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New Force Gurkha: A close look

27th Feb 2020 11:40 am

A new focus on comfort promises to transform the Gurkha from a hardcore off-roader for enthusiasts to a lifestyle vehicle with broader appeal.

The venerable Force Gurkha off-roader is all set for a major revamp. Shown at Auto Expo 2020 for the first time, the Gurkha gets a new look, a completely redone cabin, updated underpinnings and more creature comforts. While the new Gurkha retains the classic Mercedes G-Wagen silhouette of its predecessor, there’s much that’s changed too. There’s a significantly longer overhang up front, which, along with the shift to plastic bumpers and a chunkier bonnet, was necessary to meet the latest pedestrian protection norms. The cliff-faced front end has also made way for a gentler look here, with the traditional round headlights now sitting recessed amid square surrounds. LED daytime running lights for the headlights are also in keeping with the times.

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At the sides, the body panels are new and there’s premium beading at the doors as well, but the most noticeable change is the single rear window that comes in place of the earlier dual-pane arrangement. While this does give a cleaner look, the option to open the rear windows has been lost in the bargain. The Gurkha’s squared-out rear sees the incorporation of full-width glass, while new vertically oriented tail-lights on the body (rather than on the bumper) and a new rear bumper complete the makeover.

The ambience inside is vastly improved by the new dual-tone dashboard, as well as the inclusion of modern-day essentials like a touchscreen infotainment system and front power windows. Central locking, tilt and telescopic adjustable steering, dual airbags and ABS are other important additions. The three-door Gurkha also sees an important change in seating configuration. Its side facing bench seats has made way for a pair of front-facing individual chairs with backrest recline. Access to the second row is now intended to be via the tailgate rather than the front doors. There’s also a pair of side-facing jump seats at the back; but their size and position suggest they’d be best left folded away.
 
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Dash is all new. Features like power windows and touchscreen a first for the Gurkha.

Under the skin, the new Force Gurkha retains the ladder-frame chassis, with modifications for improved crash protection. As before, the Gurkha’s suspension comprises an independent front double-wishbone and five-link, rigid-axle rear arrangement, with coil springs at all four corners. Four-wheel drive with low range, and front and rear axle differential locks, have been retained too. In all, the Gurkha comes with loads of ability built in and also offers enthusiasts a good base to build on for hardcore suspension and hardware upgrades.

The new Gurkha marks the debut of a heavily updated and BS6 version of Force’s Mercedes OM616-derived 2.6-litre diesel engine. It will come in multiple states of tune and power a whole host of Force Motors’ utility vehicles and mini-buses. In its 90hp/260Nm form, as on the Gurkha, the engine’s emission regulation system comprises a Lean NoX trap and diesel particulate filter. A 5-speed manual gearbox will be standard fit. Sadly, the outgoing Gurkha Extreme’s 140hp, 2.2-litre diesel engine has been dropped from the range.

The new Gurkha will go on sale around April 2020 in three-door form, but the five-door and two-wheel drive versions will join the line-up soon. The Gurkha will go up against the new Mahindra Thar that is also said to put greater emphasis on comfort than before. Which one does a better job of the same script remains to be seen. In either case, off-road enthusiasts have much to get excited about.

Customisation Possibilities

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While the new Gurkha was Force’s big reveal at Auto Expo 2020, it was this giant, military green custom Gurkha that was the centre of attention for most showgoers. Built as a concept to exhibit the possibilities of customisation presented by the new Gurkha platform, the model is akin to the Mercedes-Benz G500 4x42. The Gurkha’s basic frame, body, and engine have been retained but virtually everything else is beefed up. The Gurkha custom rides on 40-inch tyres, uses portal axles from the Mercedes Unimog (which has additional reduction in the hubs), and gets a pair of Bilstein coilovers at the front wheels and a pair of Profender coilovers at the rear (each with a dedicated 15-inch oil reservoir). In all, there’s 400mm of ground clearance, 10 inches of suspension travel at the front, and 12 inches at the rear. The go-anywhere Force Gurkha also features a snorkel, a dual-motor winch from Gigglepin, and a roof-mounted spare tyre. In short, it’s built for the apocalypse.

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