2020 Mahindra Thar spotted testing in Chennai

| Mahindra's lifestyle off-roader is all set for a complete makeover |

| 2020 Thar gets evolutionary styling, thoroughly-updated interiors and a powerful, new engine to go with it's legendary off-roading prowess |

| Factory-fitted hard-top and forward-facing rear seats are finally on offer |

As the saying goes, all good things come to an end. And the end is what the current-generation Mahindra Thar is staring at! Despite its total dominance on the niche it is currently occupying and the relentless love showered on it by its small yet loyal group of followers, the upcoming emission and crash safety norms meant the Nashik-based car-maker had no choice but to upgrade their lifestyle offering. And the smart folks at Mahindra did that in style by retiring the current-generation model with the limited edition Thar 700 that's on sale right now.

Work on the next-generation model is in full swing already, as is evident from these shots that capture a test mule parked by the roadside. Spotted on the busy GST Road in Chennai that also houses the Mahindra Research Valley, the test vehicle was quite an attention grabber. And therein lies Thar's charm! 

With straight lines and boxy proportions that draw more than a passing resemblance to the Jeeps of yore, the all-new Thar is a stunner even with all the camouflage it wears. Up front, the trademark 7-slot grille and round headlights seem to be carried over with little changes. What has changed though are the external hood hinges. The plastic hinges look pleasing in place of those rudimentary metallic ones on the current model. Both the bumpers are all-new as are the fender flares and - wait for it - the factory-fitted hard top (Soft top would be available as an option too). Some old bits, like the front indicators, taillights, rear view mirrors and flap-type door handles, remain but we're guessing Mahindra would be prudent enough to replace them with sleeker units that take up the style quotient by a few notches. 

A quick peep into the cabin revealed that the interiors are getting a much-needed revamp as well. The dashboard and center console were new but unfinished with provision for fitting a touchscreen infotainment system. We can also confirm the presence of a multi-function steering wheel, power windows for the front doors and forward-facing rear seats with seatbelts! Yes, you read that right! It sounds crazy but the Thar on sale in 2019 does not have any of these. Apart from these basic creature comforts, the new Thar would also come with dual front airbags, Anti-lock Braking System with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, seat-belt reminders and a speed-alert system as mandated by the new safety laws. Overall, the new Thar would be a far more comfortable place to be in for the occupants.

The all-new Thar is said to be built on Mahindra's third-gen platform that also underpins models like the Scorpio and TUV3OO. That explains why it appears longer and wider than the current model. Thanks to the upgraded chassis, the suspension setup is changing for the better too with the current Thar's leaf springs making way for an independent suspension. Expect the new Thar to ride plusher, handle tighter and cruise better on highways than the outgoing model. But cruising on highways is not what Thars are made for. Mahindra would not disturb the Thar's legendary off-roading credentials which means the manually-operated four-wheel-drive system with low-range selector and differential locks are likely to be retained.

Under the hood, Mahindra is expected to plonk in a new BS-VI compliant 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel engine that churns out 140 horsepower. That's substantially more powerful than the outgoing model's 2.5-liter CRDe diesel engine and should help the Thar's cause both on- and off-road. A 6-speed manual transmission is likely to be offered. If rumour mills are to be believed, a petrol engine and an automatic transmission could also make their way into the Thar at a later date. 

Mahindra is expected to unveil the all-new Thar at the 2020 Auto Expo with the vehicle going on sale a few months later. If the current Thar with all it's limitations can be as successful as it did, the new Thar - in all likelihood - is going to be a smash hit! Don't expect it to come cheap though.

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