This hulking piece of industrial machinery is actually a heavily reworked Force Motors Gurkha, built specifically to tackle one of the toughest off-road events in the world, the Rain Forest Challenge. The RFC Gurkha uses the same chassis as the standard car, but otherwise there’s very little that’s common. With 37-inch Maxxis Trepador tyres, long-travel coil-over suspension and approach angle of 88 degrees, it looks like it could climb clean up a wall.
Getting in here is a lot of hardwork.
But first, there’s the matter of climbing into its high cabin; maybe a second winch should have been fitted to the cabin for shorter drivers. Inside, the closest thing you’ll find to a creature comfort is a 12-volt socket. There’s a motorsport-spec roll cage, racing seats and four-point harnesses. Interior design? Well, the steering wheel slopes away from you (like in a truck), and the centre console is festooned with an engine start/stop button and switches to control the mechanical front and rear diff locks. There’s also a switch for the ‘high idle’ button, which raises the idling speed up to 2,000rpm (very useful while off-roading), and another one to switch on an auxiliary fan, just in case the vehicle overheats.
Each knob does something special.
Now despite having some off-road experience under my belt, my gut instinct tells me not to cross certain dangerous limits. But my co-driver insisted that it was absolutely safe to drive down the side of a three-foot wall! Much to my relief, the RFC Gurkha did it just fine. Its short gearing and the low-ratio box offer good throttle control, making going down steep declines quite easy. Also, the 2.2-litre Force One engine, with 139bhp and 32.4kgm, gives it enough grunt to make light work of 40-degree inclines. In fact, it scaled a very challenging 50-degree climb with such ease, it had me looking around for something really hard to throw at it. Like a cliff, maybe.
Steep climbs dismissed without any fuss.
Off-roading is still in its nascent stage and by partnering with the RFC, Force wants to promote the sport. The bigger picture, of course, is that all the experience gained from building the RFC Gurkha, can go into improving the standard road car. Without a doubt, this is one of the best off-road vehicles in India; I wonder if we can convince Mahindra to do a fully prepped Thar with an XUV engine in its nose.
Force Gurkha RFC
Engine 4 cyls, 2149cc turbodiesel
Power 139bhp at 3800rpm
Torque 32.6kgm at 1600-2400rpm
Gearbox 5-speed manual
Top speed 100kph (limited)
Max gradeability 60 degree
Approach/Depature angle 88/44 degree
Water wading capability 1100mm