The Gurkha is Force Motors’ answer to the Land Rover Defender. Well, not exactly, but just based on it’s rugged exterior and tough all-terrain gear underneath, the car certainly seems to be aimed at people who couldn’t care less about 0-100 times and automatic climate-control. The car was officially revealed to the masses at the 2013 Bus and Utility Vehicle Show in Noida. Force Motors had expected to take deliveries last year but, that plan did not see the light of day. After over a year of procrastination, Force has finally opened bookings for it’s off-roader.
The car will be available in two different models with several variations within. The soft-top 4×2 variant will start at Rs. 6.25 lakhs and the all ”bells & whistles” hard-top 4×4 variant will be for Rs. 8.50 lakhs. Now, when I say “all bells & whistles”, you have to be a bit reasonable as to what you can expect from a Gurkha. As long as you don’t expect to find a 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, multiple airbags or a fancy music system, you should not be thwarted. What the Gurkha 4×4 does have, is an array of potent off-roading gear that should pull you out of craters if you were to be stuck in one and take through most places that your average Gypsy can only dream of.
The Force Gurkha 4×4 comes with proper mechanical differential locks for the front and rear axles and you can lock either one or both with levers placed inside the car. You can choose to operate in 4×2 High, 4x4High or 4x4Low modes depending upon the terrain you might be in, or if you just want to show-board in front of your mates. The other feature on the Gurkha which you brag to your friends about, is the 4×4’s lofty 210 mm ground clearance and a high-mounted snorkel air intake which together, permits this car to traverse water bodies up to 550 mm in depth. According to Force Motors, the Gurkha has a 37* approach angle, 29* ramp-over angle and a 34* angle of departure. The SUV can also climb gradients that are 40-degrees in angle, thanks to it’s 4x4Low mode. The car also comes with a protective shield to prevent damage to critical components such as the fuel tank, propshaft and the engine’s underbelly.
The Gurkha’s design was inspired by the Mercedes G-wagen and that shows. What also shows is that the Gurkha isn’t as handsome as the Merc G. But, we understand that looks is a rather subjective matter, so there’s no point thinking on those terms. Talking of Mercedes-Benz, the 2.6-litre turbocharged intercooled direct-injection diesel motor is sourced from the German automobile giant. But, the engine pumps out a not very impressive 80 horses at 3200 rpm and 230 Nm of peak torque between 1800-2000 rpm and has a 5-speed manual shifter on the floor to handle transmission duties. This tough SUV does it’s job of mud-plodding impressively, but don’t expect the Gurkha to be anything but a ladder-on-frame truck on the road. The Gurkha tips the scales at 2.5-tonnes, and with just 80 horses to pull you along, you won’t be setting any land speed records. Plus, because of it’s tall boxy design and limited sound insulation, the wind noise would probably deafen you before you run of the 63-litres of diesel that this car can carry.
Step inside the Gurkha and you are immediately reminded of the Willy’s Jeep from the ’40s. The hard-top version gets air-conditioning, power-steering, alloy wheels and that’s about it. As we said, this is not a luxury lifestyle kind of vehicle and the barren interiors are a testament to that . You get in, start the thing, do some 4×4 stuff with it, and go back home. Don’t expect it to corner with any gusto, either, as the front independent shocks and the rear leaf-springs aren’t designed to tackle B-roads at galvanic speeds. The new Gurkha is supposed to have better fit and finish, apparently.