Battle Of The Equals, Or Is It?

May 2019 Comparison SUV Jeep Compass Tata Motors Harrier
Battle Of The Equals, Or Is It?

The Jeep Compass has had a stellar run in India, and has gained immense popularity, giving competing brands a run for their money. At least until Tata Motors launched the Harrier. Staying true to its moniker, the Tata Harrier has unleashed a persistent attack on the SUV segment in India. With unparalleled looks, a punchy motor and a platform designed straight off Land Rover’s D8 that underpins the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport, the new Tata Harrier has set the stage for an epic showdown. We put both the Jeep Compass and the Tata Harrier through a series of rigorous tests and juxtaposed them on many fronts. Here is a brief on the findings.

POWERTRAIN & PLATFORM

Tata Motors has built the Harrier on the OMEGA (Optimal Modular Efficient Global Advanced) Arc (Architecture) platform that has been derived from Land Rover’s fabled D8 platform. The OMEGA Arc boasts of exemplary driving dynamics in urban and rough road environments with optimised torsional and bending stiffness. Tata Motors manufactures the OMEGA Arc on an advanced automated manufacturing line, giving it a robust build quality. On the new platform, Tata Motors has built in auxiliary isolation panels for better NVH characteristics, multiple crumple zones for safety enhancement and extensive use of advanced high strength steel.

The Jeep Compass on the other hand, has been constructed on FCA’s ‘small wide architecture’, featuring a fully independent suspension and a segment-first frequency selective damping (FSD) front and rear strut system. Jeep uses 27 hot stamped steel parts to maintain a strong structure that is lightweight and offers higher fuel efficiency. Along with this, the Jeep Compass boasts of a rigid foundation with the upper body structure and frame being engineered as a single unit to be stiff and more mass-efficient. More than 65 % of Jeep Compass’ construction features high-strength steel, maximising its vehicle dynamics and crash performance, all while optimising weight efficiency.

With both the Harrier and Compass being made on platforms derived from a rich knowledge base on SUV engineering, it is a little hard to tell which one is sturdier, especially due to the fact that both vehicles are built on a highly automated manufacturing line. Having said that we found the Compass’ on-road dynamics to be slightly better than that of the Harrier.

The Jeep Compass is powered by Fiat’s 2.0 l, four cylinder, turbocharged diesel mill. This comes married to a six-speed manual gear system. Ironically, so does the Tata Harrier. Tata opted to source its engine and transmission from Fiat, except in a slightly detuned state. While the motor on the Compass belts out 170 hp at 3,750 rpm, the unit bolted on the Harrier derives 138 hp at 3,750 rpm. The torque output of both engines stays the same at 350 Nm coming in between 1,750-2,500 rpm. We found the motor on the Compass to be more refined and slightly better to drive; that said, Tata is offering the Harrier with three independent drive modes – Sport, Normal and Eco – alongside modes for road conditions that provide the Harrier an edge in terms of functionality.

Both SUVs sport the same 2.0 litre engine, but in different states of tune

While testing the Harrier and the Compass for 0-100 km/h acceleration time, we noted that the Jeep Compass is quicker off the line and also faster to a 100 km/h than the Harrier. While in the Jeep Compass we clocked a best time of 11.02 s in the 0-100 km/h test, we achieved this in the Harrier in 11.49 s, when in Sport mode. In Normal mode, the Tata Harrier clocked its best 0-100 km/h time at 13.71 s and in Eco mode, the vehicle accelerated to achieve 100 km/h from standstill in 15.87 s.

In the Tata Harrier, we were able to clock a 0-60 km/h time in 5.10 s, when in Sport mode. This was also the fastest for the Harrier in its different modes. The Jeep Compass achieved the same in 4.77 s, making it a shade quicker than the Harrier. The faster acceleration times can also be attributed to the Compass’s engine churning out an extra 42 hp of power and also being 20-30 kg lighter than the Harrier.

In terms of braking performance, the Jeep Compass once again topped our test with a 100-0 km/h time of 5.01 s. The Tata Harrier was close on its heels with a stopping time of 5.21 s. The Compass, being lighter of the two and also equipped with disc brakes on all four wheels, offered a quicker braking performance. The Tata Harrier was nearly as good with a front disc and rear drum brake set-up.

The Jeep Compass gets safety features such as four-channel anti-lock brakes, full-function traction control, electronic stability control, panic brake assist, hydraulic boost failure compensation and electronic roll mitigation, while the Tata Harrier gets features like anti-lock braking system, electronic brake force distribution, corner stability control, off-road ABS, electronic traction control, electronic stability control, hill hold control, hill descent control, roll over mitigation, brake disc wiping, electronic brake pre-fill, hydraulic brake assist, hydraulic fading compensation and dynamic wheel torque by brake.

The Jeep Compass is quicker to reach a 100 km/h, but in Sport mode, the Tata Harrier is not far behind

AIR-CONDITIONING PERFORMANCE

With temperatures soaring near the 40 °C mark, we also conducted a test on cabin surface temperatures to evaluate the air-conditioning performance of both Jeep Compass and the Tata Harrier. For this test we made use of a laser guided infrared thermometer to examine the drop in cabin temperature in four seating zones of both cabins, after the vehicles were standing under the mid-day sun for 15 min. To begin with, the average cabin surface temperature in the four seating zones of the Tata Harrier stood at 39.55 °C, while that of the Jeep Compass stood at 41.65 °C. It must be noted that the Jeep Compass offers a large panoramic sunroof, which is not the case with Tata Harrier.

After two minutes had elapsed, the temperatures inside the cabin of the Tata Harrier had dropped by 7.08 °C, while that of the Jeep Compass fell by 10.27 °C. The average cabin temperatures in the Jeep Compass were notably lesser than that of the Tata Harrier. We recorded an average surface temperature of 31.40 °C in the Jeep Compass and 32.47 °C in the Tata Harrier. We also noted that while the surface temperature in the front zone of the cabin of the Jeep Compass fell faster than that of the Tata Harrier, the rear was just the opposite with surface temperatures in the Harrier’s rear zone being cooler than that of the Compass.

A point to note here is the layout of the rear AC vents. In the Jeep Compass, the rear air-conditioning vents have been placed under the centre armrest and are situated lower in height, in comparison with the Harrier’s rear air-conditioning vents that have been placed on the sides of the B-pillar for a more even distribution. Further in our tests, we were able to note the efficiency of both layouts.

By the end of our 10 min test, the average cabin temperatures inside the Tata Harrier stood at 21 °C, while that of the Jeep Compass stood at 23.20 °C. The average surface temperature in the front section of the Jeep Compass stood at 23.25 °C, while in the rear it measured 23.15 °C. We noted that the average front surface temperature inside the Tata Harrier was cooler by 0.85 °C, while in the rear, the average surface temperatures in the cabin of the Tata Harrier were cooler by 3.55 °C. The average surface temperature in the rear section of the Tata Harrier was recorded at 19.60 °C.

We were able to establish a higher efficiency of the air-conditioning set-up on the Tata Harrier as well as the layout of the air-conditioning vents for the rear seat occupants of the Harrier. It is also interesting to observe that the difference may arise from the additional panoramic sunroof on the Jeep Compass.

Cooling performance in the rear section of the Tata Harrier is better than the Jeep Compass

VERDICT

Both Tata Harrier and Jeep Compass are capable and proven machines, but we felt that the Jeep Compass offered a little more refinement in the transmission as compared to the Harrier. The overall touch, feel and ambience of the interiors of both SUVs is quite good. We measured cabin space and found that the Tata Harrier offered more space to cabin occupants. Cabin occupants in the Tata Harrier avail 61 mm more head room in the front and 38 mm in the rear. Front seat occupants in the Harrier get 62 mm extra shoulder room over the Compass, while rear seat occupants get 51 mm more shoulder room.

Both Jeep Compass and Tata Harrier offer many creature comforts, but where the Tata Harrier scores the most is a lucrative price point of ` 16,25,750 (ex-showroom Delhi) for its fully loaded XZ variant. The Jeep Compass, on the other hand, is being offered at ` 21,33,000 (ex-showroom) for the Limited Plus 4x2 variant and ` 23,11,000 (ex-showroom) for the Limited Plus 4x4 variant that we tested.

TEXT: Joshua David Luther

PHOTO: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay/ Joshua David Luther