)
- + city drive (only 4-5 kms) was a significant step up for me – didn’t bother taking highway drive (was sure it would pass the muster for me)
- + offered a variant (S) that ticked everything in my list including features – diesel, city-box (auto), ventilated seats, 360 camera, AWD (of course), powered driver & pass seats, sun-roof
- – price tag – way beyond my budget even the limited 4×4
For a few days, the Compass remained a serious contender in that none of the others we looked at seemed to be ticking our ‘need’ list, let alone our wish list. But back of my mind, there was this middle-class guilt of over-spending on a vehicle – which eventually won.
Sonet Diesel Auto GTX+
This was my prime target. Walked into the Kia showroom and it was relatively very busy compared to the Jeep showroom. Again, pleasantly surprised when our sales rep offered a test drive within a minute of the conversation.
The Sonet test drive vehicle was on a beaten diesel GTX auto 2020 model with 15K+ on odo, clearly showing abuse.
Likes and dislikes
- + everything I want in small foot-print – diesel auto, ventilated seats, paddle shifters (obviously test vehicle didn’t have, since this came in 2021 onwards), plus a host of other features we could think of
- – hard ride quality, dark interior (didn’t realize how much I started to dislike it till then), ‘gadgety’ dash staring at the driver
- – at least 4+ months to delivery (officially 6+ months wait)
Seltos Diesel Auto GTX+
This was my wife’s prime target. During the Sonet test drive, the sales rep egged us to try Seltos, clearly trying to upsell. My wife had indicated a preference for the Seltos over Sonet so we agreed to test drive one. Our test drive Seltos was a 2022 Manual GTX+ diesel auto with 5K+ on Odo, but much better maintained.
Likes and dislikes
- + everything I want (everything in Sonet that we just drove) plus paddle shifters, plus lane change camera view in digital cockpit, in a size that didn’t seem to be screaming budget and still easy to commute in within MMR
- – at least 4+ months to delivery (officially 6+ months wait)
- – very stiff ride (which they now claim to have addressed in to be launched 2022 refresh) and again that gadgety dash left us with a sense of inexplicable discomfort
That last bullet point is why our respective primes, Seltos and Sonet lost out (we were ok waiting for a few more months, an opportunity to enjoy our good-as-new Duster AWD into its sunset). I’d like to mention the professionalism of the Kia sales rep – continued to follow up regularly till the time I told him about my purchase.
Kushaq Ambition (1.5 DSG)
I had no intention of making this my next vehicle (didn’t want a petrol even with turbo, but didn’t mind a DSG even with a history), but my wife was keen on testing this (after Seltos). So it had to be the top variant. JMD was the usual treatment – at first, they didn’t seem welcoming as they were too busy with Slavia prospects and test drives. But I had already paid for parking (!!) so hung around for a few more minutes just past the door (let’s enjoy the air-conditioning). Finally, someone had a change of heart and approached us. We headed straight to the display vehicle – both of us spent several minutes, sat on every seat since test drive was not available. I was pleasantly surprised with the light-coloured interior, space in the rear and mature dash design (coming from the gadgety Kias). But this top variant was going to cost us a few thousand more than the Seltos – which was a bummer. Don’t remember if they were offering the 4-yr unlimited service back then, but that would have been a plus.
Likes and dislikes
- + space at the back, mature dash design, ventilated seats
- + of course, the drive dynamics of the engine+DSG combo (even without driving one)
- – petrol only so fuel cost (strangely, because were just sold on 2L diesel Compass likely to have similar running fuel cost)
- – price didn’t seem value (compared to Kia)
Hector Diesel (only manual available)
Next went to MG as again wife was keen. The showroom experience was as expected, brilliant. The sales rep was methodical asking the right questions to identify what we wanted (not needed). I told him Hector diesel it is unless there was a plan to launch an auto-box near future. Hector was not available to test drive, so he offered us Hector Plus, which I took.
Likes and dislikes
- + 2L diesel, great fit and finish, for some reason I didn’t find it as gadgety (as you know who)
- – no auto-box, too much badging on outside (for my liking), I stalled the vehicle at least thrice in a span of 10 mins
- – one of my neighbours already has one (such things too, we learnt, mattered to us! After all, we are only humans)
- – Felt huge – one size bigger than anything we thought we needed thus far (even the Compass)
The upgraded Astor with its fantastic red interior was very enticing with ADAS and whatnot. But alas! It didn’t appeal to the driver me.
That weekend ended on a sour note for us – our prime contenders rejected, aspirational Compass was beyond budget and we both were left dejected for the rest of the week trying to convince ourselves that the original idea of riding Duster AWD for some more time was better (though much less exciting now having tasted blood).
So the next weekend, we set out again with my wife firmly targeting Taigun.
Taigun (1.5 DSG)
On a Sunday afternoon, there was only one other family there who had just taken delivery of their 1.0 TSI Highline. The Sales lead offered us a test drive of 1.5 GTX+. The first thing that I liked was the mature dash design in red colour on a mustard yellow car (against the all-grey in Kushaq). Test drive was great and drove on several inclines/declines and rough roads to get a sense of city ride quality (but did not try highway speeds).
Likes and dislikes
- + fit-n-finish more appealing than Kushaq – the red or body-coloured dash was a nice touch
- + low-speed ride quality and driving dynamics of the engine+DSG combo
- – again petrol only so fuel cost (but we knew this right?) and price didn’t seem value
- – 15K discount because only manual OVRMs are available instead of auto-folding (huh!), only one key and a 5-yr AMC package where the per year maintenance cost was > 15K
Once we hear the last two felt fishy – parts shortage could get worse for VW, while AMCs are supposed to showcase low maintenance costs, but this one was already high. Experience says service centres will always succeed in adding more costs on each visit on top of this. More significantly, for reasons best known to her, wife was clear that a Taigun will not be our next vehicle.
As we walked back to our Duster outside the VW showroom, she said something about only a 2L engine would be a proper upgrade and I was staring at an ad on Kaziranga edition on my phone. So next was Tata Motors, which was never on our radar till then.
Tata Harrier Diesel Auto (Harrier Kaziranga Edition)
We enter Heritage Motors (Tata) which is nearby. It’s Sunday evening and the showroom is full of people. One variant of almost every Tata car on offer was on display – Nexon EV and Punch getting maximum attention. But we were only interested in the 5-seater Harrier Kaziranga edition that was on display (next to a Safari Dark edition). We both spent significant time with the display vehicle. They didn’t have one for a test drive and never provided me with a test drive. I was told this showroom was sharing its Harrier test vehicle with three other showrooms so arranging one for the weekend was a logistical challenge and I couldn’t do weekday due to work.
This showroom was new, and they even had their opening ceremony by local MP and Tata Motors VP a week later.
Likes and dislikes
- + Rugged vehicle with 2L Diesel auto-box
- + Dual tone interiors, ventilated seats
- + Assured < month old vehicle, delivery within weeks
- – Big footprint, not city-friendly, but parking at the apartment was not going to be a problem
- – Tata’s CS reputation
At this point, I had made up my mind to go for Harrier because it ticked all items on my needs list though the on-road price was still a stretch. In hindsight, it clicked because there were no immediate showstoppers with the Harrier like a dear feature missing or a long wait. CS experience was a question mark, but it was in the future, not immediate.
The buying experience at the Tata showroom
First visit – day #1
The showroom was busy with 9 Punch deliveries that evening, but we had an audience with:
- Sales rep (my primary contact), who explained the vehicle variant and distinct features
- Finance rep, who explained the finance schemes
- Exchange rep, who provided explained the offer and process
- Sales lead, who offered and explained the discounts
All the above was done under 20 mins and we were free to spend more time with the display. Delivery was possible in 3 weeks, but I gave them a specific date when I needed to take delivery (5 weeks away). They were OK. We walked out with no commitment. Wife was not convinced with the CS experience but said Harrier was the most realistic contender if not Compass. We stewed over the next 5 days on whether to stretch for the Compass (Limited or S) or go for the Harrier.
Second visit – day #7
The following weekend we visited again to look at the vehicle and paid the booking amount. The sales rep again failed to arrange for a test drive vehicle despite us informing him a couple of days in advance. The showroom was again very busy.
Third visit – day #18
This was after allocation (receiving VIN) for handing over the Duster (exchange, with bonus), negotiating the final price with discounts, documentation (finance, RTO, exchange), accessories and down payment. RTO work was completed in 3 working days after this. I got the RC view in Digilocker app the next day, though physical RC will take time to arrive. Weekday so relatively less busy, still all tables occupied.
Fourth visit – day #26
The first look at the new vehicle before PDI at the showroom
Did PDI at the showroom one day before delivery (I had already mentioned this at the time of booking). I was apprehensive that I could not do it at the yard before registration. Saw my vehicle for the first time (that is some feeling). It was kept ready for me. Except for light dirt on the tyres and wheel well it was spotless, all wrappers in place. A couple of accessories were not yet fitted (to my disappointment). The sales rep stood by patiently, non-intrusively even helped a few times (opening bonnet, photographing a couple of difficult to reach underbody areas) as I went through the Team-BHP PDI list and it turned out well (except 3/5 accessories I had paid for). It was also missing the Kaziranga 3D mats I had specifically asked for, which when I pointed out, was told will be available the next day at delivery. It also had the 3M underbody anti-rust. Start of a long holiday weekend, so busy.
Fifth visit – day #27
For delivery. Four of us reached 75 mins later than the agreed time. The showroom was packed with people, being Friday first day of a long weekend. We had to stand near the door for about 15 minutes till one seating area vacated. I noticed today there were no customer water bottles or tea being offered to any of the visitors – all my earlier visits I was offered. Again, holiday weekend so they were super busy.
Ours was the 3rd out of 6 deliveries that day. Staff was getting ready for the 2nd. After nearly 45 minutes the sales rep called me aside for some final documentation. At that point, he mentioned for the first time that Tata is providing only one key for now. Felt a bit anxious. He immediately introduced me to the GM and she reiterated the same (and for the first and only time someone from Tata Motors conversed in English with me in all this while). Said the 2nd key will be available within a month.
Another 15 mins to clean the vehicle. Then a quick ceremony, a few photos and a customer 30-second feature explanation (because I said I don’t need a detailed explanation), we drove off.
The fuel was already topped up. I had paid for the Diesel to be topped up so that I didn’t have to face the stress of hunting the nearest fuel station on a vehicle I was driving for the first time.
Only later I noticed that the mats were 3D (regular Harrier emblem) but not Kaziranga ones (with rhino emblem).
What was delivered
- Harrier XZA+ Kaziranga edition manufactured in March 2022 with HSRP
- Insurance – 3rd party 3 yrs and self for 1 yr
- Only one smart key
- Manual/warranty booklet
Comes with a 2-yr / 100000 KMS warranty. I asked for the Pentacare, 5-yr package, but the dealer had no clue and I didn’t have the energy to chase.
Accessories fitted at showroom
- Harrier branded 5-piece 3D mats (I had asked for Rhino emblemed Kaziranga ones – they had them in the display vehicle)
- Floor matting (aka lamination)
- Underbody anti-rust coating (3M)
Waiting to be delivered (paid for)
- Second smart key
- Accessories (waiting to ship) – window visor, ambient lights, door edge protection, boot mat (not sure why I went for OEM, could have got it at a local shop)
- Documents – 3M anti-rust warranty, battery warranty, physical RC, road tax receipt
Additional accessories I am considering in the short term
- Window shades (magnetic)
- Replace floor mats with GFX branded 3-piece 3D which I think are more effective
- Front and back dashcam (leaning towards 70mai A500S)
Overall, the buying experience was not bad and even pleasant considering all that we had heard and read about. So already a win for Tata Motors.
My reflection on Tata Showroom experience
I hope I won’t be bashed for this next paragraph but having heard/read so many adverse comments about Tata CS my intent is to just highlight what I perceived – pardon if reads like a judgement, certainly not starting a long thread on this topic.
Having seen several other showrooms recently, this Tata showroom was definitely more ‘local friendly’ – staff always spoke local language (Marathi or Hindi), dressed in neat uniforms but cannot say sharp/suave, very warm/friendly and yet matter of fact (e.g. no sugar-coated words or calibrated response just because I was a prospect/customer), less organized in a few instances (e.g. coordination between different depts. for common documents, unable to arrange test drive despite clear ask), showed none of the etiquettes/efficiencies a globally travelled person would come to expect (beyond offering water / chai / coffee). When I reflected on the entire experience later, they were clearly no less professional, nor the experience at the showroom more chaotic than some of the others I had recently been to. But perhaps showroom staff was not as rigorously trained as some of the competition on how to engage with prospects and relied a lot on their street smarts to succeed on the job. Also, this showroom always seemed to have significantly more staff (easy to spot in their uniform) than any other brand showroom I have been to, so am speculating there is a lot of internal competition and consequently individuals may be poorly paid.
Having driven the Harrier for a week now, am very happy with the vehicle.
Here is a summary of what I liked and how I wish it was better.
What I liked
- Big, butch vehicle that is well powered to offer good driving dynamics, an upgrade from the Duster.
- People stop to give way – more so with the DRLs ON.
- Spacious interior – value for money on that parameter.
- Rugged feel – gives a sense of lasting, while seems ready to take a few scratches and dings in city traffic without causing heartache (or maybe it’s just me preparing my mind for this eventuality).
- Reasonably well featured – at least one gets it all in the top variant (unlike some competition).
- AC – comes with auto, cools quickly even for mid-April Mumbai afternoons.
- Ventilated front seats – both back and seat ventilated (unlike some competition).
- Common controls – are all physical buttons making life easier
- Interior fit-n-finish – for me, use of some light colours in the interior is a plus given my previous vehicles had mono-coloured, darker interiors.
- Lots of small, nifty features – such as separate buttons to control each part of the sunroof, auto everything close, switching to circulation automatically mode when reversing to prevent ingress of exhaust into the cabin, etc. Still on pg 206/266 of the manual.
- NVH reasonably good – cuts off surrounding noise to a large extend but one can catch the engine notes, which is good for me as I rely on engine note to determine driving inputs more than the speedo – an auditory driver in many other ways).
- Kaziranga edition – I am not a fan of the colour, but having moved around in it for a few days think the colour helps the vehicle be less conspicuous (like camouflaged) in most lighting conditions – artificially lit parking, under daylight – though DRLs when turned on negate this. My reading is the Dark edition, White and Red colours immediately draw attention.
What I wish was better
360-view camera for a vehicle of this size.
Infotainment Screen – must fidget with it to get anything done.
Digital cluster – that is less busy with art / colours and prioritizing vehicle info; coming from Duster’s traditional monochrome cluster, as I have struggled to locate icons and notice warnings (like a door ajar) in the few days. Plus, the constant (default) view of fuel range seems to make me anxious about mileage (hear Ux designers), though I can change it to a different view.
- Low beam – stock light works for drives at 40-50 kmph under streetlights, but not for dark roads at speeds >25 m/s, so need ones that have a brighter throw.
- Powered tailgate – takes significant effort to open and then close, most people will struggle.
- Powered Passenger seat adjustment – there is no height adjustment for passenger seat, so the significant other is not happy.
- Rear AC vents – the B-pillar placement is a mixed bag, and some may find the blower angle good enough for quick cooling.
- Hydraulic struts for bonnet lid – another one that takes significant effort to open.
- Hangs on to the 2nd and 3rd gear a bit longer than I like – the engine revs higher (~1.8-2K before stepping up). The whine at slower speeds draws attention from those around who are not familiar with auto-boxes (it is acceptable at higher gears/speeds). Both my apartment security and office security have told me I am speeding out of the gate in the new vehicle, though I am not. But the same characteristics I suppose are positive for overtakes and on inclines.
Other features that are good to have, but I don’t miss are
- AWD – if offered I would have lapped up
- TPMS – I have never had it in the past, so don’t know what I am missing
- ADAS –I have never had it in the past, so don’t know what I am missing
- Dual Zone Climate – given size would have been useful
Leaving with a few pictures. Hoping to update after the first service.
Have to fidget with the screen half the time. I found the functions to be clear – easy to find.
I liked the dual-toned interior with lighter colour dominating.
Kazirange edition family
Getting ready for delivery
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