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xBhp was born more than 16 years ago and since then we've had a chance to ride or drive hundreds of machines running on two wheels or four wheels, and sometimes even three wheels. We are not done yet, and this list is still growing. In these pages, we take a deep dive in the treasure trove of our ride experiences and bring you all that we have ridden or driven.

Homecoming: Mahindra Thar and CEAT CZART A/T vs India’s largest desert!

2,184CC 130BHP 300NM

Can cars be human? In the sense that they invoke certain emotions in you? Be there for you when you need them? We know bikes are. But this car… it certainly feels human. Mahindra Thar. A representation of the pride of Mahindra’s legacy and a thumping reminder of their engineering prowess. But the question remains. Can cars be human? In the case of the Thar, we certainly believe so and since we do, we know that it must get homesick sometimes. So, this Christmas we decided to take it home… The Thar desert!

The drive was a long one and it made us think about a lot of things. So, the philosophy that will follow, is inevitable. But, it also made us think about the less-appreciated things in life. Unless you have had to walk barefoot, you won’t know the importance of shoes. The same goes for a motorcycle or car. Tyres are under-appreciated and it is a fact. What made us realize that? The phenomenal all-terrain performance of the CEAT CZAR A/T tyres. More on that later.

The very first thing that we thought of, in philosophical terms, was this-
“Journeys… Life itself is one yet, there are many in life. This is just one of them”

See, it was perhaps the vastness of the Thar desert and the unforgiving climate and conditions that inspired this car’s name. In the case of the new Mahindra Thar, the dunes of India’s largest desert is where it was tested. Born and bred in such rugged terrain and such tough climate… it was born to be a champion of the sand… and everything that entails. The car’s ability is palpable from the first look itself be it the design, the stance or even the tyres- CEAT CZAR A/T, specially designed for the Mahindra Thar to complement its off-road ability.

That very ability is what the Thar has been known for, ever since its inception. We have been seeing it in the movies for a while and we still see a whole lot of them in the remote villages of India where… the going is tough! But this time around, Mahindra wanted it to be an all-rounder. The previous Thars were cool cars and very capable where the tarmac is scarce but, on the roads… not so much. So how is it this time around?

We have three words. PRETTY. DARN. GOOD! Our fondness and satisfaction with it are what made us name it The Car of Life or Zindagi Ki Gaadi. Just like life has ups and downs, journeys have good roads and bad roads. And adventure, well, that’s a common wish in both life and journeys. And since the Thar can handle all of that, the name seems apt.

When we started out from Delhi on Christmas morning, we could not wait to reach Jaisalmer to make the car do what it is supposed to do. But on our way is when we realized that the Thar has grown. The rugged cool off-roader is now a really good road car too. By the time we reached Jaipur, we were in awe of it.

What we had until now, for the most part, were highways and city roads. In between Delhi and Jaipur, we munched a lot of miles. Mahindra Thar, which has always been seen as a car that is too focused, surprised us with its versatility. We felt the same way about the CEAT CZAR A/T tyres which on the onset, look like serious off-roaders with those bold treads. So, one may be inclined to think that they may be below par on the roads. But we were pleasantly surprised with the way they performed. There was minimal tyre noise inside the cabin, they felt steady even at triple-digit speeds, and the grip under braking was on point. They are all you could ask for in a road car.

About the car, the engine, engine, despite the type of fuel that powers it, Diesel, is really smooth. 130 bhp of power. 300 Nm of torque. A slick manual transmission and a soft clutch. What else do you need for long road trips on endless highways? Good music. And what the Thar’s cabin has to offer is more than ample.

When there’s traffic, the tractability of the Thar makes it easy to manoeuvre. On open highways when you cruise at triple-digit speeds, the Thar feels confident and sure-footed despite its short wheelbase. The cabin, in the hardtop version, is quiet for the most part so there’s that. Damn… it is a near-perfect road car.

After reaching Jaipur, we met with our man Tony from Steel Silencerz. He is the guy you see taming his bike like it’s no one’s business here, joined us to wish us a Merry Christmas in his own signature style which generally involves just one wheel. And when you see a guy like him who tames two-wheelers for a living appreciate a four-wheeler, it has got to be a special one… it has got to be a Thar.

The second philosophical thought that this getaway (and the pigeons) inspired, goes like this-
“How peculiar is it that sometimes, despite having everything we could want, we set out searching for open sky… just like these birds.”

Coming back to the actual journey, we left Jaipur on a good note and in the distance between Delhi and Jaipur, we had gotten really comfortable with the car and were well acquainted with its mannerisms and how it handles. A lot of the confidence that we now had with the Thar was because of the tyres as they felt perfect on the tarmac but even when there was a lack of it, they never complained. They say the best tyres are those which you can fit and forget. For us, CEAT CZAR A/T fits that bill.

This was even more apparent when we headed to Jaisalmer from Jaipur. During this jaunt, we encountered mostly decent roads but there were some bad patches too. Though we admit that in a car like this equipped with tyres like those, you kind of hope to encounter some bad roads.

The new Mahindra Thar is truly a tool for exploration. Wherever you want to go and however you want to reach there, it will simply oblige, no questions asked. The same goes for the CEAT CZAR A/T tyres. While the broken roads did not bother us, some big potholes did scare us a bit. But then, CEAT CZAR A/T tyres have features like sidewall protection to repel scrapes and cuts that ensure longer tyre life and on top of that, the rim protectors also go a long way to safeguard the wheels themselves.

We also witnessed the rural Rajasthan like we never did. We took detours and went through villages and roads that are seldom explored and it was a wonderful experience to be able to witness all that. This also makes one think that it is nearly unfathomable to encompass the full expanse of even a small state. Thinking of being able to do the same for the whole world almost out of bounds… almost!

Anyway, we saw the sunset on our way to Jaisalmer which inspired this philosophical thought inspired by this journey and here it goes-
“A setting sun is not merely an invitation for the night to take over… it also marks the beginning of a new day”

During our journey, another thing that we realized was that Mahindra Thar’s universal appeal. From in front of the tourist-ridden Hawa Mahal in Jaipur to some nondescript village, people always seemed so interested. In addition to the huge footprint and the rugged appearance of the car, the sturdy CEAT CZAR A/T tyres with the stylish white sidewall enhance the looks of the car manifolds. A conversation starter that does not cost crores? Eye candy for days with a Made in India tag? If that does not induce pride, we do not know what will. 

Quite a few photos and footages during this roadtrip were shot on the fantastic action cameras from Insta360. The particular one you see in the frame is the Insta360 ONE R.

During our jaunt to Jaisalmer, there were quite a few places where we put the acumen of the Thar to test. When it came to everything we had encountered up until now, the Thar worked flawlessly. Add ESP and ABS, and it felt safer too. 4-stars in Global NCAP testing just bolsters that aspect. But as we crept closer to, quote-unquote, HOME, we were even more eager to get to know if the new Thar still possessed the legendary offroad capabilities of its predecessors. And then, after 800-odd kilometres, the Thar… was home. 

Looking at the vast expanse of the desert and seeing those footprints (and tyre marks) in the sand, we thought of this-
“Time may be in possession of the power to erase them eventually, we still have the calibre to leave our mark.”

Upon reaching the desert, we had to make sure that the homecoming of the Mahindra Thar was one worth remembering. So, the tyre pressures were lowered and that is about all the prep you need to go dune bashing. Another thing to note, the giant infotainment screen of the Thar helps you in monitoring your tyre pressure in addition to helping you with a gazillion bits more of data. All of that in a car that is capable of doing what you see it doing in the photos!

4×4. Loads of grunt. Seamless transmission. Tyres and traction to die for. And cojones the size of a city. Those are the ingredients needed to cook up a near-perfect adventure just like this one was. Jumping over dunes, tyres arches filled with sand, and so many drift marks that you lose count even if you watch over them via a drone. This is the kind of life that Thar promises and we are talking about both the car and the desert.

Now, we need a proper bit to talk about the real deal. As mentioned earlier, you can walk a million miles and wade through all the oddities if you have the right “shoes”. For life, we recommend hard work and perseverance. For the Thar, we do not think there is anything as good as the CEAT CZAR A/T tyres. The carcass is sturdy, the grooves are sufficiently deep for better water channelling and the “panther-paw” treads are perfect for kicking up a storm.

See, they dealt with sand, loose rocks, and even some water wading when we found an oasis in the desert. The performance of the tyres was consistent no matter what kind of terrain we threw at them. The performance of the CEAT CZAR A/T tyres is almost deceptive and we mean that in the best way possible. On the road, they are nearly flawless- the stability, the noise, the grip under braking… everything is on par with the best out there. And that is why they are deceptive as when you’re on the tarmac, you cannot guess how good these tyres are going to be off the road. In the dunes, despite it being mostly about momentum, the ruckus that these babies help you create is just pure adrenaline! Man…

It is such a matter of pride that a car like this, and the sheer darn magnitude of it, is made in India. What we were able to do with the Mahindra Thar and with the unwavering support from the CEAT CZAR A/T tyres, makes us believe that the new Thar is the perfect successor to the older Thars. And since it is 2020, the Thar is now a car too. A proper one at that!

But again, the sand, the dunes, and the wilderness are where this now-very-capable road car really feels home. This is where it truly belongs. Despite our sour mood about it, this adventure also had to come to an end just like everything else in life. And this realization of the finiteness of everything inspired the final thought in this journey-
“We will meet again. After all, this is the car of life. It will keep going and take us someplace just as good… again!”

Desert Glamping

A substantial amount of fun that we had during this trip was at Desert Glamping. It is a fantastic resort around 35 kilometres from Jaisalmer close to Sam Sand Dunes. The resort has everything that you can ask for during a getaway including around 30 cottages with all the facilities such as air-conditioning, running hot water etc. Another great thing about this resort is the delicious food with something for everyone. Then there are adventure activities such as camel safari, jeep safari, dinner on dines and so on.
Desert Glamping is run by Mr Madan Chaudhary who is also the organizer of Rajasthan Motorsports where he trains people in the art of off-road driving. He has been off-roading for the past 12 years and has tested a plethora of 4×4 cars for their thermal and off-road performance. For the past 2 years, he has also been the official partner of Mahindra Adventure Team.
He was also the part of the validation phase of the new Mahindra Thar which goes on to show how much hard work has gone into the design and execution of the car. He found the new Thar to be a much better performer both on and off the road and he was all praises for the CEAT Czar A/T tyres as well.
We had a great time driving the new Thar in and around Jaisalmer. If you are planning to visit Jaisalmer, staying in the desert is a must-do and if you want to do that, there is no better place than Desert Glamping. You can get in touch with Mr Madan Chaudhary directly via his Instagram handles @privatedesert and @rajasthanmotorsports or by sending an email to [email protected] or via phone at +91 9828034521 / 9214434521.

And here are some more photos of our escapade for you to enjoy!