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Mahindra Thar first drive review: We drive the SUV on and off the road

Mahindra is all set to launch the new Thar on 2nd October 2020. We are expecting a fantastic pricing. But before that we drove the Thar to find out how much of an evolution it is from the older car.

New Delhi September 24, 2020 UPDATED: September 24, 2020 12:52 IST

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • There is nothing in common between the older Thar and the new one except the name.
  • The new Thar will be available with both petrol and diesel engines, manual and AT as well.
  • The new Thar will be launched with a factory fit hardtop option.

 

The Thar was always hailed as a true blue SUV and rightly so. Enthusiasts loved the way it looked and most importantly the fact that it could truly go anywhere. However, there was a problem. The Thar never got any luxury features of sorts. The soft top was standard and hence people had to go to local vendors and get hard tops done. The sideways rear seats did not help the Thar much. Quite simply then, the world went berserk about its awesome capability but very few bought them. This is one thing which Mahindra recognized soon and started work on this, the new generation Thar which according to the company has the potential of becoming your only car. But is it true? Let’s find out.

Looks are important

The Thar sticks to the old school and infuses a bit of modernity as well. The front end is a quintessential jeep as before but the edges have been rounded off and LED DRLs have been added on the wider fenders. The grille though has slats set a bit too far apart and we think it could have been done better. Headlamps are once again halogens instead of being fancy LEDs. The bonnet latch is much posher than before and is easy to operate as well. In profile, one can spot the massive 226mm of ground clearance and short overhangs. The black claddings look brilliant and so does the hardtop. The massive 18in Ceat AT tyres adds to the look of the Thar as well. At the back tail, lights get the LED touch and look amazing. The massive spare tyre takes centre stage at the back and the rear door is now a two-stage affair and easy to operate. What a wonderful and simple design.

Interior décor

This is where one witnesses a world of difference. The dash is all new and comes with a touch screen infotainment system which is ‘drizzle resistant’ and so are the switches. Brilliant touch! The infotainment system is also properly loaded with all bells and whistles and we particularly like the ‘Adventure’ display where it beams roll and pitch angles apart from a plethora of other information. The instrument panel is also properly loaded and comes with a digital display too. The steering wheel is large and positioned right in the centre and is no longer mildly offset. It also comes with controls for audio and even cruise control. The dash otherwise offers plenty of storage options and so does the door panels. The seats are comfortable too. One interesting feature on the new Thar is that the speakers for the audio are mounted on the roof. Now the variant we are driving is the top of the line one and hence it comes with front-facing seats. Getting to those seats is not very easy. One has to literally squeeze in and is not meant for senior members of the family. Kids and youngsters should be fine jumping in. The space on tap is also rather good and grab handles are also provided to cling on to. We would have loved if the rear windows could be opened. The rear seats can also be folded to add to storage space.

Under the skin

The Thar in every way is brand new. So do not believe anyone who says it’s a facelift. The chassis is new and comes from the Scorpio. Upfront there is a coil-sprung, independent double-wishbone suspension while at the back there is a coil-sprung multi-link live axle. This is what makes the Thar very different on the road now. But we shall get to that in a bit. The new Thar is also wider and more imposing on the road. The older version looks rather small in comparison. Mahindra has also gone all out when it comes to engine options. One can choose between the new generation 152hp, 2.0-litre, direct-injection turbo-petrol and the 130bhp, 2.2-litre diesel. There is a six-speed manual on tap or a six-speed torque-converter auto as well. Needless to say, the new Thar also gets a proper 4wd system with the usual 4h, 4l and 2wd modes. Instead of a fancy shift on the fly system, Mahindra has retained the old school lever here.

Driving the new Thar on road

Let’s begin by saying that the driving position of the Thar is now extremely comfortable and the view ahead commanding. The bonnet line allows one to know where the ends are easily and add to the feel of driving this vehicle. The engine which in this case is the diesel feels very refined and very little noise filters into the cabin. There is no rattling within the cabin too and that’s brilliant. A special mention here to the NVH packaging of the new Thar which is excellent. The big engine offers a lot of power and this means the Thar can literally fly now. Sitting at 120kmph is no big deal and thanks to the quiet cabin one can even drive it daily. Acceleration is fast too and this is especially the case in higher gears thanks to the pot loads of torque on tap. Adding to the light to drive feel is the clutch which is no longer a pain. The gearbox shifts precisely as well. On the go, the Thar feels very nimble and lane changing manoeuvres are quick and easy. The steering though feels a bit heavy. As far as the ride quality is concerned, the new Thar is miles ahead of the older car. It absorbs well but the thing is that at high speeds it tends to get a bit floaty. It also skips when it hits a sudden bump though things are easy to control.

There is very little which can shake off the Mahindra Thar. The incredible 226mm ground clearance adds to its go-anywhere capability. (Image: Nishant Jhamb)

Driving it off the road

The Thar was always a true blue off-road vehicle and the new one has become even better. We decided to try it out on the sand and hence we followed a rough trail of sorts. On this soft sandy trail, the Thar just sailed through. At one point of time, we thought of giving it a shot by slotting into 2wd and getting it stuck. It did get stuck of sorts. But the switch to 4H and job did, the big Thar just inched away with ease. Oodles of power and impeccable 4wd system just ensured that the Thar would never get stuck. Then we got on to a rough and rocky stretch. No worries at all. It was like a roller coaster going slow. The biggest advantage was when we had to climb up back on to the tarmac. The big step was dealt with ease thanks to the tight ramp angle. The wheels hit the step first and the thing just climbed up. Just brilliant!

Verdict

The erstwhile model though extremely capable had an issue. The lack of NVH packaging etc would mean that driving the Thar every day would become tiring especially after a long hard day. But now the Thar has matured to become a proper everyday vehicle. The engine is powerful, the NVH packaging brilliant, ride quality comfortable and not to forget the plethora of modern-day features. The only drawback then is ingress/egress into the rear seats. So if you are a nuclear family or a young couple then the Thar suits the bill. Else the Thar should still continue to be the second car in the family.

Technical Specifications
Engine 2.2-litre mHawk diesel
Power 130bhp@3,750rpm
Torque 300Nm@1,600rpm
Gearbox 6MT
Transfer case Manual shift with part-time 4wd
Ground clearance 226mm
Fuel tank 57 litres
Price Rs 12 lakh (estimated)

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