- As much as I liked the Force Gurkha, I don’t think I will buy the vehicle in the near future.
- Ride Quality
- Driving Experience
As much as I liked the Force Gurkha, I don’t think I will buy the vehicle in the near future.
BHPian Big_Smoke recently shared this with other enthusiasts.
Took a test drive of the Force Gurkha today.
In one word: Macho
I feel this is as macho as it can get for a factory spec sub-40 lakh car in India. The car is HUGE. Pictures don’t do justification to the massive size of the car (the height particularly). In comparison, my Harrier felt small. The car is well proportioned overall. The front end is handsome. The rear end could be made better looking, but it’s not particularly bad looking. You get used to the looks of the rear. The side profile is good looking as well, with clear, straight lines. The overall boxy design of the car suits the true – blue SUV character a lot. I really like it. The wheels might look undersized in pictures, but in person, they look alright.
And yes, the car turns heads. It has incredible street presence and exclusivity. Moreover, the test drive vehicle was red. The moment I drove out of my gated community, all the pedestrians and other people on the busy street were turning heads as I passed by. I’ve driven an Audi A7 as well quite often through this street, and my E220d on a regular basis, but the Gurkha turned more heads in comparison.
In one word: Superb
The suspension tuning is extremely comfortable. I felt the ride quality to be slightly more comfortable than an Innova Crysta (despite the car having 37 PSI pressure in 2 tyres, 34 PSI in 1 tyre, and 41 PSI pressure in 1 tyre ).
While taking a right turn at 60 kmph, it wasn’t unnerving. Body roll was present, but nothing out of control or abnormal.
In one word: Engaging
This vehicle feels like a truck. You climb into it. There is superb visibility all around. The seat is comfortable. I quickly found my preferred driving position with basic adjustments.
The steering wheel is thinner than expected. The clutch pedal is light (lighter than my Ford Aspire diesel @ 60k kms). However, the gear lever is placed far away, and it’s not really aligned properly. Like, the gear lever isn’t exactly straight. The gear shifts are easy, and light. The gear ratios are short, designed in such a way that the vehicle easily remains almost always in the maximum torque band.
I floored the accelerator on open roads as well to reach 3500 rpm and see what the 90hp engine is capable of. I was surprised. With the way the car catches speed keeping in mind how it looks (pointing at the aerodynamics), and the low power rating, I am actually happy. I expected worse, actually. But still, it’s not power – packed like you would expect from a powerful turbo – diesel (like say, in my Aspire diesel or Harrier). It’s not meant to be that way in this engine, and it’s very important to understand that. From what I understood, this engine is all about the low – end torque, suitable for off – roading, and also facilitating respectable highway speeds in a smooth driving manner.
The engine actually has a bit of a naturally aspirated Diesel engine characteristic to it. When you floor the accelerator, it doesn’t pin you to the seat, or there’s no turbo – swoosh which I’ve experienced in almost all turbo diesels. Rather, the engine starts developing speed in a faster, but gradual way.
The gearbox positioning is the biggest problem I found in this car. I am 5’8”. I almost had to lean to my left every time I wanted to change the gear. I took a pretty long test drive of almost 45 mins, testing the car in bumper to bumper traffic, broken roads, highway- like open roads and an off – road (mud) terrain as well. Now at the end of the test drive, I have a sprain on the left side of my neck and left shoulder blade. My left forearm is also slightly stressed. And after driving for 35 mins or so, I could feel my right bicep was slightly stressed.
While off – roading in the mud terrain, I engaged both the 4L and 4H. The car becomes very powerful. I was stuck at a slush pit in 4*2 mode. I put the car in 4H, and the car easily glided out through the pit. I drove through similar muddy patches and slush pits, and engaged 4H and 4L as was required. I didn’t get a chance to use the differential locks though.
Here again, engaging the 4H and 4L is a MAMMOTH task. The driver told me that it was a problem specific to this car (covered 5600 km, Oct ‘21 model). Engaging 4H or 4L needs brute force (and by brute force, trust me, I am not exaggerating). Moving the gear lever for 4H or 4L required the application of a force equivalent to moving a 7.5 kg dumbbell.
In fact, after my off – road trail, the car experienced a mechanical failure. When I was on Tarmac, the gear lever refused to slot into 2H. I tried several times, then the driver tried, applying even greater force. But the gear lever would only shift between 4H and 4L, not 2H. I asked the driver to take over the car. He tried again, sitting in the driver seat, turned off and then again turned on the car. But it was fruitless. The driver mentioned that he had encountered the same problem in the past as well. And he again told me that it’s a problem specific to this vehicle.
I took over the steering wheel again and continued back home in 4H, driving very slowly. After 1 km, I pulled up to the side of the road to try to slot the lever into 2H again. This time, the gear lever readily slotted into 2H. Everyone was relieved. I continued the journey home again driving enthusiastically.
The Gurkha is a vehicle built for specific purposes. It is utilitarian, and very engaging to drive. In cities it’s comfortable to drive, but it excels greatly in off-road. The AC is also very powerful.
It’s not easy to live with a Gurkha on a daily basis. As I mentioned, I am not very comfortable with the driving position of the car. But I’m thoroughly impressed with the car. It looks rad, is capable for the purpose it’s designed for, very spacious and oozes exclusivity on road.
However, the mechanical failure I experienced is a concern. Besides, over bad roads, there are quite a bit of rattles in the car. Over multi – speed breakers, the steering wheel sways beyond control (the car doesn’t change direction though). Also, with a service interval of 2 months (as per what the Sales Advisor told me), it’s a headache to deal with.
Additionally, the Gurkha costs almost 18 lakhs on road with the extended warranty. It’s not a very favourable price as well.
As much as I liked the Force Gurkha, as much as I was impressed by the vehicle, I don’t think I will buy the vehicle in the near future.