South African off-road enthusiasts will be familiar with Mahindra’s Jeep lookalike off-roader, which offers a very honest and affordable passport to true adventure traveling.
Mahindra has been producing the Thar since 2010 and when it launched, Jeep fans saw a clear CJ-series clone. They were not entirely incorrect, either, as Mahindra has a history of assembling Jeeps under licence, that dates all the way back to the 1950s.
The new Thar continues on Jeep track
This new Thar continues the Jeep imitation styling theme, with a front bumper and grille that are strikingly familiar to the JK-series Wrangler, which entered the South African market back in 2007.
The redesign adds larger 18-inch alloy wheels, more sophisticated LED lighting technology and a host of safety features which were conspicuously absent on the previous Thar.
Travel in comfort
Cabin comfort and safety have seen significant gains with the new Thar, using much of Mahindra’s latest switchgear and digital in-car technology. Keyless entry and electric windows are very welcome convenience upgrades, as is the multifunction steering wheel – which links to a proper Smartphone integrated infotainment screen.
Seating ergonomic are improved with superior cushioning, which should make this new Thar a lot more comfortable for long-distance travel.
Mahindra’s engineers have also been cognisant of the fact that owners will use the removable roof panel function, especially in summer. To prevent moisture damage to the infotainment system, both the screen and speakers are water resistant.
Active and passive safety systems were not technologies of any credibility on the first-generation Thar.
Mahindra has redressed this with the new vehicle, adding electronic stability control and dual airbags to protect to the front seat occupants in the case of a collision. There is also the option of a chromoly roll cage, which is recommended if you select the canvas roof build option.
Packing the punch as an off-roader
The Thar offers a charming mix of traditional ladder-frame off-road ability and ruggedness, which is amiss in most of the contemporary 4×4 market. Its 41.8-degree approach angle is deeply impressive and superior to Suzuki’s Jimny, while 226mm of underbody ground clearance should allow Thar to confidently clear most obstacles.
Powering Mahindra’s new Thar is a smaller, but more potent engine. The previous 2.5-litre turbodiesel has been replaced with a 2.2-litre, boosting 96kW and 300Nm, which should give the Thar a fair turn of pace at highway speeds. There is also a turbocharged petrol option, displacing 2-litre, which is good for 110kW and 320Nm.
Both engines connect to a low-range transfer case and there is the option of either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
Popular among value orientated off-road adventurers, the modernised Thar could become a very compelling offering for those who actually use their 4x4s for what they are intended.
It launches in India this October, with international markets due to received their consignments in to 2021 – and you can be sure that South Africans with a budget-safari strategy, will be keenly anticipating its arrival.