Mahindra’s Thar is quite like the Norse God “Thor, and just like the Marvel character enjoys its niche and cult following. It has all the makings of a great off-roader and could also be compared to the big boys. But, let’s not degrade two iconic brands by calling it a baby Wrangler or any other version of it, and let’s also not compare it with any of its previous iterations. That’s because the 2020 Thar is an entirely new species meticulously crafted by Mahindra to appeal to all our senses.
I spent six days with it and drove the 2.2-litre diesel manual extensively on all terrains, waded through as much water as it could soak in, jumped with it, and honestly handled it quite brutally. Every time it just gave in to my extreme demands, and the only time I found it diffident was when I was testing its speed limits on the city roads. Now let me remind you, the first unit of this SUV was auctioned off for a whopping ₹ 1.11 Crore! That is symbolic enough to show the special place that the Thar has in Indian hearts. But nothing to fret about, you won’t have to burn such a big hole in your pocket, as its price for each variant is as below:
The upgrade from the Old Thar to its new iteration is radical. It gets a completely new chassis, gearbox, cabin, dashboard, and also debuts Mahindra’s latest engine options. You sit nice and high, with squared, boxy windscreen and panels surrounding you. It’s a very commanding position and the edge of the bonnet being visible from inside just adds to the experience that the Thar has to offer.
Fit and finish have also improved, while the switchgear feels nice and tactile. Apple Car Play, Android Auto, Navigation, a sturdy touchscreen which is water-resistant, along with roof-mounted speakers and steering-mounted controls for music, voice commands, etc. all make the Thar sync perfectly with modern car features. No longer is it just a bare minimum vehicle. This feels premium; this feels plush; this feels upmarket. The engine was refined for a diesel mill. I could feel moderate vibrations being passed on to the cabin, but the power delivery was nice and linear.
Abilities and Superpowers:
There is an adequate amount of performance at all times. The transmission is very slick to
operate, making it all very refined and smooth. It comes with two engine options, including a 2.2-litre Diesel with 130bhp and 300Nm of torque mated to a 6-speed manual or 6-speed auto torque converter and a 2.0-litre Petrol with 149bhp and 300Nm of torque mated to a 6-speed manual or 6-speed auto torque converter.
It has a wheelbase of 2,450 mm, which is responsible for its width, and when combined with the flared wheel arches and 18-inch alloy wheels with 265-section rubber make it an unmissable sight on the road and off the road too. The body has a generous departure angle of 36.8 degrees and an approach angle of 41.8 degrees with a break-over angle of 27 degrees. These figures give the Thar the same colossal power that Thor has with his Mjolnir. Add to that 650mm of water wading and that gives it a go-anywhere attitude, while the 42:1 crawl ratio completes the off-roader in the Thar.
The Beauty of the Beast:
Mahindra has neatly combined some classic aesthetics with some modern elements to give the Thar a refreshed look. The SUV retains its signature grille and round headlamps but now includes LED DRLs and some really neat fog lamps that add to its modernness. The front design is quite neat but the side angles are more dynamic and give it that character that reminds you that it’s a 21st Century Thar. The tailgate, unfortunately, dims some of the limelight. Along with giving access to rather short storage space, it should also have acted as quick access to the back seats, which, unfortunately, it doesn’t. The rear, with a full-size spare wheel strapped on the tailgate, will act as a bump absorber, which is probably why Mahindra did not give a rearview camera as a standard package. Opening and closing the tailgate happens in two steps, first the latched door flings open sideways, and then the rear windshield goes up towards the sky. When you unlock the car the tail light lights up slowly, like warming up before you sprint a marathon and telling you that it’s ready to serve the master. Just like when you switch on the ignition – a small animated video of the Thar logo will play up, establishing that its in-car tech game is spot on.
The ‘Thor’ also has Flaws:
Road presence – Hell yes; with wide-eyed stares checking it out as much as they would if you were driving a supercar. That said, it naturally has its share of flaws, which are mentioned below.
1. As a city SUV, its ride quality will be a quarter of others which are engineered more for the roads.
2. Cabin noise- Plenty even with the hardtop one that we were driving. The soft-top, too, can get a bit noisy past a certain speed, but it can bear even torrential rains with a minimum casualty.
3. Music – With speakers mounted on top, the music might get irritating after a while.
4. Fuel Tank- You need to get out and physically key it to open, which means in the fuel pump you will have to hand over the keys. When was the last time we actually did this?
5. In Cabin Storage – It’s minimalistic.
6. Doesn’t get a rear camera and while reversing it might be a pain in the…eyes. (Yes, there too)
7. Second row Seats- It’s a process that will burn calories and definitely not an easy one.
8. Side Step- Senior citizens are advised to carry a small bench for the ingress and egress.
However, they are also advised to stay away as much as possible from the Thar.
9. Rear seat passengers will be reminded of a horse carriage; a bumpy ride is a gross
The above points aside, it’s an incredible off-roader and the closest one to tickle your fancy of driving an SUV which makes a statement while you drive to the office and then go camping with. The Tyre Profile with massive 255/65 R18 tyres, with 790mm diameter, look imposing and play their part in giving the new Thar its 226mm ground clearance and its off-road credibility. Just for comparison sake, the new Creta has 190mm of ground clearance.
So that was the extensive summary of our week with the Thar. As usual, we will leave the final verdict up to you. For us, the Thar has certainly scaled the mountain (quite literally) to establish itself as a capable off-roader, with a decent city presence. However, it would definitely be more comfortable and “in its zone” on the mountains, across lakes, and inside dense forests, than the mundane city streets and concrete jungles.