2020 Mahindra Thar diesel-automatic driven: Can it be your daily car? [Video]

A decade ago, Mahindra launched the all-new Thar, which became an iconic vehicle over the years. The first-generation Thar did not see much changes since its launch and it remained an off-roading focussed vehicle that was highly impractical for daily use. However, there are many who fell in the love with the way the Thar looks and modified the cabin to make it more comfortable for daily use. Even though the Mahindra Thar has a lot of fans in the market due to the way it looks, most stays away from the vehicle due to lack of features and uncomfortable ride. Mahindra has updated the Thar and the all-new, second-generation model of the vehicle gets everything that was missing from the previous Thar. We spent a few hours with the vehicle and here is what we think.

The all-new Thar, as you all know is available with both petrol and diesel engine options. While the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine generates a maximum power of 150 Bhp and peak torque of 320 Nm, we drove the diesel variant that gets a reworked mHawk diesel engine. The 2.2-litre diesel engine now produces a maximum power of 130 PS and 320 Nm of peak torque, which makes the new Thar much more powerful than the previous version.

What makes the new Thar even better is the 6-speed automatic transmission. For the first time ever, Mahindra offers an automatic transmission with both petrol and diesel engine options. While we were really keen to drive the petrol variant of the Thar, only diesel-automatic units were available for a limited time. Also, the more capable AX variants of the Thar were not available and strictly no kind of off-roading was allowed in the LX variant that we drove. So here’s how it performs on the roads.

2020 Mahindra Mahindra Thar LX on tarmac

I believe that every one of you interested in the Thar has seen the vehicle and have judged it so we will start with the driving experience straight away. The first thing that you notice while driving the all-new Thar is the level of NVH has improved greatly. The mHawk 130 engine has become extremely smooth and its performance with the 6-speed automatic transmission is really commendable.

We drove the hard-top version of the LX trim, which ensures the maximum level of insulation. So even if you squeeze the accelerator against the floor of the vehicle, it does not makes the loud grunt it used to. Compared to the old Thar, it has become exceptionally smooth but no, you cannot compare the smoothness to other diesel SUVs likes the Hyundai Creta and other vehicles in a similar price range. Mahindra has chosen to insulate the firewall in the engine way extremely well but the boot lid has no insulation at all.

The LX variant comes with All-Terrain tyres and we must say that there is absolutely no road noise even at around 80 km, which is a commendable step-up from the previous Thar. You do not get much of engine noise or road noise until you cross the 100 km/h mark. Even then, it is only the wind noise that will intrude the peace of the cabin. Remove that wind noise, and you can even have a very quiet conversation in the vehicle.

We did take the all-new Thar to the higher speed of around 140 km/h and the stability has improved massively. Also, since the all-new Thar comes with the cruise control system, you can just engage it and keep munching miles. So cruising ability of the all-new Thar has increased by a lot compared to the first-generation model. The Thar feels much more stable at higher cruising speeds and the body roll is minimal, which you will get used to after spending a couple of hours driving the vehicle.

The mHawk engine of the Thar has improved by a lot with the 6-speed automatic, it works like a charm. There is no sport mode in the transmission but you can always choose to shift the gears manually by pulling the gear lever towards you. At slower speeds in the bumper to bumper traffic, the Thar diesel-automatic behaves well and the crawl function kicks into play as soon as you lift your foot from the brake. It is a very smooth transmission and you do not even get the feel of the gearshifts.

2020 Mahindra Thar LX cabin and features

The all-new Mahindra Thar LX variant that we drove comes with some mega updates. The first of all is the quality of the seats. The all-new 2020 Thar comes with much better seats compared to the older generation. The front seats now extra side bolsters and more support that ensures that your body does not move around during off-roading. While we did not do any off-roading, the seats do feel great. The steering is similar to the TUV300 and you get a lot of buttons to control the infotainment system and the cruise control system. The instrument cluster comes with a coloured MID and you can see a lot of information on it. It is operated from the buttons on the side panel and it shows information like a compass, drivetrain mode, distance to empty, and more.

It also gets a new touchscreen infotainment system that comes with Google Android Auto and Apple Carplay system. However, we are not allowed to talk about the infotainment system. There are speakers all over the car and you will find two of them in the dashboard facing you and four more on the roof of the vehicle. Yes, on the roof o the vehicle.

Now comes the biggest change in the cabin, which will be welcomed by many. The all-new Thar comes with front-facing rear seats with most of the variants. Entering the rear seat will need you to be fit enough. You have to first slide the co-driver eat by lifting the lever on the top and it makes a small way to the rear seats. There is nothing much in the rear apart from the 50:50 split seats and ample space for two. Since the Thar offers a very short wheelbase, the wheel wells intrude the width of the rear seats. You do not get enough width to fit three passengers but it is enough for two passengers. Also, there is no armrest, AC vents, charging point or space to keep anything. You do get seat pockets and a hook to hang things of up to 3 kg.

Off-roading?

Mahindra has improved the off-roading capabilities of the Thar and every single variant of the vehicle gets the 4X4 drivetrain with low-ratio transfer case. Also, the approach angle, departure angle and breakover angles have improved massively. It also gets a ground clearance of more than 200mm. The AX variants will come with the mechanical differential lock while the LX variants get brake differential lock. We could not test either of them so no comments on the off-roading capabilities of the vehicle.

Should you buy it?

The all-new Mahindra Thar has improved massively compared to the first-generation vehicle and we have to appreciate the efforts of Mahindra. It now gets three different types of roofs – hardtop, soft-top like before and a convertible soft-top. As a lifestyle vehicle, Mahindra Thar is still not eligible to be your only vehicle in the garage, if you have a big family and want to go on long trips with friends. But if you’re someone with a wife and two kids and are looking at the Mahindra Thar as your only car and you definitely should give the all-new Thar a good thought.

Why a good thought? Because the Thar is not as refined or comfortable as the cars that have a similar price tag. Talking about the price, Mahindra is known to price their products aggressively and the Thar will be no different. The official prices will be revealed on 2nd October. Have questions or comments? Leave them below and we will try to answer them when we do a full-fledged review of the all-new Thar.