The Indian mid-size SUV has never been so busy. A segment that was once ruled by the Mahindra XUV500 is now the playground for offerings like the muscular Tata Harrier and the striking MG Hector. Both these products have put their respective sales charts on fire and waiting periods are through the roof. Which among the two should be your pick and why? Find out by clicking the video below or continue to read this article.
And so does the design, right? We Indians like our vehicles to be larger than life and this is where MG seems to have done their homework right. For the uninitiated, MG or Morris Garages is part of SAIC or the Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corporation and this group owns a dozen odd automotive brands including Baojun. This brand sells an SUV under the name “530” and this is exactly what MG picked as their first offering for India. It is the longest SUV in the segment and has enough striking elements to turn eyes on the road. We picked up the glaze red Hector you see here from our friend and Cartoq reader Mayank and instantly had to absorb the attention we were getting on the road.
While the design seems to have been overdone at places, it is fair to say that Hector will please its customers in this area. The sharp DRLs, the huge grille and tons of chrome works in its favour. The side profile though is more MPVish due to the wheels that look a size or two small. Rear execution is another highlight and the Hector gets LED treatment all around.
The Harrier at the same time manages to hold its own against the Hector. It looks bold, macho and beefed up, just what you expect from your SUV. It isn’t as long as the Hector but is wider and has a (more) muscular stance. It even sits higher up the ground and has wider wheels. The muscular treatment gets carried to the rear of the Harrier too and while it doesn’t have the bling LED set-up here, the hunched back looks nice and purposeful.
On the inside
The Harrier is Tata’s best product till date and we were impressed with the interior fit and finish when the car got launched a few months. This was nothing we had seen before on a product from the homegrown giant. Soft-touch upper part of the fascia, faux wood panels, lovely leather seats and a touch screen infotainment with high quality audio outlet left a lasting impression. The cabin does feel well put together and will last for years without any concern.
And then there is the space on offer. Well built adults will love the seat support and there is good space in the 2nd row for 3 adults too. However, the high window line might not be to everyone’s liking. And while feature list is good, factor in the Hector and ball moves into MG’s court.
The Hector sets a new benchmark for cabin among the crop of mid-size SUVs. This includes quality of panels, rear leg room and the extensive feature list. There is no taking away from the fact that customers will get lured by what is on offer. Panoramic sunroof, powered seats, powered tailgate, the tablet sized screen, extensive voice commands et al, the Hector provides you so much more without demanding a premium. And we aren’t done yet – it has a car like feel on the inside, visibility is better and the boot is massive.
While the Hector is available in both petrol and diesel engine options, Tata is currently selling the Harrier with a diesel motor only. But the former first : the petrol Hector gets a 1.5-litre engine that can also be had in a hybrid form. The engine is good for 143 PS of power and 250 Nm of torque and while these figures seem good on paper, given the weight of the car, performance isn’t too exciting. The petrol Hector can be had in manual (normal & hybrid) as well as automatic (normal, not hybrid) transmission options. The latter is a DCT or a dual clutch unit and truth be told, the petrol-auto combination is best for sedate driving and will not keep enthusiasts happy.
Turbo lag is evident and though the petrol Hector performs good for city runs, out on open roads or when you want to get going fast, you will be in for disappointment. This is where the diesel Hector will keep you happier.
Before we get to the driving part of the diesel motors, let us tell you a little secret. Both Tata and MG are using the same diesel engine that is sourced from the FCA group. FCA or Fiat Chrysler Automobiles owns Jeep which means this is also the same motor that powers the Compass diesel as well. But each company (MG and Tata) has tuned their engines differently and this is evident from the word go. The Hector also has better NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels and the company seems to have worked on the insulation part in a better way.
Both the Hector and Harrier diesel models do not get an automatic and come with a 6-speed manual ‘box. Turbo lag is well under control but we like the low down punch of the Harrier. Maximum torque of both the SUVs stands at 350 Nm and this is more than ample even when driving with a full load of passengers and luggage. And while the Harrier is down on power (140 PS vs 170 PS), you don’t feel the lack of acceleration specially once its turbo is on the boil. There isn’t much to pick from both the diesel SUVs when it comes to outright performance but we feel clutch action is better on the Hector.
Ride and handling
Both the SUVs are as different as chalk and cheese. The Hector’s suspension is clearly tuned for comfort and is able to absorb undulations in an able manner. Infact, the ride does feel plush and this along with the light EPS (electric power steering) makes it a very good city runabout. This SUV is clearly for those who want to be cocooned in comfort and may be chauffeured at times.
On the other hand, the Harrier offers an enjoyable driving experience. First, the hydraulic power steering needs slightly more effort but offers far better feedback and does not have the artificial feel that you get in the Hector. Drive the car enthusiastically and it leaves a grin on your face. The suspension is also on the stiffer side and though this robs it of a good ride, it comes handy when driving around a set of twisties or changing lanes at higher speeds.
Likewise, with a load of passengers, body roll is well under control and the extra ground clearance comes handy when your adventurous side wants to explore off the road.
Summing it up
In terms of pricing, the Hector under-cuts the Harrier with an entry level price of Rs 12.18 lakh. But that is for the petrol line-up. In terms of diesel options, the Harrier is cheaper by about 18,000 but that isn’t a huge amount. Where the Hector offers a value quotient is in terms of the features it offers. Plus the peace of mind factor by including a 5 year warranty (unlimited mileage), 5 labor free services, RSA support and even the option for a buy back scheme after 3 years. Plus the comfort and space on offer. For those living life in the corporate world, the Hector ain’t a bad choice at all.
The Harrier on the other hand is what a SUV should be. It offers terrain modes and a driving experience that makes you smile again and again. If you are upgrading from a smaller sedan or a hatchback and always wanted to massage your ego with a proper SUV, this is it. Either way though, you can’t go wrong with the choice here.