My last story involving the Gypsy and an MM 540 DP was an orgy of personifications. I’d said that if the 540 were a man, it would have no friends, would chop down trees for a workout, drink beer with rocks in it and would have a pack of Alsatians for family members. I can’t however say the same about the Thar. The Thar, if it were human, would have many friends, would have any kind of job in the world that didn’t involve the cutting of trees and would drink things made in Russia even. He would also have dogs, but as pets rather than as 3am buddies armed with rusty weapons. The only thing I won’t change from that story is my supposition about Chitrangada Singh being way more fun to do mad things with on a beach, something I am only too willing to verify for the sole benefit of information and knowledge to you, our dear readers.
However, I will try to not let the gorgeous woman steal the thunder of these two very capable off-roaders. So,the Thar then. To give you a quick introduction, the Thar is the off-roader for the urbanite. You don’t need forearms the size of a small country to handle it. It has power-assisted steering, and delivers 13 kpl if you ask nicely. To top that, it has four-wheel drive with 4-high/4-low options, comes with a canvas top, and has a contemporary 2498cc CRDe motor. All of this, of course, isn’t just there to make the specification sheet look good. All of it works efficiently with a uniform percentage of things left to be desired – a convenient channel into the world of customisation, I say! The Thar impresses me no end and except for the lack of high-speed stability (it’s sort of scary, but fun) and certain plastic bits on the interior, I’m all for going out there and buying one. Dismissing the Thar because it’s got a pathetically placed wiper stalk is like saying you don’t want to take Scarlett Johansson out to dinner because she has a runny nose.
But here’s the deal. For about half the price of the Thar, you could get your hands on a used Gypsy (which too, you can buy new, but more on that later) and spend the other half on speccing it up. The tyres on the Gypsy in the shots for example, cost roughly twelve thou each! So if you opt for suspension upgrades, wider wheels and tyres, and an air-con apart from some more creature comforts, it’s not too difficult to blow up a lakh or two. Ideally, we should have pit a brand new fully stock Gypsy against the Thar in the name of absolute fairness although finding a Gypsy demo car is more difficult than Finding Nemo. Fortunately for us, our friend from Xtreme Off-roaders, Ibrahim Saudagar, showed up with his low-mileage number (its all-stock, save for those tyres, shackles to increase the ride height by a reasonable margin and a louder exhaust – and it’s still under warranty!) and saved the day! So to get to the point a bit quickly, which of the two is the best buy? Of course, you must consider that ‘value for money’ in this comparo includes off-roadability as standard – you don’t buy off-roaders to go mall-hopping. Which is why, we decided to put the duo through a set of four tests to evaluate their off-road worthiness.
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