The Indian made off-roader scores some trick kit for 2019
If we’re being honest, it is fair to say that the Mahindra Thar could easily be mistaken for a Jeep Wrangler. And while facts are facts, it’s important to remember that the Mahindra Thar traces its legacy directly back to the original Willys Jeep, which the company manufactured under licence more than 70 years ago.
It’s not a bad thing that it looks like a Jeep. If anything, the Wrangler is one of the most loved – and respected off-roaders in the world – and Mahindra is forging their own way forward, with a style that is universally adored.
The Thar has certainly been growing in popularity, with Mahindra even launching a variant of it in the US of A – albeit as a UTV which cannot be driven on highways and main roads - yet. In South Africa though, their rock-solid nature and reliability has seen locals turn to Mahindra, because this is one of the most affordable off-roaders available with low-range.
For the 2019 model year, Mahindra has decided to give its Thar SUV a boost to make it even more capable off the beaten track. Behold… the Thar Adventure Series model. Whilst not the most imaginatively named off-roader, the Thar does feature some pretty nifty kit.
Based on the rather competent Thar 2.5 CRDe 4X4 SE, the Adventure Series gains special off-road bumpers, a steel canopy, a snorkel and off-road ready wheels – and a price of just R293 999.
"The Thar is a firm favourite among Mahindra and off-road enthusiasts alike for its 70-year pedigree and no-frills focus on off-roading. With the Adventure Series, we have added the most popular Thar accessories at a discounted price to create a model that is sure to find favour with this group of fans," says Rajesh Gupta, CEO of Mahindra South Africa.
Taking centre stage on the list of accessories is a complete set of new bumpers courtesy of Bundu Gear. The front bumper is a true off-road approach bumper with upwardly slanted sides to expose more of the tyre surface and further improve on the Thar's standard 44-degree approach angle. It also features brightly coloured recovery points, a functional bush bashing top bar to protect the grille, and high-lift jack mounting points.
The Bundu Gear front bumper also sports in-built LED lights and a mounting point for off-road accessories such as a front tow bar or removable winch. Bundu Gear's specialists have also developed a set of hard-wearing rock sliders that can be fitted to the Adventure Series at an additional cost. These sliders have diamond plate top steps and additional high-lift jack mounting points. At the rear, the matching off-road steel bumper is fitted as standard. It has its own brightly coloured recovery points, jack mounts and an integrated tow bar.
Mahindra has further added a hardened steel canopy from Getec as standard equipment. The canopy and roof section above the front seats can be removed for an open-top driving experience, and Mahindra includes its standard canvas rear canopy as additional equipment.
In front, Mahindra has added a heavy-duty snorkel with an air inlet mounted above the roofline to emphasise the vehicle's off-road credentials. The snorkel has been designed to allow for safe water traverses and to allow cleaner air into the engine when driving in convoy on dirt roads.
Lastly, Mahindra has selected heavy-duty A-line alloy wheels fitted to the standard tyres. As an option, buyers can opt for more off-road focussed tyres such as the Hankook Dynapro AT wheels with their dual-purpose on- and off-road abilities and their aggressive profile for greater traction in mud and sand.
Keen to test out the skills of the Thar? Mahindra has seen this coming and has set up the Mahindra Off-Road Academy, located at the Leribisi Lodge just 25 minutes from Menlyn Mall in Gauteng. The course comprises of 10 obstacles, and trained staff is on hand to show you the real capabilities of the Mahindra Thar, Scorpio S10 SUV and the Scorpio Pikup.
Powering the Thar is a 2.5-litre turbodiesel engine that produces 78kw and 247nm, paired with a five-speed manual transmission. In true 4x4 fashion, it gains a mechanical differential lock in the rear and auto locking front hubs. The 4x4-system was developed with Borg Warner and allows for shift on the fly between 4x2 and 4x2 and high and low range. It also rides on a ladder frame, and features leaf springs, a stabiliser bar and hydraulic shocks. This combination gives the Thar a ground clearance of 200 mm and allows a very impressive standard wheel travel of 194 mm.
While the Thar has a clear bias for off-road applications, it offers luxuries such as front cup holders, air conditioning, power steering and a 12V power socket. The Thar Adventure series can be ordered in Rocky Beige, Red Rage or DSAT Silver - and like all Thar models – are sold with a 2-year / 50 000 km warranty. There is an optional service plan of 3 years / 80 000 km, and this can be added for an additional cost of R19 999.