Mahindra Thar: With pumped up sound!
Music. For most of us, it is what makes time behind the wheel a lot more enjoyable. And then there are the select few who let their music drive them. They are the audiophiles who look at music as a means of escape from the clutches of reality, and I certainly felt the sentiment as I was treated to an early morning drive in this exquisitely done up Mahindra Thar.
You have to agree that the Thar is a great expression of your personality. There are several ways to stamp your style onto the SUV — you could go the all-out Punjabi route with eye-popping 23-inch dubs, or play the role of a boulevard brawler with a flashy paint job that would make you every hatchback driver’s worst nightmare. This particular 4x4 however, has been tricked out to follow a slightly more low-key approach.
To start off, all the bling has been done away with. All the badges have been blacked-out, there’s a new grille up front which is a dead- ringer for the one on you know what, and this Thar wears a very mean matte grey PPF finish from STEK Automotive. The shade is stealthy, though the addition of beefier bumpers, door hinge and rock sliders, not to mention the roof lights (like a Hummer’s!) do mean that this Thar does stand out in traffic a fair bit. The wheels are matte black too, and if you think they are a familiar sight, that is because they are Fuel Off-road Vector wheels, similar to the ones on our long termer. Wrapped in chunkier BF Goodrich KO2 tyres, the wheels do stick out from the body a fair bit too, thanks to the wheel spacers, and that makes for a very mean stance.
It’s on the inside where things get really sweet though. I’ve driven Thars long enough to admit that they could benefit from cushier interiors, and the cabin of this one is fabulous. You get grab handles for entry, which actually make a world of difference in daily use when it comes to the ease of ingress. The upholstery has been done up in Stanley Nappa leather with red contrast stitching and it looks lavish. The driver gets a dead pedal along with soft padding for your left leg so that it does not rub uncomfortably against the transmission tunnel, there are armrests present all around, even for the rear seats.
The party piece however has to be the sound system. The owner of this Thar is an audiophile, which is why he has gone the whole hog when it came to upgrading the sound system. The stock head unit made way for one from Alpine and the owner also invested in high-end speakers from the brand Morel, instead of the two roof-mounted speakers which are present in the Thar as standard. The custom fabricated speaker pods have been integrated neatly at both the front and rear, and the result is very OEM-like, something which the owner was insistent about right from the start. Speed Freaks in Chennai undertook all the modifications pertaining to the audio system and this Thar gets three amplifiers from Audiotech Fischer located under the seats and a 10-inch subwoofer from JL Audio in the boot.
There’s also a DSP controller present in the centre console, which allows you to alter the characteristics of the sound system on the fly, and an audiophile will be very chuffed to spend their time listening to their favourite tunes on the move in this Thar. There is a significant amount of DrArtex sound insulation present too, and once you step inside and shut the doors, most of the city’s cacophony is effectively tuned out.
During a short joyride at Mumbai’s Worli Seaface, I discovered some of this Thar’s other excellent attributes as well. The suspension components have been upgraded to AVO UK units from Arka Motorsports and the ride is very plush. The slight pitter-patter which emanates when driving on a concrete road is non-existent, and the adjustable setup means that you can adjust how hard or soft you want the ride to be. Thanks to its short wheelbase ladder frame underpinnings, the Thar was never the best when it came to outright ride, but thanks to the new suspension, the comfort offered on this Thar is definitely a step up. Drive over a speed breaker and this Thar does not need an additional moment to settle back down once you’ve crossed it, as the slight pitching and bobbing of the chassis is no longer present, and that improves the driving pleasure considerably. The sound system is sublime too, with beautifully balanced highs and lows, without any of the jarring bass that might overpower a singer’s vocals.
If there’s anything that the owner is looking forward to, it is eking more power out of this Thar’s mStallion 2.2-litre turbo-petrol engine. There are no ECU remaps for the petrol Thar yet, but the owner is very optimistic about boosting the power to 200bhp at least, since the Mahindra XUV700 already uses an identical engine in that higher state of tune. Upgrades to the braking system are also next up on the wishlist, but other than that, it is hard not to be pleased as punch with this Thar. If you’re a fan of flashy builds, this one might not rock your boat. But what it lacks for in loud cosmetics, this Thar makes up for in the function over form factor. Everything on this build is present to aid in the comfort and useability of the SUV, be it on the road or off it. As for me, I was sold when the first track was cranked up on the stereo, because at that moment, this Thar definitely felt like it was born from a boombox and built to bust out your favourite tunes.