Mahindra Thar: 5 Thing To Know Before Buying The Thar
Yes, it looks great, packs modern-day features and is more comfortable than before. But does that mean George of the Jungle is finally ready to be a part of the civilised world?
The 2020 Mahindra Thar has created such a strong buzz for itself that everyone who owns or wishes to own a car soon is already measuring the garage space for its large dimensions. And if you are one of those people, I don’t blame you. With its dominating presence - to which even the busses and trucks move out of the way - its sensible and practical cabin and the fact that it is now available with automatic transmissions and a fixed hard top, it is hard to resist the charm of the 2020 Thar.
If you have driven the older Thar enough and want to buy the new one, go right ahead. It's a prominent upgrade and promises to deliver a better experience in every measurable way. But for those of our readers who are not aware of the tantrums of the older Thar, all we want to say is you need to be prepared for an experience unlike everyday hatchbacks, sedans and "SUVs". Unlike those, this vehicle was not meant or designed to be good on the road. That fact that it is now better as a daily driver is an advantage, but still not its core strength. And hence, while you might be willing to put up with its tantrums on a daily basis, your family might not be so forgiving. Here are the 5 things about the 2020 Mahindra Thar that you will have to learn to live with, if it fits your garage. If you want to know the aspects of the Thar that you will love to live with, check out our first drive review.
1. Thar vs traffic and parking
The diesel manual that we had on test was surprisingly easy to drive. The light clutch, 300Nm of torque and the linear and creamy power delivery meant that it found bumper to bumper traffic as easy to conquer as a tricky off-road setting, its natural habitat. One thing that you will have to get used to is the width of the Thar, as it can be a bit intimidating at first. Luckily, the visibility out of the cabin is something everyone will appreciate. The boxy cabin, not so large A-pillars and large windows mean frontal and peripheral visibility is fantastic, at least for the front 180 degrees. And lifting your driver seat up means you sit so tall that you can see and tell which cars have a sunroof on the road.
But then comes the task of parking this brute, and where it throws the first tantrum. The visibility at the back is very limited. The small rear windscreen, giant 18-inch spare and a tiny IRVM mean that anything behind the Thar is as well hidden to you as Bigfoot. The big ORVMs do a good job of providing visibility on the sides, but the boxy shape means there is no way to see what's directly behind the car. Parallel parking this vehicle will test your skills like the RTO never did.
Mahindra does offer a rear camera as an accessory, but it should have been a standard fitment, at least on the LX variant. Yes, the parking sensors do help, but barely. So if you live in an area where flower pots or kids' bicycles are often on the driveway, practice your apology letter writing skills. Or just install the camera.
2. Thar vs coffee and luggage
Things like phones, wallets, keys, and, in this day and age, a hand sanitizer and face mask, are essential while stepping out of the house. And if you, like me, bleed tea, then there will be a cup accompanying you on the drive as well. Surprisingly, the Thar manages to accommodate all of these things in the cabin better than some urban SUVs. There are two practical cup holders, something which looks like a coin holder behind the power window switches, and a large flat storage with an anti-skid mat just ahead of the gear lever. This place can hold all your knick knacks like phone, wallet, keys, mask and more. Don't even bother looking towards the glove box, it is just about enough for the paperwork.
But then comes luggage. And here is where the Thar throws its second tantrum. It begins with the tailgate, that doesn't get hydraulic struts. Someone will have to hang on to the door when on a slope. Thankfully, the rear windscreen can be accessed separately if need be.
We also noticed a usage flaw with the inside door handle of the boot. The physical lock toggle is right above the inside handle and locks inwards. Hence, if a part of the luggage hits it, it can very easily get locked. Unlocking it again from the inside can become quite a task. Honestly, there was no need of having it there, at least in the hard top variant.
The boot itself is only good for a small overnighter suitcase and a couple of soft bags. The rear seats do fold 50:50, but it's anything but a flat floor. And If you don't tie your luggage down properly, it's going to fly around in the cabin. As of now, we have not seen any roof-mounted carrier options for the 2020 Thar either. If you are thinking of taking the Thar on an airport or railway station pickup for the family, think again. It will either fit the family or their luggage. Not both.
3. Thar vs Family
A 1844mm height (hardtop) and an insane 226mm ground clearance means getting in the Thar requires effort. You simply can't just step inside, it requires you to climb in using the side steps.
And this alone does not stand in the way of your parents being hesitant of being a passenger. If you want your parents to join you on the road, I am sure they are going to push you on the back seat and take the front ones themselves. And that's because climbing into the rear is no easy task. Sure, the front passenger seat does tilt and slide, but the ingress still remains narrow and awkward. Getting out needs another layer of caution as you will need to find and step on the side rail.
The rear seats are comfortable, but for two. Don't bother trying to get an extra occupant in here. The seats get three point seatbelts, a grab handle, adjustable headrest and even recline for more comfort - given you don't have anything in the boot. Visibility too is good with large glass windows and the tall sitting position. The only issue is the legroom, not less but compromised in the design. You have to sit a bit towards the centre to keep your feet under the front seat. Also, there is no storage of cup holders here. And the ride quality, the next talking point in this article, is even bouncier here at the back.
Related: Mahindra Thar 2020: Price Breakdown
4. Thar vs good and bad roads
This is the Thar’s biggest tantrum: Ride quality. If you are used to the ride quality of your hatchback or sedan, this one is completely different. To put things into perspective, images driving on a paver block - like a footpath. No, don't drive on a footpath, just imagine. That is how it feels to drive the Thar on good roads. The short wheelbase ladder frame layout and the off road-oriented suspension makes it bouncy and jittery. There is constant feedback of the tarmac inside the cabin and you will feel yourself bobbing up and down while driving. And this does feel weird, especially if you are used to the ride quality of your hatchback, sedan or a small monocoque SUV.
The Thar feels jittery irrespective of the surface and this will be a major factor in your family not being ok with it. But there is a positive side to this ride as well. The Thar laughs at potholes and doesn't even acknowledge the existence of broken roads. It's like shooting the Terminator with a BB gun. Even with 18-inch alloy wheels, the Thar never feels fragile. Rather, it felt like it could flatten out the potholes!
5. Thar vs road trips
If you own a Thar, it's natural for people to assume that you are big on adventure and road trips. While the Thar does adventure extremely well, road trips… well, not so much. The bounciness in the ride gets amplified on the highways as the speeds increase.
This is likely to cause fatigue to all the passengers - especially to the ones in the back seat. This means lower cruising speeds and additional breaks. And that's a bummer, because the potent engines can cruise at triple digit speeds all day, every day.
And don’t forget the limited boot space here. All of these factors combined make the Thar a bit of a challenge on the highway. But if you are ready to live with the constant bobbing, the highway stability is brilliant. Road and wind noise is contained well, and whatever does seep into the cabin is dealt with by the music system with ease.
Make no mistake, the Thar is more civilized than it has ever been. It's easy to get used to, offers creature comforts and even gets automatic transmissions. It's easy to get blinded by the charm of the Thar.
But let's be practical for a bit. Especially if you were looking at the Thar as a replacement to your only (ageing) car. You will have to put up with these five tantrums. And we'd urge you to take a long test drive before you sign on the dotted line. For, even with the updates, the Thar is better off as an addition to the garage, and not the only car in the family. If that's your plan, George of the Jungle has learnt enough manners for you to adapt it into your lifestyle.
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