New Mahindra Thar 2020 : 50 observations

Aditya drove the 2020 Mahindra Thar at the Freedom Drive that Mahindra had organized today. Here are his quick & brief observations:

• The new Thar looks far more modern than the outgoing model. One might mistake it for the Wrangler.

• The new styling makes it much easier to fit into the urban landscape. It does not look as agricultural as the old car.

• LED DRLs, LED tail-lamps, 18” deep silver alloy wheels and bodykit make sure the car stands out on the street.

• It turns heads like nothing else on our roads. By and large, I love the styling and most people seem to do so as well. I lost count of the number of thumbs ups I got from bystanders, bikers, cyclists, etc on the 3 hour long drive. The only thing I am not so sure about is the grille.

• The Thar appears strongly built. The doors and bonnet have a good deal of weight to them.

• External fit and finish are way better than before. Shut lines, though not as tight as sedans and hatchbacks, seemed uniform all over the car.

• Apart from a fixed soft top, it is available with convertible soft top and a factory fitted hard top. I drove the hard top and am happy to report that it kept the interior completely dry even in pouring rain.

• Central locking with a flippy key, but no keyless entry & go.

• Doors have leather straps to hold them from swinging out. No stages in the opening action.

• Ingress & egress (like all Mahindra off-roaders) are only for the fit and flexible. The floor of the Thar is high off the ground and you have to climb into the front and squeeze yourself thorough a tiny space to get into the rear.

• Cabin width has increased compared to the old Thar.

• Quality of the Interiors are a giant leap ahead compared to the old car. There are no inconsistencies anywhere. Dashboard and other plastics are all hard, but they are among the best I have seen used in Mahindra cars. Some parts are lifted from other Mahindra vehicles.

• Black interior with silver, chrome and piano black inserts looks premium and upmarket. People coming from “modern” cars will not miss much in the Thar. This is now a properly acceptable interior and not a “jugaad” like the old car. There are no sharp or rough edges anywhere.

• Dashboard is still not very deep, but it’s better than before. You don’t feel like you are wearing the windshield like a giant pair of spectacles like before.

• Hard top comes with fixed glasses instead of the transparent plastic like the soft top. This makes the all-round visibility a little better. There are still some blind spots though (caused by B-pillar + passenger seat, thick C-pillars).

• IRVM is small. Rearward visibility is hampered by tailgate mounted spare wheel and rear headrests.

• Front windows are bigger than before, but still, the amount of light coming into the cabin is not great. All-black interior theme makes things dark. Still, it will be easier to conceal stains.

• Seats have good bolstering on the sides. Driver’s seat is height adjustable and both front seats get lumbar adjustment and offer good support overall. Front seats might be a bit too snug for larger occupants. No problem for a skinny guy like me. Seat fabric, faux leather and stitching all seem to be of acceptable quality.

• There is a huge improvement in the ergonomics department. Almost everything falls easily to hand. The only problem I found was the placement of the buttons to operate the MID. They are located below the RHS air-con vent. The steering comes in the way and you will find the difficult to see and operate them while driving.

• No dead pedal has been provided. I had to rest my foot on the floor as if I was sitting at my dining table. That got uncomfortable after some time. It would have been better if I could stretch it out and rest it on a proper dead pedal.

• Steering wheel is thick and soft. It has thumb contours as well. Feels nice to hold and turn. It is also adjustable for height.

• Bonnet release is cleverly hidden under the dashboard on the driver’s side.

• Power windows and power adjustable ORVMs have been provided. They are a boon. No need to stretch across the cabin to and wind up/down the window or adjust the left ORVM any more.

• Doorpad is wide and a tall driver can rest his arm on its top comfortably. Of course an armrest has been provided below as well. What I missed was a center armrest. I was driving the petrol automatic variant and the dead pedal and center armrest would have made the experience complete.

• Air-con worked effectively. The hard top and rainy conditions might have helped matters.  I have a complaint about the 4-speed blower though. It gets loud from level two itself.

• Touchscreen head-unit is a welcome feature.

• Speakers are mounted on the roof. This might be helpful when you are wading through water. Single cabin lamp is placed next to them.

• Center console has a couple of proper cupholders and a slot to place your smartphone.

• Glovebox is really tiny.

• Passenger side sunvisor gets a vanity mirror without a light or cover. Driver side unit gets a ticket holder.

• Front facing rear seats are split in a 50:50 ratio. They have adjustable headrests and ISOFIX child seat anchors. They are suitable for small to moderate sized adults only. Anyway, large adults will find it really difficult to get into the rear.

• Sides of the cabin have carpeting. Helps keep noise out.

• With the rear seats in place, the boot space is comparable to that of a small hatchback. People + vacation luggage is a no go in this one.

• To access the boot, one has to open the tailgate first and then lift the glass hatch.

• Mahindra has done well to offer the Thar with both petrol and diesel engine as well as manual and automatic gearboxes. A 4×4 system is offered as well. This will increase the appeal of the vehicle.

• Very little body shake on start-up and shut down.

• Petrol engine is quiet at idle and low revs. There are mild vibrations felt on the steering and seat though.  

• Petrol is brisk, but doesn’t feel quick. With this one, it feels good to build up speed gradually rather than flog it.

• Turbo lag, if any, is masked well by the automatic transmission.

• Revv hard and the engine gets vocal. The noise filters into the cabin from the engine bay. Still, it’s quiet compared to the clatter of the old Thar.

• Automatic makes the Thar easy to manage in the city, particularly in stop & go traffic.

• Transmission shifts up at the earliest. It is smooth shifting. I didn’t feel any jerks during the drive. Foot hard down, the gearbox shifts up at ~ 4,500 rpm.

• Gearbox does get confused from time to time, especially while driving aggressively. It’s not very responsive to throttle inputs. Kickdown time is not quick. I used manual mode when I needed to get a move on. It is best to drive the Thar in a relaxed fashion.

• Ride is slightly better than the old car. But, don’t be mistaken. It is not comparable to sedans or even budget hatchbacks. Every bump on the road is felt inside. Even on a tar surface, the suspension will find a bump to relay to its occupants. Shift from a tar to a concrete surface and the difference is immediately felt. The ride gets properly choppy.

• Straight line stability is poor at high speeds. The car gets bouncy over joints.

• Handling is still old-school. Forget low slung sedans, this is not even close to the XUV500. This car is not meant for cornering.

• Steering is not very light at slow speeds. This might not go well with some when parking in tight spots or driving through crowded areas.

• Thanks to the hard top, there is no flapping of a canvas roof. The cabin is much quieter overall. Sounds of other cars’ horns and other noises are kept outside. Wind and road noise were not heard either.

• Brakes work fine. I did some hard braking from 80 km/h and the car stopped without any drama.

• Safety kit includes dual airbags, ABS, ESP, roll cage, child seat anchors, seatbelt reminders, hill-hold, hill descent control and more.

Continue reading the discussion on the 2020 Mahindra Thar on our forum. 

 

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