2020 Mahindra Thar Review: First Drive

By Jared Solomon | on August 15, 2020

We have been waiting anxiously for the new Mahindra Thar. The spy shots have been circulating across the web for a few months, creating quite a buzz.  Well, here it is!

The Mahindra Thar has a special place in my heart. My dad owned a CJ3A, and my earliest and fondest memories are of us travelling around the jungles of India in that car. When the Maruti Suzuki Gypsy was launched, my Dad upgraded, and our adventures continued. Going off-road in Jeeps has always been something that I thoroughly enjoy. When the Thar was launched in 2010, I was excited, and fortunately for me, I had just begun my journey as an automotive journalist. I was lucky enough to enjoy various adventures with the Thar, and though I always wanted to buy one of my own, for some reason, it never happened. 

For months now, we have been hearing about the launch of the new Thar, and now it has finally happened. The new Thar was unveiled on India’s Independence Day, and boy does it look fantastic! Mahindra also organized the Freedom Drive, and we were invited to experience the car during a very small-drive in Mumbai. So, let's jump right into it. Ladies and gentleman, this is the new 2020 Mahindra Thar! 

New Mahindra Thar Front

Design 

The new Thar looks better than ever before. It is a perfect blend of old classic design and contemporary and modern elements. The car is now a lot wider, thanks to the large wheel arches that also feature plastic cladding around the body. The front fascia with its new seven-slot grille pays tribute to the previous models and gives the car its main classic look and feel. The previous Thar looked a bit boxy, but that’s no longer the case because the new Thar seems to be more muscular and have just the right proportions.  

There are two main variants. The AX, or Adventure variant, is the more basic version, which comes with a permanent fitted soft top. It also gets smaller 16-inch alloys. The wheels though are now wider than the previous model, and the ground clearance has also been increased from 200mm to 226mm. The car seems taller and longer in general because it is. The AX also has an optional pack where you can opt for a convertible roof or a hardtop. The LX, or Lifestyle variant, gets all the goodies as standard including a convertible or hard-top roof, larger 18-inch alloys, LED lighting, dual-tone bumpers, and moulded footsteps. Also, you can now choose from six different colours. 

Interior 

The previous Thar had a terrible interior. Yes, it was marketed only as an off-road adventure vehicle, but it really wasn’t pleasant inside, considering the price. Fear not though, for this time, Mahindra has significantly improved the interior. It is still not plush and luxurious, but it certainly is a lot more comfortable. It gets nice bucket seats at the front and front-facing rear seats as standard on the LX and as an option in the AX. The dash layout is completely new with a new instrument cluster, and the circular AC vents give a nice classic feel. On the LX variant, you also get a touch screen infotainment system with a very cool Adventure Stats feature, which tells you everything about the vehicle. There are also roof-mounted speakers and steering mounted controls. The headroom, it seems has been reduced – even with the seat all the way down, a tall driver will be just an inch from the top. The rear with the front-facing seats don't feel cramped at all though, and it is good for two people, but there is barely any storage space in the boot when compared to the previous generation. The wheelbase has also been increased to be more accommodating to rear-seat passenger space. Another good addition is that the interior is washable and the buttons are weather resistant. Another interesting design bonus is that the VIN plate has now been placed on the dashboard instead of under the hood.  

New Mahindra Thar Interior

Engine 

The new Thar is more powerful than ever before. It comes with an all-new mStallion 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which produces 150bhp and 220Nm of torque. There is only a 6-speed manual transmission offered on the AX, while the LX comes with a 6-speed torque converter AT.  

The famous mHawk 2.2-litre diesel has now been reengineered and produces 130bhp and 320Nm of torque. The AX gets the same 6-speed manual, but in the LX, you get the option between a manual and an automatic transmission.  

The manual 4x4 transfer case is also standard across all engine variants. The front axle gets brake locking differential, while the rear gets mechanical locking. We drove the diesel version of the Thar, and I was quite impressed with the overall refinement, although it didn't seem a lot more powerful than the old CRDe. 

New Mahindra Thar 4wd Gear Lever1

Ride 

 The Thar is built on Mahindra's new 3rd-generation chassis (body-on-frame) and features independent front suspension and multi-link rear suspension setup. We couldn’t test the car off-road at all, as we were strictly driving on tarmac, but the overall ride quality has certainly been improved tremendously. During our drive in Mumbai, the suspension absorbed everything without a problem. The steering itself was nice and smooth and very easy to handle in the city. The highway ride quality has been improved as well. The only problem in the manual models is that there is no dead pedal and no room for your left foot, which means that when you aren't on the clutch, your foot rests behind the clutch. It felt cramped, and I can't believe that Mahindra messed this up. I guess it wants people to buy automatic models. The New Thar drives well in the city, and Mahindra's plan to make the SUV more urban-friendly has really paid off. We drove the car for just 25 kilometres, so we can not give you an extensive review of its drive quality and overall driving experience.  

New Mahindra Thar Rear

The Thar also now gets cruise control and a wide of range of safety features including  ABS with EBD, dual airbags, Hill-Start Assist, Hill Descent Control, and ESP. All of this added tech sure does come handy in an urban vehicle, but hardcore off-road enthusiasts might not care much for it. 

Conclusion 

The conclusion is that I now want a Thar more than ever before. It really is a great package. Now it offers more urban-friendly drivability, comfortable interior, brilliant highway cruising ability, and hardcore off-roading capabilities. The Thar is one of the best cars for Indian road conditions and for adventure enthusiasts. It is big, but it’s still a lot more practical than luxury SUVs and way cooler than premium compact SUVs. Plus, it just looks amazing and makes you feel good when you are driving it. You can go over anything that comes your way without worrying about damaging your car, and that makes driving it all the more fun. We just need to wait for the price to be announced now on October 2nd.  

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Tags: Mahindra Thar Mahindra

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