The 2020 Mahindra Thar is a new generation model and that makes it a different animal altogether. Completely revamped inside out, the new Thar is bigger, bolder and feels even more rugged. At the same time, the SUV feels more premium and with its comfort features, should have wider acceptance, especially with those who want an SUV to complement their active lifestyle. Looking at the Thar, perhaps you would have thought Mahindra struck some deal with Jeep and got its own version of the Wrangler to our shores, a much affordable one of course. Well! That's exactly what it is. A poor man's Jeep Wrangler and that's not at all a bad thing, it being a huge step-up than its predecessor in every way- the new-generation Mahindra Thar.
We already told you earlier that Mahindra is changing the image of the Thar brand by very aptly positioning it as a lifestyle product, but without upsetting the off-road enthusiasts a bit. In fact, with advanced 4x4 mechanicals and more electronics on board, it is building up on its off-road credentials. But at the same time, the new Thar is very stylish to look at, quite practical to live with and upmarket in appeal. Here's how different the all-new Mahindra Thar is from its predecessor.
Platform And Exterior
To begin with, the new-generation Mahindra Thar looks a lot more desirable now. Make no mistake, the Thar hasn't lost its butch and robust demeanour. If anything, it has built up on that front with its gigantic and bulbous dimensions and sitting 226 mm high from the ground. It is based on Mahindra's third-generation body-on-ladder platform which gives it a much wider track and a longer wheelbase making for a really solid stance. The boxy silhouette does keep the Thar DNA intact but it will remind you more of the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon than its predecessor, and is safer for pedestrians. Again, that's quite a statement to make as it's a big leap in terms of premium and lifestyle appeal just by the looks of it. The even finish of the body panels, the paint-job, sharp and clean shut lines, matte finish on the hard top, tinted glass, single-unit side steps or the fender cladding among others, quality of everything looks up by several notches.
Talking about the design itself, the subtly sloping hoodline falling onto the wide facade looks so well in place and the chunky bumper with silver skid plate add to its sturdiness. The single unit seven-slat grille is the only major differentiator here from the previous Thar or even the Wrangler. It looks bit of an afterthought though and on purpose as other elements like the fender mounted daytime running lights (DRLs) integrated with the turn indicators and the circular headlamps relate a lot to the Wrangler. The profile does have slight resemblance of its predecessor but step towards its rear and the flat tail with centre mounted spare wheel and hexagonal elements like the LED taillights, overhang cladding and tight overhangs again look inspired from the Wrangler. Moreover, Mahindra has retained the massive squared wheel arches at the front and circular ones at the rear. The sizeable 18-inch black alloy-wheels shod in 255/65 section tyres with substantially tall side wall and enough rubber too do a good job in filling these wheel wells. The base variant of the Thar gets 16-inch steel rims.
Just park the outgoing Thar beside this new one and you'll notice how bare bones it is. Now remember that the Thar originally was launched a decade back and took its learnings from the age-old MM50. It was meant for the tough job only and that defined even its looks. Rough edges, uprights pillars and uneven body panels didn't bother enthusiasts who in fact admired its ruggedness. But the outgoing Thar never made as the only vehicle in the garage which this new-generation model has good chances to.
It's a different world altogether inside. The new Mahindra Thar is not only meant for hard-core off-road enthusiasts, but also offers pretty decent comfort for commuting and the interior plays a vital role in making it more user-friendly. The front seats are really well-bolstered and the ergonomics too is nearly on point with all controls within easy reach. Given the expected price tag, upwards of ₹ 12 lakh for the range topping LX trim, the plastic quality isn't exactly premium but is definitely up few notches making it feel quite upmarket compared to its predecessor. You get faux carbon-fibre finish around the air-con vents and a big update inside is that you can hardly see any exposed sheet metal, which gives the cabin a much better feel than the previous model. Even the doors are properly done, with bold and square-ish pads on them having the 'Thar' engraving. You get similar treatment in the foot wells as well. You also get to see some stylish elements like toggle switch controls, piano black finish on air-con vents and updated steering wheel with audio and telephony controls like you see on other new-age Mahindra models.
But then, the biggest update is the forward facing rear seats in the top of the line LX trim. As far as our first impressions go, the space at the rear is adequate for an adult with reasonable knee room and the seats too are well cushioned, have reclining backrest, get three-pointy seat belts and are accessible with a single touch on the front passenger seat. However, the ingress at the rear is tight and the wheel wells eat into the space, strictly restricting it to four passengers only. The roll cage in the cabin is exposed as these removable hard top panels are fixed above it. The floor rubber is washable so you are not much bothered of getting the mud in while off-roading and there are roof mounted speakers so that you don't harm them while washing the floor. The soft-top AX trim comes only with side facing bench at the rear and can sit seven.
The previous-generation Mahindra Thar is bare basics with exposed sheet-metal all over and its was offered only with a soft-top and side facing bench at the rear. The dashboard was inspired by the one in the first-gen Mahindra Bolero GLX and you literally felt being inside the MM50.
The cabin has been reasonably upgraded in the features department as well and gets a touchscreen infotainment system for the very first time. It's a new 7.0-inch unit which has in-built navigation and smartphone integration like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It even shows stuff like articulation angle, tilt-angle, direction compass and water wadding depth while off-roading and has dedicated on road display as well. In fact, the screen can be customised as well to display exactly what you need from both set up- off-road and on-road. Other features include manual HVAC, power windows, two USB pots, one 12 V power socket, remote locking, central locking dual front airbags, rear parking sensors and speed alert system among others.
The Mahindra Thar is now offered with two engine options and for the first time a petrol engine and an automatic transmission have joined the line-up. The 2.0-litre mStallion turbo petrol engine belts out 148 bhp and 320 Nm of peak torque. The diesel Thar is powered by the 2.2-litre mHawk BS6 engine that churns out 128 bhp and 320 Nm of peak torque. Both engines are paired with a six-speed manual transmission as standard while a six-speed torque converter automatic is also on offer.
Earlier, the Thar was offered with a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder CRDe engine that developed 103 bhp and 247 Nm of peak torque and was mated to a five-speed manual transmission as standard.
The 2020 Mahindra Thar gets a mechanical 4x4 transfer case as standard with four-wheel low, four-wheel high and two-wheel drive modes and has a low crawl ration of 42:1 which can multiply the low end torque by 2.48 times. It is equipped with an independent suspension at the front while the rear gets a multi-link unit. The rear axle comes with a mechanical locking differential as well and the electronic stability program (ESP) helps shift traction to the right wheel, precisely when needed. It has a water wading ability of 650 mm with and as already mentioned, an unladen ground clearance of 226 mm, which will differ in the variants equipped with 16-inch wheels. The approach angle of 42 degrees, ramp-over angle of 27 degrees and a departure angle of 37 degrees should be reassuring to take on steep obstacles.
The mechanical 4x4 transfer case with four-wheel low, four-wheel high and two-wheel drive modes was there even in the previous Thar, but it lacked other elements like differential lock and ESP among others.
Also Read: 2020 Mahindra Thar SUV: Variants Explained
Variants and Body Styles
The 2020 Mahindra Thar will be offered in two variants- AX which is the base trim and LX which is the top-end trim. There are three body styles- a four-seater hard top, a six-seater soft-top and a convertible top with a collapsible soft-top mechanism that can be manually folded down in case you feel like enjoying the wind in your hair.
The previous Mahindra Thar was offered with a soft-top and six-seater configuration as standard with side facing bench seats at the rear.