Though it is already available in Italy and South Africa, Mahindra has finally unveiled its new Thar off-roader in India, Mahindra & Mahindra's home market.
This Wrangler doppelganger mirrors the iconic Jeep for good reason. Mahindra built the original Willys-Overland of the mid-20th century under license, and, like our United States-spec model, the exterior appearance has long retained that unmistakable square look. The Thar that is going on sale is supposedly a more refined version of the Mahindra Jeep, though we doubt Thar buyers are searching for plush leather or tri-zone climate control.
The first Willys-Overland Jeep built in India by Mahindra came off the line on June 3, 1949. Since then, the Jeeps have served multiple purposes throughout the Asian nation (as a Mahindra-branded vehicle) and began to see export to the former Soviet state of Yugoslavia in 1969. As the decades carried on, the small SUV continued to play a big role, ferrying national heads of state and providing entertainment and transport to countless off-road enthusiasts outside the U.S.
Predictably, the Thar is an archetypal Jeep in many ways. It's short at 154.3 inches in length, possesses only two doors, uses a manual transmission with true four-wheel drive, and can ditch its removable top in rain or shine. Long-travel suspension (independent, torsion-bar front and leaf-sprung rear) protects against bottoming out and a generous 46-degree approach angle helps traverse many natural obstacles. Engine selections are between a 2.5-liter diesel and 2.5-liter gasser. And the looks appear to be mostly unchanged from before disco was even in fashion.
The Thar model name is presumably shared with the Thar Desert present in the northwestern area of India. Prices range from 599,000 to 628,000 rupees ($13,300 to $14,000), depending on city of purchase. Mahindra also plans to offer a more frugal Thar in cheaper markets for 447,000 rupees ($9900). Now that the Thar is launched, maybe Mahindra can maybe turn its attention to bringing the vehicles it's been promising forever for the U.S. market.
Sources: Wall Street Journal, Mahindra