Force Motors has launched the Gurkha off-road vehicle at a starting price of Rs. 6.25 lakh for the soft-top 4×2 variant, going up to Rs. 8.5 lakh for the hard-top 4×4 variant. There are a total of three variants right now, all only in BS-III.
Force calls the Gurkha a 4x4x4 extreme offroad vehicle (EOV) because of the front and rear differential locks it comes with – something that will appeal to hardcore off-road enthusiasts.
Force Gurkha 4×2 Soft top: Rs. 6.25 lakh
Force Gurkha 4×4 Soft top: Rs. 8.35 lakh
Force Gurkha 4×4 Hard top: Rs. 8.50 lakh
The Force Gurkha is based on the Mercedes G-Wagen and carries the same design lines from that timeless classic, which is why it looks as good as it does. It competes directly with the Mahindra Thar in both the rural and semi-urban markets right now. Force will be launching a BS-4 variant of the Gurkha in another month or so, but isn’t ambitious with its sales targets looking at just about 1,000 units for the year. Also read: India’s best off-roaders below Rs. 25 lakh
Classic G-Wagen looks and design
The Force Gurkha 4x4x4 comes in only a three-door format, with a range of seating options. The soft-top version is a six-seater (2+4) with two sideways bench seats at the rear. The hard-top variant is a five-seater (2+3) with a forward facing bench seat at the rear. The hard-top also has only sliding rear windows.
All variants of the Gurkha come with alloy wheels and a stainless steel macho-looking snorkel.
The rear of the Gurkha looks like the old Land Rover Defender from some angles, because of the use of small individual tail and indicator lamps and big spare wheel mounted on the tail gate. The front now has round headlamps instead of the earlier rectangular ones, but the grille looks like it has a bit too much plastic in it. The earlier Gukha’s grille looked better, we think. The inclusion of fog lamps as standard is a nice touch.
On the interiors, the vehicle is bare basic, with average plastic quality and fit and finish. The center console on the hard-top variant houses a huge air-conditioner, while the speedometer has an old-school analog odometer, flanked by fuel and temperature gauges. There is a small utility glove box on the dash, a 12-volt socket and an oil-pressure gauge – something you don’t find in vehicles these days. The front seats feature drop-down armrests, which are the only other creature comfort in this vehicle. Access to the rear is only by flipping forward the front passenger seat, or using the tail-gate in case of the soft-top.
Built for off-road performance
But creature comforts aside, this vehicle is built for off-road performance, and that’s where it probably excels. It is shod with 16-inch alloys with all-terrain 245/70 R16 tyres. It has power-assisted hydraulic steering on all variants, as well as an AC as standard fitment on the top-two variants. It features 210 mm of ground clearance and minimal front and rear overhangs.
The vehicle features independent front suspension with torsion bars and a leaf-spring rear suspension. It has a manual 4×4 shifter placed between the front seats. Just ahead of it are two levers that manually lock the rear differential or the front differential, independently, depending on the kind of sticky situation you are stuck in off-road – this is best used in slush and sand. The 4×4 transfer case offers both high-range (1:1 ratio) and low-range (2.04:1). It has a rather large turning radius of 5.8 metres.
The engine is a 2.6 litre (2596 cc) turbo-charged direct injection diesel engine putting out 82 bhp of power at 3,200 rpm and 230 Nm of torque at 1800-2000 rpm. It’s not a very high revving engine at all and builds most of its torque in the low-rev range. This is mated to a five-speed gearbox. The engine still seems underpowered, although Force claims it is adequate. Also see: Force One SUV photo gallery
What we think
The Force Gurkha 4x4x4 goes head to head with the Mahindra Thar. The Thar benefits from a larger service and dealer network, while Force now has only 14 dealers across the country. But in terms of off-road performance, the Force Gurkha is a more potent off-roader than the Thar. However, it lacks some engine power in its present guise, although it is more powerful than the Thar DI base version, it isn’t as good as the Thar CRDe’s engine.
However, being a fairly simple design, maintenance too is likely to be much lower than the more expensive common-rails. But if Force wants to sell this in metros, it will need to upgrade the engine to a common-rail unit, which it plans to do in a few months. If you want a G-Wagen replica that can probably get by better off-road than even the G-Wagen can, without expensive damage, the Force Gurkha is a force to reckon with. And the clincher, a five-year or 300,000 km warranty on engine and transmission, subject to certain conditions of course! Also read: Most comfortable SUVs in India
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