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I’ll let you in on a trade secret. If you want more engagement on social media, more likes, shares and re tweets (and who doesn’t?) get yourself a Thar or Himalayan and post the hell out of it. I’m not sure what’s the deal but anything you post on these two off-roaders, even an inane good morning, gets you a fresh mountain of followers. The cynical will think it’s their social media teams exploiting some loophole but I’d like to think it’s an indication of genuine excitement around off-roaders these days. More of us want to get out – out of our offices, out of our homes, out of the bloody malls – and discover the outdoors, even if it is only to post pictures that’ll get us more likes on Facebook. And if you want to break the Internet you need a Thar Daybreak.
Not that you’ll guess it from the followers I have on Twitter but my daily driver is a Thar. And despite being as stock as they come, it gets a lot of attention. Motorists keep their distance so driving in town is easy. Today, it’s easier as I am sitting much, much higher up and the road is clearing out like Moses parting the Red Sea. I suppose seeing a winch eating up your rear view mirrors is reason to take cover.
Those of a muddy bent will recall the Daybreak from the Auto Expo, a concept we recommended be christened the Chack-O after our very own #offroadchacko (for services to off-roading including living – daily! – with a rally-prepped, non-air conditioned, SuperThar and drowning Mahindra’s limited-edition Legend, among others). It also is in step with Mahindra’s naming convention of everything ending with an O but our suggestion was politely turned down. Anyway the Chacko-O, sorry Daybreak, has now broken cover and it’s available for you to buy. I’m not kidding, you can call up Mahindra Customisation, send them your new (or old) Thar and in two months you’ll have a Daybreak raising your social media standing.
So what is the Daybreak? The first thing that catches your eye are the tyres, an insane 37 (that’s no typo – it’s 37 inches!). These MaxxisTrepadors are the same size as that seen on the RFC-spec Force Gurkha and it works off-road, no question about that. To accommodate the (excavator-sized) tyres the suspension has been suitably and appropriately beefed and raised (by an inch and a half) so you still have the same turning circle without the tyres rubbing against any body parts as would happen if this were some half-assed custom job. On the mechanical front though the Thar’s 2.5-litre CRDe motor is carried over and makes 105bhp and 242Nm of torque. This is done for two reasons: firstly, to ensure it is approved by the RTO as a road legal vehicle and the second is to make sure it is covered by the insurance policy, an added bonus for customers.
On the outside, absolutely everything has been re-engineered and redesigned. The bonnet is around two inches wider to incorporate a massive scoop and the A-pillar had been modified so that the windscreen can flip down, just like in the original Willys. The front gets a wider grille in gloss black finish to contrast the matte grey paintjob of the rest of the SUV. The headlights are an interesting projector headlamp setup with DRLs that, in somebody’s rear-view mirror, looks like the death star. And there is an off-road oriented bumper mounted with a winch and fog lamps. At the back there are chromed twin exhaust pipes that exit much higher to genuinely aid the off-road and wading abilities (along with the de-reguier snorkel), a new bumper and LED tail lamps. It also sports a cute set of half-cut doors, wing mirrors mounted as one would see on a truck and auxiliary lights on top of the windscreen. The rear opening has been welded shut (and obviously strengthened) to mount the large spare wheel centrally instead of the slight offset on the stock Thar.
Step inside and you will be surprised at what the cabin has to offer. There is a touch screen infotainment system which doubles up as a rear parking display, four marine speakers that can handle splashes when you go off-roading (see, somebody has been giving it serious though), Sparco rally seats with four-point harnesses, a high-lift jack, and a dual-tone leather finished dashboard.
While the Daybreak is bulky and big, it does not drive the way you think it would. It is not slow, sluggish or cumbersome. Once you get used to its dimensions it is in fact pretty smooth and easy to drive when ambling about. It is also the only Thar in the world where you can’t hear the engine, the tyres create such a ruckus it drowns out everything, and also make the steering wheel shudder as if it has it’s fingers in a live electrical socket. And the bumpy ride is even more bumpy on tarmac.
But, if you recall, the Thar hates tar. Slotted in four-low and throttle gently feathered the Daybreak will crawl over rocks and claw through the slush with ease kicking up chunks of mud the size of small homes. The massive wheels and increased clearance gets the Daybreak over anything, including small homes, and the improved approach and departure angles and grip on slush make it utterly mental. But we will have more on it’s off-roading prowess in the next issue of OFF ROAD magazine next month, so stay tuned for that.
The important bit – much does it cost? Mahindra’s in-house customisation arm will relieve you of Rs 9.6 lakh, plus tax, plus a donor Thar. If you want a hard top that’s be an additional Rs 1.5 lakh. And the make over will take two months. If the Daybreak is too in your face (What? You don’t want to be popular on Instagram?) Mahindra Customisation also offers more subtle options among the five kits for the Thar, four for the Scorpio and six for the Bolero.
And now that I’ve revealed the best social media trick in the book I leave you to multiply your followers on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat. You can thank me later.