Why the Mahindra Thar RWD is the best daily driver?
Updated: Mar 13
I've driven the Thar multiple times, and every time I get behind the wheel of one, I feel ecstatic and alive. The feeling of owning every path, every paved or broken road is something you can only experience in the Scorpios and Thars of today, pertaining to the fuel economy enthusiasts and gobbin in the offices of car manufacturers that are wanting to turn every SUV into a race car. SUVs genetically are made to do one thing well, take over the route where normal cars faint with anxiety.
Now the young lads at Mahindra played it smart, they brought in the fully loaded 4x4 in 2020, took a round of applause and then some for creating a cult amongst anyone who is a car nut, loves to travel and loves to brag about his / her Thar being safer than the Jeep Wrangler. Year after year, Mahindra has enjoyed bonus laurels for creating cars which people desire in heaps and hills. I for one, have always been impressed by the character the Thar beholds, on or off the road. It is indeed an engineering marvel, and a showcase of excellence of Indian Automobile Industry. Now, it has been well over 2 years since the Thar 4x4 was launched and Mahindra has been yearning to drop the bomb of its more affordable and everyday useable Thar, and all of this happens right before Maruti Suzuki plans to drop in its puny little Jimny.
Now, to the naked eye, the Thar RWD will not look like a compromise, it isn't Ana De Armas without her bodacious bottoms. But there are many things about this car that are controversial so to speak and absolutely amazing as well.
Under the Hood
This Thar I've been living for about a fortnight is kitted with the same 2.0 L mStallion Turbo-Petrol engine as the one scooped inside the 4x4 flavour. There is absolutely no difference in the mechanicals except the fact that the pair of springs in the front now have lesser load to hold around when you're going silly. It's like wearing a lightweight cotton T-shirt than a full football jersey. It might not look too heavy, but the experience is the key difference when you're out in the open.
Now the mStallion's specifications are not touched either. Mahindra people could have done that, to retain the 4x4 as the fully loaded one that is, but most of the engineers come from households where kids are not allowed to touch the Gujiyas on Holi or their mother would smack the living hell out of them. So the 150 bhp of max power output, combined with 300 Nm of max torque is a healthy number considering the Thar RWD weighs 2 Indian adults less than the 4x4. And all the power in the current scheme of things is transferred to the rear wheels via a smooth 6-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox, the only transmission option available on the Petrol powered Thar RWD.
What does all that Power do when sent to the Rear Wheels?
The Thar RWD is a tail happy, rear tyre spinnng enthusiast. Switch the ESC off, and while exiting every corner you can make the passengers sitting in the back seat scream for dear life. Don't forget to grab the divinity that you get as a gift from the dealership, while you take the delivery of your Thar RWD because you'll need god to calm your nipples down and be a less nutter while driving this car. The Thar RWD is an addictive car to drive, on the road and on paths less travelled. In comparison to the Hyundai i20 N-Line that the Thar RWD compares to price wise, this makes a lot more sense. A rear wheel drive car and 30 more horse power under the hood is a recipe for being the notorious kid your parents dreaded you to become.
The Thar drives like, ermmm..a Thar. A ladder-frame chassis with rigid axle, an independent front suspension and multi link rear suspension makes sure you're always properly stuck to the road, even when there are undulations. The rear dampers in the previous generation Thar were soft and would make the car toss around with heavy load. That setup has been stiffened up and now it handles like a charm. A proper hardcore SUV that handles like a hatchback is similar to a well cooked penne pasta with black olives and parmesan cheese grated on top.
What's changed on the inside?
The 4WD Drive shift lever is missing and it gives way to a rather nifty cubby space to keep your wallet, sunglasses and even a pack of Orange Juice, because it is hot as hell in February already. Talking about the heat, the air-conditioning system on the Thar is one of the best in the industry and will chill you to your bones in a matter of minutes, even when it is about 40 degree Celsius outsides and your shirt is dripping with sweat.
The twin peaks logo on the steering wheel is a welcome addition and makes the Thar's interiors feel richer instantly. There is no leather wrapped steering wheel as standard, but the polyutherene unit is grippy and takes the dust and grim from the daily dirty commute with ease. What I have also appreciated over the years is the overall visibility and accessibility to the driver controls. They are positioned in uncluttered parts of the car and provide a much stress free experience even when you're doing long distances.
The Thar is Thirsty?
And that is, if you're not a maniac who guns the car down with a heavy foot even when you're off to the nearby grocery store to pick up a healthy multigrain bread, because the doctor prescribed you for that. 21.3 kmpl is the maximum fuel economy we managed on the highway with cruise control taking over the ECU and TCU most of the time, at speeds upto 75 kmph at the limit. That number for a petrol powered ladder-frame SUV is actually, quite brilliant. In the city though, if there is no traffic, you can easily manage around 12-13 kmpl and once you get stuck in the dreadful rush hour traffic, the economy drops to single digits which makes you cry to your life.
So should you buy the Thar RWD?
You will not get a better package in an SUV at this price point. In times where auto brands are alluring customers with performance packages and cosmetic magic in their SUVs, Mahindra is sticking to the roots of making properly engineered SUVs for the masses to cherish spending time with. The Thar is a cult, the Thar RWD is a more practical way to follow the cult, pertaining to the fact that people who buy SUVs, don't do hardcore off-roading these cars are capable of doing, more than 95% of the time. These cars get reduced to be urban and rural wanderers, and with the practicality of the Thar that already is, economically, the Thar RWD makes so much sense. And that, is what I have my money on.