When I was considering buying a Mahindra Thar 18 months ago, everyone told me to reconsider my plans, think about it again and look at other available options. My family could never imagine a Mahindra Thar as family vehicle and they just thought I was wasting money. I was told things like “It is an acquired taste, not everyone’s cup of tea, it is a lifestyle car” etc. None of this made any sense really at that time and all I thought was that it is just another car and a stylish one for that matter actually. I had driven Thar a few times, took it out for a short test drive as well and even though it did feel a little different than driving any other car, I just couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. In the end, I simply chose to ignore everything that everyone said, went ahead with my plans, bought a Mahindra Thar and now after driving it around for over a year and a half, I know what everyone was trying to tell me.
Mahindra Thar is a true head turner without any doubt. No matter where you take it, it will catch everyone’s attention. People will admire and enquire which I doubt happens with any other car available in Indian market as of today. The most frequent questions that I get asked apart from about performance and maintenance are,
- How comfortable is Mahindra Thar for daily use?
- How is Mahindra Thar for city driving?
- Can you use Mahindra Thar as family vehicle?
Before I jump into answering these questions, let me first admit that I totally love my Thar. Though I may sound like I am bitching about it here, cribbing and complaining, but the fact is that I do not regret my decision at all. If rolled back in time and given a choice, I would still buy it 18 months ago. Secondly, what I say here is my honest opinion, my own thoughts as a Thar owner that others may or may not agree with.
Coming to answering the three questions above; I have been using Thar in Delhi’s bumper to bumper traffic, commuting to work and back in peak rush hours. I do own a couple of other cars as well but ever since Thar was added to the garage, it became my first choice of commute. I take it out every alternate day, if not everyday, and have had no problem so far. True that the overall experience of driving it is worlds apart from any other car. The steering feels different, seating positing is different, gear lever needs effort while shifting, braking sometimes feels inefficient, the hand brake is untrustworthy, canopy is annoying, rattles like crazy, the entire interior feels like a cheap “jugaad” but all this is just a few days story. Once you get used to it, after you start knowing your Thar, none of what I stated above will matter. Once you get used to the raw power and torque it offers, the retro jeep styling, the solid combination of engine, gear box and chasis, you will start ignoring your others cars like I did. Even though the steering wheel is a little big, the nimble power steering & zero turbo lag makes light work of driving it around in the city. Take it on the highway and it is effortless cruising all the way. The engine is really smooth and you will hear very little engine noise in the cabin which I believe is quite surprising for a jeep running on Diesel engine with no sound damping under the bonnet and a soft cover.
While the overall look feels huge and bulky, surprisingly the overall length of Thar is shorter than some of the shortest sedans in the Indian market today. Running at a total length of 3920 mm, it is shorter than even a Honda Amaze which has a length of 3990 mm. In terms of width as well, at 1710 mm, it is shorter than even an I20 which has a total width of 1734mm. Measurements I mentioned are of CRDE model, DI is even shorter than this. With these proportions, handling a Thar in city traffic or finding a parking spot too for that matter is no hassle at all. On the contrary, it actually makes it quite a fun to drive city car with 2498 CC engine, 105 bhp and 247 NM torque with zero turbo lag. The power steering is nimble and responsive which makes the maneuvering in city traffic quite effortless. There is a lot of space in the front cabin and a very commanding view from driver’s seat.
Things however change when it comes to using it as a family vehicle. In the end, it all boils down to the fact that Mahindra Thar is a remodeled, made-to-look-fancy jeep and a big compromise on comfort. Using it as a family vehicle means a lot of modifications after which your folks will still complain. The front seats are really hard on back and butt and not really designed to sit on for longer duration. The parallel rear seats are a catastrophe at a whole another level. There is no comfortable sitting position for people sitting in the back and it would just feel like they are sitting on a flat bench. Ride too, while it is smooth for front passengers, can get a lot bumpy for rear passengers. Convenience is another problem. There is no central locking available and all three doors will have to be opened one by one. Opening the canopy and climbing in the back feels like you are getting on an Army truck. There is absolutely no space to keep some of the basic daily stuff you will be carrying or groceries that you will be bringing home after shopping. You will just have to put them down either on the rear parallel seats or on the floor and in both cases everything will just be rolling around at every turn. Even the tool kit and puncture repair kit is inside a box under the passenger seat with nothing holding it firm. At even the slightest of bump, it will move and continue making an annoying noise. It is surprising to see that a company that big couldn’t even get the canopy right for the price. After a year or so, it will just start to tear apart. Come the rain and you will have water leaking inside the vehicle through the canopy. The zip locks too will give away after a few months. Accelerate Thar over 70 kmps and the canopy will start fluttering and making so much noise that you won’t even be able to enjoy the music. At every bump and speed braker, Thar rattles like everything is going to fall apart which can get very annoying. Though they made several changes in the newer 2015 released model but the entire interior is still a big letdown. Everything feels just plain and simple basic and not like sitting inside a Rs. 10 lakhs car. The rubber mats on the floor looks appalling. Dashboard too isn’t really that great or fancy and looks like made of cheap plastic. It is missing some of the very basic accessories like power windows, central locking, remote opening etc which are present in even the base models of all cars in the market today. Security is probably the biggest concern. It is not a car that you can just leave and go shopping. You will have to install some additional security measures for your peace of mind. Windshield wipers look like a joke. Canopy is a big hindrance while reversing the vehicle and you will have to practically get down, clean it with water after it gets dirty or you won’t be able to see anything. The steering wheel is off-center forcing you to hold it with your hands slightly to the left. Finding a perfect driving position too is tricky. If you slide the seats a little too much, you will have to stretch out for the steering wheel and gear lever which will start hurting your shoulders after some time. If you slide it forward to find a resting position for your arms, you will have to keep your knees bent. Springs under the rear seats stick out which can cause hurt if you are not careful, a hazard with kids and family. Things I mentioned here are just a few over the top of my head. If you look closely, this list can be endless.
So in the end, to answer the three questions,
- Can Thar be used for city driving, absolutely Yes. The company promotes it as an off-roader but it is a bliss to drive it even on the city roads.
- Is Thar suitable for daily use? Yes but only if you install some additional security features, mostly use it as two seater and preferably opt for a hardtop.
- Mahindra Thar as a family vehicle? A big NO. It can be a great addition to your garage but cannot be the only car in your garage. It is no way a family car but if you do want to use it that way, then you must spend a little money getting it accessorized that way like central locking, additional security measures, power windows, wall to wall carpet, front facing rear seat, hard top etc. However even after doing all this, it will still fall short and will never truly be a family car.
I hope this information was helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below and I would be glad to answer.