Thar’s new Avatar

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BY
VIVEK VENUGOPAL

February 19

The Thar is top of every youngster’s wishlist. Despite its lack of practicality an open top jeep with go anywhere ability and lots of macho appeal would definitely be the choice of anyone young at heart, whether one is a jeeper or just a pretender. Add to that, a Scorpio derived engine, transmission and front suspension, decent road manners, reliability of a new vehicle, service and spare parts availability and the Thar makes an even more compulsive buy. If there is anything you can do to increase the Thar’s appeal, it’s here on this particular Thar owned by a business man (who likes to remain anonymous) from Kochi.

There is very little to the exterior of this Thar except for the chunky BF Goodrich All Terrain rubber, HID foglamps, mesh grille, headlamp protectors and stickers. Even the interiors are left untouched with the crudely finished Bolero dash and rudimentary seats sticking out as inappropriate fitments on a car costing nearly half a dozen lakh rupees. All the work, Pete’s have done, has been underneath the body.

The 2.5litre CRDI engine powering the Thar comes from a Xylo. Straight from the factory, it produces 105bhp and 247 Nm of torque making the Thar a decent performer in town and on the highways. With a Pete’s box fitted, it becomes even more sprightly. The turbo seems to kick in at a lower 1800rpm and there is a strong shove right up to 3800rpm. Pete’s claims that the tuning box boosts the power to 124bhp and torque to 292N-m. There is more than adequate pulling power on steep inclines and engine response is particularly perky. Power delivery is linear for most part, but with the tuning box fitted, it feels as though there is a spring in its step. Where it can catch you though is in off road situations, where you need to gingerly apply the throttle without breaking traction on slippery ground. On the road the extra power is always there to make you surge forward with enthusiasm.

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The Thar uses an Independent front suspension with torsion bar at the front, much like the Scorpio’s. The rear suspension comes from the Bolero, which is an antiquated leaf spring affair. With a car like front suspension tying everything down and a truck derived rear one bouncing about, the ride was never going to be good – a case in point being the early Scorpios and the first Ford Endeavours. Nothing much can be done to the springs than changing them, but you can always add some additional damping to reduce the rebound shocks. This Thar gets quick acting Bilstein B6 suspension all-round to tame down the ride. Not only that, it reacts better to ever changing conditions off-road bringing the wheels to their optimum travel pause much faster.

Engage Low Range in the Borg Warner transfer case and you will be amazed by the drivability the Thar offers. Due to the higher crawl speed, there is no sudden drop in usable speed as in most other Jeeps. It’s a shame Mahindra didn’t provide a locking differential on something that is primarily perceived as a true blue off roader, limiting its capability in slush and sand. And with costlier independent front suspension upfront, Thar is best left to do the jobs of a slightly softer nature than the CJ3B. Still it can climb over most obstacles with ease and that would do for ninety percent of the off road enthusiasts.

The Thar has a 46 degree approach angle, 30 degree departure angle, 25 degree ramp breakover angle and 200mm ground clearance. Being good on road, you would possibly drive it to the off road spot and even longer than one would on a normal jeep. Which is when the tuning box and Bilstein B6 suspension makes most sense.

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BY VIVEK VENUGOPAL

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