Why Mahindra Thar Is India’s Best SUV: Petrol Automatic Variant Review

The toughness, quality and the feel-good factor that it brings is unmatched but it's not for those who need efficiency.

Images: Fossbytes/Somnath Chatterjee

Thar mania is currently sweeping across India, and we cannot get enough of this SUV. Mahindra Thar came out last year, and that too after a long wait. The anticipation was sky-high, and Covid-19 only delayed the launch but increased the interest.

The reason for this craze is that there is nothing like a Thar out there. You cannot find another rugged 4WD vehicle at that price and with that kind of styling. The former Thar had a cult following, but Mahindra has made it embrace the lifestyle element more with the new one.

The new Thar is bigger, more luxurious, and spacious, along with being more practical. Yet, it is still just as capable or even better off-road. As a result, it has got over 50,000 bookings now, and the waiting list runs onto 10 months for some variants. So is the Thar hype justified? We lived the petrol automatic to find out.

What The New Mahindra Thar Is All About: A Detailed Review

It is all new, and nothing is carried over from the earlier generation. Mahindra has taken its time but made sure that everything in the Thar is changed. There is a new chassis, engine line-up, and for the first time, an introduction of an automatic gearbox with both engines.

How Does It Look?

that sideview profile

Absolutely brilliant! There is nothing else at this price that has the presence of the Thar. It looks stunning and gets attention on the road like a supercar! The shape of the Thar is still an evolution of the classic design but the new Thar is bigger, badder, and looks cooler. It has the traditional grille but in a new avatar, massive wheel-arches with bigger 18-inch alloys and round headlamps.

thar front view headlight

The silver part in the front bumper should have been colored but that aside from the boxy design, LED tail lamps and the bigger proportions just gel beautifully. The new Thar maintains its 2-door look but it is bigger and it shames other cars for sheer presence. We have the hard top but you can also get a convertible top and a fixed Soft top. In convertible form, it is even better looking but the hard-top is more practical.

What About The Interiors?

The new Thar feels well built and solid. You have to climb in and open the heavy doors while the interior is the best one by Mahindra yet. Quality is good, and it feels tough. It is a huge change over the previous Thar here. I like the steering wheel and the 7-inch touch screen, but the cabin does not feel like it is just another SUV. It feels like a Thar but more modern.

mahindra thar infotainent system

You have tilt adjust steering, power window switches in the middle, electrically adjustable ORVMs, central locking,  Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, USB, Navigation,  Smart Watch & Phone Connectivity with Blue Sense App, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, steering and cruise control, plus more.

mahindra thar front cockpit

The previous Thar was bare-bones, but the new one takes a big leap forward in this area. We only want a rearview camera, but that aside the Thar is well equipped. The roof-mounted speakers are cool and have decent sound quality as well.

thar steering view

The height-adjust driver’s seat also enables one to have a good driving position. The space at the front is good, and the headroom is excellent. Foot-well space could have been better, though. The Thar is a 2-door SUV with plenty of room at the front, but the rear-seat space is a bit compromised. That said, while entry is best through the space between the front seats, the actual space is pretty decent for two.

thar rear seats

Mahindra has not forgotten its roots as the new Thar cabin is dust and water-resistant (IP54 Standard), plus you get cool off-road info! The Thar is also a four-star car and the safest ladder-frame SUV. It also gets the usual safety standard equipment like dual airbags plus ABS, Hill Hold and Hill Descent Control, and ISOFIX plus rear sensors.

Mahindra Thar Review: How Is It To Drive In The City?

The Thar gets new engines but we were keen to find out more about the petrol version of Thar. Plus more than its off-road ability, the Thar in its petrol avatar must be good enough for the regular city commute too. First of all the petrol engine is unbelievably refined. This is an all-new 2.0 turbo petrol which makes 150 bhp and 320Nm. There is a manual transmission as standard, but we had a 6-speed automatic.

thar on road backview

For city use, the automatic is what will appeal to people more. Back to the engine and the smoothness, plus the response from this engine is amazing, to say the least. It is also quick, with a lot of torque coming in early in the rev range. That means it is effortless, and a small press of the accelerator is enough to have it shooting through traffic gaps.

You will like the stance and the raised driving position in traffic, plus how the visibility is excellent. The Thar is not huge, so fitting inside tight gaps is also easy. The quick gearbox and smoothness from the motor make it one of the best and fastest SUVs at this price!

mahindra thar gearbox

The steering of the Thar is a bit heavy at low speeds and not the feather-light ones you get used to in the other SUVs. But it is not so inconvenient to drive, and the steering offers greater feedback. U-turns are not easy, and the lack of a rear camera is a bit of an issue in tight spots.

Compared to the older Thar the ride and handling is a world away. It is much more composed and also stable at high speeds. It is confidence-inspiring and the hardtop does not get a lot of wind noise too. That said, since it is a ladder frame, the ride is a bit bouncy, and you feel some of the bad roads; however, the 226mm ground clearance plus the massive tires means you have a sense of going over everything and anything.

What Is The New Thar Petrol Mileage?

off road driving thar

With the bigger 2.0 turbo petrol unit, the new Thar is not for those who need efficiency. In a typical city scenario, you will get 7/8kmpl in the city while the highway figure can just about stretch to 9kmpl. That is not efficient, but the Thar is more for performance and for making a lifestyle statement.

Is Thar Worth The Hype?

The top-end Thar petrol auto is roughly just below Rs 14 lakh (ex-showroom), and that for the overall package is stunning value for money. The design, engine, performance, and comfort that it now brings to the table make it much more liveable and a practical car for those who like off-roading or those who want it for the looks and the lifestyle aspect. The toughness, quality, and feel-good factor that it gets is unmatched. Sure, it’s a two-door, and it’s thirsty, but it is by far the best SUV to come out from India!

Somnath Chatterjee

Somnath Chatterjee

For me automobiles are more than just an obsession, and driving new cars plus writing about them is what keeps me going. I also look beyond the plain numbers to see what a car is truly capable of and what changes it brings on the technology front.
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