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CarWale Off-Road Day 2016 - Mahindra Thar

CarWale Off-Road Day 2016

It’s an open secret that most modern SUVs are only used to travel comfortably and lord over traffic while being in the lap of luxury, but it wasn't always meant to be this way. There was a time when off-roaders like the MM540 and the old Pajero would be taken to go, you guessed it, off-road. And while the majority of today's SUV users will never take their vehicles beyond a gravel road there are some serious off-roaders still out there who would, and nothing probably speaks their language better than the Mahindra Thar

Seen as the spiritual successor to the MM540, the Thar not only looks the part, it embodies it. Thanks to a host of go-anywhere essentials such as low range transfer case, mechanically locking rear diff, high approach/departure angles and of course – four-wheel drive, the Thar’s off-road ability is that of a mountain goat. It would be blasphemy not to have it for our inaugural edition of the CarWale Off-Road Day. 

So there you have it. Sitting alongside a bunch of other 4x4s with various degrees of off-road capability and daily usability, the Thar proudly maintains its heady mix of old-school charm and indestructible stature. 

For this inaugural edition, we have a field of four road-going off-roaders (and one hilariously capable trail buggy by Polaris) however, none is as arduous to drive on pavement as the Thar, as I found out during our drive from Navi Mumbai to the off-road facility near Aamby Valley city. Sure, it’s much better on comfort than it used to be, featuring luxuries such as air conditioning and a dashboard that’s no longer trying to give you paper cuts every now and then, but the Thar is still far from a comfortable daily driver. The driving positon is awkwardly set and at speed, the insulation is downright horrid, there’s no other word for it. The only redeeming bit is that most of the controls like the clutch and the steering aren’t as heavy as you’d imagine looking at this thing. That being said, a comfortable driving positon or light controls are hardly my priorities for this off-road excursion. 

Anyway, the whole point here is to run the Thar through the luscious green trails of 19 Degree North, our playground for the day, and see how it did. Now as you can see, this vast piece of land serves up a wide range of terrain although we were mostly dealing with wide open trails, albeit ones with plenty of dips, rocks, slush and some rather sideways leaning and giggle-inducing inclines. It’s in terrain like these where the Thar really comes into its own, especially when equipped with beefy all-terrain tyres, as ours did. 

As it turned out, I got an early taster of the Thar’s off-road prowess as it was immediately pressed into recce service once we arrived at the venue. Looking to find suitable locations to photograph all the cars, we ended up scavenging a sizeable chunk of the 100 acre-plus property and in the process, drove through a really narrow trail arranged with medium sized rocks covered in slush. It was here that I got a brief lesson of the Thar’s off-road friendly throttle response. The throttle, in fact, has a steady progression and the pedal movement is just about right to accurately modulate wheel spin and feed in more or less power as per the need.

This particular course also gave us a chance to switch to 4WD Low - coming around a slow corner, our fully loaded car bogged itself when the back wheels dug into the massive ruts in 4WD High. Driving ahead of the Polaris, which never broke a sweat throughout the course (not surprising at all), we put this red beast into 4WD Low and took a different line through a run of boulders and made it till the start of what was the steepest and the slushiest climb of the day. At this point even the mighty Thar and its grippy all-terrain shoes were no match for Mother Nature as the former would ease its way up to the halfway point, only to get wedged soon after and be sent back down to have another go. Following several failed attempts despite clearing some of the bigger rocks out of the way it only made sense to give in to this nearly impossible climb (sorry, Mahindra) and make our way back down.   

Naturally, it all seemed relatively easy now that it was all downhill from here on. Gingerly wading through the rutty surface, the landscape changed pretty quickly as we got through the narrow lush green trail and onto a fully spread out piece of land with elevated pathways and wet grass. Yet again we came across a couple of small hill climbs covered in loose gravel though this time around the Thar doesn't lurch even slight bit when its clawing its way up – it's all effortless and I have not even felt the need to engage 4WD Low! It really is like riding a horse as it makes its way up a rocky hill. All you have to do is hold tight and not move off the saddle or the seat in this instance given that the Thar jiggles about and rocks heavily even at super low speeds.  

All in all, my time with the Thar was limited to these exercises; however, it was enough to rekindle my respect towards this good old brute and its ability to make quick work of even the hardest of trails, not to mention at a price that’s the lowest in this test, and by a big margin. Now as I made my way back into civilisation, I did recall some of its on-road drawbacks but as a pure go-anywhere machine, it is simply impossible to get behind the wheel of the Thar and not come out smiling like a maniac.            

 

Pictures: Kapil Angane

Location courtesy: 19 Degree North

An adventure sports outfit located at Aamby Valley City near Lonavla that offers activities like riding ATVs, paintball shooting, Zorbing, and Jungle Safari among others.

Click here to read the introduction of CarWale Off-Road Day 2016

Click here to read about the Renault Duster AWD at the CarWale Off-Road Day 2016

Click here to read about the Land Rover Discovery Sport at the CarWale Off-Road Day 2016

Click here to read about the Ford Endeavour at the CarWale Off-Road Day 2016

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Mahindra Thar Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
Mumbai₹ 11.58 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 11.81 Lakhs onwards
New Delhi₹ 11.3 Lakhs onwards
Pune₹ 11.56 Lakhs onwards
Ahmedabad₹ 10.81 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 11.38 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 11.22 Lakhs onwards
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