4x4, Buyers' advice, mahindra, Motoring News, new models, off-road

Mahindra Jeep: Who else has a real 4×4 for under 300 grand?

  • Mahindra adds more twinkle to little thar
  • Brand that used to build Jeeps adds its own
  • Full 4×4, deep-water / dust snorkel, rugged build
2019 MAHINDRA THAR: An eminently affordable alternative to the regular high-priced 4x4 should you want to go bund-bashing - and cross rivers. Image: Mahindra SA
2019 MAHINDRA THAR: An eminently affordable alternative to the regular high-priced 4×4’s should you want to go bund-bashing – of cross rivers. Image: Mahindra SA

JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng – Cape Town, a few years ago, declared open season on shooting the Himalayan thars (a kind of mountain goat) that were living peaceably on the Cape Peninsula’s mountain chain after being freed from the Cape Town zoo years earlier.

So successful were they in their new habitat that their meandering tracks were said to be causing unacceptable erosion so the hunters were let loose – eventually declaring the interlopers to be no more.

Except, occasionally, a mountain walker would report seeing one… Viva da thars!

Well, they’re back – but this time on the roads as the Mahindra Thar, a 4×4 lookalike to the early American Jeeps but badged as the Mahindra Thar Adventure Series. Cute little thing – check the images. And the good news is that they cost less than R300 000.

2019 MAHINDRA THAR: An eminently affordable alternative to the regular high-priced 4x4 should you want to go bund-bashing - and cross rivers. Image: Mahindra SA
2019 MAHINDRA THAR: Tough bullbar, jacking points, deep-water snorkel. An eminently affordable alternative to the a regular high-priced 4×4. Image: Mahindra SA

Indeed, the Mahindra Thar has a legacy that goes back to the original Willys Jeep which the company assembled under licence more than 70 years ago.

‘IMPRESSIVE PEDIGREE’

Mahindra SA described the product as ”a special edition equipped with a host of off-road accessories that will meet the needs of every off-road enthusiast”. It’s available immediately from dealers across South Africa for R294 000.

”The Thar Adventure Series,” its maker says, ”builds on the impressive pedigree of the standard Thar 2.5 CRDe 4×4 SE specification by adding off-road bumpers, a steel canopy, offroad-ready alloy wheel rims/tyres, and even a snorkel.

WATCH THE Mahindra Thar in off-road action

Rajesh Gupta, CEO of Mahindra SA, told The Corner in a media release: “The Thar is a firm favourite among Mahindra and off-road enthusiasts for its 70-year pedigree and no-frills focus on off-roading. With the Adventure Series, we’ve added the most popular Thar accessories at a discounted price to create a model sure to find favour with this group of fans.”

Taking centre stage on the list of accessories is a complete set of new bumpers courtesy of Bundu Gear. The front one is a true off-road approach bumper with upwardly slanted sides to expose more of the tyre surface and further improve on the Thar’s standard 44-degree approach angle.

NO, NOT A LIOIN WITH HORNS: This is a male Hima;ayan thar, some of which used to roam the Cape Peninsula's mountain sp;ine.but today exists as a model in the Mahindra 4x4 stable. iMAE: wILIPEDIA
NO, NOT A LION WITH HORNS: This is a male Himalayan thar, some of which used to roam the Cape Peninsula’s mountain sp;ine.but today exists in South Africa as a model in the Mahindra 4×4 stable. Image: Wikipedia

It also has brightly coloured recovery points, a functional bush-bashing top bar to protect the grille, and high-lift jack mounting points.

TOUGH ROCK SLIDERS

The Bundu Gear front bumper also sports diode lights and a mounting point for off-road accessories such as a front towball or removable winch.

Bundu Gear’s specialists have also developed a set of (extra cost) hard-wearing rock sliders that can be fitted to the Adventure Series. These sliders have diamond-pattern top steps and more high-lift jacking points. The rear item – which is standard – has its own bright-coloured recovery points, jack points and a tow ball.

Mahindra has further added a hardened-steel canopy from Getec. The canopy and roof section above the front seats can be removed for an open-top driving experience and Mahindra includes its standard canvas rear canopy as additional equipment.

Also added a heavy-duty snorkel, its intake higher than the roof and designed for safe deep-water traverses and to allow cleaner air into the air filter on dry gravel roads.

2.5-LITRE TURBODIESEL POWER

The automaker describes the buggy’s wheels as having ”stunning heavy-duty A-line alloy rims with standard tyres; the option is to add Hankook Dynapro AT wheels with their dual-purpose on- and off-road capability and their assertive profile for better traction through mud and sand.

In its current iteration, the Thar has a 2.5 TCI-CRDe turbodiesel engine capable of 78kW (at 3800rpm) and 247Nm (from 1200-2000 rpm.

Under the shell is a ladder frame, tough leaf springs, a stabiliser bar and hydraulic shocks. This combination gives the Thar a ground clearance of 200mm and 194 mm of wheel travel.

LOCKING HUBS, DIFF LOCK

In the USA the Thar has spawned the Mahindra ROXOR, popular as a side-by-side recreational vehicle. They re assembled in Michigan and, aside from its off-road application, its additions of a power take-off system has made it popular as a snowplough and for farming.

WATCH THE Mahindra Roxor in action – against rivals

Here in South Africa each one has a rear mechanical differential lock and auto-locking front hubs. The 4×4-system was developed with Borg Warner and allows for shift on the fly between 4×2 and 4×4 and high- and low-range.

Mahindra agrees that, while the Thar has a clear bias towards off-roading, it sill has front cupholders, aircon, power-assisted steering and a 12V power socket. Available colours are beige, red, and silver. Each will be delivered with a two-year or 50 000km warranty.

A three-year or 80 000km service plan costs R20 000.

Mahindra Thar Adventure Series

Engine: 2.5 CRDe four-cylinder turbodiesel
Power: 78kW @ 3800rpm
Torque: 247Nm @ 1200rpm – 2000rpm
Turning circle: 5.75 m
Gears:  Five forward with Borg Warner 4×4 system and low-range transfer case and 2.48 crawl ratio
Approach angle: 44 degrees
Breakover angle: 30 degrees
Departure angle: 27 degrees
Wading depth (standard): 500mm
Price: R293 999
Optional three-year of 60 000 km service plan: R19 999

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