Borneo’s super Harrier lays PI smackdown (UPDATED)

Derryn Wong

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Official Toyota Harrier packs 227hp turbo engine, active safety, all for below $160k. First shipment already sold out

UPDATE: We’ve driven the new Toyota Harrier. Read our review here!

SINGAPORE – Crossovers have been huge fodder for parallel imports (PI), with cars like the Honda Vezel and Toyota Harrier leading the charge.

But authorised distributors (ADs) have been fighting back, like Honda’s official HR-V that boasts a similar spec and appearance to the Japanese domestic market (JDM) Vezel.

Toyota, and its AD Borneo Motors, are next to take the fight to grey imports, with the official version of its SUV, the Harrier, which boasts a non-JDM-only turbocharged engine and an impressive list of features for the price.

Officially launched on July 20, the official version of the Harrier boasts two eye-raising features: It’s a turbocharged model, unlike the JDM/PI version, and it’s exclusively for Singapore as it is currently not on official sale in any other right-hand drive market.

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The car is sold in three trim levels (Elegance, Premium, and Luxury ) all with the same 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, as first seen in the Lexus NX. The car’s closely related to its luxury cousin, with the platform being the same, as well as the drivetrain.

Under the Harrier’s hood, it makes 227hp (compared to the NX’s 234bhp) and is also mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The JDM Harrier has a naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre engine with 149hp and 193Nm of torque, and uses a CVT.
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Performance data has yet to be revealed but we can expect similar performance to the NX Turbo, which does 0-100km/h in 7.3 seconds, has a 200km/h top speed, consumes 7.7L/100km and emits 178g/km of CO2.
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The Elegance model has manual ‘ultrasuede’ seats ($146,988 with COE), while the Premium model gains a twin sunroof and powered tailgate, finally the Luxury model has electrically-adjustable nappa leather seats. The Premium Model is priced at $152,988 with COE, and the Luxury at $159,988 with COE. The three variants appear to be the same in external appearance.

All three spec levels have an impressive amount of standard equipment such as LED headlights, Toyota’s Telematics infotainment with GPS, keyless entry and start, a reverse camera, and seven airbags. Most impressive is the fact that Toyota’s new safety system, Safety Sense P Package, is now standard on all Harrier variants.
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The package is Toyota’s active safety setup, and it includes lane departure alert, adaptive cruise control and adaptive highbeams. It also has Toyota’s Pre-Collision System which progressively warns the driver if a forward collision is imminent, and will automatically brake to mitigate or avoid a collision if the driver does nothing.

Such systems have been around for awhile, since 2008 when Volvo debuted it on the XC60 sedan, but are still a rarity in the East Asian mainstream.  In Singapore, we’ve been expecting the advent of Toyota’s active safety systems since the latest Toyota Prius, which gets Safety Sense in other markets, but the addition of that system would likely have driven the hybrid’s price to a uncomfortably high level.

The Harrier, while being sold officially in Singapore for the first time, is now in its third-generation and has undergone a mild facelift, with the reshaped front lights, smooth grille and new LED daytime running lights. The Harrier logo also appears to now house the some of the sensors that feed the new Toyota Safety Sense P Package.

A high-spec sunroof PI JDM Harrier costs upwards of $150k with COE, while versions with less equipment cost around $135k with COE.

The pricing of the official Harrier is very close to some of the higher-specced PI Harriers (which have non-turbo engines), and it boasts a lot of equipment and Toyota’s new safety system, not to mention the rather intangible benefits of buying from an AD. Representatives of Borneo Motors and Toyota Motor Asia Pacific (TMAP) said a lot of behind-the-scenes effort went into pushing for this model of the Harrier for the Singapore market, and that they were very pleased at being able to offer a suitable product like the turbocharged Harrier for Singapore.

Also, the on-board menus and manual are all in English, which offer operational benefits, at the very least.

It seems Borneo Motors already has a hit on its hands, with multiple initial shipments of the turbo Harrier all sold out – apparently the current wait list stretches until December.

This isn’t the first time Toyota/Borneo have made a good response to grey imports: A similar situation was seen with the Toyota Wish MPV as well, with PIs enjoying great sales until the official model came out. Though it was a few years late to the party, it still became a strong seller for Borneo.

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READ MORE: A lawyer tells us why there’s not much you can do about rogue car dealers that take your cash and run  


About the Author

Derryn Wong

CarBuyer's former chief editor was previously the editor for Top Gear Singapore and a presenter for CNA's Cruise Control motoring segment.

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