Gurkha with more Force

The new Gurkha is very good off the road, but would you use it for daily office commute?
The new Gurkha
The new Gurkha

First launched in 2008, and also called the Indian G-Wagen – because of its design similarities with the iconic Mercedes-Benz SUV – the Gurkha is possibly India’s best off-road SUV. But while it’s great off the road, the Gurkha – manufactured by Force Motors – was pretty basic on the road and had a cabin from the Stone Age. Force Motors has now launched the all-new Gurkha, and we took it for a spin.

The biggest change is that the Gurkha has been launched in a five-door, seven-seat variant, in addition to the three-door, four-seat variant (the previous model was only available in the latter configuration). That’s good news, because Force has not only opened the Gurkha brand to families, but has also beaten Mahindra, which is still struggling to ready the five-door Thar. But despite a lot of changes to the cabin, the quality still doesn’t look at par with its competitors – where Maruti Suzuki Jimny is at the best, closely followed by the Thar, and then the Gurkha.

The new Gurkha
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The revised interiors
The revised interiors

Space is good, but most of it is in terms of headroom, and not legroom. A person of my proportions didn’t feel very comfortable as I wasn’t able to freely move my legs around. To reach the back row (third row in five-door variant and second row in three-door variant), you have to take the back door, which is a bit odd and cumbersome. In all other similar vehicles, you recline the seats in front to reach the back row. Other oddities are that power window buttons are between front seats and not on the doors, and in such a huge vehicle the glove box is tiny. Seats offer good support, though, and the view from all seats is absolutely commanding. In fact, there was an Alto next to me and it looked like two floors under.

Engine technology is really old – the 2,596-cc diesel engine derived from Mercedes-Benz (140 PS and 320 Nm). I think it was last seen in the E-Class of the 1990s! It’s got a five-speed manual gearbox, but the transfer case (from 2WD to 4x4 and vice versa) is electric (operated via a knob). The front and rear differential locks are manual.

The new Gurkha
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Getting into the last row can be challenging...
Getting into the last row can be challenging...

Off the road and at slow speeds it drives really well, and that is its forte. The shift from 2WD to 4WD (both Low and High) takes a good 3-4 seconds, but once you are in these gears, the Gurkha can simply go anywhere. That’s the reason it’s called 4x4x4, and not just 4x4. The extra ‘4’ is for the fact that it’s a 4x4 SUV that can be driven on four extreme terrains of mountains, forests, water, and desert. Its air intake snorkel is higher than the roof, and increases its water wading height to 700 mm.

On the road and in cities, it drives in a lethargic manner. Although the engine is powerful, the Gurkha is just too heavy, with the gross weight of the three-door at 2,800 kg and of the five-door 3,125 kg. It is an expensive vehicle for its price, but if you are a true off-roader, you know what you are getting into.

Priced at INR 16.75 lakhs for the 3-door and 18 lakhs for the 5-door. Ex-showroom

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