Jeep Thrills

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January 5

Most people like to take their off-roaders on the beaten track, others are content of driving them in the city – whichever path you choose, you look right doing that in a Mahindra Thar.  It is a car that everyone likes – no matter how old. Ask anyone and chances are they even want to own one some day.

Mr.Gishil Bose from Kochi is not a hardcore off-roader and can’t stand the sight of them getting battered, let alone do it in his car. “I love my car so much that I can’t think of abusing it by climbing over stones and going across the boulder field.” He do take it on some light off-roading from time to time, or the occasional green laning;  but what he does that most off-roaders don’t do is, use it to get to work.

Gishil Bose is the CEO of the Porsche Centre in Kochi. Dealing with high end Porsches on a daily basis is perhaps what makes him appreciate the simplicity of the Thar. Or it could be the image of driving one that is class-less. Everyone likes a Thar and it is easy to start a conversation surrounding one. He has the usual combination of a small city car, an Innova and a Mercedes E class for those special occasions, in his garage; but it is the Thar that he picks up almost every day. And within five minutes of borrowing the keys for this photoshoot, I knew exactly why.

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In a crowded city like Kochi, it is only logical that you get yourself a small car – one that is narrow enough to dart into small gaps and shoot past slow moving cars. The Thar doesn’t need a gap; it just makes one for itself. There is a path carved out for you automatically, every time you flash your lights from a raised Jeep with chunky tyres.  On narrow roads, I was worried about the wheels sticking out too much, but to my surprise, my fellow road users coming the other way, were all too courteous to drop two wheels off the road and let me pass. Never have I encountered such nice people, and in no time we were out of the city and on a beach.

Now, it is the earlier Thar and doesn’t feature locking differentials. I had my doubts about going further into the beach, but it handled the loose sand without breaking a sweat. This is where I spent some time looking at the Thar and its mods. It rides on 31×10.5R15 steel rims with Radar Renegade M/T Tyres. The suspension duties are handled by Ironman Nitrogas shock absorbers. The front and rear bumpers have been swapped to offroad spec, with the front one getting a winch plate, on which a Warn winch sits. There are Hella Rally 3003 fog lamps on top and as if they aren’t sufficient, there is an LED lightbar on top. The wheel arches are from Mahindra adventure kit and the snorkel is functional too while the mirrors and tail lamps are from a Jeep Wrangler. It also has a 48 inch farm jack sitting on the bonnet.

Readers who aren’t off-road enthusiasts might be wondering what’s with the two steel cables running from the front of the bonnet to the top of the windscreen. They are called Limb risers and their job is to deflect branches of bushes or trees away from the windscreen or hitting your face from the sides.

Catch up with him on a random day and his car is as clean on the outside as it is on the inside. There is not a speck of dirt anywhere.  Also there is full damping on the interior to reduce noise and vibration. Usability has been further improved with forward facing rear seats. With the big wheels and tyres, performance surely would take a hit. However, the engine has been improved with a Pete’s remap and that is definitely compensating for the wheels and tyres. It is quite responsive off the throttle and there is better midrange than I remember driving a Thar last time.

No matter where we stopped, people came to ask all sorts of questions about it. From the layman who wants to know where we are from, to the offroad enthusiast in his Royal Enfield Himalayan asking about the cost of the snorkel and the lift kit, the Thar was getting all the attention. It sure made me wonder whether you really need to spend big bucks to get noticed these days. Of course, having unlimited access to fancy cars all the time, I guess Gishil already knows the answer.

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