Gone Mud

Donec egestas diam arcu, id auctor turpis porttitor ac. Nulla feugiat justo mauris ( Photo by: jont dore )

BY
VIVEK VENUGOPAL

February 14

Whenever we get a call from TDI racing asking if we would like to come to Bangalore, we know there is something big cooking. Everytime we went there, we had always been greeted by a whole lineup of reworked cars from a Swift to a high-lift Endeavour. This time though, we missed the date and by the time we arrived there was only a Mahindra Thar waiting for us. And truth be told, after a night of very disturbed sleep and a heavy breakfast, I wasn’t really in a mood for some barebones off-roading in a rattly Mahindra. But since the other option was a remapped KTM Duke and I am not a biker either, I got behind the wheel and buckled up.

The initial lack of enthusiasm soon turned into excitement as the modifications started showing their effect. The widened track and the grippy tyres were making it so much more planted, I could push it into corners in a way I would never have imagined in any SUV, let alone one with a raised suspension. It felt quite quick for an SUV with enormous Maxxis tyres, thanks to a remap, which they claim is good for almost 140bhp. The suspension with its reworked dampers, was an in house development by TDI racing and this was making it less bouncy on the road. But it wasn’t until Kiran Y.V moved in to the driving seat that the Thar’s full off roading capability was achieved.

There is a little playground outside the TDI Racing facility and this is where we decided to do the shoot. There were deep trenches and huge boulders, the likes of which would send most off-roaders home, but nothing seemed to faze the Thar or it driver. It just went from one obstacle to the other, the knobby tyres holding on to anything that provided grip and that transfer case still in high ratio. The Thar has a differential ratio of 4.3 and a crawl ratio of 40.31 in its stock trim with 29 inch (235/70R16) standard tyres. With the larger 33 inch wheels, its crawl ratio must now be in the 45.8 range. Given the engine’s improved torque after the remap, it wasn’t struggling anywhere. The articulation of the front independent suspension seemed adequate for most situations, and there were rock sliders under the car for protection.

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It was indeed a sight, but it was also disturbing, to watch this good looking vehicle take on such an arduous trail. Sure, it is purpose built to go off road and be very good at that, but most of the bits on the exterior are rare and expensive. That rear bumper with built in spare wheel mount, for instance, is an original from a Jeep Wrangler that costs almost a lakh and half. The front bumper, the snorkel, the bull bar on which the Light Force fog lamps are mounted, all make a difference to the way it looks from the front. Kiran however didn’t seem to care how much it costs for the mods, and was scraping the rear bumper by taking to unbelievable departure angles. Or perhaps he knows how durable they are.

Just when I thought it was probably as mad as it gets, Kiran decided to get into a muddy trench and sink axle deep into the water. For the next twenty minutes or so, the Thar sits there splashing mud all over itself with all four wheels spinning in low range, moving probably, a few inches by each passing minute . Lots of patience and many back and forth movements later, it reached the other side of the trench where it slowly pulled itself out with the 5.5ton winch onboard. All this, so that I could get some mud shots for my camera. These insane Jeepers !

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BY VIVEK VENUGOPAL

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