Fulfil my open-top Jeep dream with a Thar, or buy used BMW SUV instead?

The SUV will replace my old Skoda Rapid and join the Audi S5 in the garage.

BHPian animeshc recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Unlike my previous car buy, I was absolutely sure that there won't be any confusion this time round. But I guess matters of the heart are always tricky.

Quick Flashback, every story needs a backstory!

Open-top Jeeps have been a childhood fascination and I have kept postponing the idea of buying one in the hope of finding a pocket-friendly pre-owned option and whenever I found something within the budget, they weren't in a confidence-inspiring condition (or involved the hassles of transferring across states). Over the years, I kind of accepted that probably I will never be able to take the risk of purchasing a pre-owned Jeep.

With the arrival of the new Thar, I was almost sure that this is what destiny had planned for me. I could imagine myself driving to cricket matches on weekends with the top down and demotivating the opposition team just with the aura of my arrival

Present day

With the addition of an S5 in the family, I am planning to sell my 7-year-old Skoda Rapid and thought it would be the right time to pursue my Thar dream. Some of the roads in Hyderabad pose enough off-roading challenges to make an SUV feel more like a 'need' than a 'want'.

I test drove the Thar hard top variant last week (they didn't have a soft top TD vehicle) and was more than happy with the results. This was significantly better than the earlier variant I had driven a few years back.

All things were almost finalized, a diesel manual variant in Aqua Marine colour (my favourite rustic copper seems to be out of production now) and I was planning to pay the booking amount soon when a voice popped up in my head, my brother in law had bought a BMW 320d (2017 model) in about the same price last year and is very happy with the car. Questions like "Is the amount I am paying worth the price?", "Can I get a similar deal for something like an X3 20d which will be more practical for longer drives?" started plaguing my mind.

The current conundrum

  • What do I need? An SUV to take care of the go anywhere anytime requirements. While S5 is going to be our primary touring vehicle, an SUV would offer more peace of mind for planning drives into unchartered territories. The budget is about 20 lakhs.
  • What do I want? Probably a hard top convertible Thar, unfortunately in the absence of which, here is my conundrum:
  • While the soft top Thar would be the ultimate YOLO choice and would take care of all within-city drives, it may not unlock new driving possibilities for us in terms of longer road trips due to some of its practicality issues.
  • If not a Thar, then what? Something that's equally appealing to the heart but around the same budget. I have concluded that if not the thrill of an open top, then at least the thrill of a luxury brand badge (and hence not considering any brand new SUVs in this price range). Given the reliability that a BMW offers, something like a pre-owned BMW X3 seems like a good option. Is it reasonable to expect a not too old X3 in this price range? (My initial searches don't seem too promising). Any other suggestions in this category?
  • The hard-top Thar is another option but somehow is less appealing to the heart than the above two options.

While I am still leaning towards the Thar, please let me know what would be your recommendations and some reliable leads for pre-owned vehicles in Hyderabad would also be really helpful!

Here's what GTO had to say on the matter:

You love Jeeps & Mahindra has made the 2nd-gen Thar way more user-friendly with its relatively better comfort levels, amenities, hard-top, Automatic gearbox etc. Agreed with YOLO, go with the heart on this one.

Go for the Thar Diesel AT (not MT). You can choose the convertible, or also the hard-top which can be opened in the winter. Here is a BHPian's Thar with the hard-top removed (you'll need a place to store it):

A good X3 for 20 lakhs is out of the question in today's market.

Here's what BHPian Axe77 had to say on the matter:

I would say YOLO this one and just go for the Thar. You’ve already got a great German in the garage. If you want true “go anywhere” peace of mind, I think the Thar should be it. It's got a character like few / none others and this generation is truly much more sophisticated than v1.

If your running is low enough, I would actually recommend the petrol automatic. Automatic for sheer convenience (although this is personal of course - ultimately your call) and petrol for the peace of mind of being able to go anywhere, any time with no DPF issues to worry about. I have heard that a lot of folks with BS6 diesel vehicles had issues during their drives in HP during the winters. Given that you have a penchant for adventurous travels, buy a vehicle that will best handle whatever you want to throw at it. If FE is an issue, pick the diesel A/T of course.

A hard top is just more practical because it’ll enable travel without limitations. Remove the HT when needed as indicated in the post above. But at least you know your car can safely do long journeys with the peace of mind that comes with a hard top.

Here's what BHPian roadrunner_nv had to say on the matter:

A Thar Diesel AT Hardtop in your choice of colour

The Thar AT is amazingly tuned for that engine. Smooth, reliable and effective. Makes city commutes effortless, highway cruises simple and off-road excursions fun-filled.

The AT on the Thar has been battle tested by many since its launch and it looks like it is a bullet-proof unit.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

Power to the people