MAHINDRA THAR
Overdrive|October 2020
New generation lifestyle SUV breaks all barriers
BERTRAND D'SOUZA

Type 1,997cc, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol

Max power 150PS@5,000rpm

Max torque 320Nm @1,500-3,000rpm

LxWxH(mm) 3,985x1,855x1,920

Price ₹16.15 lakh, on road Mumbai

Styling, power, 4x4 abilities, build quality Ride quality, pricing

The all-new Mahindra Thar has garnered enormous attention, most recently through the online auction for the first Thar to roll off from the production line. You cant deny that it is definitely attention worthy, but skin it and what we ought to see under is what matters to us. And should matter to you too. On test is the Thar LX petrol automatic with the convertible top. It’s a pre-production version so there are a few shortcomings, but let’s head straight into it.

DESIGN & STYLE

The Thar is attractive, it commands attention, but more than the way it looks, I give full marks to Mahindra for making the Thar the cleanest and tightest-built Mahindra ever. Close inspection will reveal just how well-built this versatile SUV is. Panel gaps are at a minimum, shut lines are tight and even though it has exposed hinges for the doors and the hood, they just don’t catch your eye as unseemly. The Thar is heavily influenced by the Jeep Wrangler. The silhouette and the many accoutrements it carries are very similar to that all-American icon. It’s not a bad thing, after all the Jeep Wrangler’s DNA has not changed much over several years, and in its current form, it is simply a derivative of the legendary Jeep Willys. This very same vehicle was also one of the earliest examples contracted to Mahindra to be built for India. So, in a way Mahindra’s roots are deeply entwined with Jeep, and over the last seven decades that DNA has spurred Mahindra to come to this point. So all in all, I’d look at it as flattery, unless the lawyers at Jeep think otherwise!

Could the new Thar have had a different take where exterior styling was concerned? I believe they could have and should have. Mahindra owns Pininfarina, one of the most well-known automotive design houses in the world. So why not enlist them to draw up a fresh look to the Thar. We’ve already seen Ford dramatically reimagine the Bronco, Mahindra could have done the same.

Overall the dimensions of the Thar are compact. Mahindra has tried to keep the length of the Thar under four metres in length to derive tax benefits. Yet it is wide, at 1,855mm for the LX variant it is the widest SUV under four metres in length. It also stands tall at 1,920mm and with the 226mm ground clearance, you clearly stay well above the ground. These dimensions give it an imposing stance, adding to which the slab-like look also makes it look solidly planted.

The Thar I’m driving is a soft-top convertible, which means you can lower the tarp and drive it without a roof. But you wouldn’t really want to do that unless you are a forest warden conducting jungle safaris. Nonetheless, I do like the finish on the tarp, and it's not easy to tell the difference between it and the hardtop. It’s even hard to tell the difference between the plastic screen at the rear and the glass one on the hardtop. So full marks to Mahindra for these high-quality levels. Rearward visibility, however, is limited, and it does not matter which version you are in. Soft top, convertible or hard top, you can clearly make out objects on the road behind you but in off-road conditions, things can get a bit tricky, especially since Mahindra does not offer reversing cameras even on the top-end version.

On the convertible top, there is a bit of a gap at the front where the roof meets the windscreen frame and it did let in some water during a freak thundershower. There are hacks to take care of this, plus I do believe these would be initial pre-production issues with our test vehicle.

My absolute favourite design details on the new Thar are the daytime running lamps on the fenders, the asymmetrical wheel arches, the vertical tail lamps, the clean-cut to the body panels and the mahoosive front bumper! What I didn’t like on the Thar is just the grille. To me, that is the only ungainly element on the Thar and I guess this has to do with any clash of interest with Jeep who owns the design rights to the vertical slat grille.

The one other aspect of the Thar’s design that I find very appealing is the fact that it would take very little time and effort to clean off the bodyshell once you muddy it up. The large flat-surfaced panels don’t allow much dirt to settle on it. Even the hinges and door handles don’t collect dirt. There aren’t any small irritating nooks and cracks where grime would collect. Just a simple quick hose down would get rid off all the stains and your Thar is squeaky clean again.

INTERIORS

The first generation Thar felt a bit agricultural when you stepped into the cabin. The seating position was ungainly, the steering wheel felt rudimentary, the dashboard fit and finish was like something that came out of a backroom garage operation. In contrast, the all-new Thar is leagues ahead in terms of quality of materials, design, and fit and finish. The Thar’s interior styling hits you in the gut. This is a supremely confident, strong and handsome interior.

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