')">Come to think of it. You would buy a car based on your choice or not. Or just for the love of that car. Well, aren’t both the same. I beg to differ. The first one means that you are going to listen to others in your buying decision whereas for the second one, it would be based purely by what you love in that car. If I were to buy a car, I would obviously go with the latter. Well, the test drive report of the car I am about to elaborate on is the one of the second kind. Seeing all those dishum-dishum movies in childhood(I am not sure of yours but then my childhood was full of such movies), I always fantasized an open jeep on the lines of a police jeep from the movies. Well, apart from the Maruti Gypsy which I would be too shy to take anywhere, there is no other choice. Not anymore. Mahindra and Mahindra have answered mine as well as many others prayers and have given us the Mahindra Thar in India. Time for a test drive of it.
Well, the retro looks of the Mahindra MM540 have been retained here and I would say that if it ain’t broken, then why fix it? So far so good. It helped me connect with the car of my dreams and childhood. Those old fashioned round head lamps along with three horizontal enclosures help protect them from all those stones hitting them on the off-road track. The P 235/70 R16 tubeless tyres with alloys look cool and look more like an aftermarket fitment. The indicators even look old fashioned. Just like all those bobcat Hella lights on some of the modified off-roaders, there are two not round but squarish lights. This is an open top mind you but then it still is configured as a seven seater. I can understand two passengers including the driver in the front and 4 more at the back. That makes it 6. Where will the 7th passenger sit. Maybe he would have to stand at the back wielding a gun. The rear end boasts of a full size spare alloy wheel and those triangular old fashioned tail lamps. It is more like Mahindra and Mahindra found their long lost old die casting machine and are now using it for the Mahindra Thar in India. Build quality is below average and there were many yawning panel gaps to be found.
The interiors of the Mahindra Thar in India as expected were also utilitarian. The steering wheel is derived from the Mahindra Bolero of yesteryears. Surprise, the company has provided for aircon controls but there is no aircon available. Remember it is an open top. Mahindra and Mahindra are providing a soft top version as well which would gell well with the idea of providing airconditioner as an after-market option. The interior plastics look entirely from the bygone era. The luminescent dials are the only saving grace for the bare bones interiors. There is no music system provided as well. The glove box isn’t a lockable unit but then if you are looking for storing some valuables in your open top, then let it be the one under your seat. Some of the materials used in the construction of the jeep actually hurt if you try prodding them.Classic been the example of the wiper stalks and dashboard. I narrowly escaped trapping my finger there. Also, the brace for the chrome bar on top would definitely draw blood from unwary passengers. That saying, I found the driver’s seat to be comfortable enough. But then my knees were banging against the dashboard. The rear benches seem to make sense if you are just below 5 feet 8 inches. But then you would be left at the mercy of the elements big time.
Would you ask about the ride quality of a jeep? I believe no. But then Mahindra and Mahindra have positioned the Mahindra Thar in India as a lifestyle vehicle. This means that it would be the second or third car in the family. True to its off-roader roots, the company offers a 4×4 with a Borg Warner low transfer case. Even with its tarmac favoring tyres, the Mahindra Thar is one mountain goat. It goes nimbly over all the rocks and granite that you make it pass over and then begs for some more. I could actually hear the tail pipe unit protesting twice or thrice but then my confidence in getting the car over any rock made me overrule the fact that there is a limit to everything. Ride quality in the meanwhile was stiff no doubt but then getting used to this vehicle and getting to know its capability off-road more than compensates for the stiff ride. Should I be talking about NVH. Not really for an open top but then I am really surprised by the NVH reduction in this jeep. The engine noise is sufficiently muted even at higher echelons of speed.
The Mahindra Thar in India that I drove had the 2.5 liter CRDE engine from the Mahindra Bolero. This engine makes 105 Ps of peak power at 3800 rpm whereas the torque of 247 Nm is made between 1800-2000 rpm. It is mated to a 5 speed gearbox. The accelerator pedal has been tuned similar to the Mahindra Scorpio and this means instant responses. I never imagined a jeep to be this fun to drive except for the off-road. But then lap times of 0-100 kmph done in 17.77 seconds is good by any chance for a jeep. The top speed that I could muster in this baby was 123 kmph. Well, isn’t that enough for an open top jeep? Stability is also well aided with the 4×4 power delivery. Braking calls are attended by disc brakes at the front and drums at the rear. More than adequate considering that most of the outings for this vehicle would be in the urban jungle or in the “real” jungle. There is no ABS or any other electronic aid. Safety is one more feature which is next to absent on this 4×4. It only gets a bull bar in the front along with seat belts for the front passengers. I very much doubt if the body would be able to absorb side impacts or even front ones.
Fuel efficiency is one of the strong points in this jeep. It boasts of fuel efficiency of 12.7 kmpl in the city and a good 16.9 kmpl on the highway.
Finally, I am all caked in mud but then I am still grinning. Why so would be the question? The reason is the Mahindra Thar. It gives you whatever notions you had about it and that is FUN. Yes, it is a fun to drive vehicle and something in which you would be looking forward to going out every weekend. Some gripes remain like the bad build quality, lack of some basic amenities like AC, cubby holes and safety arrangements. But then the fuel efficiency is sure to topple the scale in favor of the Mahindra Thar in India. The Mahindra Thar price in India starts from Rs 4,47,000 for the 4×2 version and ends at Rs 5,99,245 for the 4×4 version which I tested. All the prices are ex-show room, Mumbai.