WildZests: First Outdoor Experience With The Thar

Friday, January 4, 2013

First Outdoor Experience With The Thar

The initial excitement had me taking the jeep out even for grocery shopping trips, just to enjoy the attention it receives on the road. I got the first phase of mods done on Saturday last week where the jeep received new set of off-roading bumpers and rock sliders from Swastik Fabs. The old ones are now going to go up on sale very soon since they’re just a week old and practically brand new. The Thar now looks like a mean machine and ready to live up to the “Thar Hates Tar” statement, but I’ll have wait for the next OTR whenever that happens.

I was supposed to make a visit to the Kabini JLR with a friend on Sunday and this was a good opportunity to understand the highway manners of the jeep. Given the running in period of 1000kms, I was supposed to keep the needle under a 100kph but that wasn’t an issue since beyond that speed I’d be risking my life driving in a tin can with poor brakes. I’m basically treating the jeep like my enfield on four wheels and so a cruising speed of 80-90kph would be good enough on the highways.


We made an hour stopover at Ranganathittu where we were able to photograph the usual residents like the River Terns and Stone Plovers in good light. The park is yet to receive the winter visitors and it’s only the Ibis that’s nesting all over the place for now.

The drive to Kabini through the HD Kote road was a breeze, the jeep performed quite brilliantly and the a/c was just right enough to tackle the warm outdoors. The last 20kms though were a bit too hard on our backs, but I’m comparing it to the Safari which tackles that ‘kaccha’ road at 40kph and still feels okay inside. The luggage security issue takes a bit of getting used to and we unloaded all our camera stuff when we stopped for breakfast. Next time we need to find a place where the jeep is in direct line of sight to avoid the extra work.

The stay at Kabini was refreshing and though we missed the big cats, there was enough to stay engaged with nature and its beauty. The elephant sightings were quite nice but we also witnessed a heart-wrenching view of a baby elephant that had a broken right hind leg. The herd was taking good care of it, but I’m sure it’s going to go through a very tough childhood and hopefully one day it will grow up to become a big beast.


On the way back, I took about 5 hours to reach home which is a little more than what I’d take with the Safari but not by much. I made a few observations and notes to myself from the trip:
  • The jeep feels a bit nervous after the speedo has touched the 100kph mark. Not because of lack of power, but because of driving dynamics. 
  • The brakes feel better than before or may be I’ve just gotten used to them. Anticipated braking is always a good thing to do, and I also use a bit of engine braking to make sure the jeep slows down faster.
  • The soft-top flaps a bit beyond 80kph, but soon that noise just becomes a part of the environment and we didn’t even realize it on our way back since our sub-conscience automatically applies “noise reduction” on such regular sounds. E.g people staying near train tracks don’t really notice the sounds after a while.
  • The lights badly need calibration, the high beam shows me tree canopies and I’m sure it’s going to be blinding for oncoming traffic. While the low beam is okay, I don’t particularly like the spread. I will be adding the Hella spot beams, but I think I may also need to get ‘cornering’ lights that can act as the standard fog lamps and help in improving the peripheral view. 
  • The fixed position passenger seating is quite uncomfortable and the rear bench seat needs to go away quickly to resolve this issue.
  • The two door arrangement at the rear will need a bit of getting used to, it’s best to keep the door shut and use it only when really required. Also, the tyre is now mounted higher than the stock position, so getting access to the back without opening the door has gotten difficult. 
  • The side rear view mirrors have a terrible view and the blind spot on the left is at times dangerous since you don’t notice bikers who are riding close to your tail on the left. I tried talking to a few folks on whether a horizontal mirror would be a good idea but haven’t heard any positive responses yet.
  • The lock for the fuel lid uses the ignition key and I want to get this changed asap. The issue is actually two-fold, one it’s just inconvenient at the fuel pumps and two, it’s a security concern. I’d like to get some feedback from someone who’s gotten it changed with regards to the costs involved and whether there are ready-to-fit aftermarket options available easily. I believe a remote lid opener will be a complex solution and not something that I’d want to spend hours on getting it done. 
  • The front tires are fouling slightly on a full U turn and I need to get this looked at. Given that it’s an 245mm section tyre vs the 235mm stock, I thought it should be a non-issue. But given that the Maxxis are almost 4cms taller than the stock tyres, maybe I need to make some more room for them under the front fender to avoid the touching.
  • The front roof panel has a screw missing on the driver side beading and will need to get that done at the service center. 
  • The door handle touches my knee while driving and I need to see how I can make it comfortable on long drives.

No comments:

Post a Comment