2023 Mahindra Thar 2WD review, road test, - no 4x4, no problem
So far, the Mahindra Thar has been your only mainstream choice if you wanted an SUV to drive home your outdoorsy lifestyle. But with the Maruti Suzuki Jimny right around the corner, things are set to heat up. This is where the new Thar 2WD comes in. It's also now available with a smaller diesel engine to make it all the more enticing to those who want the image but maybe not all the capability.
Mahindra Thar 2WD specifications
The Mahindra Thar has always been under four metres long, so with this 1.5-litre motor now being fitted to it, the off-roader can claim the sub-four-metre tax benefits. This should further drive down the Thar's price opening up a whole new section of buyers. The diesel engine is a 1.5-litre turbo borrowed from the Marazzo which makes 117PS and 300 Nm. This is paired only with a six-speed manual. The petrol engine option remains the same 2.0-litre mStallion motor with its 150PS and 320 Nm, and this can still be had with the automatic.
Mahindra Thar 2WD 1.5-litre diesel driving impressions, mileage, off-roading
This new motor may seem quite a bit smaller than the 2.2-litre mHawk in the Thar 4WD but it's only 13PS down on power and makes the same torque figure. Mahindra says 55 per cent of this torque is available just over idle which does seem to help this Thar's case in traffic, which is where owners are quite likely to spend a good amount of time in this.
So you can hold second or third gear in most situations and don't need to make too many gear changes while you're at it. Another positive is that the clutch now feels a touch less springy so it's a bit more comfortable on commutes. Although the shift action itself could have been a bit more precise with better-defined gates, and slightly shorter throws. The Thar with its compact footprint and tall seating position has been a useful urban car and that continues with this engine's demeanour. Another positive is the improved fuel economy. It's still not as good as a regular SUV but we managed close to 10 kmpl in the city and 14 kmpl on the highway.
The only time you'll miss the bigger 2.2 diesel is when you need to rev out the engine. The motor starts running out of breath past 3,000 rpm so overtakes and getting up to speed quickly on highways isn't quite as easy as in the mHawk. But once you've picked up momentum, the Thar sails along quite confidently which makes for easy high-speed cruising.
This new CRDe motor also doesn't quite have the top-notch refinement of the mHawk. It's got quite a bit more of the diesel gruffness filtering into the cabin and some amount of vibrations too.
The lighter engine and no 4x4 gear mean that the Thar now also feels a touch nimbler generally. You notice this in the way it feels a bit more alert around bends, making it a more manageable highway machine. The steering feel remains unchanged, so it's a touch ponderous and hefty at slow speeds although this turns into a smoother, lighter feeling as you pick up pace. The Thar will still pitch and bob around a bit over bumpy roads at slow speeds but it's quite a stable machine generally. As before, rough roads aren't a concern. You can just drive over bad patches like they don't exist without really having to slow down However, there seems to have been some improvements made to high-speed wind noise but the Thar is still noisier inside than your average SUV.
Now you might think that without the 4x4 system, the Thar isn't quite the off-roader it otherwise is. But this is only relative. You still get all-terrain tyres, an electronic brake locking differential, ESP with roll-over mitigation, hill hold and hill descent control. In any case, the Thar 2WD will go further and take more beating than most SUVs. So it'll still be great as a weekend machine or if you need to reach remote places often, without the full safety net of 4x4 of course for those especially tricky situations. As with most Mahindra, the gearing and power delivery also seem to have been tuned keeping this ability intact.
Mahindra Thar 2WD exterior, interior, features
Some minor visual changes separate the Mahindra Thar 2WD diesel from the 4x4. The silver centre sections of the front and rear bumpers are now black, there's no 4x4 badging on the rear fenders and you also lose the mHawk logo on the left fender. On the inside, the 4x4 shifter has now been replaced by a useful large storage space.
So you have a fairly wide and spacious cabin for the front passengers, although the driver's footwell could have been less cramped. As earlier, the rear seat is best for children and getting in isn't the easiest. While the cushioning is great on the seats, they could do with more under-thigh support.
The Thar 2WD can be had in both the AX optional and LX trim levels. So the features list remains unchanged with highlights being the 7-inch touchscreen with adventure graphics, a useful colour MID, connected-car tech, keyless entry and powered mirrors. A push-button start and climate control AC are still stark misses and so is telescopic steering adjustment.
Mahindra Thar 2WD safety
The Mahindra Thar carries a 4-star GNCAP rating which is commendable for this type of vehicle. The SUV also did quite well in our panic braking test, staying true to its line and feeling confident under heavy braking. While no reversing cameras make parking painful you get TPMS, the useful tyre direction display, two airbags and ISOFIX child seat mounts.
Mahindra Thar 2WD price, verdict
The Mahindra Thar 2WD seems to do the job it set out to. It could have done with a more refined motor but despite losing the 4x4 gear, this is still very much a Thar. It gives you that same sense of indestructibility and most of the rough-road capability. The better on-road dynamics and mileage are a bonus. Rounding this off is quite an appealing price that starts from under Rs 10 lakh.
2023 Mahindra Thar 2WD 1.5-diesel real-world mileage, performance
0 to 100 kmph - 16.1s
30 to 50 kmph(3rd gear) - 2.8s
50 to 70 kmph(4th gear) - 3.7s
60 to 80 kmph(5th gear) - 4.9s
100 to 0 kmph - 40.2m, 3.2s
City - 9.77 kmpl
Highway - 14.28 kmpl
Overall - 10.9 kmpl
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Starts Rs 9.8 Lakhs