The mid-size SUV market has seen a lot of action in the past one year. While the Mahindra XUV500 was the favorite till a while back, the segment is now ruled by the Tata Harrier and the recently introduced MG Hector. Both offer comfortable seating for 5, look absolutely bling and offer features that have upped the game further. But which among the two should you be looking at seriously? Let's have a closer look:
We will start with the dimensions first. While the Hector is the longest vehicle in its class and also higher than the Harrier, the latter hits back by being wider and also offers a higher ground clearance.
In terms of front-end design, both the SUVs offer a striking theme with sharp DRLs (day time running lights) at the top and headlights positioned below. The MG Hector is the modern of the two, with a huge grille and extra dose of chrome. It does wear the party dress better and also gets LED headlamps but the Harrier will be loved by those who are in the market for a bold and muscular looking SUV.
Things are similar at the back wherein the Hector offers a lot of ‘glass’ area with the horizontal strip between the lights. The Harrier on the other hand continues to look wider and an imposing stance. This Tata offering also has wider tyres on offer and they seem to fill the wheel arches in a better way.
The Indian car market has progressed a lot when it comes to good looking and practical interiors and both the cars score top marks in this department. The Hector first: it is hard to beat this SUV when it comes to the sheer size on offer in terms of cabin space. Both the rows offer ample leg room and knee space and it's just the shoulder space where it falls short. However, the Hector makes up for that in terms of the features on offer and that tablet like huge screen. It does get your attention easily. And then there is the panoramic sunroof (Harrier does get any), heated outside mirrors, powered tail gate and voice commands. You also get to control a host of features via the mobile app.
The Harrier hits back with a better-looking speedometer console, has a wider cabin and offers a hill descent control. It also offers Terrain modes and an advanced 14 function ESP or electronic stability program.
While the Hector comes with both petrol and diesel engine options, Tata offers the Harrier with only a diesel engine. Hence, we will stick to talking about the diesel powertrains of both these SUVs.
Both the cars get a same 2.0-litre engine sourced from FCA that also powers the Jeep Compass. However, the Hector puts out higher power (170 PS vs 140 PS) than the Harrier. Torque at 350 Nm remains same in both the vehicles. Both the cars also get a 6-speed manual transmission and the MG offering turns out to be slightly more efficient. The rated economy as per ARAI stands at 17.41 kmpl which is a tad better than the 16.79 kmpl figure of the Harrier.
In real world driving, both the cars fare pretty good. Turbo-lag is well controlled and once on the boil, the Hector as well as Harrier offer excellent performance. That said, the Harrier seems to be slightly quicker and also offers better gear shift quality. In return, clutch action is way better on the Hector.
Ride and handling
This is one area where the Hector scores top marks over the Harrier. MG has clearly tuned the suspension for comfort and this is evident when you drive the SUV over bad roads - the suspension does absorb undulations in a better way than what the Harrier manages.
On the other hand, if you want a confidence inspiring vehicle, the Harrier is our pick. Tata vehicles are known to go anywhere and given the higher clearance and Terrain Modes, the Harrier will take you further into unexplored places.
The longer wheelbase and lower clearance of the MG Hector also means it will not be able to traverse locations that required too much off-roading.
The diesel range of the MG Hector starts from Rs 13.18 lakh which is just over the base version of the Harrier. The top spec Hector too is about Rs 32,000 more than the Harrier. However, do remember, MG ends up offering way more features and further, you get a standard warranty of 5 years / unlimited kilometers.
Though the Harrier has been the best Tata product ever, MG Motor has done its homework very well for India. The Hector has surpassed our expectations and while both the SUVs are almost equally matched, our vote goes for the MG Hector. But just about!