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Old 31st January 2021, 11:14   #1
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Default My 2020 Mahindra Thar Review (Mystic Copper)!

Likes:
  • All-round package with massive improvements in literally every single area from previous Mahindra Body-on-Frame trucks
  • The smooth and tractable diesel engine mated perfectly to a modern six-speed Auto
  • Majestic feeling from that driver seat, with grand views towering over most traffic
  • Superb build quality, everything feels well screwed together and durable
  • Feature loaded for an off-road biased, life-cycle vehicle – touchscreen with Android Auto & Apple Car Play, ESP, Cruise Control, LED DRLs, Tire Pressure monitoring etc.
Dislikes:
  • Except for the front seats, space is severely limited – for people and for things! (narrow and hard-to-access second row, tiny glove box, non-existent boot)
  • Ergonomics not fully thought through – missing center armrest, insufficient thigh support, missing reach adjustment for the steering wheel, inconvenient placement of window controls, 4WD mode selector lever not intuitive etc.
  • Fine-grain adjustment not possible in many departments – only 3 windscreen wiper speeds, A/C is too cold even at the lowest fan speed, music system too loud even at low volume settings etc.
  • Bumpy ride on anything but the smoothest of roads. If you are considering a long road trip over highways that are in poor condition, risk your vertebrae or choose another car!
As I write this long delayed ownership review 3 months after I took possession of the Thar, it has crossed 2500 kms, been on two long trips and completed the first service check-up.

Why a new car?

My Ford Ecosport TDCI had crossed 7.5 years of trouble-free ownership. The car had done less than 30,000 km in all this time and was still in great shape. The engine seemed as eager as on Day 1. The car had been though an overhaul 1.5 years ago and got new brake pads and disks, a new clutch assembly and rear suspension. The car was as good as new and it seemed it was ready for another 7 years of trouble free ownership! Further, the design still looked reasonably fresh and people were still buying this car in droves in 2020. All of this meant that there was no real reason to change the car at this point. However, the seven-year itch had set in – the car was getting too bored and predictable, and I restless for a change of my daily driver!

Link to my Ecosport ownership thread: https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/long-...-sea-grey.html (My Ford EcoSport Diesel Titanium-O (Sea Grey))

The urge to change the car had started almost a year earlier. I had a light usage pattern for the car I intended to purchase, with a daily running of less than 10 km for in-city commute. Most of my cars have never done more than 7500 KMs in a year. We also have two other sedans in the family for school drops, household chores, weekend visits to the club etc. So I was essentially looking for an SUV, but one that was not too big, that could be used as a daily office commuter car, as well as one for long distance out of town trips every now and then. I wanted a Diesel, since my other car was the petrol sedan. I decided to be very scientific about finding the successor and set out to design a “point system” to find the perfect car to replace EcoSport.

Selection Criteria
  • One Point for a reasonably fuel-efficient diesel engine – I wanted a car that I could take on long out of town trips, especially to our cottage in Kodaikanal. I hate forced fuel stops and so I wanted a car that had a good range upwards of 600 km.
  • One Point for a good automatic transmission – I had got used to the comfort of driving an automatic with my other car, a petrol sedan with a smooth automatic transmission and cruise control. The MT Ecosport, was still a pain during very long drives of over seven hours. Especially, when I re-entered the urban jungle at the end of the long return trip, it was very painful to drive through city traffic to reach home. I want to make sure that my next car had an auto tranny.
  • One point for all-wheel drive drive. Although I did not see myself as an off-road junkie, who would go visiting the river beds every week, I did like the feeling of having the flexibility to go off-road and take on the rough should I ever need to! I was fond of my proper four wheel Toyota 4 Runner that I drove when I used to live abroad and remember the feeling of invincibility that comes from driving such a vehicle.
  • One point for an all-star safety rating. This would consist of six airbags ideally, and a very good crash test rating of 4 or 5 stars. This was the one point that most of the competitors did not get, they had either not been tested or did not have 6 air-bags in anything less than the exorbitantly priced top-end variants.
  • One point for novelty. I like to buy new generation car immediately following a global launch, the car stays fresh for longer plus I love the feeling of being one f the first to own a new-Gen product. Each of my last 3 cars were purchased immediately on a global launch and in all three cases, I was one of the first to won the new product in my city.
  • Half a point for cruise control. I like the convenience of cruise control when a long highway drives. This is one feature my Ecosport lacked. My sedan had this feature and I found it really convenient as it gives a chance to take your left foot foot off the accelerator pedal and flex it around to help circulation and avoid cramping up thew right leg. It also comes in very useful to conserve fuel if you are in the mood to do so. Most cars give their best fuel efficiency when set to cruise control mode at a reasonable speed.
  • Half a point for all modern convenience features, including push-button start, keyless entry, Auto climate control, auto headlamps, rain sensing wipers, etc.
  • Half a point for a modern touchscreen infotainment system with android auto and Apple CarPlay. This was the one feature that even my German sedan did not have. This feature was now available in mainstream cars and I wanted to make sure that my next car had it. It comes in hugely useful while touring, one can set the destination using Google maps, and in parallel have the system be fully usable to make and receive calls, play music etc.
  • Half a point for front seat comfort and convenience – the ability to adjust the seat far in all dimensions including the height as well as backrest angle. Driving comfort of the seating position was very important to me on long trips, I tend to get a back or neck ache if the seed is not a really comfortable after driving for about three or four hours. Ideally, the seat should also have lumbar support.
  • One point for ongoing ownership costs and ease of service. The spares should be relatively cheap and widely available and the manufacture needs to have a good sales an service network including rural areas.
  • Finally, there was a big jackpot double-point for value. The car should offer real value for the money paid. I know this is subjective, but I do not attribute a high level of value to purely cosmetic features like a “a car that speaks to you”, which one is unlikely to use after the first few weeks when the novelty factor wears off. On the other hand, enduring features like a great drivetrain, good power and torque, safety and comfort focused features etc. are things you will experience every time you drive the car and had more weightage in the value equation.

I did not allocate any points for backseat accessibility or comfort because this car would seldom carry anybody other than me! We had two other cars in the family that could be used to take for school runs, family outings etc.

We had had a raft of new car launches in 2019 and 2020, including the Harrier, Hector, Seltos, Creta, Sonet etc. and I checked out each and every one of these cars and even booked many of them prior to launch, only to cancel later on. Below are the alternatives considered and some salient points about them.

Tata Harrier

I checked out the Harrier at the time of its launch in January 2018. I wasn’t quite ready to change my car at that time, but the prospect of the Harrier really excited me. It was based on the JLR platform and retained many of the thoroughbred traits of the Discovery Sport. I was truly impressed with the interiors - it did not look like a Tata product. The shape of the truck was very attractive and it drove fairly well. However the long travel clutch and the long throw gearbox put me off after a test drive. Also, I was getting clearer in my mind that I wanted an AT car and the first edition of the Harrier did not have an AT. I also started to sense that the Harrier was a bit of an unfinished product and the Team BHP review, including GTO’s impressions on the over-sensitive steering confirmed this. After booking the Harrier on the first day of launch, I decided to cancel the booking in a couple of weeks and wait for the automatic transmission variant which was supposed to come very soon.

MG Hector

This was the second car that caught my fancy. I expected a very high VFM pricing from MG. I had driven the Chinese version of this car during my trip there in 2017. It was very spacious and smooth to drive. However, I did feel it had a very light build when I drove it in China. The Hector was launched in a wide variety of variants in India and the value equation was really impressive. Even the variant just about the bottom one, came loaded with all the features that I was looking for. It had a large touchscreen system, a higher state of tune for the same diesel engine as in the Harrier, cruise control, and a number of the other features that were very desirable. The space inside was really impressive. I booked the Hector as well immediately after the launch, and thought long and hard about it. The waiting period was very long and by the time the news of allocation of the Hector came along, I had lost interest. The car seemed too large to be easily manoeuvrable in the city, and it also lacked a diesel automatic, which I was even clearer now that I wanted.

Kia Seltos

This was a car I came the closest buying. I expected a strong diesel automatic or a good value point to be offered. The initial reviews were very impressive and it did seem like a nice upgrade over the Ecosport. However, the more I saw of the Kia, the less the external appearance impressed me. It had too many cuts and creases and too many elements that seems cut-paste “item numbers” from various European brands. I was willing to forgive all this, if I could get a diesel automatic version with key features at around 12 lakhs ex-showroom. When it did get launched, the HTK+ Diesel Auto, which had the perfect mix of features seemed to be a value pick and booked on-line again on Day 1 of launch! Much to my disappointment, when the price reveal did happen, the HTK+ Diesel Auto was priced well north of 13 lakhs ex-showroom – which would translate to 16+ lakhs on-road. It just did not feel like the right buy any more and I cancelled my booking.

After this triple fiasco, I sat down and thought long and hard about my next car and what exactly I wanted it to be and how much I was prepared to spend on a car, that was not an absolute essential purchase. Covid-19 had struck, and a period of uncertainty set in on the whole environment. Although I still wanted to renew my car, I did not want to spend as much as I would have initially thought when I booked at the Harrier etc. I had become even more value conscious.

Hyundai Creta

Although I was never a Hyundai fan after owning the Verna between 2007 and 2010, it seemed like the brand had undergone a major transformation. I really liked the design of the new Creta. It was launched just as Covid arrived and the value part of the equation was very high on my mind. At the time of launch, I was delighted to see that there were two variants offered at an ex-showroom price below 10 lakhs (The diesel E and the petrol EX). This makes a huge difference in Tamil Nadu, because once ex-showroom price crosses 10 lakhs the road tax goes up by 5% and effectively you pay Rs.50,000 more. I was very tempted to book the diesel E, knowing that the engine was really an all-rounder. A test drive revealed that although it had a manual tranny, the clutch and gearbox on the Creta were extremely soft and it was comfortable to drive. The uncertainty around Covid continued to make me delay my purchase decision. There was one point in the year, when these base variants could be delivered within two weeks, and I almost gave the dealer a booking advance. However, in the end, something kept telling me to definitely not compromise on an automatic transmission for my next car. The diesel auto variants of the Creta were avaiulabe on only top end trims and these were so highly priced, that it did not make any sense to spend that kind of money to on a lot of extra cosmetic features I had no interest in.

Kia Sonet

The last car I looked at and actually booked was the Kia Sonet. The news that a full-fledged Diesel TC Automatic Powertrain with the 115 HP and 250 NM, was going to be available in a Compact SUV like the Sonet really got me hooked. I was imagining the great blend of value, comfort, features that it could offer. I booked the Sonet on day 1, without knowing the actual variant distribution and the pricing that is to be expected. The first positive bit of news came when Kia announced the HTK + variant that will have the VGT and higher power tune on Diesel Auto, same as in the Creta/Seltos, as well as the torque converter automatic. All initial reviews pointed to this being an amazing variant to drive. I hoped this variant would be offered below 10 lakhs ex-showroom, making it a very high value purchase. When the actual pricing was announced, however, this variant landed over 10 lakhs ex-showroom, making it much less value in my eyes, especially at a time when we were still in the Covid-induced penny-pinching mood. Also, the variant did not have Cruise Control which in my mind was starting to become important, after another long trip on my EcoSport gave me some trouble with my back. After a lot of thought, I ended up cancelling my booking for the Sonet as well.

After having gone through five different cars and actually booked and cancelled four of them, I was getting a bit frustrated about finding the perfect combination of value and the whole scoring system based on my algorithm seemed suspect. There were no promising new launches ahead, until Volkswagen and Skoda came up with their SUV twins the Taigun and Kushaq.
Attached Thumbnails
My 2020 Mahindra Thar Review (Mystic Copper)!-eco1.jpg  

My 2020 Mahindra Thar Review (Mystic Copper)!-eco2.jpg  


Last edited by 84.monsoon : 6th April 2021 at 18:43.
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Old 6th April 2021, 16:31   #2
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The Thar enters the Fray

This was around the time when the news of the launch of the new Thar was getting a lot of traction in the automotive press. I had driven the earlier Thar CRDE during my trip with Mahindra Adventure Safaris in Rajasthan way back in 2017. Although I was impressed by its off-road promise, it was really uncomfortable! Being 6’2” tall, the front seat would not even slide back enough to keep my knees from rubbing against the dashboard. The gear shift throws on that low mounted shifter were so long, like that of a bus and the clutch was hard. During a casual chat with one of the Mahindra executives during the event, he explained to us how the company was working on a completely new, bottom-up re-engineering of the car to produce a brand new avatar. He was so excited about the type of comfort and convenience they wanted to bring in, retaining the mission-ready off-road capabilities, plus introduce the ability to cruise on highways in a very comfortable way over long distances. I had stored this away at the back of my head as something to look at - if and when gets launched! The neuron connections happened in my brain when I started seeing the news of the launch of the brand-new Thar!

I got really intrigued and watched all the launch videos on Independence Day. The car looked splendid and the news of the hard top really turned around the perception that it could not be a daily driver. It seemed to have everything I was looking for – an efficient diesel engine, an automatic transmission, hardtop roof, most of the comfort and convenience features, cruise control, and handsome and timeless stance - without the usual garishly over-done design Mahindra was very capable of. I still had a lot of questions in my mind about whether the seating position would be comfortable, whether the comfort would be okay on long drives with some key features such as a centre armrest missing and also, would it be fuel-efficient as it was bound to be a quite a heavy truck and had a large capacity diesel engine.

Booking & Delivery Experience

My interest in the car continued to grow between the Independence Day and October 2, the day of launch. All the YouTube reviews that came out during the period were full of high praise for this car. The main flaws that were pointed out where the bumpy ride and a shaky steering. The petrol automatic was attractive – the engine was a state of the art one gasoline direct injection one and also the more powerful of the two powertrain options, as well it was priced lower than the Diesel – a lot of us expected this to be the other way around, considering all the advanced tech in the petrol. However, it did seem as if it might turn out to be big fuel guzzler, with poor city mileage and limited highway range. This made me eliminate the petrol from the consideration, though I was briefly tempted by my love for the latest tech.

The diesel, on the other hand, did not have very impressive power specs on paper. I was a bit worried if it might turn out to be a slouch. There are a few videos of 0-100 KPH runs, which seemed to indicate that the diesel managed to do the run in 12.75 seconds or so, which was a tad faster than the Ecosport and fast enough for me. When I felt the need for speed, I had my German Sedan to fall back on, which will do the 0-100 KPH in 6.1 seconds!

Interestingly, the Diesel MT was not any faster than the Diesel AT. This seemed to point to a responsive Auto box which was also quite efficient. The gearbox had great pedigree, coming from Aisin, a Toyota family company and being closely related to the box used in the Fortuner Auto.

I started waiting with bated breath for October 2nd to arrive. On the day of the launch I tuned in to Pawan Goenka announcing prices. The price announcement was extremely brief and very much to the point. The pricing was bang on target! I was a bit surprised by the Diesel turning out a bit more expensive than the Petrol on like-to-like variants, I had expected this to be the other way around considering how advanced the Mstallion petrol is. Although there were some hopes off a decently equipped AX automatic variant priced reasonably, it was very clear that the pricing strategy was designed to encourage buyers to opt for the top end LX trims. The price difference between the AX and LX was very narrow. What was also surprising, was that the difference in pricing for a Diesel automatic was only 70K more than the manual. After some hectic analysis I re-affirmed that that the top-end LX Diesel Auto hardtop was the variant I would go for.

Next came the urgent hunt for a test drive. I was very clear that this time, I would not book the car without a test drive. I had serious concerns about seating, because in the previous car, I could hardly sit without my knees rubbing on the dashboard and this had to be cleared up before I booked the car. The launch was on a Friday and during the weekend that immediately ensued, I went to the closest Mahindra dealer looking for a “touch, feel and sit” experience of the car, and also hoped for a test drive. The dealership did not have a display vehicle, nor a test drive vehicle at that time, since the only vehicle was out on a test drive. After waiting 20 minutes, I headed over to the other dealer in town, INDIA GARAGE. They had a separate display vehicle and a test drive vehicle.

I spent a solid 15 minutes checking out the car, especially the driver seat comfort. There were quite a few other people also doing the same, so one has to be careful with masks, distancing and hand-sanitising! The car checked all the boxes in my mind. The front seating position was very comfortable and the steering wheel was at a convenient distance – at the rear-most position, the front seat and gave me plenty of knee room. In fact, I have to slide the front seat forward a couple of notches to actually get to the best driving position. The range of height adjustment was also quite wide, and the pedals seem to be at a comfortable distance. There was only a manual transmission car in the diesel avatar available for both display and test drive. As it was late that evening, I decided to go following day to get a test drive. Below are my impression from this first look encounter with the Thar (Shared earlier in a post on the main Thar thread, but including below for completeness)

First look Impressions

  • This car is REALLY imposing, even in the neutral black color. I think it is going to look stunning in Red and Copper shades.
  • Paint quality is better than I have seen traditionally in Mahindra cars.
  • The 18" alloys are simply stunning. They may not be the most comfortable, but I would never swap them for smaller alloys for comfort - they are sweet - massive and larger-than-life!
  • It is quite a climb up to the cabin. The side step will alleviate this a bit for shorter and more elderly people. It is solid and can take good amount of weight. But for an older person to get in, there is nothing solid to hold on to. A solid plastic grab handle on the A pillar on the passenger side would have helped.
  • Seating is comfortable for tall drivers. The front seat travel is more than sufficient for someone my height (6'2"). The seat is quite comfortable and the padding is perfect - neither too hard nor too soft. There is ample headroom even with the seat set to a higher position.
  • The range of seat height adjustment is quite good as well. The lumbar support is provided for both the driver and the front seat passenger! This is not something you see even in top end variants of other mid-size SUVs.
  • The portion of the door where you will keep your arm is not padded, it is fairly hard plastic and may become uncomfortable during long drives. Hopefully some after-market solution will become available for this. Also, I hope someone comes up with an after-market solution for the missing center armrest - either a storage box or an armrest that can be attached to the seat.
  • The footwell is definitely narrow and will be problematic in the manual version. Since I am would get the automatic, I was not too worried, since there is sufficient space to the left of the B pedal. Footrest is sorely missed - but they could not have put one in the MT, there is just not enough space, but it could have been provided it in the AT.
  • There is a bit of a protrusion from the center console into the footwell and the left knee just about touches there, it can be a minor irritant, but it was not as bad as the Harrier. By adjusting the seating position a bit more backwards, this was less of an issue for me.
  • Steering Wheel is larger than other recently launched cars in this segment and the one above. Lately we have been seeing a trend of smaller steering wheels, but the Thar gets a larger one - Mahindra never went with this trend of downsizing steering wheels! It is not leather wrapped, but the material did not feel too harsh to the hands.
  • The horn pad is easy to reach and so are the steering mounted controls. The steering could have got a flat bottom, the lower part of the circle is somehow appearing magnified and a flat-bottom wheel would have free up some ingress space as well.
  • Interior plastic quality is not great but then that is what one would expect - it does not look bad though.
  • Clutch felt soft enough but it is long travel type and the gear lever also has long throws, though it is sure slotting. The 4WD mode lever looks sweet, like a mini gear lever. I am glad Mahindra gave us this instead of a regular rotary lever like in the Compass.
  • Boot space is almost non-existent, as many have already noted. It is good enough for a suitcase and large duffel bag stacked on top, but that is it!
  • Ingress into the back seat is indeed a pain, but once you are there, it is not a bad place. The seat can be reclined at a number of angles and the wheel arches are covered in soft carpet which almost feels like an armrest! But of course, it would probably be a jarring ride back there.
  • The front hood is heavy but not as heavy as the Compass or Harrier. The doors are also not very heavily built, but they are not tinny either.

All in all, I came away impressed. The Thar feels like a decent, honest product, making no pretenses about what it is and isn't. It feels well put together and built to last. Most of the issues I worried about regarding seating comfort for tall drivers are not there.

Last edited by 84.monsoon : 6th April 2021 at 18:39.
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Old 6th April 2021, 16:38   #3
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Test Drive Impressions


So on Monday, 5th November I arrived at the dealership really early, as recommended by the SA, so that I could get an unhurried test drive. The SA was very courteous, knowledgeable, and was able to talk intelligently about all the features of the car and also let me have a leisurely test drive. Below are my impressions from the test drive (shared in a post earlier, including below for completeness)
  • Getting into the car and getting seated is like ascending the throne. Once seated you definitely feel like a king!
  • The steering wheel is quite close to the dash and is not adjustable for reach. It feel a little odd at first, with the steering so close to the body of the car. The dials are clearly visible though, once the angle of the rake is set right. The rake adjustment range is quite good, though.
  • The display is basic and functional, though everything is very clearly visible. The readouts of trip metrics, mileage etc. in the center is very clear. The test drive car had done 380 kms and was showing an average fuel economy of 9 kmpl. If this is a true reading, it is very respectable in my view, the showroom is located on Mount Road - a section with very busy traffic and I am sure there would have been a lot of short trips done with bumper-to-bumper traffic. However, the trip mileage readout stayed absolutely constant throughout the drive - I would have expected it to drop a bit given I was darting into gaps of traffic and trying hard acceleration wherever I could find an empty stretch.
  • The engine is not noisy at all. You can hear a gentle diesel thrum if you listen closely, but it is not otherwise noticeable.
  • I was always worried about vibrations felt inside on Mahindra Diesels - the new Thar has none of it, I could not feel any vibes on the gear lever, or any of the foot pedals.
  • The clutch is long travel, though butter-soft. There is linear modulation, and the bite point is not sudden at all. I had no problems with engine stalling even once, though I was coming from driving a Diesel Ecosport. The clutch in fact felt twice as soft as that on my Ecopsort, despite the fact that I changed to a brand new clutch in the Ecosport only 9 months ago!
  • The reverse gear is engaged by lifting up a ring and going far left and up. There is quite a bit of travel to go there and this gear along is a bit notchy to engage, so it is not possible to accidentally engage reverse at all.
  • The gear lever is longer throw than my Ecosport (of course), but the slotting action is pretty sure and clean for all gears 1-4 that I could use on the test drive.
  • Once you engage first gear and take your foot off the clutch, the vehicle moves forward cleanly. There is absolutely zero lag and no fuss in taking off from standstill or low speeds, thanks to a large engine with probably mild level of turbocharging. The car can stay in a higher gear even at lower speeds. It will easily clear the speed-breaker test in second gear.
  • The Diesel is very linear and each gear manages to accommodate a wide range of speeds. I could easily go from 5 kmph to 45 kmph in second (did not test any higher) - without the engine seeing strained. Power delivery is absolutely linear and there was no sudden speed surge due to the turbocharger.
  • If you try hard acceleration in second or third, the car responds without lag, and picks up speed cleanly, but the process is very linear and predictable. You can definitely dart into gaps in the traffic but not instantly, it will take a bit of planning. This is Ok, in any case, as the Thar is a wide vehicle, and one cannot expect to drive it like a hatchback!
  • Overall, the Thar Diesel moves in an amazingly nimble way, belying its size. You would not need too may gear changes in the city, second and third is adequate for drives in the traffic. I did not feel it to be much less maneuverable than my Ecosport.
  • Ripples from the road are definitely felt, but on the Mount Road (which is in reasonably good condition) I did not feel any uncomfortable body movements. Small undulations are tackled pretty well. But the moment you hit large pot holes or projections, you do feel them magnified in the cabin in terms so vertical movements. If one of the wheels go though a bump when the other does not, you do get pitched side-to-side about quite a lot. So if you live in a city with very poor roads, beware. But I feel, in our metros like Chennai, which have reasonably good roads overall, with a fair mix of bad roads, the Thar should do quite OK.
  • What is lost due to the discomfort of the ride, is gained through the majestic way you feel as you drive. Everything about the traffic, except buses, is below your eye level, people make way for you and the Thar moves like a chariot!
  • Steering ply is quite a lot as others pointed out, but I got used to it within minutes.
  • Brakes are not too bad - yes, they are not confidence inspiring, but reasonably predictable under city driving conditions. Not sure how it will fare in the highway, since I did not get a chance for a highway drive test.
  • The vehicle is quite wide, and one has to be careful not to knock the left front corner anywhere, especially if you are sued to smaller and narrower car like the Ecosport.
  • The Horn is quite loud but plain (I think it might be single tone) - sounds a bit like horns on buses. Could use a more sophisticated after-market horn replacement for such a large and mighty vehicle.
  • The seat cushion did feel a bit soft at the back after today's ride. The seat base seemed OK. Could probably use more firm support in the backrest.
  • The car felt surprisingly nimble in the city drive. Acceleration in 3rd gear from 20 - 60 or so, seemed no better and no worse than my Ecosport TDCI - that is saying something, for a vehicle which is probably half a ton more heavy! The Diesel engine is rewarding to drive overall - very smooth, always ready with torque, predictable and calm.
  • Overall interior quality is acceptable, the A/C Controls felt a bit cheap. The Audio system sounds better than what some of the reviews spoke of. However, it is weird to have the sound coming from the top - a bit like traveling in a bus on the rural areas of the country, with a loudspeaker perched just above your head.
  • Turning the car around sharp bends and U-turns at low speeds is quite an effort - the steering felt heavy when doing this.
  • The flippy key felt quite solid - it is large an heavy so you are unlikely to lose it accidentally!
  • Overall I felt the vehicle drove just as expected - very solid, smooth, reasonably punchy and actually relaxing, due to the high seating position, excellent visibility, soft clutch and easy gear level action, predictable and responsive engine and the strong A/C. I had to turn the A/C down to the lowest blower speed after 10 minutes, even in the Chennai heat.
  • I actually felt the difference in the driving experience when I got back to my Ecosport after the test drive - somehow felt I had a significantly downgraded driving experience in the Ecosport, with an engine that feels like it is working harder, a harder clutch, and lower seating position. The steering though, is unmatched on the Ecosport - far lighter and more accurate than the Thar!

Being very happy with the test drive, I immediately went back to my points-based evaluation matrix for the various cars I had considered so far and below is the result. I decided to book a LX Diesel Automatic Hardtop.
Attached Thumbnails
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Last edited by 84.monsoon : 6th April 2021 at 16:45.
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Default re: My 2020 Mahindra Thar Review (Mystic Copper)!

Choosing a Color for my Thar:

I had seen a useful video on YouTube that showed all the available colours of the car

I knew the Black and Red would be the most common colours to be seen on the streets. To me, the Black would eventually become very commonplace, and the Red was not the right shade for some reason. I liked the kind of Red that the VW Polo used to come in (Flash Red), however the Thar seem to have a red shade which reminded me of nail polish! It was a bit cheesy and it did not sit well with me. It almost looked like one or two additional coatings of red paint was actually missing. The Aquamarine was a colour that initially impressed me. It seemed to be a rich colour, and seem to go well with the personality of the Thar. However, on visiting the dealership, I realised that this is the same colour in which the XUV 300 generally came in. I had a close look at the colour on the XUV 300, and was not that impressed, I was seeing hundreds of cars in this colour all the time on our roads. I had discounted the Grey colour as it is the same colour as that of my previous car, the Ecosport. I also discounted the Rocky Beige, as it reminded me of an Antique car. This left the Mystic Copper, I had a close look at the photos of this colour on the car, where Mr Minda was receiving the Thar Number One in the same shade. It seemed quite interesting, rich and something that would suit an adventure vehicle and also age well. So, it was Mystic Copper for me in the end.

So right after the morning test drive on October 5th, I transferred the booking amount to the dealership and filled out all the forms. The SA came by and collected them and confirmed receipt of the booking advance and placed the order on the very same day i.e. 5 October. Little did I know that every day of delay at that time would mean almost an extra month of delay in the actual delivery!

Sale of the Ecosport

In anticipation of the arrival of the Thar, I had listed my Ford Ecosport on the team-BHP Classifieds section. Within a few hours, I got a call from a prospective buyer. I had also listed the car on OLX and got several calls from there as well. The amount of interest in my 7+ year old Ecosport completely surprised me. My car had done only 30,000 kms, and looked and felt like new, as I had done a major overhaul with new brake pads and disks, a brand new clutch assembly, and a rear suspension replacement only 15 months before. The buyer had already read my eco-sport review on team-BHP, which gave him all the information he needed about the car. The buyer came out my house, and the deal was sealed within 10 minutes at a mutually acceptable price. Thanks team-BHP, for helping car-lovers with win-win transactions!

Delivery of the Thar

At first, the dealer promised delivery by the end of November or early December at the latest. We all know this was the story all over the country, until Mahindra hit production constraints. I first followed up in early December, to be told that deliveries would be delayed to January 2nd. This did not sit well with me at that time - I thought I would get a 2020 model year car delivered as soon as we were in 2021! I tweeted Mahindra customer care and immediately got a call back from the Regional Sales Manager. He was very courteous to explain to me that they would make all efforts possible to deliver the car as early as possible. I did raise the possibility of delaying allotment by a month, so that I could get a 2021 model year car. He did not respond very positively to the suggestion, and in retrospect I am really glad I did not push this. The availability of cars have been highly restricted post January 1 and I do believe that if I had opted for a delayed delivery, I would probably not have got the car even today.

Despite the delivery promise date of January 2, I got frantic calls from the dealer in the third week of December, indicating that the car had already been dispatched from the factory and would arrive by December 27th at the dealership. This possibly happened due to the RSM’s intervention based on my tweet. This was a pleasant surprise - I had not started the lease paperwork with my company, assuming that the car would not come in until January. I accelerated the paperwork, however, due to various challenges including the fact that the office was closed, delayed the lease paperwork till about January 6. The car was languishing in the yard since December 27th – it had arrived on the dot, a week ahead of the CPD. I want to have a look at the car at the yard.

After a long drive to the yard in the outskirts of the city, I was all anticipation to see how the Mystic Copper colour will look in flesh and blood. I had not seen the colour in person prior to purchase and had also not seen one in real life, There were two Thars being washed for delivery and a couple more waiting for delivery to be initiated. To my relief, the Mystic Copper looked good from most angles! so that was a relief Also relieved to find that although the car has been in the open yard through a week where there have been very intense rains in Chennai, there was absolutely no sign of any water inside, so the Hard Top roof seems to hold up well against the rain gods! Also 72 kms on the ODO at this point seems similar to other owners' reports here, probably will get close to about 100 kms on delivery, given the drive to the dealership in the middle of the city on delivery day.

Finally all paperwork and payments were done by January 10 and the car was ready to be home-delivered on January 12. There was huge anticipation and finally in the evening at the car arrived, driven by the very same SA to my home. I like the way India Garage retained continuity on all interactions, with the same SA assigned right from initial show-room visit, test drive, booking process, payments and finally the delivery itself. We took the customary photographs and exchange of gifts, followed by a visit to the local temple to perform a puja on the car.

On-road price & discounts

As one would expect, there were no discounts or freebies provided by the dealership except a transparent Ganesha idol, a box of chocolates and a Key Chain. Since I went through a leasing company selected by my office, the insurance choice was taken care of by them. Based on the invoice, I could see that the insurance cost about Rs.57,000, which seemed to be a reasonable price.

Extended Warranty

The Thar comes with a standard 3 year, 100,000 KM warranty. Mahindra offers an extended warranty at a very reasonable cost of Rs.12,000 for the fourth year and this can be further extended to the fifth year for additional 10,000. Since the car was on lease, there was some confusion about whether the extended warranty will be issued in the leasing company‘s name or in my name. Because of this, I decided to skip the extended warranty for now. Upon completion of the lease term of two years, I plan to surely buy back the car from the leasing company, and at that point I could opt to take the extended warranty.
Attached Thumbnails
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Appearance & Exterior Styling:

The Thar has a classic Jeep appearance And even the modified grill styling Mahindra adopted has not taken away from this one bit! There is none of the cheesy cuts and creases that Mahindra had been using in their 10s designs such as the XUV500 and Marazzo. It is classic, timeless and elegant. Although it is a high car (~1900 mm), this is not noticeable, given the increased width of the car, as comparted to the first generation.

Engine performance & drivability

The diesel Thar comes equipped with a 2.2 L MHawk Direct Injected Turbocharged engine. This is a brand new engine, with an all-aluminium block instead of a cast-iron block. I found the engine to be incredibly smooth, calm and relaxed under all circumstances. There is plenty of reserve power and torque – this is deceptive and it is not always popping its head up. But when you do need it, be confident you have what it takes to move this monster rapidly.

The engine is extremely refined and it is one of the least noisy diesel engines I have driven, even when compare to much smaller engines such as the Maruti DDiS the VW TDI, Renault Duster. Unbelievable as it may sound, I heard less engine noise sitting inside the car when compared to what I would hear in the Ecosport TDCI, which had an engine that was only two-thirds the size of the Thar’s engine.

The engine has more than enough grunt when you need it. Although the Thar has a bit of lag when commencing hard acceleration, once it comes to life, the power and torque just flow in an amazingly linear fashion. Most of the powers available at very low rpms. The engine speed is really low while cruising. Running at 100 km/h the engine is ticking away at 1650 rpm. Even taking the car faster to 120 km/h, the engine is running at less than 2000 rpm. This relaxed nature of the engine accounts for the good fuel efficiency even with such a large engine and such a heavy car.

Although in my initial test runs, I did not accelerate much beyond 110 km/h as the car was in its break-in period, it was clear that the potential of the engine was far higher. On later trips I have easily crossed 140 km/h for short stretched on smooth and broad highways, and found no signs of strain on the engine.

Gearbox Performance

The Thar has a proper 6-speed torque converter automatic sourced from Aisin, a Toyota Company. Variants of the same transmission are used in the latest generation Innova and Fortuner ATs. The transmission is designed to be driven in a relaxed way. If you are soft with your pedal inputs, you will not even notice the AT changing gears. The gear shifts are very smooth when driven in a sedate fashion. The one thing that I found a little bit surprising in the car, was how rapidly it decelerated once you let go of the accelerator from a high speed. Some of this is due to the rolling resistance of the chunk tires and the high block-like stance of the car. But I think a lot of this is due to the tuning of the gearbox, which causes it to shift down rapidly on reduction of speed, to ensure it is always I the meat of the powerband, should you need to pick up speed again. The gearbox is designed to keep the car in the upper half of the relevant rpm band for the current speed, and down shifts are pretty aggressive. The only way to find which gear the AT has selected at any moment is to slide the gear lever over to the left and enter manual mode. The Thar does not downshift automatically on entering the manual mode and keeps the current gear. This allows one to examine which gear the Auto Box is on at any given time. Often, when I thought I was going in the fourth gear I would shift to manual and find that the Thar was actually on the third gear. Due to the noiseless nature of the engine, it is hard to tell that the car is in a lower gear than one thought!

When Drive and aggressively however the gearbox protests when accelerating rapidly, and takes half a second to downshift. It makes a grunting noise and is not the most happy when provided with sudden strong inputs on the accelerator. However it is not slow-shifting by any means, and comes into song very quickly. Overtaking moves were almost as effortless as it was on the EcoSport. You have to add just an extra half second in terms of planning the overtake, to ensure that the gearbox and time to do its grunt and end power over to execute an unstressed overtake..

While accelerating, the gearbox tends to stick to a lower gear than what you would normally anticipate. Up-shifts happen higher up the speed range. For instance, the car would stay in second gear till past 30 kph, third gear till well above 50 KPH, it will not shift to the fifth until you are doing about 75 kph and to shift to the sixth gear, you will have to go well past 90 km/h. The gearbox does not seem to have much learning capacity to adapt to the driver or the current conditions (for example, down-slopes etc) and shifts seem to be pretty much hardwired to speed and rpm considerations only.

To have the car cruising in the most relaxed possible way on the highway, I found a trick - accelerate slowly all the way to 95 km/h, so that the car goes in the sixth gear, and then slow down to about 85 - 90 km/h - this enabled the car to continue to stay in six gear even while your speed was little less than 90 km/h. In this mode, the Thar appeared the most relaxed possible. If you directly hit 90 from slower speeds and set Cruise there, you might find you are actually going in the 5th gear at a speed where you could have used the 6th gear.

Air conditioner cooling & effectiveness

The air-conditioning on the Thar is both something I like and dislike at the same time. On the one hand, the AC is really powerful and chills you to the bone even in the lowest setting. However, just like in the case of the wipers, the number of adjustments possible for blower speed is too limited. There are four possible speeds only and the lowest speed on the Thar is already the equivalent of speed 3 on other cars. Mahindra should have provided at least six or seven blower speed settings – At a minimum, the Thar needs one more setting between the current 0 and 1 positions, so that front passengers do not constantly freeze and be forced to turn off the AZ every now and then and turn it back on again when it gets hot all over again. . However, the circular vents themselves are very solidly built, are slick and function really well.

Safety

The Thar comes with a wide gamut of safety features such as ABS, EBD, TCS, ESP, Hill-hold, hill descent, ISOFIX, front airbags etc. It is obvious the Thar cannot have curtain airbags but I do wish M&M had provided seat - mounted side airbags as well. The four-star NCAP crash test rating earned by the Thar was very reassuring.

Build quality, fit & finish

The build quality is very solid and there is no flex in any of the sheet metal when pressing it. The material used for the all-around side-cladding is very durable as proven when I brushed my car against the front fender of a bus while over-taking (more on this later). The paint quality was surprisingly good as compared to previous Mahindra cars such as the XUV 500 and the Marazzo. Once cleaned, the mystic copper just shone and takes on different hues all the way from pure deep brown to reddish brown depending on the illumination.
Attached Thumbnails
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Interior design & quality

The Thar has a modern interior. It looks very much like a 2020 car! The circular AC vents with the chrome rims, the modern touchscreen system with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, the colorful white and red dials, the gun-metal coloured inserts on the doors all create an image of a modern and warm cabin ambience.
The plastics on the dash and doors are hard, as is to be expected from an off-road oriented car like thee Thar. However, they look to be of high quality and you feel the hardness only when you touch them.
Overall, everything feels built-to-last. There are not many rough edges. The steering feels great to hold, even without a leather wrap. It is not cheap plastic that dries out ones palms.

There is oodles of headroom on both rows. The back row is hard to access as some folls have already pointed out. Actually it is not the ingress that is the issue, it is the egress. When you are hauling yourself out of the back seat and sliding through the gap behind the front passenger seat, there is a big drop to step on to the ground outside, as the car is very high-set. There are no really good places to support your weight when you do this, since the grab handles on the roof and the one on the dash are either too high or too low to reach. Mahindra needs to provide an angled handle on the A-pillar – this is already available from modification experts such as Bimbra 4X4.

Driving position, ergonomics, controls & MID

The Thar’s front seats afford a wide range of adjustment. Unlike the previous generation Thar, the seats slide back enough even to keep very tall drivers comfortable. Although hard to access, once seated, the space at the rear is actually better than even the Ecosport. The only drawback is the knees-up sitting position due to the high floor of the car.

The lumber adjustments in the Thar’s front seats are truly awesome there is a very wide range of support available. Also, you get similar lumbar adjustment for the passenger seat, unlike most cars in the segment. Mahindra has not compromised here and has provided equal support for both the seats.

The lack of thigh support on the front seats has been talked about much in all the reviews. It is indeed short for tall people, however the rest of the front seat is really comfortable. The cushioning is a bit soft, but the lumbar support and the range of seat adjustments is good enough to find a comfortable seating position, that keeps you reasonably fresh after a few hours of driving.

The MID is simple and straightforward classic design with rotary dials that turn the right way (clock-wise) as speed and torque increase. I am somehow unable to digest counter-clockwise dials that even BMW have now adopted.

Visibility

On the Thar, you get the most commanding seating position you can imagine, and the visibility to the front is excellent. You are riding well above most other cars including the Innovas and X1s. One cans see the full extent of the bonnet. However, do remember the Thar has a long front lip that protrudes out down low, and this is obviously not visible from the driver seat. One needs to watch for this, while parking or nudging closer to the vehicle in front.
The visibility towards the back of the car is very poor thanks to the large spare wheel blocking out a major portion of the rear window pane. I do wish the Thar came with a standard rear parking camera, this is an absolute must in a car which is set so high and there is total lack of visibility of any short objects behind the car. Since the reviews of the original accessory rear camera provided by Mahindra were not very complimentary, I had decided to put off installing a rear camera until Mahindra provides and a better solution.

The Thar could also really use front parking sensors, especially on the frontal side extremities - the car is really wide and sometimes while navigating tight parking spots or crossing another vehicle in a narrow street, one is always left anxious whether the front left-side fender was going to rub against something or the other.

The standard reverse parking sensors are reasonably effective and show 4 different proximity positions and associated audio frequencies, it still doesn’t cover obstructions on the rear side areas very well. This causes blind spots, while parking etc. In such a wide vehicle with such poor rearward visibility, M&M should have provided two more reverse parking sensors on the side extremities of the Thar.

ICE & sound quality

The 7-inch touchscreen ICE is quite modern and responsive. I have had no pairing issues with my iPhone, unlike that others had reported. The over-head speakers reminded me a lot of the State Transport buses we used to take for long distance journeys back in school, where the speaker would be directly overhead and blast the sound down to your ears. The speakers are loud but sound quality is so-so, with too much focus on the mid-range. I would rate the system 6/10 for Sound Quality.
Although it is great that Mahindra has provided a touchscreen infotainment system in this off-road oriented car, I do feel that the system looks a bit too small for such a wide and large car like the Thar. Having created a provision for the ICE, they could have gone in for a larger system with an 8 or 9 inch screen and it would have looked a lot more suited to this car. This might have even saved them the pain of delayed deliveries because of unavailability of infotainment systems!

Interior storage, practicality & boot space

As already covered in the many reviews, the glove box of this car is the smallest I have seen in any mainstream car. I have seen bigger storage spaces on mopeds! There is no space to keep the owners’ manual, which is wider than the glove box. All one can hope to keep in there are you registration and insurance papers and maybe a pair of sunglasses and that’s it. It certainly can’t hold a pair of gloves!
The Thar has door pockets/bottle holders that are large enough, however, the cupholders in the centre console are too small and shallow for today’s times. If the cup holders had been wider and deeper, it could have freed up space for a much-needed centre armrest.

It is a well-known fact that the boot space on the Thar is laughably small. All it can hold are a few backpacks or one medium suitcase. Flipping forward the seats does free up more space, but the hollow seat backs sap confidence to load up heavy items.

There is a clever little set of slats for holing coins in the middle of the center console. I really love this as it is very convenient to hand out tips to parking attendants etc. At first I thought the coins would rattle or even fly out of the slots, but they actually sit very snugly in the slots, even the thin one-rupee ones.

There is no designated space for storing the owners’ manual, a first-aid kit and the toolkit. I have pout all these items, including a few shopping bags into a backpack and this back-pack permanently rests behind the driver seat! M&M could have thought of a more elegant way to carry at least the mandatory items you need to carry in a vehicle like this.

Steering

The steering has a little more ply would be ideal. Also, the car exhibited mild leftward-pulling even when the steering wheel was centered. I brought this up subsequently and this was fixed during the first check-up service at 1000 kms.
The Thar’s Steering was indeed inferior to that of the Ecosport in terms of sharpness, and his was no surprise. The Ecosport had set a bit of a gold standard in its price category and one or two categories above as well! The Thar’s steering did weigh up a bit more with speed but still continued to be a bit more sensitive than I would have liked.
The steering has no reach adjustment. It appears too close to the dash for my liking, but I am getting used to this slowly. I found that leaving the steering in the mid-position on its rake adjustment ensures you continue to have a good view of the instrument console, while still being comfortable in terms of the space between my legs and the steering wheel.

Braking

I found the braking to be quite effective as far as end-outcomes are concerned. The car stops smartly enough from higher speeds, albeit with some nose dive. However the brakes are not as confidence-inspiring as in some of the other cars such as EcoSport. For the first few inches of travel, the brakes do not seem to start biting and it is only when you are past half mark does it really start to take effect. However in the end, the braking effect is indeed quite powerful and stops the car quickly, it’s just that you need to get used to the extra travel and gain confidence.

Ground clearance

The Thar has a massive 226mm ground clearance and 650 mm water fording capacity. This is significantly higher than the Innova (500mm), Force Ghurka (550mm), Isuzu DMax (500 mm), Harrier (450mm) and Jeep Compass (483 mm). Only the Fortuner (700 mm) and Endeavour (800 mm) have higher capacities. Needless to say, I had absolutely no issues going over the most massive speed breaker in our area, which catches out every sedan in our extended family.
Attached Thumbnails
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Particular Likes
  • I like the cruise control on the Thar in terms of well-moderated way it picks up speed after slowing down. Assume your cruise control is set to 100 KPH and you had to slow down to 60 KPH for some reason. When you hit resume on the cruise control, most other cars would gun the engine to get back to 100 KPH as quickly as possible. This causes engine strain and loss of fuel efficiency. However the cruise mechanism in the Thar increases the speed in a more gradual way, getting to the target speed a few seconds later other cars. This makes for a much more relaxing cruising experience. I ended up using cruise control in the Thar more than ion any other vehicle I have driven in recent times, just for this one reason.
  • It seems as though Mahindra put a lot of effort into child safety - there is a vast section in the owner manual about ISOFIX seat mounts.
  • The ‘Follow-me-home function’ as well as the ‘Lead-me-to-the-vehicle’ function using the remote key is quite useful – Double pressing the remote key lock after leaving the vehicle, will keep the low beam headlamp on for 20 seconds. Similarly, pressing the unlock button twice will unlock the doors as well as turn the headlamp on for 20 seconds allowing one to reach the vehicle in the dark.
  • The Owners’ manual is quite comprehensive it provides most of the important information in multiple languages - including Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam etc.
  • The horn on the Thar is quite powerful and distinct. It’s easy to access the horn and use it. It does get attention and along with the imposing size of the Thar, allows you to blast through busy and crowded streets.
  • A very useful feature on the car is that, as soon as you put it back to ‘Park’ at the end of your journey, and also just as you start the car, it immediately displays the tire-direction in a graphic way on the instrument console. I am sure this will be very useful for off-roading, but even when you are parking or coming out of tight spots in the city, it is always useful to know where exactly your tires are pointing.

Particular Dislikes
  • The front doors do not close fully eight out of ten times when you shut them. It lands in a position which is a bit ajar, this is the state it goes to by default whether you apply mild force of medium force.. You need to really bang it to fully close the door. This happens both from the inside as well as from the outside. Especially irritating when you are inside on your seat and are not able to open the door wide enough to create sufficient momentum to fully close it. What makes this even more irritating is the fact that if the door is not fully closed and then you press the lock button on the key as you are walking away, the vehicle gives off very loud and repeated “Baap” sounds from the horn. This wakes up the whole neighbourhood and I have not found a way to disable this.
  • The wiper controls do not have sufficient variability of controls to modulate the speed and frequency, as much as one would like. While driving in the rain, I found that the very first speed that the wipers engage in is already too fast, when there is only a slight drizzle. There are only three possible wiper speed positions and there are no sub-gradient positions for adjustment within a speed range, which means that fine-grain adjustment of the wiper speed and frequency based on level of and intensity of rain is just not possible. You have to choose between the three standard speeds provided. Although the wiper stalk does seem to have what looks like the usual rotary knob for the sub-speed selection, this is purely cosmetic and does not engage.
  • The 4WD shift lever in the automatic version of the car seemed a lot smaller than the one in the manual transmission car. It is totally black and including the letters of the engraved pattern of gear positions and is simply not visible, unless you are aiming a flashlight at it and straining your eyes to see what is written. The MT version of the Thar has a much nicer 4WD gear lever. Mahindra should at least have provided slightly different colour lettering on this lever, for example in a Blue-ish shade to make it more visible.
  • The location of the up-down controls for the front windows is located in the centre console. While this has been covered in all the reviews, with the reason stated that the doors could be removed for off-roading and therefore it is not ideal to have controls on the doors. However The ORVM controls are indeed on the front door and therefore this logic does not totally hold for me. The buttons are small and hard to find and operate from the centre console and I still find myself struggling to locate then controls and operate them as it is so different from every other car I have driven..
  • A cup holders in the middle of the centre console or rather small and shallow. Also there is no centre armrest provided in the Thar. The aftermarket armrests that I have seen, seem to be positioned too high on the seat, ostensibly to provide room for the cups on the cupholder. I feel these armrests may be useless, especially for people who like the front seats to be positioned as low as possible. It’s better not to use an armrest than use one that is at a wrong height, after long journeys this is bound to trigger shoulder pain. The cup holders could have been deeper, which would then allow the armrest to be positioned a bit lower.
  • On hard acceleration during Highway runs, I found that as the car shifts from the 2nd to the 3rd gear and from the 3rd to the 4th gear, there is a vibrating sound coming from the infotainment system area. This seems to be because of some resonance in frequencies between the engine and some parts of the central console, which seem to vibrate audibly. This is a bit jarring, especially because the thar is otherwise so quiet on the move and completely rattle free. During the first check-up service at the 1000 KM mark, I pointed out the small rattle to the service personnel. They did check the car on a short drive but it could not be replicated. I also found that this sound has reduced lately and I can barely notice nowadays during city runs.
  • The sun visors are tiny for a car of this size with such a large glasshouse. If you are driving in a direction such that the sun is coming in on your right side, you will quickly find the visors are too small and they are not extendible. Even in the front., they cover such a small area of the massive wind-shield. All this lets in a lot of glare on sunny driving conditions. I wish Mahindra had provided larger and wider sun visors. which can also be extended laterally.
  • Of the two keys provided with the car, only one has touch buttons the other is a bare flip remote with only a mechanical key for locking and unlocking the car – for a car costing 17 lakhs on-road, Mahindra could easily have provided both the keys with buttons. Even much cheaper cars today come with at least two electronic keys.
  • A small minor but important feature that I constantly miss in the Thar is an outside air temperature indicator. The owners’ manual does talk about this feature, but caveats it with ‘if equipped’. For a car made for outdoor adventures, this seems like a really strange omission.
  • The rear side windows and the back window pane of the car are fixed plastic panels and not glass. These cause a floating effect of light when they are clean and reflections from these panels on the mirrors and front glass windows in certain lighting conditions are very distracting.
  • Last but not least, I simply cannot dismiss from my mildly OCD-oriented brain, the nagging thought that the grab handle on the passenger side above the glove box is not strictly horizontal. It seems to have a slight tilt downwards in the direction pointing towards the centre console, at 1-2 degree angle. I cannot prove or disprove this unfortunately, I just do not have the right instruments to do so!

Niggles & First Service Check-up

Although a number of niggles have been reported on the 2020 Thar across various forums and also here on team BHP, I have been fortunate to not have too many issues so far (touchwood!). During the first 1000 kilometre check-up, I had to point out just three things - replace the latches, a slight vibration from the ICE area during rapid acceleration, and a slight light pull even with the steering wheel centred.

The quality of service during the first check-up was very good. Not only did they replace the latches but they also did a thorough water-spray test on the hard top roof to check for leaks. They also did a test to see if they could replicate the vibrating sound from the ICE area but they could not. They did some wheel alignment to correct the mild left-pulling issue I had reported and this has since gone away. The car was nicely cleaned and handed back to me the same day. Overall I was very satisfied with the quality of service and attention to detail. I hope my car continues to be niggle-free through my ownership.

Other observations
  • The owners’ manual clearly indicates being a 4WD vehicle, the Thar should only be towed on a flat-bed tow truck.. Flat towing, sling-type towing, or rear-lift towing are not allowed for the Thar. This could be problematic if you get stuck in a rural area where only flat towing may be available.
  • An interesting thing I noticed was that the variant-wise feature list was printed in great levels of detail in the Owners’ manual itself. Mahindra is obviously not planning constant deletions of features such as what Ford has been doing.
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Old 6th April 2021, 20:43   #8
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First Long Trip

After doing a few short trips inside the city, I decided to take the Thar on a long trip of approximately 500 km. The plan was to drive down from Chennai on the East Coast Road, past Pondicherry and Cuddalore, and go to Tranquebar. This was a Danish colony in the 1700s and the Danes built a majestic fort right by the sea and I had always wanted to visit this fort. I had read about the ‘Bungalow On the Beach’ hotel there, which is a pretty well-appointed hotel right next to the Danish Fort. I called them up and found out that they were open after the pandemic. I booked a room for an overnight stay and set out the next day early morning in the Thar towards Tranquebar.

The ride from Chennai to Pondicherry was heavenly. The late January weather was really good early in the morning around 7 AM, and the roads were in great condition. The Thar made rapid progress traveling a bit below hundred KPH, considering the car was still in the break-in period. The car felt really solid and stable. Wind noise coming from the hard-top did start creeping up after 80 km/h, but it was not too bothersome at all with music on, even after crossing hundred kph. It was like a ‘sleep sound’ that my Amazon Alex makes, it does sound strange when you hear it first, but you get used to the sound very fast.

I was definitely watching out for large bumps or potholes on the road, after reading the team-BHP review and know how unsettling these can be at high speed. Smaller rough patches were easily felt in the cabin. The engine gathered speed effortlessly and acceleration times seemed to be on par with my 2013 Ecosport TDCI.

A little bit of off-roading

On the way to my destination, while driving along ECR, I felt like trying out a bit of sand driving in the Thar. I took the car to one of the beach spots between Uthandy and Mahabs. Going off the edge of the tarred road and descending into the sand, the rear wheel started to spin as I tried to gather some speed. It was very clear immediately that the car needed to be put into 4WD mode. I shifted to 4H, and now the car was moving again with a reasonable level of control. As we got into a deeper patch of sand it became clear that even the 4H mode was not enough. It was time to try 4L. I struggled with the 4L shifting mechanism for a bit. You need to have the main gear lever in Neutral position and then the 4WD selector needed to be pushed down at 4H and simultaneously pulled into the neutral position. This much was clear from the markings on the shift knob. The mistake I was making was that I was continuing to push the 4WD selector down while trying to pull it further into the 4L position. This did not work. After a few tries, I realised that you needed to stop pressing the 4WD selector once you hit the Neutral position. You let go and then simply slide it further down into 4L. Once I did that, and moved the main Auto lever to D, it was immediately obvious that the Thar had manifested all of its torque and was ready to go! I tapped the accelerator a bit and the car started moving slowly and steadily in a very controlled pace. The deep beach sand was no longer a botheration and the car was able to slowly come out and back into the road with no effort at all.

Onward on ECR

Beyond Pondicherry however, the roads started to get really bumpy. Sections of the road had been washed away in the recent rains, leaving large potholes and places with lots of pebbles strewn on the road. The road was obviously built very poorly by unethical contractors in cahoots with politicians. This types of road condition is the nemesis of the Thar. The vehicle rocks and lurches in a very intense way while passing through such undulations on the road. At speeds of about 30 to 40 km/h, the ride gets really uncomfortable - So it is best to slow down to about 20-25 km/h while passing through such sections. The only good thing is that although these potholes appear every few hundreds of metres, I did not have to do the hard work of shifting through the gears to slow down and speed up, the automatic transmission too care of this seamlessly. I was really glad I bought the automatic after almost 3 hours on these types of roads.

The road continued to get worse and traffic continued to get busier, as we crossed Cuddalore and went further towards Nagapattinam. There were quite a few diversions in the road as many patches were getting fixed and rebuilt. I had to go through the busy thoroughfare of the town of Shirkazhi, which is quite an intense experience. The Thar is exceptionally wide compare to the Ecosport or even other mid-size SUVs. However the fact that the car is a sub-4 m vehicle makes it very easy to manoeuvre and park in tight spots.

Finally I arrived at Tranquebar and went straight to the ‘Bungalow on the Beach’ hotel. It is a very old property, originally built by the Danes and renovated in a painstaking way over the years. There is a very wide Veranda that encircles all the rooms on the first floor and makes for a great spot to sit and enjoy a view of the ocean. The Danish Fort stood very close to the hotel, with a patch of blue ocean in between. It was quite a sight to behold as the evening progressed further and the lights dimmed.

The drive back the next day was uneventful. I was worried all that bumpy driving for over 6 hours would have caused some rattles to crop up in the Thar, but my concerns were misplaced. When I got back home, the car was just as noise and rattle free as it was when I started out for the trip.

During the overall journey of about 500 km, done at highly variable speeds right from 30 kmph on some sections to 100 kmph on some others, I saw a fuel economy of 13.2 kmpl on the gauge and actual tankful-to-tankful method showed a fuel economy of 12.3 kmpl. So there seems to be an approximately 1 kmpl error with the fuel gauge, with the mileage being over-stated.
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Old 6th April 2021, 20:50   #9
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Second long trip to the Hills

In February, I went on a long drive of over 1000 km from Chennai to Kodaikanal and back. I started out pretty early around 4:30 AM - this was the first time I was driving the car for any considerable period in the dark. I found the headlights to be adequate and I found the high beams to be actually better than expected while the low beams were a little disappointing. I often did felt the need for slightly better illumination, especially in the unlit areas on the highway. Will be looking out for an upgrade to the headlamps soon. I found the daytime running lights to be quite bright you could actually make out the difference when they are switched on. I did not notice the gap between low beam and high beam that BHP-ian Phoenix had pointed out in his ownership review.

I started the trip at a decent pace of about 90 km kph and for the first 200 km. The Thar indicated a healthy fuel efficiency reading of close to 15 kpl. I tried to check the fuel efficiency readings at 90 KPH, 100 KPH and 110 KPH over 10 km stretches. The fuel efficiency did drop by about 1KPL (according to the indicator) when moving from 90 to 110, but I do not see the drastic drop in fuel efficiency past 100 kph that some others and pointed out. However, I do know that the read outs are of questionable accuracy.

The Thar is an excellent highway mile-muncher if you’re travelling around 100KPH on smooth roads. Any faster than that and the wind noise starts to become a bit of a bother and fuel efficiency starts to drop. Besides, somehow one just does not feel good going too fast on the truck like this, knowing that it’s guzzling a lot of fuel and wasting a lot of power just move one or two people.

Long and sweeping bends on the highway could be taken at a speed higher than I initially imagined. For example on a curve that I would easily go at 130 kph in my BMW, the Thar could safely do at 110 kph, once you get used to driving it. There was much less body roll than I had anticipated on these type of bends and the car sticks very nicely to the road. I think this is primarily because of the independent suspension, the wide track and reduced height compared to the previous generation car.

As you approach speed barriers on the highway, the car slows down very rapidly once you let go the accelerator pedal. Tamil Nadu has a number of spots where metal barricades are set up on the national highway, almost blocking out more than half of the road width and making vehicles negotiate multiple barriers by twisting and turning. I expected the Thar to do very poorly going through such barriers and I did initially drop my speed quite a lot to maneuver through. As I gained confidence in the car, I found that it could twist through pretty well even at moderate speeds, thanks to the wide track. It does lurch and roll a bit, but this was surprisingly less than the Innova that I had driven on my last trip.

If time is on your side and you want to maximize fuel efficiency, a really relaxed way to drive in the Thar is to cruise at 90 KPL, setting cruise control to that speed. The cruise control is very intelligent and does not abruptly pick up speed when resuming cruise after a slowdown. A surprising thing you will find is that when taking the car to 90 KPH and setting cruise control, you may find that you’re actually on the fifth gear and not the sixth! The only way to find out which gear the car is at is to move the gear lever to manual mode, which shows clearly the current gear selection. The trick is to this accelerate the car close to 95 KPL, then you will hear the auto gearbox shift the sixth gear - now use the cruise control and drop the speed by increments of 1KPH back to 90. The car stays in sixth gear and gives a very smooth and quiet ride at a low rpm of around 1400. The car is the most fuel-efficient and noise-free in this mode.

By the time I reached the foothills of Kodaikanal, the fuel efficiency had come down to about 13.5 KPL according to the indicator. After a couple of hours of driving at 90, I got bored and moved the cruising speed closer to an 110 KPH average - this problem because the drop in fuel efficiency.

Going uphill on the Thar - I expected this to be a little tricky, given the high ride height and weight of the car. I expected quite a bit of lurching and body roll, having frequently driven in both the older generation and current generation Innovas on this route. However I was pleasantly surprised the Thar could take the bends reasonably well – I would rate it ahead of the previous generation Innova and o par with the current generation Innova Crysta in terms of lesser body roll. It was certainly behind the EcoSport and well behind the BMW, as expected - however it behaved really well and provided great control going through the twists and turns. Overtaking in the hill roads will have to be carefully planned as the gearbox does not snap up speed as soon as you push down the accelerator, plus the car is also quite wide. Unused to the new car, I was overtaking a bus that was not very eager to be overtaken, and then merging back fast into the left lane on seeing an oncoming truck. The front fender of the bus rubbed with the left rear part of the car there was a big sound. I was very worried that it would have damaged sheet metal or dislodged the cladding. Fortunately, the cladding was completely intact and there were a few cuts there but these did not show very poorly at all. The Thar is indeed built strong and can handle the rough well!

The fuel efficiency does drop very fast when you go uphill - From around 13.5 KPL it had dropped down to 11 KPL by the time I was at the top. This is understandable given the 1800 plus KG weight of the Thar and the fact that most of the journey was done in lower gears.

While going downhill on the way back, I realized just how much the auto gearbox tends to hold onto gears much longer than all the other cars that I had driven. This is an intentional strategy to ensure that the truck is always in the meat of its power band, however, it can be a bit irritating while going downhill. The car is always one gear lower than what you would expect and the engine breaking is quite aggressive. I do feel they could of tune the gearbox for a bit more efficiency by up-shifting a little earlier in the range.

The fog lamps of the Thar are very powerful and came in very useful on my descent down the hills at 4:30 AM in the morning. They are not the cornering type, but they provide very good illumination in misty conditions for oncoming cars.

Also, going downhill I did regain a good amount of its lost fuel efficiency and the indicator showed 12.5 KPL by the time I reached the foothills. The ride back home to Chennai for the next five hours was pretty fast - I kept the car on the boil and averaged about 110- 115 KPH. Unlike a lot of other reviewers’ comments, I feel that on smooth broad highways in broad daylight, with good visibility, the car can easily travel at the speed limit (120 kph) very comfortably and safely. However the underlying conditions - very smooth highway, lack of speed breakers and pothole, good daylight etc. are important pre-requisites for travelling at such speeds.

Finally, when I got back home, the Thar had crossed 2000 kms on the ODO. The overall fuel economy for the trip was 12.5 kpl and it could have been a lot higher if I had not hurried on the return journey.
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Old 7th April 2021, 08:26   #10
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Reviews section. Thanks for sharing!

Congrats on owning such a stunning Jeep! Am all green with envy . Wishing you a minimum of 1.5 lakh km of motoring joy with the Thar. She's a special one, take care of her.

Your Jeep will go to our homepage today .
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Old 7th April 2021, 10:33   #11
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Congratulations on your Thar. It looks dashing as ever. It still is forbidden fruit to a lot of people who want to use it as primary vehicle. I had seen the vehicle in person and was blown away by it's sheer road presence. I considered buying this vehicle, but I was recovering from my wound made by TUV300 AMT and had to let it go. I promised myself not to buy anymore M&M vehicles.

I was really surprised when it scored 4 star rating in GNCAP. I expected maybe a 3 or 2 stars to be honest. M&M came a long way from 0 stars in Scorpio to 5 stars in XUV300.

I am sure you are aware of the niggles reported by many owners, and as your vehicle is a leased one, and you are planning to buy it back after 2 years, better go with the extended warranty once you buy it back. Trust me it is totally worth it. Wishing you best of luck and happy miles.
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Old 7th April 2021, 12:43   #12
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Wow! And I mean WOW! For your thread, let alone for your car. Rating it 5 stars for the lack of any more. The sheer amount of thoughts, emotion and effort that has gone into this thread, shows how much your Thar is going to be pampered and cared for. Thanks for sharing the thread, the pictures and the little things in each point!

Wishing you many happy, safe & fun filled miles with one of the most aspirational cars on our roads. Nothing pulls the strings of the heart on our roads, like the Thar does when it passes by. Cheers.
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Old 7th April 2021, 12:44   #13
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Many congratulations on the Thar, wish you happy miles ahead with the beauty. Owning a Thar will take a lot of patience and attention towards the vehicle if you wish to have a niggle free ownership. There are many shortcomings in Thar since it traces back its DNA to the old Jeeps, but the sheer presence it carries on road, the shortcomings will get subsided.

As an existing Thar owner I have listed down my inputs on the problematic areas mentioned by you, hope it helps:

1) Except for the front seats, space is severely limited – for people and for things! (narrow and hard-to-access second row, tiny glove box, non-existent boot): It’s a Short wheelbase vehicle hence unlike a 5 door one, it won’t have that sense of space availability, on the contrary you can try putting something like the rear seat slider which Bimbra 4x4 is offering, also for touring the standard trolleys will have to make way for duffel bags. In a few more tours you will get used to it.

2) Ergonomics not fully thought through – missing center armrest, insufficient thigh support, missing reach adjustment for the steering wheel, inconvenient placement of window controls, 4WD mode selector lever not intuitive etc.: I second to you on this, there isn’t a logical explanation on why thee things have been put together like this, probably after market accessories might save a bit, but go through it carefully before jumping on any after market mods.

3) Bumpy ride on anything but the smoothest of roads. If you are considering a long road trip over highways that are in poor condition, risk your vertebrae or choose another car!: It’s a Usual body on frame vehicle characteristics, but with couple of passengers or luggage at the back the ride quality will improve. Don’t waste your time or money on after market mods, you can’t make a Lion run like a cheetah.

4) Front door closing issue: You will have to get used to it, old gen Thar also has the same problem, after all its a Jeep

5) Regarding that Reflection issue from rear window: That’s because it has a boxy shape design, the old gen Thar has this issue so does the 2Cr Merc G Wagon

Anyways, owning a Thar is altogether a different game and there’s nothing else in the market which can come close to the satisfactory feeling the Thar gives. Just get it serviced regular and replace fluids as prescribed in the owners manual and it should run for 2-3 Lakh kms without a fuss.

All the best and wish you many more miles with this beauty!!! It’s Amazing, Eh!!!
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Old 7th April 2021, 14:10   #14
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Thank you thank you thank you... I was searching for such a review... I am simply tempted to look at buying the Thar as my primary vehicle in the coming year..but your review just helped bring my brain back from my heart
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Old 7th April 2021, 14:15   #15
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Congratulations! This is a great color choice.
I'm so glad Mahindra has continued killer AC setup in Thar. I can only imagine with HT that AC is even more effective.
After driving my V1 Thar, a friend said the AC output is so out of place in this car (considering how rudimentary everything else is) and defies all logic. He drives Audi A4! Speaks a lot about exceptional AC unit. I have never turned it above second level even in scorching central Maharashtra heat.
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