The Thar, Mahindra’s take on the classical Willie’s Jeep, has been named after one of the largest deserts in India. I find this incredibly fitting, because you are going to want to abandon this vehicle smack in the middle of it, and leave to be eroded away.
I live in a small town in the middle of Mpumulanga, which means I am part of the stereotypical crowd which descends on the coast every time someone mentions the word ‘holiday’. To us, 4x4s and bakkies are religion, and rank as high as biltong and beer in priority. So I was really impressed when I found out about the Thar. I thought here a manufacturer has seen a niche market, and they are going to have it all to themselves. I mean the only thing that comes close is the Jeep Wrangler, and that starts at just under R300 000! Sadly though, they botched it royally!
Firstly, the dealer didn’t have the vehicle ready for collection when I got there, and had to get it off the floor. A floor that was packed to capacity, and while getting the Thar out, they managed to prank two of their brand new bakkies. What followed was a sudden case of Turrets…aimed in my direction! How was this my fault!?
Finally I was handed the keys and told to just go. So I did. I can tell you that I wanted to like this vehicle, but it was horrid. Let’s start with the roof, which comes off in an hour or so, due to the canvas being attached to the body by means of Velcro strapping and screws, yes screws. To my mind all you need is a blowtorch.
Anyway, when have you ever heard anyone say they love their convertible, while unscrewing the roof?
It gets worse, there are gaps everywhere which I imagine turns the damn thing into a great big parachute, talk about useless aerodynamics. Luckily, the one they gave me to drive already had the roof taken off.
There is no interior, and they’ve had to bend the gear lever back, so you don’t put a hole through the dash when changing into 1st, 3rd, or 5th. This also means changing into 2nd and 4th almost entails climbing through to the back just to find the gears.
The suspension set up has been stolen off an ox wagon, and makes the whole thing creek and feel really uneasy off road. On the road, it just sort of flops about. The 2.5 litre diesel engine produces 78kW and 247Nm. That’s a power-to-capacity ratio equivalent to a weed eater! The the turbo is either on or off, so if you are busy cornering, the back will spin out and send you plummeting down a bank to your death. Oh, there is no ABS, there are no airbags, matter of fact, there is nothing…so you will die in the event of rolling down a bank.
And the final nail in the coffin, the price. This bag of miserable, preempted death will set you back R170 000. If I were Jeremy Clarkson, I would have blown it up, and sent the bits back to Mahindra with a note that read, “Look, I made it better.”
Photo Credit: Quick Pic