Mahindra has revealed the new generation of its Willys-Jeep-inspired Thar compact off-roader. Compared with its predecessor, however, this rival to the Suzuki Jimny will be available in 3 configurations, in turbopetrol and –diesel guises, and come extensively equipped.
The 1st generation of the Thar (the closest thing in our new-vehicle market to a budget off-roader... well, apart from the Jimny) has served the Indian brand dutifully for about a decade and last year, Mahindra South Africa introduced the Adventure Series spec of the Thar, which was aimed squarely at the local market's plucky off-road enthusiasts. With an Indian-market launch date of early October earmarked for this, the new-generation Thar, we’re confident the newcomer should be introduced in Mzansi in early 2021.
After 10 years of service, it's time for the Thar to be replaced by an all-new model; it looks similar, but is much fancier inside.
Just as was the case with its predecessor, which drew inspiration from the original Willys Jeep (which Mahindra began building – under licence – in India in the ‘50s), the new Thar retains its purposely boxy 2-door silhouette. There will be more flavours than before, though: it will be offered with a hardtop, a fixed soft-top or manual convertible roof.
Apart from a wider, better-balanced stance, the new Thar’s exterior features dual-tone bumpers, chunky black cladding, front fog lamps, LED daytime running lamps and tail-light clusters. Its 18-inch alloys are shod with 255/65 all-terrain tyres.
The background of this image might be a bit fantastic, but for enthusiasts who like al fresco off-roading, the convertible fits the bill.
As before, Mahindra’s diminutive off-roader has a body-on-ladder-frame construction and this model sports an independent front- and multi-link rear suspension configuration. It will be available with a choice of 4-cylinder turbocharged powerplants – either a 112 kW/320 Nm 2.0-litre petrol or a 97 kW/320 Nm 2.2-litre diesel.
Manual or Automatic
The 2 engines will be available with either a 6-speed manual ‘box or torque-convertor automatic transmission in combination with a shift-on-the-fly 4-wheel-drive system, replete with a low-range transfer case and a mechanical rear differential lock. Brake-locking differential and electromechanical driveline disconnect functions are also included.
Hardcore bundu bashers will want to know the following info urgently, so here goes... Important off-roading stats for the new Thar are 226 mm of ground clearance, a wading depth of 650 mm, while the newcomer's approach-, departure and breakover angles are 41.8-, 36.8- and 27 degrees respectively.
Mahindra has packed the new Thar's touchscreen infotainment system full of off-road-related functions and gizmos.
Given the new model’s (still) rather utilitarian exterior packaging, one would be forgiven for thinking the Mahindra would have a relatively no-frills interior, but although hard-wearing plastic surfaces abound and the dashboard switchgear is said to be (IP54 Standard) drizzle resistant, the cabin is appointed relatively luxuriously.
The Thar will be offered with 4 front-facing seats, of which the rear seatback splits 50:50 (we believe this will be the most popular configuration) or 2 front seats in combination with 4 side-facing seats positioned behind them in the load bay. The newcomer's instrument panel includes a TFT multi-info display, the multifunction steering wheel offers satellite controls for audio, phone and cruise-control functions (and is tilt-adjustable), while the driver’s seat is adjustable for height (with adjustable lumbar support).
The Thar is perhaps too small to be classed a compact family car, but it's cabin is certainly a lot less utilitarian than before.
Apart from the remote central locking, electric windows, power-adjustable side mirrors, electronic HVAC controls, the new Thar comes equipped with a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with built-in navigation and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Metal-look accents and faux carbon-fibre trim complete the upmarket look.
Although Mahindra did not go into too much detail on the specific funtionality, the newcomer’s infotainment system is also said to incorporate an adventure-statistics display, including adventure calendar display, smart watch and -phone connectivity (through pairing with the Blue Sense app), plus tyre-pressure and direction monitoring systems.
In terms of safety features, the Indian-market-spec Thar will come equipped with a built-in roll cage with 3-point seat belts for all passengers (in 4-seater configuration), dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, an electronic stability programme (with rollover mitigation), hill-start assist and hill-descent control, as well as rear parking sensors.
The addition of an automatic option will certainly broaden the Thar's appeal to urban-based weekend outdoorists.
Designed and engineered in India and manufactured at Mahindra’s Nashik Plant, the all-new Thar will be available in 6 colours: Red Rage, Mystic Copper, Napoli Black, Aquamarine, Galaxy Grey and Rocky Beige, the manufacturer says.
We’ll keep you updated on the new Thar's estimated time of arrival in South Africa and expected specifications as soon as more information becomes available.