For many years now, India off road enthusiasts have had two affordable options to go off roading with, the mountain Maruti Suzuki Gypsy King and the Mahindra Major. These perhaps, are the only affordable, true blue off road vehicles that is available in the Indian market currently. While the Gypsy King was and is a terrific option to go off roading with, running one isn’t all that cheap considering it has a petrol engine that is more suited to tarmac driving than dune bashing. Even so, the Maruti Gypsy King, to this day, remains a very formidable off road vehicle of repute though your passengers might curse you for the bone jarring ride they’ve to put up with.
The Mahindra Major does duty in most pilgrimage towns and hill stations and as a direct consequence isn’t the apt vehicle for an off roader for whom making a style statement is as important as fording rivers is. Add to this a racket that the MDI (Super) 3200 engine makes at highway cruising speeds, more often than not, you’ll arrive famished and fatigued at the off road camp that you have to reach to begin off roading in the first place. So, that pretty much puts the Mahindra Major out of the picture. Ever since Mahindra pulled the plug on the short wheelbase Mahindra Classic 4X4, Indian jeepers have been foraging, mixing and matching various parts to rebuild army salvage Jeeps.
The rebuild, often turning out to be a process that demands a lot of dedication and disappointment, though often said to be a satisfying experience in the words of some seasoned jeepers. And to be left with a vehicle that somehow doesn’t come with factory reliability and as a consequence needs a lot of tender love and care, rebuilt jeeps are simply not everyone’s cup of tea. So, how do I get my jeep and drive it too? Enter the Mahindra Thar. When the head of development for Mahindra Thar, Behram Dhabhar, went around collecting feedback from jeepers all across the country by driving down to various off roading meets, as to what they wanted in a new generation Jeep from the Mahindra stable, here were a few things that Jeepers desperately wanted but sorely missed in their current Jeeps.
An Air Conditioner
Overall Better Fit and Finish
Higher Cruising Speeds
Lesser Noise, Vibration and Harshness
A Shift on the fly 4WD
Independent Front suspension
Most importantly, enthusiasts wanted a Jeep that would be their weekend drive and one that did not require them to spend a lot of time tending to. In other words, a modern, reliable and a comfortable yet rugged jeep was what the market wanted and this is exactly what the Mahindra Thar is designed to be. The Mahindra Thar has all this and then some more. You get the 2.5 Liter CRDe engine that the Thar shares with the Mahindra Bolero. How does a peak power of 105 Bhp and a torque of 247 Nm sound along with very acceptable NVH levels? Plenty to munch highway miles and to barrel across sand dunes, isn’t it? With the chassis shared with the Scorpio, a lot of Bolero can be found on the Thar as well with the entire dashboard layout of the Thar being picked up from the Bolero. You also get a power steering and an air conditioner as other creature comforts. A shift on the fly 4X4 option, Auto Locking Hubs and Independent Front Suspension.
Overall the package is just what the doctor ordered for weekend warriors looking for off road action. Here are the ex-showroom prices from Hyderabad, Mahindra Thar DI 4X2 BS3 – INR 4,42,000, Mahindra Thar DI 4X4 BS3 – INR 4,90,590, Mahindra Thar DI 4X4 BS4 – INR 6,17,933 and yeah, as a Xmas gift to the Indian jeeping fraternity, this baby will be officially launched on 21st December, 2010!
I ride, I blog and I trip. This apart, motorcycles, vintage mechanical watches, people watching, camping and traveling are my other interests. Incidentally, I hold a engineering degree in electronics and work experience in computer networks and professional blogging. I live in Bangalore currently and you could get in touch with me at [email protected]