India’s answer to the Jeep Wrangler, the Mahindra Thar, has attained a respectable four-star crash rating in Global NCAP’s latest round of crash tests focused on Indian-market vehicles.
The old school off-roader with removable doors managed four stars out of five for both adult and child occupant impact protection, and its structure held up well following a 64km/h frontal barrier collision.
The tester noted some footwell instability, and recommended stability control enhancements.
Why are we covering this, you ask? Mahindra’s Australian operation has previously confirmed it’ll launch the Thar here as a rival to the hugely popular Suzuki Jimny (and to a lesser extent, the pricier and clearly more sophisticated Wrangler) during 2021. And this remains the case.
However, it’s important to note the Global NCAP tests on Indian-market cars are not the same as the ANCAP tests used for Australian-market cars. It’s a single frontal impact test, scored out of 17, and places no focus on side impacts, pedestrian protection, or active safety equipment.
The Thar as tested only had two airbags, and while this is ADR-compliant, it would also likely impact any potential ANCAP score.
Regardless, it’s our understanding Mahindra Australia is currently homologating the Thar ahead of a 2021 launch. Arrival timing will be dictated by Indian demand – there are 20,000 orders in Mahindra’s home market, and the factory currently makes 3000 a month as it scales up.
Australian-market Thar models will have some differences to those produced for India. Expect features such as a reversing camera and potentially Apple CarPlay, for example – though beyond dual-front airbags, ISOFIX anchors, and stability control, it’s unclear right now what other safety features to expect.
It’s understood Australia is among the first mooted export markets for the Thar.
The Thar is one part of Mahindra’s planned expansion in Australia, plans which also include growing the network of dealers – many of which are regional, capitalising on Mahindra’s strength in the tractor market.
“I think it’s a cliche to say it’s the most exciting product we’ve ever had,” one company staffer told us, adding that customers had already enquired about placing deposits on the new cars.
Beyond the Thar, we understand Mahindra will also launch an updated Pik-Up model including a new automatic transmission option, and a facelifted XUV500 SUV, over the next 18 months.
The company has also indicated the next generation Scorpio – the current version of which is a low-budget take on the LandCruiser 70 Series wagon – seven-seat diesel SUV will go global, and is being looked at for Australia in 2022.
What is the Mahindra Thar?
The new model is built on a new body-on-frame chassis with double-wishbone front suspension and a multi-link solid rear axle with coils and dampers.
It has a locking rear differential, a transfer case with low-range gearing, 226mm of ground clearance, a 650mm wading depth, and a fearsome 42 degree approach angle. The breakover angle is up to 27 degrees.
Two engines are available: a 112kW/320Nm 2.0-litre petrol and a 97kW/320Nm (at 1600rpm) 2.2-litre diesel, mated to either six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions. Torque is put to the road via a part-time 4×4 system and 255/65 R18 rubber.
The Thar is only little: 3985mm long, 1855mm wide and up to 1896mm tall. The wheelbase is 2450mm. For context, it’s 500mm longer than a Jimny but a smidgen shorter than a Hyundai Venue.
It comes with a hard top or a soft top option. The doors are removable, and the floors are hose-able and have draining plugs.
Available features in India include vinyl or cloth seats, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, power windows, HVAC, parking sensors, a TFT instrument display, and 4×4-specific menus showing pitch, roll, G-monitor and torque mapping.