The Mahindra Thar in an enthusiast-car laden garage
Goldy is a car guy. If that isn’t apparent from his Instagram page dedicated to the cars he drives, the metal parked in his basement leaves no room for doubt. There’s a Mercedes-AMG C 63 S, a BMW M2 Competition, a Mitsubishi Evo X, a Jaguar XK-R, an Audi R8 V10 Plus, a Porsche Macan Turbo, an Isuzu D-Max, E-Class All Terrain, and even a track-spec Honda City. And now joining this incredible lineup of cars, is the all-new Mahindra Thar.
Goldy’s decision to buy a Thar was not impulsive. This was a match that was years in the making, stretching all the way back to the ’90s, when Mahindra showcased the Classic and the Armada at Auto Expo. Back then, those SUVs spoke to him like few others did. “The Classic had this raw appeal. I was about 18 or 19 years old then and it symbolised freedom and the wind-in-the-hair kind of feeling. Along with the Classic was the Mahindra Armada. Those days we didn’t have these proper seven-seater SUVs or MUVs, so that was a new concept. I never thought that a Mahindra car could look so refined, civilised and up with the style. I remember the car was white and it had silver grey niches and red decals.” The seed was sown way back then but it could be realised only last year, when Goldy picked up this Thar.
Ever since he caught wind of the updated Thar, Goldy knew he wanted one. “On the very first day when bookings opened, I went in and paid my deposit for this one,” he says, very matter of factly. And he didn’t even drive the Thar till he drove his own 4x4 out of the showroom. “I had read the reviews and they were very promising. But I still had some apprehensions — will it be as good? Will it fit into my daily driving needs? Will it be a versatile car or would it just be relegated to the weekends or special occasions?” he says, running through all the questions that went through his head before he actually got his hands on it. “But the moment I got into my car, drove it out of the showroom and through normal city afternoon traffic, it turned out to be a very friendly car and it was very driveable.” All those apprehensions about it being too hardcore or just a weekend ride were blown out of the window.
So how does the Thar fit into this star-studded garage? “The cars in my garage are mostly all sports cars and powerful cars, but they symbolise a particular line of thought. The C 63 represents what AMG stands for. The M2 goes back to how the M3 started — light cars with a big engine, like the early M3s. The Evo X, it’s a different thought process altogether. Similarly the Thar for me, stands for a different purpose; it’s a different thought process. It’s not designed to compete with brand X, Y or Z. It has its own identity, its own legacy and it holds true to that.”
Goldy is also quick to point out the lineage of the Thar. “When this new Thar was created, I believe Mahindra understood what today’s consumers, irrespective of their age group and demographics, expect from a car. Today we are a very aware set of consumers, we know that a car needs to have proper road manners, it needs to have all the creature comforts plus it should be driver friendly. It looked at its legacy and built a car to modern standards.”
Like all his cars, Goldy has personalised his Thar. Putting the flags of each car’s country of origin on them is one of his signature touches, and the Thar has the Indian tricolour sitting proudly on its grille. He has also accessorised it with Mahindra’s aftermarket fenders, and has camo seat covers on the inside. He doesn’t have plans on doing much more to it at the moment, but would be open to mods if they came from Mahindra’s official accessories division.
When we talk about Goldy being a petrolhead, we mean petrolhead in the literal sense of the word — all his cars are petrols. Including the Thar! “Mahindra is all about diesel engines and not just Mahindra, but we’ve formed this conception about several brands. It’s a very natural thing. I’ve been following Mahindra on what they’ve been doing with their cars and the company for many years and lately they have been committed to providing the best in terms of the automobiles they produce,” he says. “When you see the Scorpio, you can’t actually say that it has these many faults. It serves the purpose it was created for very well. You see the XUV500 – it’s such a refined car and the smaller XUV300 and the KUV100, they’re fantastic cars too. It’s a homegrown company it’s a homegrown brand and I think the leap of faith going for the petrol and automatic was very well justified and I believe
in this company.”
Goldy hasn’t had the Thar too long, and the driving has been restricted to the city and the occasional highway run. He uses it to commute to work once or twice a week — on days he has time and doesn’t need to be chauffeur driven. And he has even taken it into the countryside, and come away impressed with how rugged and hardy it is. He summarises it perfectly, “The new Thar is the fastest two-door car that you can buy in the country. Not just the fastest, but it is the most fun also. Why I am saying fast is because these coupes and the two-door sports cars that we drive have a lot of limitations like where you can or cannot take them. You have to plan the route in your mind well in advance, you have to be cautious about speed breakers and if you do approach an unknown speed breaker you’re using everything you learned in your geometry class in your school to align it at an angle that doesn’t scrape the car. And if it scrapes, it hurts. With the Thar, you don’t have to think. Just get in, drive, enjoy and it’s fun; it’s a smile inducing car.”
He does have plans to take it out on a few adventures too. Jaisalmer and Bhutan are on the bucket list. But he hasn’t engaged 4x4 just yet, and we were determined to have him experience the full capabilities of his Thar. So we took him to the Oraz off-road adventure park in Gurgaon and allowed him to have a go in a Thar that we had driven up from our home base. Now, Goldy admits to being an amateur when it comes to driving off-road. He may be a regular at some of the world’s greatest race tracks, he may have trained in drifting cars on the frozen lakes in Scandinavia, but engaging 4-low and getting muddy? That isn’t Goldy territory. But once behind the wheel of the Thar, he took on everything from articulation pits to steep inclines and even the slush pit, without breaking a sweat. And without getting stuck.
“It was unstoppable,” he said, fired up with adrenaline, having just guided the Thar out of a menacing looking ditch. “I can’t say that I did not expect it to be unstoppable, but what comes to my mind is it was effortless while doing it,” he adds. What he says next is something we have been harping about since we first took this new Thar off-road as well. “It was welcoming. I’m not used to all this. I don’t drive off-road. This car encouraged me to push. It was inviting. It never cast a shadow on me about whether I would be able to handle it.”
Goldy is an enthusiast in the truest sense and is one who isn’t afraid to explore new avenues to pursue his passion on wheels. He isn’t one of those purists who looks at SUVs in disdain, or an off-roader that doesn’t understand the point of going fast around a corner. He’s open to new experiences on four wheels, and his garage is a true representation of that. He may have spent the whole evening in 4-low, but he has only just scraped at the surface of another addictive experience on four wheels. There’s a world out there to explore, and the Thar is the key to getting out there.