2024 Force Gurkha 5 door review: Bigger is better

    With more doors, more seats and more power, is the new Force Gurkha more rounded as well?

    Published on Apr 29, 2024 12:00:00 PM

    37,783 Views

    Make : Force
    We Like
    • Off-road ability
    • Road presence
    • Feels tough
    We Don't Like
    • Cabin fit and finish
    • Utilitarian ergonomics
    • Sparsely equipped

    Force Motors is perhaps best known for its commercial vehicles, but it has also built a reputation in the off-road community thanks to its Gurkha SUV. Now, the Gurkha has undergone its most comprehensive overhaul yet: a new 5-door body style, a 7-seater layout, new features and an updated powertrain. So is it a more complete package now? Read on to know.

    Force Gurkha 5-door: design, interior and space

    The Gurkha’s design continues to be largely unchanged but that’s a good thing. Few vehicles out there have the sheer road presence of the Gurkha – like a desi G-Wagon, if you will. Standing at over 2m tall, 4.4m long and 1.8m wide, the Gurkha 5-door looks even more imposing than its 3-door sibling. And with the additional doors and the 425mm longer wheelbase (2,825mm), the Gurkha 5-door is actually the more proportionate of the two. Some of the stand out details are the LED headlamps with the cool segmented Daytime Running Lamp signature, the large Gurkha lettering on the front grille and the smart new 18-inch alloys. Both, the 5-door and 3-door, are available in four colours – Green, Red, White and Black.

    At 2,825mm, the Gurkha 5-door has a 425mm longer wheelbase than the 3-door.

    Inside, the Gurkha retains the same basic dashboard layout but there have been some prominent changes. The two most apparent are the screens – there’s now a larger 9-inch touchscreen infotainment and a digital instrument cluster that replaces the analogue dials. The cluster itself is bright and shows all necessary info, and what’s also nice is that the TPMS is now integrated into the cluster and isn’t a separate display on the dash like the outgoing model. The Android-based touchscreen is easy enough to operate and gets Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, but it’s too basic. The high-set front seats are large and comfortable, and they give you a commanding view out of the cabin. Getting in and out of the cabin is not the easiest though – you’ll have to use the footstep and grab bar at the A-pillar to propel yourself in. The materials are decent in certain places but the cabin is let down by its fit and finish, with sharp edges and panel gaps visible.

    The only way to access the third row is via the tailgate.

    The middle row gets a bench-style seat that can comfortably accommodate three adults, and you also get a centre armrest with cupholders. Headroom is in abundance but knee room is tight for taller people, and the backrest is too upright and can’t be reclined. And since the middle-row seat can’t be tumbled down and folded either, the only way to access the third row is via the tailgate, which again isn’t the easiest especially if you’re taller or older. But once in there, there’s adequate space for adults and you’ll appreciate that you get proper three-point seatbelts and cupholders here too. However, the wheel well eats into the foot room in the third row and taller passengers will find the top of the windows at eye level. The Gurkha 5-door also doesn’t get as much luggage space as the 3-door but you can always opt for the roof rack.

    Force Gurkha 5-door: features

    Let’s get this straight right off the bat, the Force Gurkha is a purpose-built, no-frills off-roader so don’t expect any fancy gizmos here. There’s no sunroof, no ventilated seats and no wireless phone charger but that likely won’t deter prospective buyers. The Gurkha stills get the basics – a 9-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility (we couldn’t connect either), a new digital instrument cluster, a TPMS, one-touch down for all four power windows, rear wiper, LED headlamps and diamond-cut alloys. The Gurkha now also packs in fuel saving auto start/stop tech, a rear camera and rear parking sensors.  

    It gets a new 9-inch touchscreen and digital instrument cluster inside.

    What’s also nice is that Force has added a few convenience features that go a long way in making life easy with the Gurkha. The wing mirrors are now electrically adjustable, the fuel door can be opened from inside without having to unlock it using the key, there’s armrests for the front seats, a dead pedal to rest your foot and the 4WD gear lever has been replaced by a nifty shift-on-the-fly knob. There’s also USB ports for the front and middle rows, and roof-mounted AC vents with blower control for the rear passengers. Still, it would have been nicer if there was a height adjustable driver’s seat as taller drivers may find that they’re sitting too high.

    Third row seats are comfy but kneeroom and footroom is tight.

    Standard safety kit includes dual airbags, three-point seatbelts for all except the middle seat in the second row, ISOFIX child seat mounts, front disc brakes, ABS and rear parking sensors. The Gurkha also comes with the snorkel you see here as standard, however, the roof rack, ladder and windscreen bar are all optional extras.

    Force Gurkha 5-door: engine, gearbox and drive experience

    There have been significant changes under the hood too. One of the biggest complaints of the older model was its relative lack of power and it's good to see that Force Motors has listened. The Mercedes-sourced four-pot diesel continues to displace 2.6-litres, but output sees a sizable increase to 140hp and 320Nm, from the 91hp and 250Nm earlier. In order to gain that additional 49hp and 70Nm, the company says it has made comprehensive changes, including new injectors, a new air intake system, a new flywheel, a new turbo and more. And to cope with the additional torque, the Gurkha now also gets a different 5-speed gearbox.

    Mercedes-sourced 2.6-litre diesel now puts out a higher 140hp and 320Nm.

    Apart from the output, improvements have also been made in regards to NVH levels in this BS6.2 avatar as the engine runs a bit quieter, both at idle and while running. This iteration of the engine feels strong right from the low end and there’s a noticeable step up in performance once you get close to 1,500rpm. It’ll also rev higher now, till 3,500rpm, but you’re better off shifting earlier as there’s not much performance to be had past 2,600rpm. It’ll also cruise comfortably at up to 80kph, with the engine spinning below 2,000rpm. The Gurkha now also gets drive modes – Eco and Power. Eco restricts power in the interest of fuel economy, so it’s best suited only for city driving.

    The Gurkha now features a shift-on-the-fly switch in place of the 4WD gear lever.

    The clutch pedal is light and easy to modulate, but the 5-speed gearbox has long throws that takes some effort to slot in. And with discs only at the front and all that weight, the Gurkha 5-door’s brakes don’t feel strong enough; it could do with more stopping power.

    Force Gurkha 5-door: ride and handling

    The Gurkha 5-door is based on the same modular ladder frame chassis as the Gurkha 3-door and we had a chance to experience both. A big change has been made with regards to the suspension; at the front it gets a revised independent suspension setup with the lower control arms being positioned higher. This, along with the jump up to 18-inch wheels from 16 inchers, has led to an increase in the ground clearance, from 205mm to 233mm.

    Out of the two, its the Gurkha 5-door that feels more composed on the road. 

    On the road, the 5-door Gurkha feels the more settled of the two with less vertical movements, but there’s still noticeable side-to-side movement at speed in both. Thanks to the chunky tyres and long suspension travel, the Gurkha smoothes out broken patches of road with ease and it's nice to see that the upsizing of the wheels hasn’t compromised ride quality too much. But there’s some play in the steering and you also have to watch out for the strong kickback in off-roading situations. As expected, the top-heavy Gurkha isn’t meant for attacking corners, but it feels quite stable at moderate speeds.

    It's the 3-door Gurkha that boasts of the better off-road angles.

    There’s also road and wind noise present in the cabin, but it isn’t very intrusive. What you can hear more of is the suspension working underneath.

    Force Gurkha 5-door: off road ability 

    The increase in ground clearance also means that the Gurkha 3-door now boasts of better off-road angles – 39deg approach (up from 37deg), 37deg departure (up from 33deg) and 28deg breakover (up from 25deg). Owing to its longer wheelbase and longer overall length, the Gurkha 5-door doesn’t have the same off-road angles but both have the same 700mm water wading capacity thanks to the snorkel, and both can climb inclines of up to 35 degrees.

    As before, the Gurkha really shines off the tarmac.

    During our first drive, we got to experience the Gurkha 3-door and the Gurkha 5-door on a special off-road course consisting of inclines, declines, side slopes and articulation obstacles. Shifting the SUV from 2H (two-wheel drive high) to 4L (four-wheel drive low) is now as easy as flicking a switch and both Gurkhas dismissed the off-road course with utter ease.

    The Gurkha continues to feature diff locks on both axles.

    The Gurkha, as before, comes with locking diffs at both axles and locking them requires a hard pull and a firm twist of the levers either side of the gear lever. The light off-road course meant we didn't need to engage the diff locks but having experienced the older Gurkha at our off-road day, I can safely say that it’ll pull you out of almost any sticky situation. As an off-road vehicle then, the Gurkha feels near invincible. 

    Force Gurkha 5-door: verdict

    Prices for the updated Gurkha 3-door and new Gurkha 5-door will be announced soon, but the company has begun accepting bookings for a token amount of Rs 25,000. Force is offering a respectable standard warranty of 3 years/1.5 lakh km, with four free services and 1-year roadside assistance as complimentary. For now, the Gurkha 5-door has no direct competitors, but the 5-door iteration of the Mahindra Thar is just around the corner. The Gurkha 3-door meanwhile, continues to compete with the current 3-door Thar and the smaller, 5-door Maruti Jimny to a certain extent.

    Bookings for the 2024 Force Gurkha have been opened for Rs 25,000.

    Like before, the Gurkha remains a very capable off-roader but thanks to its increased practicality, features and power, it now appeals to a wider audience and is an easier SUV to recommend. However, despite being more practical now, the Gurkha remains a committed buy. I say that because you have to be content with trading the latest electronic niceties for a hardcore, go-anywhere machine. Sure, the interior quality could have been better and there are some ergonomic shortcomings, but there’s a certain charm in the unapologetic, no-nonsense character of the Force Gurkha.

    Also see: 

    New 2024 Force Gurkha video review

    Force Gurkha based Spartan 2.0 EV SUV breaks cover

    Tech Specs

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