The Maruti Gypsy has been, for years, one of the most desirable open-top 4x4s in the country. Into its fourth decade of production, the Gypsy has always been a niche vehicle owing to a few shortfalls in terms of creature comforts and to an extent, high running cost of the petrol engine. Don’t get me wrong here – the current 1.3-litre petrol engine is literally a bullet-proof engine in terms of reliability and easy to modify for extra oomph. However, there are owners and fans out there who would love to have a torquey and efficient diesel motor under the hood. This is exactly what Mohali based Cartoq reader Ranbir did to his Maruti Suzuki Gypsy recently.
The old 1.3-litre MPFi petrol engine has been replaced by a used 1.3-litre DDiS diesel engine sourced from his friend’s accidental (and total loss) Maruti Swift. Ranbir confirms that he uses the same gearbox and power is sent to the rear wheels. The 4×4 system works, and you can manually select 4H or 4L and send power to the front wheels too. Further, he even claims to have installed manual differential locks at both the ends. This diesel Gypsy even went to Ladakh and back during the last season!
The 1.3-litre petrol Gypsy produces 80 bhp in fuel injected avatar. Maximum torque stands at just 103 Nm. In contrast, the 1.3-litre DDiS makes 74 bhp of power and a healthy 190 Nm of torque. Further, while the petrol Gypsy returns anywhere from 8-10 kmpl on city roads, the diesel version will do double of that.
With so much torque available, there will be a lot of stress on the mechanical parts, leading to possible failures on the move. The current gearbox of Gypsy petrol is not suited to handle 190 Nm of torque. Likewise, the transfer case, differentials and axles will be have to beefed up or heavily redesigned to take the extra load. Next, NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) levels will go for a toss. To suitably extract the best performance from the diesel motor, gear ratios of the original Gypsy gearbox will have to be altered by an expert.
The petrol Gypsy has next to no insulation between the cabin and the engine compartment. The engine bay does not have the right rubber mounts for the DDiS motor- these factor will make the cabin noisy on the move with vibrations filtering in via the steering, gear lever and pedals. That said, Ranbir seems to be quite happy with his conversion. He has an air-con installed and with the windows up, sounds levels inside the cabin are decent enough as per him.
Of late, cops in most big cities have started cracking down on after-market modifications done on cars. These include bigger tyres, LED lights, performance exhaust and so on. Hence, such a major alteration to the vehicle with an engine swap will call for trouble. We doubt if the change from petrol to diesel will be endorsed on the registration certificate of the vehicle either. Of course if you live in a smaller town, you might be able to sneak past cops but we don’t recommend such a major change to the vehicle, however tempting it might be. Further, cities like Delhi do not allow operation of diesel cars older than 10 years – re-registration of such vehicle will not be allowed.
As much as we love the idea of a turbo-charged diesel Gyspy 4×4, the high costs involved makes us want to look at pre-owned Mahindra Thars. A less used DDiS engine will not cost less than a lakh, Ranbir was lucky in this particular case. Add in the cost of other parts, fitment and labour and we are looking at a sum of Rs 1.5 lakh, in addition to the donor vehicle. Instead, one can easily pick up a used Mahindra Thar Di 4×4 for Rs 4-5 lakh or a Thar CRDe for about Rs 5-6 lakh – the latter is supremely comfortable vis a vis the Gypsy with factory fitted power steering and air-conditioning.
Here is another example of a petrol Maruti Gypsy 4×4 with a running DDiS diesel engine from the Swift / DZire. However, the owner has gone a step ahead and fitted a power-steering and picked-up the speedometer and tachometer from the Maruti Ritz. Looks cool, eh?
Given the high costs involved and the fact that a diesel Gypsy 4×4 would still be illegal to run on Indian roads, we do not recommend this engine-swap modification. That said, you can get away from the law in smaller towns and as pure passion or a custom project, this modification is quite viable. Take your pick!