Come sand, gravel, riverbeds, mud, snow, rocks, and any other natural terrain you can think of, nothing comes close to knocking down the Mahindra Thar. The tank-like chassis can take a lot of punishment and still keep chugging away without a worry in the world. Its off-roading credentials were never in doubt, but questions were regularly raised on the quality of the cabin due to its bare basic structure. One had no choice but to live with it. After being in the market since 2010, Mahindra has decided to give this beast an upgrade and we got to test it at their grueling off-road academy in Nashik.
Now it is an open secret that the Thar loves any other terrain apart from the tarmac, mud-plugging is where it feels at home. As it rained throughout the night and the better part of the morning, the course welcomed us with fresh mud and deep puddles. First thing you notice is that the new 2015 Thar now looks a lot more like the Jeep Wrangler as the front bumpers are a lot broader, and merge with the huge wheel arches. The muscular wheel arches are also a lot broader now, giving the Thar a brawny and robust stance. It also comes with new clear lens headlamps.
Thar still comes as a soft top, but Mahindra are now using much better quality material. The finishing too looks and feels better, plus now the roof is slightly sloped towards the front.
Mahindra has put in more effort in the cabin as it now gets a dual tone dashboard, which is predominantly in beige with a black centre console. The air conditioner vents have been redesigned and have aluminium coloured rotating inserts to control the air flow. The plastic quality is an improvement from its previous avatar as it is more like the Bolero without the tacky fake wood. Granted, the quality of hard plastic is not something one will rave about it, but it is a sheer step up as the cabin definitely feels a lot nicer. Mahindra said that the new Thar now has the provision to house a 2 DIN music system, which should be good news for all music lovers. Apart from all this, the Thar has a slew of practical features like the new floor console has usable cup holders, demister to de-fog the windshield, 12V charging socket and a lockable glove box. The instrument cluster has been redesigned to a smart 3-pod shape.
Crank up the 105bhp, 2.5-litre CRDe engine and it roars with fire and vigour, ready to take on anything that comes in its way. What surprised us was that the engine noise level sounded low compared to its previous edition, even though Mahindra insist they haven’t worked on the NVH levels. Before we got into the mud pit, we couldn’t help but notice that the new seats provided better comfort than the older seats even though the seat squab remain flat. The Thar also gets a new steering, which is lighter and yes, it is now placed right in front of you unlike the earlier vehicle which was placed slightly towards the left.
As the track is an out-and-out off-road course, we slotted the gear stick to 4Low and let the games begin. With high inclines to sudden descents to crater-like, mud-filled holes, nothing managed to hold the Thar. It powered its way through all the challenges the course threw at it. The refreshed Thar comes with an all important mechanical rear differential lock, which ensures additional traction by not allowing a wheel to spin slower than the axel and drive mechanism regardless of the traction available to each wheel.
If you are an off-road junkie and love exploring the unexplored terrains, then the Thar is made especially for you. It is available for Rs 8.03 lakh, Ex-showroom Nashik. Sure it’s not a cheap buy, but then with the sort of off-roading capabilities it offers, no other vehicle comes near it, let alone match it.