Force Gurkha E.O.V. 4X4X4 review
The Gurkha is back, better than ever. But did it have to look like this?
"Take your foot off the accelerator, it’ll climb." Now, when someone says this to you on a 30-degree upward incline that is also a sharp right-hand turn with massive undulations that test the wheels’ articulation, you’d be forgiven for breaking out the jar of salt. However, the Force Gurkha I’m driving (barely guiding along, more like) has got a crawler function - select 4-low, take your foot off the throttle and watch with a wide open mouth as it clambers up the impossible incline. This is quite something.
Okay, I’d like to clarify right away that the Gurkha is not half as great on the road. It will require reasonable skill to keep it in a straightline at seriously high speeds. And as far as I could tell, gear ratios are way too short for busy city traffic. But frankly, expecting the Gurkha to do well on the blacktop is like expecting the Pope to sing heavy metal just because he’s got a massive crowd in front of him. It just doesn’t work that way.
Force claims the Gurkha does 123kph or something like that. If you ever manage to reach there, I’ll buy you a round of whatever you want, because you will have proven your jewels are bigger than most. The 2596cc turbo-diesel engine develops 81bhp, but what you will end up using most is the 230Nm worth of twisting force. The combination of this torque and its 4X4 system and differential locks is simply devastating off the road.
I’m as at home off-road as a fish is out of water, so at Force’s test track, my heart rate remained at its redline for the duration of the drive. However, the Gurkha droned over every possible obstacle at barely above idle. A dab on the throttle and it would use sheer brute force to arm-twist the terrain into submission. The track is an unforgiving one, as was evident by the alarming noises that were produced when the undercarriage met the unyielding ground. However, my passenger, who happens to be their chief vehicle tester, said that they’ve punished it even harder and all they’ve found are minor dents on the shields that guard the underpinnings. Given the abandon with which he was abusing the Gurkha, I think I believe him. So, in a word, the Gurkha is impressive. It’s got a snorkel for wading through water. It’s got a solid 4X4 system. It’s got a tough exterior and underpinnings to take on just about anything. However, there are a few shortcomings.
First of all, the Gurkha’s face isn’t anything close to handsome. The older Gurkha, with its G-Wagen-inspired lines looked downright handsome. Then there’s the interior. I know, the point is to keep things simple and rugged for off-road use, but not this simple, especially when we consider the final point - its price. At Rs 8.5 lakh ex-showroom, Delhi, the Gurkha’s price tag raises every eyebrow that it chances upon.
However, if you’re one of those people who want nothing to do with creature comforts and love hardcore off-roading (and don’t mind the price), needless to say, the Gurkha is probably the best you can get on the right side of Rs 10 lakh in India. Just ask Force nicely if they’ll transplant the old face back onto it, though.
2596cc, 4-cyl turbo-diesel, 81bhp, 230Nm, 4x4, Max speed: 123kph (claimed), Fuel economy: 12kpl (claimed), Rs 8.5 lakh (ex-Delhi)
A face not even its own mother would like. But the Gurkha will more than make her proud off-road.