2013 Force Gurkha in India first drive
This new edition Gurkha has received a face lift but still looks a lot like the G-Wagen that it was based on. The refresh consists of grey plastic shrouding around the headlamps and grill merging into grey side cladding which replaces the black cladding on the old model. The rear bumper too has received a refresh and the Gurkha now rides on 16 inch alloys from the Force One SUV, albeit with a set of 245/70 R16 off-road tyres. What really stands out is the functional snorkel leaving no doubt of the Gurkha's intentions to go as far off-road as possible and then some. The interiors are still bare basic and utilitarian and while the seats are comfortable they are nothing to write home about. Materials and build quality are average while some of the plastics used (the outer ac vents) are of poor quality.
At its heart is a 2.6-litre direct injection diesel, sourced from Mercedes-Benz. It makes 82PS at 3200rpm and 230Nm between 1800-2000rpm. This is still a BS III certified power train but Force says that they plan to replace this with a new BS IV compliant unit soon. The four wheel drive system is lever selectable with high and low speed options that give the Gurkha a claimed 40 degree accent angle. Then for really sticky situations you have the option of locking either front, rear or both axles. It boasts class leading approach and departure angles and the snorkel allows a water wading ability of up to 550mm. There was only a small straight section of tarmac on the test track to test its road abilities but I got the impression that there would be quite a bit of body roll. The early power delivery coupled with the power steering on the other hand should make light work in urban environments.
It's cracked every obstacle at the test track with ease and with its off-road credentials I don't think a real world scenario would be any different. It is purpose built and makes not bones about it. It should appeal to farm and plantation owners and land developers who love to go out and get all muddy.
Priced at Rs 8.50 lakh (ex-Pune), the Gurkha is considerably more expensive than the Mahindra Thar (Rs 7.15 lakh). But what you will get for the premium you pay is a hard top vehicle with considerable off-road abilities. The soft top is slightly cheaper at Rs 8.35 lakh while there is also a 4X2 soft top which will be launched later at Rs 6.25 lakh.
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