Maruti Suzuki Jimny vs Mahindra Thar Comparison Review - The Ultimate Shootout | Exclusive

As the much-awaited Maruti Suzuki Jimny makes its debut in India, we pitch it head-to-head with its closest competitor, the Mahindra Thar. Read on to find out which one of the two is better on, and, off the road.

By Ishan Raghava | on June 7, 2023 Follow us on Autox Google News

The much awaited Maruti Suzuki Jimny is finally here, and everyone we meet asks us the same question, which one to choose, the Jimny or the Thar? Well we got hold of both of them and spent a whole day testing them in different conditions to find out which offers the best deal for you. Of course, for the diesel lovers out there, the Thar is the only option, and that will remain since Maruti Suzuki doesn’t produce diesel engines anymore. However, a lot of people also asked us whether the Jimny is practical, can it fit five adults, and can they take it on long road trips? Also, a frequent question we get is whether the 1.5-litre naturally aspirated engine of the Jimny makes it underpowered. I’ll make sure to answer all those question in this extensive review.

Maruti Suzuki Jimny vs Mahindra Thar: Elephant In The Room

One of the biggest attractions for any lifestyle vehicle has to be its design, and here, well let’s just say that while the Jimny and the Thar come under the same category, the difference between the two is like chalk and cheese. The Thar has a macho persona and an aggression that on scale of sheer size itself, the Jimny does not match. If you’re looking to make a visual statement, then the Thar absolutely dominates the conversation with its greater height, width and big wheels with massive arches dominating its presence on the road. However, the Jimny might be smaller in width and height than the Thar – they both are the exact same length, 3,985mm – but it does have its own charm when it comes to styling. Sure, it’s not big and butch, but with its retro Gypsy styling touches – the front grille, round headlamps and tailgate mounted spare tyre comes to mind – means that it looks purposeful. In fact, I would say that it has the look of a purpose designed product that you can take anywhere. Sure, the 195-section tyres on 15-inch wheels are not massive, but it has an elegance to it that you cannot deny. It is anywhere as aggressive looking as the Thar? Oh, absolutely not. But, it does look like it’s designed to take you anywhere. On top of that the bright colours offered means it looks quite good, just not in an aggressive manner. 

Maruti Suzuki Jimny Vs Mahindra Thar 3 New

Maruti Suzuki Jimny vs Mahindra Thar: Practicality

The other big question I get from anyone comparing the Jimny and the Thar is about the usability and practical aspects of both the SUVs. Well, let’s put it this way, with its four doors to access the cabin, the Jimny has the Thar licked when it comes to practicality and convenience. The not too high height of the Jimny means you can enter and exit the car without needing to use the sidesteps, at the same time, the rear seat is easily accessible for passengers, something that’s quite a bit of the problem with the Thar. The Thar’s height and lack of rear doors means that getting into the rear seats needs a certain amount of calisthenics that everyone might not be comfortable with. At the same time, the Jimny’s boot is a decent enough size that you taking a weekend trip won’t need to think about luggage storage, which unfortunately is a big shortcoming of the Thar, as its boot is pretty much useless.

Also Read: Maruti Suzuki Jimny Review: The Best Off-Roader to Buy in India?
However, an aspect where the Thar scores is that the interior has a lot more storage space compared to the Jimny – the Jimny literally has no cubby holes to store your phone or your wallet, save the glovebox, which is also quite tiny. And let me not even get into the point of storing a bottle of water, the doors or the centre console literally have no space for it. The Thar also scores higher on the quality stakes, its seats and materials feel much better than what the Jimny comes with. In fact, I would say that I would have appreciated slightly better plastics on the Jimny, sure it doesn’t feel cheap per se, but it does feel very functional and not necessarily premium. However, the Jimny doesn’t scrimp much on standard equipment, you get a large touchscreen multimedia display, four-wheel drive hardware and six airbags as standard on all variants. On the range-topping manual variant we tested, we also got climate control, LED headlamps, 15-inch alloys and an MID display.

 If you’re a fan of the Gypsy, you’ll also enjoy the Jimny’s interiors because it comes with multiple tributes to the Gypsy’s styling cues such as the twin round gauges, the faux allen-key style screws, and most importantly the big ribbed rubber shoe below the gear shifter. I bullied my father into buying a Gypsy as his first car over three decades ago, and all these touches reminded of his car when I first got into the Jimny.

Maruti Suzuki Jimny Vs Mahindra Thar 2 New

Maruti Suzuki Jimny vs Mahindra Thar: On Road

Of course, none of the conversation about the Jimny can happen without a mention of how it drives, and most importantly, it’s 1.5-litre naturally aspirated engine. Now, the K15B engine is obviously quite basic, and its headline figures – 103bhp and 138Nm of torque – don’t seem to be anything spectacular, and frankly speaking, they are not. Even the transmission choices are traditional – 5-speed manual and 4-speed auto, both with 4-wheel drive – and nothing to be too excited about. So, on paper, the Jimny could seem like its underpowered. However, you have to take into account the fact that at just 1,200kgs, the Jimny with its ladder frame chassis, four-wheel drive hardware and six airbags is actually remarkably light. What does that translate to? Well, you get an SUV that’s rather nimble on its feet and despite having just over a hundred horsepower feels quite sprightly. Sure, it won’t win a drag race, but it doesn’t feel underpowered either, and as long as you keep the engine of the boil, the Jimny can maintain decent pace. Does it feel underpowered? No, it doesn’t. Would I like more power in the Jimny? Yes, absolutely. It’s just a question that another 25-30bhp would make the Jimny a lot faster across the board and enhance the driving experience. Now, we only got to drive the 5-speed manual variant due to a paucity of time, but overall, the gearbox is quite decent, even if the shifts are bit sticky and not as confidence aspiring if you want. Also, with its suspension setup, the Jimny is an absolute delight to pilot on any road. Even if its broken tarmac the ride is fantastic, the steering is light – the steering could use some more feedback though – and overall maintaining a decent pace on any surface is a breeze. In fact, after driving the Thar, you realise how much more lighter the Jimny is and how it makes a big difference to its dynamics and driving experience.

Also Read: Upcoming Mahindra Cars in India: Thar 5-door, Next-gen Bolero, All-new XUV500, and More
The Thar, on the other hand, feels a lot more different. We had the diesel manual variant on our drive, and with its 2.2-litre turbocharged engine producing 130bhp and 300Nm, let’s just say that progress was much faster, and the extra power really makes a difference. You can cruise at higher speeds sooner, and just the general feeling of the extra power and torque makes life easier. However, where the Thar falls severely short is in the ride and handling department when compared to the Jimny. After driving the Jimny on the same roads, the Thar feels clunkier – it is certainly a lot more heavier than the Jimny, to the tune of nearly 600kgs – and the dynamics are severely affected by that. As a result, even on slightly undulated roads, the ride of the Thar is much worse to what the Jimny offers, the steering is much heavier, and while the progress might be quick, it’s not really fun to drive, like the Jimny is.

Maruti Suzuki Jimny Right Front Three Quarter

Maruti Suzuki Jimny vs Mahindra Thar: Off-Road

We didn’t get enough time to test the complete skills of the Thar off-road, but from our previous experiences, we know it has remarkable ability taking on the tough stuff. The Jimny too, has massive ability to do off-road activities, and we witnessed some of that in our test drive. Once again, the light kerb weight really makes a difference here and the Jimny just traverses obstacles like there is not tomorrow. The lighter steering and more compliant suspension also help massively in this regard.

Maruti Suzuki Jimny

Maruti Suzuki Jimny vs Mahindra Thar: Verdict

Well, to be honest, the verdict is kind of mixed, to be honest. If you look at the Thar, there are certain benefits it has – butch design, road presence and extra power – but at the same time it loses out on the practicality compared to the four doors of the Jimny and the unusable boot. Also, the suspension and steering of the Jimny is far superior. Sure, you get much more power, drivability and better quality, but fundamentally there are compromises. At the same time, with the Jimny you get the convenience of a four-door cabin, usable boot, much better ride and handling, and great off-road ability, but at the lack of cabin quality, and, for me, a lack of at least 25bhp.
So how does this battle play out, well, for me, the Jimny is the winner, as long as it’s priced below the Thar, because it has better dynamic, practicality and overall balance. If Maruti Suzuki price it similarly to the Thar though, I might have to rethink the opinion.

Tags: Maruti Suzuki Maruti Suzuki Jimny Jimny Mahindra Mahindra Thar Thar

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