2021 Force Gurkha: 46 observations after a day of driving

The Force Gurkha always carried the silhouette of the Mercedes-Benz G Wagon, and now, it’s even more so!

Aditya and Omkar attended the Force Gurkha media drive in Tiwai Hills, on the outskirts of Pune. Here are their brief observations:

• While the previous Gurkha looked like more of an evolved Trax / Traveller, the new 2021 model seems to have gained character. Further, it gets LED headlamps with DRLs, foglamps, 17-inch alloy wheels, a hardtop design and a snorkel to remind you this car means serious offroading.

• The Gurkha has always been a bit player with marginal monthly sales, yet it does have a fan following. Do check out Trojan’s ownership review & MohammedEza’s review too. No doubt, the car is a bit of an acquired taste.

• Built on an updated chassis, the 3-door version of the Gurkha has a wheelbase of 2,400 mm. The wheelbase extends to 2,825 mm for the 5-door version. It measures 4,116 mm in length, 1,812 mm in width and 2,075 mm in height.

• The Gurkha feels sturdy, but there are areas of concern. Panel gaps are uneven at places and the doors don’t have the heft of a Korean or European car. The bonnet, on the other hand, is super heavy and has plenty of insulation for dialling down the engine noise.

• You get remote locking & unlocking with the key (no smartkey). If you want to find your Gurkha in a parking lot at night, there is a find-my-car feature via a button on the key. This switches on the hazard lights, but without any audio alert.

• The doors have leather straps to hold them from swinging out!! No stages in the opening action. It’s as simple as simple can be.

• The Gurkha is a tall vehicle, so ingress and egress are a challenge. You will have to use the side step to get into the front seats. You also get grab handles on the A pillars to help you climb inside. Rear passengers will have to use the tailgate door and climb inside the car to sit on the two rear seats!! Of course, rear passengers have it easier in the 5-door variant.

• Gone is the old utilitarian dashboard and in its place is a new all-black dash with a 7-inch touchscreen that gets Android Auto & Apple CarPlay. Despite the black dashboard, the cabin feels airy due to the massive glass area. The tall windshield & windows bring in a lot of light in the front.

• The quality of interiors is poor. This will be a deal-breaker for many. The plastics used are very basic, while the fit & finish aren’t great either. The glovebox in our test vehicle kept falling open, randomly over rough roads! The seats are good though.

• Force claims that the Gurkha has 44% more window area than the competition, and we don’t doubt that. All-round visibility is excellent.

• ORVMs are tall and provide a good view of action at the rear. IRVM is tiny in comparison and its rear view is restricted by the captain seats. Rearward visibility is satisfactory as there’s no middle passenger (captain seats in the second row).

• The driver’s seat is placed high to give you a great view of the road ahead. Seats have a good amount of side bolstering and provide ample support. While driving on bad roads and in off-roading, the seats keep you in place. You’re not left sliding all over the place.

• Ergonomically, most things fall in hand quite easily. You have a couple of cubbyholes in the centre console, along with cupholders and a phone holder as well. But the glovebox is small.

• No dead pedal has been provided. Moreover, there’s not much space beyond the clutch pedal to rest your foot. So, you will have to rest your foot below the clutch pedal while driving. This will take getting used to. Those who’ve driven other body-on-frame Mahindras & Tatas might find the transition easier than say, someone moving from a Dzire or i20 who will be shocked with the cabin!

• Big steering wheel is basic and good to hold. The hornpad is easy to reach and the steering also offers tilt + telescopic adjustments. With the new Gurkha, you get a rack & pinion steering replacing the old recirculating ball mechanism. The new steering column is also collapsible, which reduces the odds of occupant injury in a crash. Speaking of safety, the Gurkha gets only 2 airbags like the Thar.

• Power window buttons are placed on the centre console.

• Doorpad gets a leatherette insert which is soft to touch. Near the armrest area, you have a nice fabric area too, alongside the hard plastics. The door pockets are tiny and are only capable of holding a phone + misc stuff. No bottles will fit here.

• Aircon worked great in our short drive. You get minimum and maximum AC settings too.

• The touchscreen infotainment unit is an aftermarket unit from Kenwood that has been tuned for the Gurkha. It has smartphone connectivity, but isn’t very user friendly. The buttons are small and the orientation takes some time to get used to.

• Sound quality from the 4-speaker unit is basic.

• Front-facing rear captain seats are the same as the front seats, so you can adjust the recline angle! Passengers will enjoy the support. Both seats get ISOFIX child seat anchors and offer adjustable headrests.

• The view from the rear seats is great! It almost feels like you’re sitting in a safari vehicle. Take your family to the jungle and they’ll love you back for life!

• Since there are no folding rear seats, the boot space is constant at 500 litres. This kind of boot space is a key advantage over the Thar.

• All passengers get USB charging ports for their devices.

Continue reading the driving impressions of the Force Gurkha on our forum.

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