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Ownership experience of my 2021 Mahindra Thar petrol AT

I have driven the car for about 1000 km now and got used to its style and tantrums.

BHPian AdiSinghV12 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

There are a great number of reviews and YouTube videos of the New Thar, than probably the number of it actually running on the road. That includes a very comprehensive one on this very forum. So, I’ll skip the obvious bits like less boot space and how small the glovebox is and just highlight my POV.

Pros

  • Beyond Expectation Refinement and Gearbox in this price range, the shifts are real-quick and it likes holding the revs a little longer than other cars in its segment making you never miss the right amount of power or rpm. I went ahead with AT after our very own GTO advised in favour of it and though I was paranoid because there was no TD available and, the fact that I had to part ways with my 2016 Creta AT a while back for how lethargic it was to drive and the rubber-band effect with the shifts the moment I took delivery and got the wheel, all my paranoia had turned into amazement with how this thing drove. Full marks here to Aisin Seiki. If gearbox were watch-brands, this would be a flagship Seiko that comes with those fancy dials if we say ZF is Omega & PDK is Patek.
  • Unmatchable Road Presence with Great Dominating Seating Position, the Brute stance assures respect on the road with turning heads all around. The side windows have a wide area where you can rest your hands and it surely gives a great feeling to drive this thing around and has the right dimensions on the outside, not too bulky and cumbersome yet not too puny like the Jimny (in-fact IIRC from what I remember from my trips abroad this ‘seems’ bigger than the 3-Door Wrangler.
  • Off-Road Capability with loads of tech like BLD, 4L, etc. yet easy to manage on the road. The infotainment system has a decent number of features that’d help you off-road. Though, a few cameras here and there are sorely missed, and addition would have done wonders.
  • An infotainment system that did not make me miss any feature from iDrive or InControl – Be it off-road specific details, CarPlay, Android auto or navigation the car has it all. Even displays the tyre pressures in real time and ever since I took delivery, I’m mocking my Mini SA of how advanced it feels in comparison to the iDrive I have got in the Mini lol
  • Brute & Sturdy Built Quality add to that – Made in India with Pride. Luckily, the car came with well aligned parts and everything felt nice and in-place except a thing or two which I’ll mention below. It's a proper Jeep! Until I got it home I couldn't ever think about 'sitting on a rear bumper' of a car but this is well-built enough to take care of my 90 kgs without moving an inch and can surely take two people on it. A proper and working desi jugaad to compete with fold-out seats. Add to that, there's a foldable snack tray as well
  • Proper 4-Seater with acceptable leg room for rear passengers as well. Getting in aside, the rear is a happy place to be until you’re really not doing long touring, but I wouldn’t really complaint doing 200 - 300 km on our newly developed expressways, say Delhi-Agra, Delhi-Lucknow.

Cons

  • The AT petrol engine is Thirsty, the chauffer who drove it down from Kolkata to Patna was amused that this has beat the other cars he has driven in terms of being thirsty and how Petrol-Pumps could be its second home. Called me twice to inform this until I put my phone on DND! Another thing about this Petrol engine that I observed that it gets hotter than any other cars I own, to such extent that I almost felt something’s wrong but there wasn’t anything off the place nor any kind of abnormality in driving
  • Bumpy ride quality, it's like riding a Bull. I wouldn’t call this a con till you have to do long distance, where the tired you starts saying to yourself that it was ‘wrong distance’
  • No dead pedal is a big bummer, thank god you can easily retrofit it
  • Plastic Hard-Top quality is poor, it seems like a thin plastic sheet which isn’t too great when it comes to avoiding the windblast from entering the cabin, and not to forget it gets dirty real soon.
  • Misalignment of a Few Parts & Paint Quality – Luckily unlike the majority of the Thars, mine had very few pcs misaligned and for the starters the bumper and grille gap were a bit uneven, there’s a small gap between grille and headlight. The DOORS just won't close properly until you thud it hard, the paint quality could have been better – a slight brush has got off the paint from the door edges which suggests a poor paintjob….and umm even on putting my mind on hunt to think of more cons in this vertical it can’t think of anything else for now
  • Below Average Speakers – with all those innovative speaker placements, I wish M&M did a better job with speaker quality. They would be the first thing anyone would want to change along with more damping. The moment you increase the volume over 30% it starts breaking a sweat and you can feel the distortion.
  • No Armrest in Front or Rear with fully exposed wheel well at the rear looks a little odd for an SUV that costs around Rs 17 lakh, on the road.

Booking

“Most people believe that the choices they make result from a rational analysis of available alternatives. However, emotions greatly influence and, in many cases, even determine our decisions” = as psychological lecture as it may sound there couldn’t be a better way to describe what made me add this new off-roader to my humble garage. When I booked the car a while back, I had never thought I’d be this excited to own a Mahindra and wasn’t even sure if I’ll go ahead with delivery and cancel it midway as I was thinking of saving the doughs for a couple of years and upgrade the Discovery Sport to something really nice. I had a mixed opinion when it was launched due to its grille and the Flat and Curved wheel-well / fenders triggered my OCD and I was like why would a car have different style of wheel-wells, I thought M&M has done it to avoid another lawsuit with FCA but the moment I went a little deeper into Jeep's history, be it Willys or M&M the desire to own a Jeep with these very characteristics (uneven wheel-well) shot up like anything, the Made in India with Pride badge, the looks with the new grille and almost everything else about this car, the machine & its history had triumphed all other emotions and thoughts and the Thar was booked in no time. Sharing with you all an interesting article excerpt below which might seem interesting to many as it did to me.

So, from non-surety of buying it to browsing several hours a day while waiting for it and planning its mods, this affair with Jeep seemed deep, and one that’d stay for times to come.

Dealership Experience & Delivery

Once I fell in love with the Thar, the biggest challenge for which I needed Ice buckets to take the edge off was how fast I can get it. Despite based in Patna and the local dealer principal being a good-friend, he sounded a little helpless on being able to arrange the car in any other circumstances other than once allotted by M&M against my booking which would mean “40-44 weeks”. I started making calls to the other dealerships in cities with which I have any kind of connection with (office, relatives, and close friends) and finally the one that gave me a ray of hope was a dealer in Kolkata. They mentioned that they keep getting vehicles from the open-pool and if the variant I’m looking for comes into it there’s a ‘chance’ I can get it sooner. After regular follow ups and requests I finally managed to get one allotted to myself! The first step towards owning my first Jeep, especially after having a love and hate relationship with a Ford GPW that I kept seeing since childhood being owned & maintained by a relative. Overall, I had a super smooth buying experience with no harassment for anything whatsoever. Yes, they wanted me to take insurance from them but promised me to match it closely to the best deal I was getting outside. Yes, they “requested” me to take accessories worth 25-30k which I was anyway going to take (Wheel Arch Cladding, Reverse Camera, Door Sill Protector, Door Side-Step, Snack Tray, Sunshade and a few more small parts). All in all, the Thar was booked over the phone with the general booking amount and a PO which included all the accessories and other details, and I wasn’t asked for any further payment till the car arrived to the stockyard in March. I decided to take a small loan on the vehicle owing to the interesting rate of interests popping up in my net-banking offers regularly which was further sweetened after speaking to the bank the process took a couple of days which had reached just 2 days prior to my delivery date, but as I was firm that I wanted the car on a Thursday they worked an extra bit and made sure that I got it delivered without any kind of inconvenience. Due to Covid surge, and the delivery being done late it was a usual affair and I probably had to just spend 20 mins at the showroom signing a few documents before I drove off to a new journey with the All-New Thar.

The Honeymoon Period& Driving Impressions

I have driven the car for about 1000 km now and got used to its style and tantrums. I must admit, I’m mostly driving with probably 50% to 80% throttle input all the time and boy it's fun. The gearshifts in this amount of throttle input is near to perfect and it just pulls with no lag, no drama yet fast like a bulky go-kart. The default mode is 2WD, which is RWD in case of Thar which I didn't know pre delivery and as amusing as it may sound, the car is very tail happy if you find the sweet spot of playing with the right amount of throttle + traction control off which is just a click away unlike premium cars where you have to hold it for a few seconds. Shift the gear lever to the left and this wonderful Jap gearbox will let you hold gears for as long as you want unlike many other cars which upshifts on your own and though there's not a great amount of top-end-rpm performance but this might be really beneficial off-road.

The NVH level is best in 2WD mode, super smooth and quiet but the moment you switch to 4H or 4L it does start getting audible and makes a different kind of sound which can hurt your OCD if you listen and feel your car deeply. My refinement-point mentioned in the pros above kind of goes for a toss when the car is delivering the power to all four wheels.

The steering is satisfactory and no left or right pulling issues as reported earlier, and handling is as you'd expect from a car that almost has half a feet of ground clearance. Weighs well and though could have felt more solid it is pretty acceptable and getting used to does not take a long time. At the "maximum legal speed limit" in this country, the steering is still at its best, pretty solid and would get you out of most situations however probably because it's a car that's "Made in India with pride", it starts showing its consciousness from all its bits be it steering or windblast if you exceed this by say another 25-30 km / hr.

The ride quality, well - the moment rough patches comes it starts seeming like riding a Bull, but even that itself is so different from the other cars I have that every mile covered was seeming like an amusement park ride….Fast, Bumpy yet Handles & Drives well & Stays firm…refer fun-vee and I don’t know if we would put this in the good or bad bit but you do feel the speed which adds to the adrenaline & joy. Now to stop this half a feet high go-kart the brakes does a decent job specially after run in period, it used to feel scary for a while but the moment there were a few hundred km on the ODO it started bedding in and getting better and better.

Less than a week after delivery, the jynx that I have with the new cars heading back to the dealership what started with F30 continued when a friend took the car and a part of the plastic roof was hit in the second basement of the parking lot where he says he wasn’t confident to enter but the guards didn’t stop him so he couldn’t judge the height… Luckily no damage to any other metal part and no parts will be repaired but the entire roof will be changed which is ordered and costed around 1.5L from the dealership and while I thought it’d take time to reach I got to appreciate M&Ms promptness, to my surprise I hear that it in a week’s time the new-roof is at the dealership so will take the trip to Kolkata sort it, though initially heart-breaking for a couple of days one got to digest what has happened and move on so ultimately I did. I took it to office a couple of times and it to my colleagues it didn’t fail to ooze excitement any less than other new cars that I had taken in past. So that’s all folks for now, the car will be off to the workshop the coming weekend for its new roof and allow me to let the pics do the talking till then; assuring you to keep adding to it as and when I add miles and once the car is back from the workshop and once I carry out some mods as planned; Here’s a quick list before I sign off of what’s done and what are to follow;

Mods So Far:

  • Audio Upgrade with Floor Damping (JL C2-650 Front, JL C1-650 on the Roof, MTX amp & shallow subwoofer. Not very impressed I think I'll change the woofer and the amplifier as they don't seem adequate for the speakers, vocals aren't crisps)
  • Dead Pedal
  • Auto Window Closer
  • Sound Damping on the Doors
  • Wheel Arch Cladding (OEM)
  • Boot Snack Tray (OEM)
  • Reverse Camera (OEM)
  • Door Sill Protector (OEM)
  • 20mm Front and Rear Spacers
  • Sunshade (OEM)

Mods Planned:

  • Audio Upgrade with Floor Damping
  • Better Headlights
  • Better Fog lights (AES)
  • BF Goodrich Tyres (285/60/18)
  • Integrated Winch on the stock bumper (Something like BYC Jammu has done)
  • JL Grille (Bimbra Spec)
  • Roof Marker Lights (Lumiere Concept)
  • Stage – 1 ECU Remapping (Once the ECU is cracked)
  • Snorkel (Minimal)
  • Wild Boar Grab Handles
  • Upholstery Upgrade (Azad 4X4, Wrangler inspired)
  • Deployable Side Steps
  • Removable Front part of the HT (Fingers crossed)

And that’s about all!

The Replaced Roof

and, back in action!

Followed by some straight out of the workshop audio upgrades

and that's him, back home with its other garage mates bidding adieu till the next time.

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