Tried and tested: AVO Suspension Kit on the Mahindra Thar
The Mahindra Thar is our most tinkered with fleet car. Among all the vehicles sold in the country, the Thar is arguably the most modified vehicle too. Almost no owner wants the Thar stock for a long time, and so there’s a long list of upgrades easily available for every major mechanical component in the Thar. First we got a dieselTronic ECU fitted, we followed that up by indulging in a stunning set of Fuel Off-road alloy wheels, and recently got a new set of CEAT CrossDrive tyres that have improved grip and reduced road noise. Our next upgrade is a new suspension kit. AVO, a motorsport-inspired design, engineering and manufacturing company from the UK specialises in suspension and has made a performance kit for the Thar, that can be bought through Coimbatore-based Arka Motorsports in India.
Arka ― who have a massive motorsport lineage ― sent us the suspension kit to swap with the stock setup. We swapped the dampers in front and both the springs and dampers for the rear and will be testing the suspension out across terrain and conditions to find the right setup on different terrain. It took us a few hours to install the kit and a few more to find the right initial set up. There is going to be a whole lot of tinkering to be done because not only do you get 16 levels of adjustability for bump and rebound, these aren’t one-time or closed dampers. You can re-valve the dampers to your liking if the initial 16 clicks don’t give you the right setting. The manufacturer prescribed setting is 11 in front and 13 in the rear, and it can be easily adjusted without jacking the Thar up making you feel like a rally driver setting up a car before a stage.
In its stock setting, the suspension has noticeably reduced pitch and roll under braking and cornering respectively, transforming the Thar’s high speed ride and handling compared to the stock suspension. I feel more confident in corners, over broken surfaces and at high speed with the AVO kit ― the benefits of a stiffer set up. I can go softer to improve low speed ride but, with the remap, the Thar is quicker and needs the surefootedness this setup offers. In fact, the adjustability is so transformative, I can choose a stiffer or softer setup (go up or down by two clicks) for a specific ride in a couple of minutes. A highway run for example can be done with a stiffer ride, reach a trail, soften it up, finish the trail and set it up for the road again ― which will need to be done when we take it off-road because this setup is a bit too stiff for the rutted stuff. That flexibility makes the Thar so much better as a daily driver, the Rs 1.1 lakh kit almost seems like a value investment.
Arka Motorsports has partners all over the country to fit this and we did it at Ultimate AutoTec in Pune run by our technical editor Byram Godrej. The company is offering an 18 month warranty on the kit, and if you don’t like the current set up adjustability, re-valving can be done to make it work with your Thar. This is especially helpful for Thars with other performance mods as the stock AVO set up is done on a stock Thar. Mechanically altering your suspension to suit your driving style and performance is arguably the best modification one can do, and even future proof the suspension for more performance tuning. We will be giving detailed set up updates on the evo India and Engage 4x4 Instagram handles as we drive the Thar across different terrain.