Mahindra Thar 2020 redesign debuts as modern off-roader
Indian utility vehicle manufacturer Mahindra was never a big player in the Middle Eastern market, although a few models are starting to trickle down to showrooms here. Their far more comprehensive U.S. operation recently they took a legal jab from FCA for “copying” the design of the Wrangler for their Roxor off-roader, even though the latter wasn’t meant for road use nor was it a Wrangler rival. While the U.S. factory had to shut down, back at home in the lucrative Indian market, Mahindra hit back with an uppercut. Here is the 2020 Mahindra Thar.
In India, Mahindra holds the license to use Jeep’s trademark design elements since the time they started out their automotive operations back in 1949, locally building Willys CJ-3A jeeps. Since then, Mahindra started making their own versions and Thar is the latest installment to the series. The original Thar debuted in 2010 and now, they have given it a complete overhaul.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. Yes, it does look like a Wrangler because the legacy of both these vehicles can be traced right back to the original Willys. The overall design is properly classic with an odd grill-bumper combination that tip-toes around potential legal issues.
The interior has come a long way from the previous-gen Thar, which was built with just utility in mind. The new Thar gets a better fit and finish, along with many more comfort, technology and safety features. This is Mahindra’s attempt to make the Thar more mainstream than before.
The first Thar was loved by many for its prowess in off-roading. The new Thar is no exception to that. It gets shift-on-fly 4WD with a low range box, automatic mechanically locking differential, brake locking differentials and auto-locking hubs. The new Thar ditches the leaf springs at the back for independent suspension that has massively improved the ride. The front has double-wishbone independent suspension.
Mahindra debuts two new engines with the new Thar – a 150 hp 2.0-litre turbo-GDi petrol unit that churns out 320 Nm of torque and a 130 hp 2.2-litre diesel engine with 300 Nm of torque. The outputs may not seem huge, but the original Thar had a 105 hp engine. The new one takes it a notch further. The torque is set at the lower end of the rev range. Thus, both engines are punchy enough for tackling off-road trails. Both engines are mated to a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic gearbox.
But there is one area where Thar is not like the Wrangler — price. Unlike the Wrangler, the Thar is affordable in its home country. Though the prices are not out yet, the Thar is expected to cost a fourth of what the Wrangler costs in India.
With the legal tussle over Roxor haunting them, it is almost sure that the new Mahindra Thar will not be many overseas markets. But in its home market, the Thar offers a handsome SUV with all off-road cred and tech for a fair price for the sizeable local off-road fraternity.