After being offered first in Italy and South America, the Mahindra Thar is now officially on sale in its domestic market in India. The resemblance to the Jeep Wrangler is uncanny. But that’s because Mahindra had built the original Willys-Overland of the mid-20th century under license. Similar to the U.S.-spec model, the exterior appearance of this vehicle has retained the distinctive square look.
The Thar that has started selling is meant to be a more refined version of the Mahindra Jeep; however, it’s doubtful that Thar buyers are seeking plush leather or tri-zone climate control.
It was on June 3, 1949 that the first Willys-Overland Jeep manufactured in India by Mahindra rolled off the assembly line. Since that time, the Jeeps (as Mahindra-branded vehicles) have spread throughout Asia and were used for various industries and numerous purposes.
And in 1969, Mahindra started exporting the vehicle to the former Soviet state of Yugoslavia. Even with the passing of decades, the small SUV relentlessly played a major role, ferrying national heads of state as well as transporting and entertaining off-road enthusiasts outside the U.S.
As can be expected, the Thar is an archetypal Jeep in several ways, including being short at 154.3 inches in length, being a two-door, using a manual transmission with true four-wheel drive, and having the ability to ditch its removable top in rain or shine.
Bottoming out is avoided due to its long-travel suspension (independent, torsion-bar front and leaf-sprung rear). In addition, many natural obstacles are avoided because of its 46-degree approach angle. The engine options include a 2.5-liter diesel and 2.5-liter gasser.
And its appearance has been unchanged from decades ago. The Thar model name is likely to be shared with the Thar Desert present in the northwestern area of India. Depending on what city the purchase will be made, the prices range from 599,000 to 628,000 rupees ($13,300 to $14,000). Mahindra is also planning to produce a more affordable Thar for 447,000 rupees ($9900).