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2021 Mahindra Thar: India's Jeep Wrangler is Australia-bound

Mahindra Australia says it will sell the new-generation Thar 4x4 here from the first half of next year, rivalling the Suzuki Jimny and creating a cut-price Jeep competitor

1 month ago
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Mike Costello
Comparisons Editor

India’s version of Jeep’s Wrangler, the Mahindra Thar, is coming to Australia in new-generation form during the first half of 2021.

You may recall that Jeep sued Mahindra over the design of a 4×4 model sold in India called Roxor back in 2018, so there’s no love lost. The new Thar nevertheless makes no secret of its inspirations.

The new Thar was revealed online from a Mumbai design centre today (where it was penned, though Mahindra owns famed Euro design house Pininfarina) after a claimed four years of development work.

It’s a cult car in the subcontinent, with about 60,000 often fanatical owners and a presence in both Bollywood and the Indian armed forces.

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 diff, a transfer case with low-range gearing, 226m 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 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.

The Indian models only have two airbags and there was no mention of any active driver-assist aids beyond stability control, but it’s unclear if there’s scope for more tech in Australian models. We’ve reached out to Mahindra’s local operation for more on that.

Mahindra did say the new one was far safer than the old model, admitting the predecessor’s crash-test performance meant it often “remained parked in hearts but not garages”.

2021 Mahindra Thar: India's Jeep Wrangler is Australia-bound

The Thar will be sold in Australia alongside the XUV500 family SUV and the rough-and-ready Pik-Up ute. Mahindra also sells all-terrain farm vehicles and tractors, meaning it has some bonafides among rural Australians.


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