The formidable Thar now has got a rival in the Gurkha! Force Motors has unveiled the all-new version of its SUV Gurkha. Though the price tag is yet to be announced, the Gurkha could reach your home for Rs 10-13 lakh. If you prefer a Thar, you would have to shell out a few more lakhs to own one!
If the Mahindra Thar is based on the Jeep Wrangler, the Force Gurkha has an equally remarkable Mercedes G-Wagon as its lineage. The boxy proportions and topical designs have made the Gurkha a formidable warrior, something that has enough firepower to take on and win over any Thar.
For those who are unaware of the lineage of Mercedes G-Wagon, here is an update — the G-Wagon is the great granddad of the Jeep Wrangler. In looks, performance, snob value and price, the G-Wagon is equivalent to the Jeep Wrangler. Those who have been to the UAE would know the value and importance of the G-Wagon that bears the registration number 1. Though the king has several Rolls-Royces and other luxury cars, they come after the G-Wagon in the list of favourable cars of the king.
The Gurkha too has the royal lineage of the G-Wagon.
Goodbye to the ugliness of Trax
The Gurkha is a good offroader but scored poorly on finishing. Even the crude lorries and autorickshaws are eons ahead of the Trax. The plastic components never matched, the switches were outright ugly and seat upholstery was substandard. Add to this a disgusting bumper and the unappealing 'F' logo.
Too long like a mini-bus
Have you ever seen the initial Force Trax vehicles? Designed as a military vehicle, it had a short wheelbase and only two doors. But when the experiments on the body went overboard, the Trax became as long as a mini-bus. You could even see Traxes carrying 50 passengers in north India. But with length, the Trax lost its elegance.
Warhorse to donkey
In fact, Force Motors had borrowed a Filipino technique of extending the length of old jeeps of the world war and converting them into buses. This was possible because of their ability to carry weight like a commercial vehicle and offroading capability. The finish of the plastics, the design of the dashboard or the beauty of the grille never played any role in this transformation. The same thing happened to the Trax; the transformation from a strong, pedigreed horse to a load-bearing donkey. Force Motors even helped the Philippines when there was scarcity for jeep chassis during the world war. The chassis required for building Jeepney was sent first. Then a company called Morales Motors built the Trax locally, titled Togo Tracker.
Benz at heart
Though it fared badly in the looks department, the Trax had a Benz at the heart. The chassis and the mechanical parts originally belonged to Hanomag of the erstwhile East Germany. Following German unification, Hanomag and Mercedes merged to become one company. And several of their components also got a single brand name. That's how the Mercedes tradition and genes got transferred to the Tempo Trax, aka, the Gurkha. It shares the OM Series diesel engine, gearbox and four-wheel drive transfer case with the Benz.
Abhay Firodia, the owner of Force Motors (erstwhile Bajaj Tempo) had once said that his company plays a key role in the successful running of Benz cars across the world. Force continues to manufacture the components for the engine and gearbox and sends them to Benz even today. If there was any reduction in quality, this association might not have continued. So, we can safely assume that Force Motors uses mechanical components and technology that are used in Mercedes and BMW. Moreover, with several companies winding up their India ops, one can be sure that Force Motors will thrive as long as Mercedes is operational.
Though a little late, Force Motors corrected its course. If the Thar was a reason, then thanks to the Thar, so that we got one more good offroader. Those who do not like the Thar have another option. In its transformation from donkey to warhorse, the Gurkha, along with its animal instincts, also added elements required for day-to-day use. Along with the strength of the Jeep it also acquired the beauty and precision of a car. The Gurkha is now battle-ready like a drawn kukri. However, the Trax meant for commercial purpose will be available in that form.
Though the Gurkha was available for personal use, the vehicle shared its body parts and plastics with the commercial models. Most changes have happened on this front. Force Motors has retained the reliable and durable mechanical parts and the special features of the chassis. But the body and fit and finish underwent changes for the better. An impressive new grille and Gurkha logo took the place of the old grille and F logo. The front end of the Gurkha sports the G-Wagon's bumper, bonnet and the round LED integrated headlamps. It also features beautiful alloy wheels, a practical and attractive body cladding, footboard, safety features and BS VI upgrade.
Entry from rear
The Gurkha has four captain seats. After the front doors, there are large glass windows that can't be opened. Open the hatch door in the back for rear passengers to enter. A good footstep makes getting in easier. Force did not go for a folding front seat that is seen in many vehicles. Behind the rear seat, there is enough space for luggage. Side-facing jump seats are available as an accessory. The Gurkha can rival luxury cars in design, finish and paint quality.
Compared to the outgoing model, the new Gurkha is 22 mm longer and 20 mm taller. The front overhand is 13 cm longer to meet new safety norms. At 2,400 mm the wheelbase has not changed. The dashboard suits modern SUVs. The steering wheel has three spokes. The seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The dashboard is equipped with a stereo system with a touchscreen. The air conditioner is powerful. The interior is as good as cars. The captain seats provide a comfortable ride.
The snorkel that sucks in air for the engine catches the eye first like the trunk of an elephant. The snorkel comes as standard for all models. It helps the Gurkha to wade through bonnet-high water. However, the Gurkha needs a few more quality accessories to complete the looks such as windscreen bar, roof rail, roof carrier, roof ladder, lamp grille and a child seat. The rest of the components are all original equipment. The company will also provide all-terrain wheels if required. With all these fittings, the Gurkha has bigger presence than the Thar.
On paper, the 2.6-litre TD 2650 F diesel engine based on the 2.4, 616 unit generates 91 bhp of peak power and 250 Nm of peak torque. Is it enough to take on most rivals that have more than 100 bhp of power? For practical purpose, this power is more than enough. The 250 Nm of torque takes care of all types of roads and offroading and also helps in avoiding frequent gearshifts. The G28 five-speed gearbox is sourced from Mercedes.
Good torque, gear ratios and light clutch offer driveability similar to that of automatics. Currently, the Gurkha won't have a petrol engine and automatic gearbox.
What makes the Gurkha different is the lack of unnecessary sensors and technology. Mechanical shifts are used for shifting from four-wheel drive low and high modes. Everything including differential locks are manual; for genuine offroading lovers the manual shifts would be more appealing than the electronic four-wheel modes. Because of the high torque, the Gurkha could negotiate any tough terrain in low mode even without any accelerator input. The shorter wheelbase, 205 mm ground clearance and unconventional design excellence make the Gurkha unique.
For more details, contact - 9846338575.