Launched last week after ages of waiting, the Mahindra Thar has become a kind of a celebrity. It has always been a lifestyle product since the time it debuted a decade ago, and now the new one takes it up many notches. We have driven it and you can read our First Drive Review over here. Or you can watch the video below.
But what we are looking at here is a detailed exploration of what has changed, evolved even, in the new Thar compared to the utilitarian first-gen model. Let’s dive in.
When it came out in 2010, the Thar was a modern-day interpretation of the original CJ40 and a successor to the workhorse MM540. On the other hand, the new Thar is so modern that it gives a vibe of a certain American 4x4 to a great extent. What’s remained on the new Thar from the older model is nothing but one thing– that prominent, chrome-lined 4x4 badge on the rear fender. Built ground up, the new Thar is taller, wider, and longer than the older model in terms of dimension. And, where the old Thar looks like it could survive an apocalypse, the new one isn’t any less rugged.
You can have the new Thar in a hard-top or an open-top body style with the roll-cage, just like the older model. Also, there are six colour options, with funkier paint options than before. There are exposed hinges, removable doors, cladding all around, it still carries the spare tyre on the tailgate, and is as boxy as it comes. However, we miss that metal crease on the door of the old Thar which sadly isn’t carried over.
But what you get now is a thoroughly modern 4x4. Look at the side-step for instance. While there was just a metal bar in the old Thar, you now get a methodically designed footboard. Unlike before, now there’s an option of alloy wheels too. But we still prefer the grille of the older model.
In simple words, where the old Thar was plain old-school, the new one is a retro classic.
No doubt the old Thar was utilitarian and bare-bone on the inside. It didn’t even get a powered window back then, leave alone touchscreen, digital driver’s display, auto AC, and some. Meanwhile, the new one arrives with a features list that’s bigger than my monthly grocery list. Let’s talk about the aesthetics. Although the ergonomics look functional-over-form, the new Thar has everything you’d need in a modern car, and then some.
Newer seats are comfortable and adjustable compared to the bare-essential seats of the old. The driving position provides a towering view of the road. You get roof-mounted speakers (there were no speakers in the old Thar), USB charging, a detailed driver’s display, touchscreen with all connectivity options, and a multifunction steering wheel. The steering wheel's job on the older Thar was to steer and nothing more! Seats at the back are also spacious and comfortable, but getting in isn’t a gracious affair.
You can also have opposite facing seats in new Thar as a six-seater just like before. Interestingly, the circular air-vents on the centre console are retained, which feels like a tribute to the outgoing model. Overall, where the old Thar’s cabin felt like being astride a horse saddle, the new Thar feels like it is a 21st-century car.
With the new-generation, Thar has finally received a petrol engine option and an automatic too. The older one came powered by Mahindra’s 2.5-litre turbocharged CRDe diesel engine and the trusted oil burner churned out 105bhp and 247Nm of torque while complying with the BS4 emission norms. In the BS6 era, you can buy the Thar either with a 2.0-litre petrol engine of the new mStallion TGDi family producing 150bhp of power and 320Nm of torque; or the new 2.2-litre diesel from the mHawk line-up which is good for 130bhp and 300/320Nm of torque.
Transmission options include a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic. And as was offered on the older model, this one also gets a manual shifting 4x4 transfer case as standard, with high and low reduction gear.
Also, the new Thar comes equipped with hardware like ABS with EBD and BA, ESP with rollover mitigation, hill assist, cruise control, and dual airbags. What’s more, the old Thar was like a goat off the beaten path. The new one can also take you just like the crow flies without breaking a sweat.
The old Mahindra Thar with its retro looks, utilitarian cabin, off-road prodigy and unbreakable legacy – was able to carry you places – road or no road. The new Thar can do all of that as well. It remains to be a true-blue SUV in a time where we are crowded by many pseudo SUVs. And with the generation leap, it has also become comfortable, practical, and thoroughly modern.