The Mahindra Thar is here, there, everywhere, as its maker has begun testing the lifestyle SUV at multiple locations in Maharashtra. While the first crop of spyshots arrived from the vehicle’s place of manufacture, Nashik, the new sets of spyshots are from Mumbai (better known as Bombay) and the Mumbai-Pune expressway. The Thar will make a radical departure from the current version in terms of the interior scheme it offers, while a slew of mechanical changes are also said to be on Mahindra’s radar. The facelift will be a multi-pronged exercise that makes the SUV future ready.
Whispers on the interweb assert that the all-steel bumpers, which can readily kill and maim when it comes in contact with human and animal life, will be made more pedestrian friendly, by combining the toughness of metal with more readily-deforming plastic. Of course, purists always have the option of discarding the “plastic stuff” for the more masculine all-metal bumpers right at the showrooms, but as a company, Mahindra has more pressing concerns – the regulatory authorities. The other change in terms of safety kit could be the addition of ABS.
Car crash safety has become the talking point over the past few months, with the government of the day, mulling sweeping changes to make Indian roads, and the vehicles that ply here, safer. With the Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment Program set to kick in from 2017, most automakers are working on making their vehicles safer. Safety changes, across product ranges, are expected to arrive well within time of the 2017 deadline. So, don’t be surprised if a more pedestrian-friendly Thar, replete with ABS+EBD, hits showrooms later this year.
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In terms of looks, little will change as the Thar’s USP is its retro appeal, on the back of the timeless shape of the Civilian Jeep (CJ). The canopy will now derive inspiration from the Jeep Wrangler, while the wheel arches seem set to gain broader fenders that keep the mud and other assorted road debris off the vehicle’s body. The side steps are likely to be made more functional than before. A hard top doesn’t seem to be the in the equation as that would directly cannibalize Mahindra’s Vehicle Customization division.
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Mechanically, the 2.5 liter NEF CRDe turbodiesel motor is expected to be retained, with 105 Bhp-247 Nm outputs. A 5 speed manual gearbox with the Borg Warner four wheel drive mechanism will also remain standard. Manual locking hubs are said to replace the auto-locking ones. A 2.2 mHawk mill and Eaton’s M-Locker are expected to make it to the Thar Facelift. These changes are unlikely given the product differentiation that Mahindra would want to maintain. Also, implementing these changes could make the Thar too expensive for its own good, even by niche segment standards.