First drive: 2021 Mahindra Thar in the UAE

First drive: 2021 Mahindra Thar in the UAE

If you spotted an odd-plated “Jeep” roaming around the UAE, it is none other than two brothers who shipped their Mahindra Thar from India to the Middle East. They are beginning a roadtrip from Kerala which will take close to a year, covering around 50 countries by road.

Mahindra SUVs are known for being workhorses especially in the rural areas of India. The capability and torquey engine made it capable of going places beyond expectation. Mahindra has been making rugged SUVs for decades. Their SUVs were unrefined until the new Thar was introduced.

The Mahindra Thar has been around since 2011 but there was a major update in 2020. The update included a complete facial makeover with updated engines which are more refined, powerful and efficient. At first glance, it looks just like a Jeep Wrangler JL with the steering on the wrong side but the sharper edged hardtop and wheel arch shape makes it more evident that it is a different vehicle.

The Mahindra Thar comes in two variant of engines — “mStallion” 2.0-litre turbo petrol which produces 150 hp and 320 Nm of torque and mHawk 2.2-litre turbodiesel which produces 130 hp and 320 Nm of torque. Both engines can be opted with a manual or automatic transmission. The expedition vehicle is a petrol engine with a manual transmission.

The Thar initially launched with a removable hardtop but it was later sealed and closed completely due to water leak issues. It also comes in a soft top version. From the factory, the Thar gets MRF Wanderer All Terrain tyres so it’s ready for offroading already.

On the inside, every buttons are well placed with ease of reach. They feel much better than any older gen Mahindras where it felt springy or kinda sticky. Just like any other simple vehicle, the majority of the interior bits are made of hard plastics.

The interior design is done well enough to appear up with the times. There is an infotainment screen which allows to change certain vehicle settings on the screen and also works as an audio head unit.

The gear shifter is smooth and precise. Clutch pedal feel is light. The overall driving experience is straightforward.

We got the opportunity to see its desert capabilities. We were impressed by the fact it was just a 150 hp engine hauling this SUV around the dunes. When off and then on the throttle there is a split second delay for the turbo to spool up, and from there it just keeps going. Mind you, the trip was made without deflating the tyres and using the stock tyres. If they plan on making a long-wheelbase version, they would definitely need to consider an even more powerful engine.

On the road, it is pretty slow in acceleration. That is no surprise, seeing the power figures.

The real struggle begins from 100 kph onwards, which could be due to the non aero friendly design. Wind noise begins from 80 kph and up but they provide a decent sound system to mask the racket.

The Thar has front disc and rear drum brakes, and stopping power seems to be on the weaker side on heavy braking at high speeds.

Otherwise, for the price, the Thar makes for a remarkable offroad vehicle. Special thanks to Hafiz and Hijas in giving us the opportunity to have look at their Thar. To get more updates on their journey, follow Unknown Destination 17 on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

What do you think?

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