Mahindra Thar - A Biker's Car?
xBhp|October - November 2020
We drive the new Mahindra Thar, a cult classic revamped for the modern age. But is it still the Thar that almost every petrolhead worth their salt adores?
Karan Singh Bansatta

SOMETIMES it happens that a certain object brings about a halt in your journey, the destination of which you are so eager to reach. An object with a presence so utterly magnetic that you are willing to share with it a chunk of your time, every bit of which you hold so dear. In our case, it has happened both literally and figuratively. Literally in the thousands of kilometres that we have travelled, and figuratively as in the journey of xBhp? Well... right now.

xBhp is all about motorcycles but supercars have always caught our fancy and we have never missed a chance to experience one. But only supercars. The one we have with us is not a supercar in terms of the astronomical power figures and even higher bank balance figures they need. It is a supercar in spirit and that is simply because of the grandeur that it possesses. And the grandeur starts right from the name- Thar!

Rarely has an indigenous vehicle carved a niche of its own and boasted of following which can be referred to as cult. Ruling the landscapes from treacherous terrains to urban jungles, it has left a mark on the market and the aftermarket as well. It has been a lifestyle icon for quite a while now and the modularity of the platform ensured that the buyers could project some of their own personality through the might of the Thar.

The Thar that we know and adore so much only came out in 2010 but it is much more deep-rooted than that. The spiritual predecessor of the Thar, the very first one, can be traced back to 1949. Mahindra’s first off-roader as they began producing the Willys CJ3A Jeep. And since then, Mahindra has never looked back as they became the premier SUV and off-roading car manufacturer in India with a presence globally pronounced.

But during their rise to the top, Mahindra never forgot where they started from and kept building on the original Willys Jeep. All the iterations that came afterwards, were synonymous with strength and the ability to deal with tougher terrains than tarmac. There is a reason why it was a perennial law enforcement vehicle. The car itself was enough to enforce the law. Such was its mettle, that armoured versions of it are still in use in the Indian Army.

But the very first commercial success for this line of cars from Mahindra came with the 1996 Classic. Right after the launch, it became an icon. A true macho car and a staple of Indian pop culture with pronounced and frequent appearances in music videos and in movies.

Building on that very success, Mahindra introduced the Thar in 2010 amidst much fanfare. It did all that the Classic did for Mahindra... and then some.

But time and tide wait for none and no one is immune to the adverse effects of ageing be it man or machine. The Thar was the most popular off-roader in the Indian market for a while but newer, hungrier contestants were already on the prowl. Fortunately, Mahindra did not wait too long to give it the much needed shot in the arm. And so, the prodigal son returns in the form of the 2020 Thar.

Mahindra has done an amazing job with the new Thar by retaining the silhouette of the original but adding a modern touch to it. The car is wider, looks more poised, the edges have been softened just a little and the wheels… Those 18” wheels with exquisite design and all-terrain tyres scream the intent of the car out loud.

Mahindra has built this car from the ground up, the design, the chassis, the grill, the engines, the gearboxes, the cabin, the instrumentation… everything is new. And kudos to Mahindra for still being able to salvage almost all of the things that made the previous Thar iconic. About the colour that we have here, we have only this to say; A car does not choose red, Red chooses the car. While some may feel that the modern-ness has diluted some of the classic touches, we believe that the car still looks purposeful and deserving of that fabled off-roading capability!

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