Review: Air-conditioned Mahindra Thar
It's been more than a year since we first drove the Thar. We were quite impressed with how Mahindra had transformed the humble yet legendary MM540 into a relatively modern off-roader. But there were shortcomings - things you couldn't ignore - especially in the summers.You see, the Thar came with the claim that it was 'AC-ready'. Meaning you had to buy your aircon from the dealership. But no dealer can match a factory job, so the boys at Mahindra now offer air-conditioning straight out of the factory. And while they were at it, they decided to smoothen out some of the other rough edges too. So the new Thar also comes with an immobiliser. The keen-eyed will also notice the slightly better finished dashboard, new interior door panels and a lockable fuel filler flap. The Thar you see here also has extra goodies that Mahindra will sell you for extra cash.So for Rs 1.5 lakh over the on-road price, you get an off-road front bumper (winch-ready), tasty alloys, bigger, better plastic cladding and a centre console that slots neatly around the gearshift, giving you much needed storage space. But the best bit has to be the air-conditioning. It's a proper HVAC, so you get a heater too - which you'll need as you watch the sunrise at the Pangong Tso on a chilly morning.Now being a soft-top, insulation is a problem as you'd imagine, but the 150cc compressor has enough grunt to keep the front passengers comfortable even through a sunny afternoon. It takes some time to bring temperatures down, but you won't be sweating it out while you look cool anymore.And since the Supreme Court currently thinks sun film does more harm than good, we suggest you get a good partition installed to make the AC even more effective. This will also help improve fuel economy since the compressor won't have to work as hard. Driving one around, we couldn't really notice the difference in drivability thanks to the oodles of torque the CRDe motor puts out. Fuel economy as you'd expect is slightly down, at 8.5kpl in the city and 11kpl on the highway.But apart from these, the Thar is still a Thar, which means it can pretty much go over anything in its way. And it drives decently enough on the road as well, once you get used to the overly light steering.The new Thar will cost you Rs 6.75 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai), which is around Rs 45,000 over the previous version. Given how much more liveable the Thar has now become, that's a small price to pay. We still wish there was a proper hard-top as well.