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Mahindra Thar Wanderlust Test Drive Review

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Mahindra Thar Wanderlust Review

Car Tested: Mahindra Thar Wanderlust; Road Test No. 941

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 20 lakhs (including donor car)

The Wanderlust turns more heads than those exotic Italian supercars, it is that eye-catching on the road

When it comes to the Mahindra Thar, it is hard to see one plying on our roads in bone stock condition. In the first place, this off-roader is bought either for unleashing its off-road capabilities or for making a statement with its rugged image. Thus, a majority of Thar owners spruce up their rides to suit their purpose. Looking at this trend, the Asian carmaker has come up with their in-house customisation wing with the name of Mahindra Customs that transforms the character of the Thar. Last year, we drove the Daybreak edition which was quite a lot of fun and this time around, we drove the Wanderlust edition that was showcased at the 2018 Auto Expo. What are the modifications and how does it feel to drive? We find out.

Motor Quest: The Mahindra Thar is a popular lifestyle vehicle for enthusiasts who like to arrive in style or drive something unique. In order to make the modification process simple, Mahindra does in-house modifications as per the customer’s choice. The Thar Daybreak and Wanderlust are some of the examples of such extreme modifications from Mahindra.

You can stare at it all day long, such a funky monster it is!

Exteriors – The overall stance of the standard Thar can be seen in the Wanderlust. However, it seems that the automaker has let all hell break loose while designing this one because that is the level of extensive modifications the SUV’s exterior gets. For starters, there is the new electric matte blue paint finish which looks absolutely cool! The next thing that will catch your attention are the massive 33-inch Renegade Radar tyres with the fifth wheel being placed at the rear as in the Daybreak edition. Besides that, there are other modern design elements like projector headlights with LED DRLs. The front fascia gets a contrast silver finishing and houses the 7-slat grille, fog lights, tow hooks and a metal bumper with a winch as seen on the Daybreak edition.

The rear profile of the Thar Wanderlust looks sci-fi inspired

The Wanderlust looks like a large-scale RC toy with all these funky modifications

At the sides, there are wing mirrors, high lift jack and the party trick in the Wanderlust edition are the rear gullwing-style doors that give access to the rear seats. The rear end gets a metal bumper, marker lights, two jerrycans and twin protruding exhausts. The rear windscreen is partly covered by the spare tyre and is relatively of no use courtesy its small size. The customised SUV is available with a hard top.

The interiors get a beige treatment for an airy and upmarket feel

Interiors – The cabin of the Thar Wanderlust remains identical to that of the standard Thar. While the Daybreak edition got red accents for its interiors, the Wanderlust edition does the job with beige interiors which will be appreciated by some buyers. The dual-tone dashboard houses the same 3-spoke steering wheel (but finished in beige while the standard Thar gets a black unit), three-pod instrument cluster, aftermarket heads-up display and a touchscreen aftermarket infotainment system as well.

Legroom at the rear is limited but gullwing doors look super cool

Getting in and out of the Thar Wanderlust is a big task for short people

The Sparco front racing seats are supportive but not at all suitable on long drives because they are quite stiff. The rear seat doesn’t get headrests and isn’t all that comfortable because of limited legroom. Ergonomics is where the Thar lacks terribly and that continues with the Wanderlust as well. The placement of pedals and the gear lever continue to remain the same as in the standard Thar. Surprisingly, the SUV gets an electric sunroof that works really well!

The low end performance is quite strong for off-road usage

Performance – There are no mechanical changes in the Thar Wanderlust and it is powered by the familiar 2.5-litre CRDe diesel engine borrowed from the regular Thar. This oil burner churns out 105 BHP of power at 3800 RPM and 247 Nm of torque at 1800-2000 RPM. The engine comes mated to a 5-speed manual transmission that channels power to all four wheels with an option of 4×2 as well. Of course, there are 4H and 4L modes for optimum off-road performance. The NVH of this engine is quite poor as you can hear clatter all the time and the gearbox is quite notchy too. However, power delivery is instant with minimal turbo lag, which makes it quite strong at the low-end, adding to effortless performance off the road.

The NVH levels are poor and the loud clatter of the engine easily filters inside the cabin

The CRDe engine is fantastic but the heavy modifications on the car bog down its performance

The top-end performance of this engine is numb and it only shines in terms of mid-range and low-end output. The heavy weight of the Wanderlust limits the highway performance and driving at triple digit speeds in this machine doesn’t inspire confidence at all. Where it feels effortless though is off-road, the car feels so rugged that it can take the rough patches like nobody’s business with its fantastic low-end grunt.

Wheel articulation is negatively affected because of the huge tyres

Driving Dynamics – The ground clearance of the Wanderlust has been increased in order to accommodate the huge wheels and this combination makes for an uncomfortable ride. The suspension feels quite stiff and bouncy. The big wheels limit the articulation during off-road and rub against the fenders if you go through difficult obstacles. However, the suspension feels robust and can take up a lot of abuse. The steering is stiff too and you need to put quite a lot of effort to turn around the car, with the large turning radius not helping matters either. The brakes also feel stressed if you try to brake hard, the stopping distance is quite long and you need to drive carefully because the car loses its composure easily under hard braking.

There is quite a lot of body roll when you push it hard

Safety and After Sales Service – While Mahindra has a good network of service centres across the country, the Thar Wanderlust doesn’t get any safety features which is a gripe considering that this SUV costs Rs. 20 lakhs. Even the reliability of this modified Thar is questionable since some electronics stopped working in our test car.

On or off the road, this is the ultimate vehicle if you wish to stand out from the crowd

Verdict – The Thar Wanderlust’s main USP is its styling that attracts a lot of attention on the road. Mahindra has done a fantastic job of making the car look very different from the regular Thar. The carmaker has loaded the vehicle with features that many customers would love to see on their off-roaders. However, the target audience is very limited since this vehicle is not practical for daily use and even the asking price is double the price of the donor vehicle. All in all, the Wanderlust solves the purpose of being an off-beat vehicle thanks to Mahindra Customs that made such an exclusive car with unique modifications.

The electric sunroof works surprisingly well

What’s Cool

* Attention magnet with unique styling
* The gullwing doors look fantastic
* Quite a lot of features on offer

What’s Not So Cool

* Very costly modifications
* Stiff ride and uncomfortable seats

Alternatives: Mahindra Thar Daybreak

The gullwing doors are a major highlight in the design of the Thar Wanderlust

Further Reading

Mahindra Thar CRDe Review
Mahindra Thar Off-Road Experience
Mahindra Thar Daybreak Video Review
Mahindra Thar Daybreak Review

Mahindra Thar Wanderlust
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Mahindra Thar Wanderlust Review

Mahindra Thar Wanderlust was showcased at the 2018 Auto Expo in February and it attracted a lot of attention with its custom styling. The Daybreak edition that we saw last year was an open top iteration while the Wanderlust is a hard top version that has its own character. It is not a hardcore off-road vehicle but a fantastic attention seeker.

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