The Maruti Suzuki Gypsy has been the obvious choice for many lifestyle SUV buyers seeking an open-top 4×4. The Gypsy was launched in India in late 1985 and has received a handful of updates till now. However, it has always been a petrol-only model, which has kept many potential buyers away. Also, the Gypsy doesn’t really offer any creature comforts to speak of. Come to think of it, there’s no air-conditioning and not even a power steering. While the 1.3-litre, G-Series engine from Suzuki is ultra-reliable and sufficiently powerful, it’s not the most frugal petrol unit around. Hence, many Gypsy owners swap the factory-fitted motor with a diesel engine. One such Gypsy owner is Ranbir, a Mohali-based Cartoq reader who has sent us details of his diesel-sipping Gypsy.
Ranbir has replaced the 1.3-litre petrol motor with the 1.3-litre, Fiat-sourced diesel engine that came from his friend’s Swift. Ranbir says that he uses the same gearbox and his Gypsy is a rear-wheel-drive vehicle. The 4×4 system has been retained and you can select 4H or 4L modes manually, which is exactly how it is with the stock Maruti. Furthermore, Ranbir says that he has installed manual differential locks on both the axles. In order to test the reliability, he has even driven his Gypsy to Ladakh and back.
The stock Gypsy’s 1.3-litre petrol engine outputs 80 bhp. Basically, this is a slightly differently tuned version of the same 1.3-litre, four-pot petrol motor that powered the Esteem. In its stock format, the Gypsy has only 103 Nm of peak torque on offer. On the other hand, the 1.3-litre diesel engine outputs 74 bhp and 190 Nm. Moreover, in comparison to the petrol model’s fuel consumption average of 8-10 kmpl, this Gypsy can offer as much as 20 kmpl.
While installing the diesel engine has made the Gypsy more fuel efficient and torquey, there are a few problems that it faces. Firstly, thanks to the additional torque, there’s higher stress on many mechanical components, which, in turn, leads to higher chances of mechanical failures. The NVH (Noise, Vibration, Harshness) levels have gone up by a huge margin. Also, the original gearbox needs to be modified to extract the best out of the diesel engine.
The Gypsy has no insulation between its cabin and the engine bay. Even the engine compartment doesn’t have rubber mounts for the engine. Hence, installing the DDiS diesel motor makes a huge impact on the NVH levels. Ranbir, however, is happy to overlook these negatives. In fact, he has installed an aircon and with the windows up, the diesel engine clatter inside the cabin reduces a fair bit.
As you might be aware, traffic police in most large cities have started penalizing owners of vehicles with aftermarket modifications. Such modifications include the likes of bigger wheels and tires, performance exhausts, LED lights, etc. Hence, replacing the refined petrol engine with a noisier, clattery diesel-unit will definitely attract cops’ attention. Also, we’re not sure if one can get the vehicle RC modified with details of the new engine. Moreover, big cities like Delhi prohibit usage of diesel-powered cars that are older than 10 years. Hence, this modification should be carried out only if your usage is restricted to smaller towns, where the cops aren’t too strict.
While a Maruti Suzuki Gypsy with a diesel engine seems to be a fantastic proposition, the high costs involved in the conversion is quite a put-off. We’ll rather think of buying a Mahindra Thar. Of course, Ranbir was lucky as he got a perfectly working engine from a Swift that was being scrapped. Otherwise, buying even a used 1.3 DDiS engine will cost at least a lakh rupees. Plus, you’ll need to spend more on the fitment and other things. This will take the cost of modification to more than Rs 1.5 lakh, which is a significant percentage of a Gypsy’s original price. Instead, one might want to buy a used Mahindra Thar 4×4 for roughly Rs 5-6 lakh, which comes factory-fitted with a capable diesel motor, power-steering, and aircon.
Seen above is yet another example of a Maruti Gypsy that has received the 1.3 DDiS diesel engine from a Swift. The owner of this Gypsy has even fitted a power steering and the speedometer and tachometer of a Maruti Ritz.
Going by the high costs of modifications and the fact that these diesel-powered Gypsy SUVs aren’t road-legal, we would like to recommend staying away from such engine-swaps. That said, the idea of a Gypsy with a torquey diesel engine and features like aircon and power-steering is quite appealing.
Video source – Kishan Panchal on Youtube