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Force Gurkha Xtreme off-road test
Force Gurkha Xtreme is said to be the best made-in-India off-roading machine, so we drive it through the company’s testing grounds to see if it actually deserves the title.

Story: Ravi Chandnani
Photography: Sanjay Raikar

Exterior Design
To begin with, it is the sheer size of the Force Gurkha Xtreme that intimidates anyone who stands in its way. It reminded me of the erstwhile Mercedes G-Wagon that forms the foundation for this desi off-roader. The Force Gurkha Xtreme stays true to the original G-Wagon’s design and it looks pretty mighty from any angle. It is two metres tall, 1.8 metres wide, has a ground clearance of 210 millimetres, and huge 16-inch wheels shod with 245/70 radial tyres. These dimensions coupled with angular metal body panels, a snorkel, a roof-mounted carrier, an optional auxiliary jerry can be mounted on a small ladder at the back, and a full-size spare wheel mounted on the tail-gate ably proclaim the Gurkha’s extreme “go-anywhere” attitude.

Interior
Inside, things are as nominal as they can get — after all, this is a three-door off-roader. The dashboard is an old-school unit with rectangular air-con ducts at the centre and circular ones on either side. There is a big metal piece jutting out from just under the a-c controls for mounting a stereo system or a radio set in case you decide to enter a competition. The steering wheel is big and the instrument console is old-school with a few easy-to-read analogue dials on it. That pretty much sums up the interior. Oh, wait, there are two levers on each side of the transmission tunnel for locking the differentials. Yes, Force Motors have kept things pretty mechanical as the system is tried and tested and works perfectly well. At the back are two benches that face each other and can accommodate at least four grown-up adults. Since the Force Gurkha Xtreme is two metres tall and almost similar in width, there is ample knee-, leg-, and head-room inside the cabin.

Engine
Let’s now move on to the biggest change that this Gurkha brings to the table. Force Motors use Mercedes technology and, thanks to this Indo-German venture, the Force Gurkha Xtreme comes with a former Mercedes engine: the OM 611 diesel engine, to be exact. This 2,149-cc, in-line four-cylinder, DOHC engine produces a healthy 140 PS at 3,800 rpm and 321 Nm between 1,600 and 2,400 rpm, which is a big jump from the earlier unit that still powers the Force Gurkha Xplorer. The engine is mated to a new G 32/5, five-speed manual gearbox with an integrated transfer case. However, the bump in power and torque was the crucial piece of the puzzle missing from earlier Gurkha and, owing to Force Motors’ decision to go in for a more powerful and torquier engine, the Xtreme has become much more capable than before. It is not the smoothest engine out there but then, again, the Gurkha is also not a regular car. The engine actually goes well with the rugged design and character of the Force Gurkha Xtreme. I actually ended up liking the unique rawness of the engine that makes me appreciate the fact that it can handle almost any kind of incline and decline without any fuss. (Also read: Force Gurkha Xplorer First Drive Review)

As soon as I got into the Xtreme and started the engine, the diesel chatter made its way into the cabin. Ignoring that I shifted the long-throw gearbox into first and off we went. I wasn’t surprised to see how smoothly the torque came in and provided enough push to move forward without any effort. It is this massive amount of torque that helped us go around Force Motors’ off-road test facility with minimal effort.

Suspension
Force Motors have worked on the suspension of the Force Gurkha Xtreme by providing coil springs on all four corners. They have also fitted a sturdy rigid front axle to help the Xtreme navigate through sizeable undulations with ease. This, combined with a ladder frame, has actually made a big difference to the way the Xtreme behaves while off-roading.

The course at the Force facility is a place where the company’s RFC or Rain Forest Challenge vehicles were once tested. I was assured by an accompanying Force Motors engineer that I could do it since the Force Gurkha Xtreme has class-leading 44° approach and 40° departure angles with 30° ramp break over angle; so, technically, nothing much could go wrong.

 

About the author: Online Car India

 

 

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