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Old 15th July 2014, 21:10   #1
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Default Review: The Force Gurkha 4x4

In 2008, I booked a Gurkha and was promised delivery in three months. I waited for four months and still there was no sign, so I decided to do up my MM540. After about 6 months, the Gurkha came to the dealership and sold even before registering it. When I heard the Gurkha was being relaunched with a 100+ bhp engine, I was very excited. When I saw the pictures and heard that it had only 5 bhp more than the previous version, the initial excitement died, but I was still open to buying it and replacing the front with the old model classic looks.

As luck would have it, one of my friends, who was close to booking a Thar, arranged for a TD of the Gurkha and asked me to join him. A matte black Gurkha was brought to us and we both excitedly walked around, inspected the vehicle and jumped in. My friend took the driver seat and turned the ignition to start it - poooooffff no go! The engine did not start or turn over at all. Seems like no current was reaching the starter motor. Anyways, we got out, opened the hood and checked the battery terminals, knocked the battery a couple of times and came back inside. This time I tried to start it. Again, there was no response for a couple of times, but eventually like a bullet it started and we moved on. My friend was driving and I was in the passenger seat.

Interiors/Comfort/Ergonomics:

This vehicle is one of the most comfortable Indian off-roaders that I have sat it. For comfort it blows the pants off the Scorpio 4x4 and also Thar. Seats are well bolstered. There are arm rests on the front seats, but driver side arm rests cannot be used unless you convert the transmission to an automatic as there is no way to change the gears with the driver armrest down. Ingress to rear seat is fairly spacious since the front passenger seat can be flipped forward. The rear bench is also quite spacious with enough legroom, but since it is placed high on the rear wheel arch, tall passengers should watch their head. However, the roof has moulded roof lining so even if you bump you heard, you may still be able to go to work the next day. The third row jump seats were not there. The salesman said that it is no longer offered so not sure what the story is. Overall the interiors are extremely crude, but I have no complaints about that since you don't expect a range rover when you buy a Gurkha. So it was something that I am willing to live with. The dash looks like it was hacked up by a local tinker.

The AC was not effective at all and all of us kept sweating in the vehicle despite the AC being on for over 10 minutes. Not sure if there was a problem with the unit or this is how it will be. The boots for the gear and transfer case lever have no clamp/clip and they come off very easily causing hot air to enter the cabin and further worsen the effectiveness of the already poor AC. I was wondering why there is no thermostat for the AC, but looks like even if there was one, it will remain in max cooling mode all the time.

The rpm meter is placed at the center of the dash where the dash curves down toward the firewall. So it cannot be seen easily from driver seat. Moreover, it is unsafe to take your eyes off from the road to keep looking at the rpm meter. Best to make a small enclosure and move the meter above the dash to the right side and put a volt meter in place of the rpm meter. But, I am glad that they at least thought of offering an rpm meter, even if it was just an after thought.

Ride & Handling:

This vehicle soaks up bad roads and makes them feel like a smooth roads. Body roll is also controlled compared to Scorpio/Thar. For Ride & handling it beats the Thar DI & CRDe in my opinion.

Engine/Gearbox/T-case/Steering:

I don't really have much to complain about the engine. It could do with more power, but given the short gearing, it moves just a bit before running out of steam. The engine is much much better than the Thar DI engine, but the Thar CRDe engine obviously is much better. The transfer case allows for smooth shifts and there are lights on the dash for 4H and 4L, which is nice.

The biggest disappointment was the gearbox. It is an absolute mess. I just couldn't engage first gear without using both hands and you have to really hunt to slot it into the right gear. I cannot understand how this is a Mercedes-derived gearbox. The same G18 gearbox comes in the Tata UV range and I didn't find this problem in my Tatamobile or Seirra/Estates that I have driven, but on the Gurkha it is absolutely horrendous. To me, two things that totally spoiled my driving experience wre the gear box and steering which I will come to later. Anybody who has used a modern gearbox or even the KMT90 from the MM550 will find this gearbox horrendous to use. I couldn't believe that in this time and age any manufacturer can make a gearbox like this and that too licensed from Mercedes. Part of the reason I think is because the gearbox is way too much in the front and the lever starts out from the under the dash and has a 30 degree slope toward the driver - kind of like the full forward lorry cabins, but in reverse.

The next biggest disappointment for me was the steering. The steering is perpendicular to the floor like the old Leyland lorries. Nothing can be done about this since the steering box sits under driver side foot well. So, if you put a steering with conventional semi-vertical positioning, you will need a U-joint that can turn 90 degrees to take the shaft to the steering box. So unless the steering box is relocated to the front like in Mahindra & Tata products, nothing can be done. The problem is that if you have the seats reclined, only a person with very long hands or an orang-utan can turn the steering comfortably. The steering wheel is also huge and you really have to sit up to get your hands around it. If you have been driving Leyland full forward body lorries for a while, you will be at home in the Gurkha, but if you have driven modern or semi-modern vehicles, you will find it tough to adjust in a Gurkha.

There were few other issues which I am hoping were just one-offs with this vehicle. Besides, the first time, my friend managed to stall the vehicle as he had to move from a signal in second gear. This was because first gear was not engaging after repeated attempts with both hands. After the vehicle stalled it just wouldn't start. Thankfully, we were both saved of the embarrassment of pushing a new vehicle because there was no one behind us and after repeated attempts it started again. Secondly, there is no auxiliary fan for the condenser and the temperature gauge went into the red after 15 minutes of city driving on a very hot day. We then pulled over and let the vehicle cool before starting up again. When I was taking a few pictures under the vehicle it Noticed that the power steering hose was bent at a 90 degree angle thereby pinching/restricting flow of PS fluid. There is also a diagnostic connected just on left of the steering wheel with a black cap on it. Soon as I just opened the cap, the connector fell inside, under the dash. Looks like someone forgot to screw it in.

Overall, my decision not to buy the Gurkha was primarily because of the steering and gearbox. The gearbox may have been a one-off issue and also because this vehicle had run only 100 kms or so. But the steering is something I cannot live with and nothing can be done about it. Maybe putting a smaller wheel may help as you won't have to reach out so much to turn it.

There were other general fit and finish issues which I am willing to ignore, but a new vehicle not starting and overheating really troubled me. If you set aside the fit and finish, the vehicle is very badly put together and doesn't give me the confidence. So the million dollar question is getting this vehicle. If you are a die-hard Gurkha fan who is willing to put up with a lot of flaws, go for it. Otherwise get a Thar CRDe and get a hard top. I am not a Thar CRDe fan and was looking forward to the Gurkha but now the tables are turned. I told the dealer that I will take another test drive after the vehicle has clocked 3,000 plus kilometers to see if the gearbox is any better. Even the steering I may eventually get used to, but how can you drive a vehicle where you cannot change gears without two hands?

Since I did my Test drive was in the city, I couldn't take it off-road, but I think the off-road capability of this vehicle has been discussed many times before so I won't question it. My review is for people who have to live with this vehicle as their daily drive. My final word to anyone dreaming about this vehicle is to take a proper test drive and then decide. For me, it is thumbs-down as of now. Sad that a vehicle with so much potential is in the hands of a company like Force Motors. I am still willing to take another test drive after dealer has had time to sort the other niggles before I completely write it off.
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Last edited by Aditya : 28th July 2014 at 12:07. Reason: Spacing
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Old 16th July 2014, 09:05   #2
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Default Re: Review of Force Latest Gurkha 4x4x4 EOV (or atleast that's what's Force Calls It)

First and foremost thanks for the short and sweet review.I am thoroughly disappointed with the way Force has put together the Gurkha.It seems they are not taking the market seriously.I had high expectations from the Gurkha which just went down the drain.I guess the old model performed much better than the new one.
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Old 16th July 2014, 09:06   #3
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Default Re: Review of Force Latest Gurkha 4x4x4 EOV (or atleast that's what's Force Calls It)

Thank you for the review. But no pictures of the vehicle exteriors?
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Old 16th July 2014, 09:53   #4
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Default Re: Review of Force Latest Gurkha 4x4x4 EOV (or atleast that's what's Force Calls It)

Dear Tini - thanks for your review, comments and photographs. .

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
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Old 16th July 2014, 10:00   #5
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Default Re: Review of Force Latest Gurkha 4x4x4 EOV (or atleast that's what's Force Calls It)

Quote:
Originally Posted by manveet View Post
Thank you for the review. But no pictures of the vehicle exteriors?
Pleanty of pics from the outside, if you google them, I wanted to give the relevant facts one would face if planning to use it as a daily drive.

Last edited by benbsb29 : 16th July 2014 at 10:16. Reason: Off topic discussion. Content removed from original post as well.
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Old 16th July 2014, 10:07   #6
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Default Re: Review of Force Latest Gurkha 4x4x4 EOV (or atleast that's what's Force Calls It)

Regarding the Steering, although not ideal, it isn't a huge deal breaker. I just completed a Ladakh trip in the Gurkha (4 pax on board), and with me driving for 3500 kms of the 3700 kms, over 11 days, and driver fatigue was one thing I didn't face at all. Mind you, I have cervical problems, and undergo physiotherapy for the same.

Last edited by roy_libran : 16th July 2014 at 10:20. Reason: Off topic discussion. Content removed from original post as well.
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Old 16th July 2014, 10:26   #7
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Default Re: Review of Force Latest Gurkha 4x4x4 EOV (or atleast that's what's Force Calls It)

Quote:
Originally Posted by roy_libran View Post
Regarding the Steering, although not ideal, it isn't a huge deal breaker.
I think they use the same steering wheel for Power Steering and Non Power Steering Force vehicles. If they can use a smaller steering then one doesn't have to stretch their arms out (lorry like) so much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by roy_libran View Post
I just completed a Ladakh trip in the Gurkha (4 pax on board), and with me driving for 3500 kms of the 3700 kms, over 11 days, and driver fatigue was one thing I didn't face at all. Mind you, I have cervical problems, and undergo physiotherapy for the same.
I agree that in terms of comfort, it is the best out there in the price range.

This vehicle is 80% ready. Force just has to put another 20% effort, but the question is will they do it ?
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Old 16th July 2014, 10:41   #8
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Default Re: Review of Force Latest Gurkha 4x4x4 EOV (or atleast that's what's Force Calls It)

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4x4addict View Post
I think they use the same steering wheel for Power Steering and Non Power Steering Force vehicles. If they can use a smaller steering then one doesn't have to stretch their arms out (lorry like) so much.
I have learnt, over a period of time, to use the 4 & 8 o'clock position to hold the steering wheel, and that makes it very comfortable on long drives. On other cars, my position is usually, 2 & 10 o'clock.
A smaller steering would help the cause as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4x4addict View Post
I agree that in terms of comfort, it is the best out there in the price range.

This vehicle is 80% ready. Force just has to put another 20% effort, but the question is will they do it ?
From what I have seen - I guess, NEVER. I don't think they comprehend the feedback that they receive.

There are a few things, that any prospective owner of this vehicle will need to sort out/keep, like:
1. Installing 2 x 12" Fans in front of the Condenser. A spend of around Rs. 5000.
2. Relocating the RPM Meter.
3. Keeping a spare set of the Turbo, Intercooler & Radiator (esp Bottom) hoses and the Auxillary belt (Rare size 1560 - 1563 6 pk), and 2 bearings (No. 6204).
4. Investing in a tall hydraulic bottle jack.
5. Preferably, upgrading the Alternator to 90 Amp, especially if adding extra lights and electronics.
6. Adding extra carpet on the floor, to reduce NVH.


But, you see the very fact that a owner has to plan for these things, and know these things, also means that their A.S.S is a real shoddy unit, and this is what Force needed to work upon the most.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kandisa View Post
Congrats, when can we see some pics?
Not much of a writer, and my photos fall way short of the standards set by some of the other threads on this forum, but they should land up on Facebook soon enough.

Last edited by roy_libran : 16th July 2014 at 10:49.
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Old 16th July 2014, 10:42   #9
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Default Re: Review of Force Latest Gurkha 4x4x4 EOV (or atleast that's what's Force Calls It)

That was a crisp review with the relevant points. Just to be on some positive note, since you mentioned that this review was originally written few months earlier and there was news in between that Force made some changes to sort out few things as per feedback of different people, could it be possible that they have taken care of some of the things before the 'official' delivery from September. Any info on this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by roy_libran View Post
..I just completed a Ladakh trip in the Gurkha (4 pax on board), and with me driving for 3500 kms of the 3700 kms, over 11 days, and driver fatigue was one thing I didn't face at all.
Congrats, when can we see some pics?
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Old 16th July 2014, 10:48   #10
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Default Re: Review of Force Latest Gurkha 4x4x4 EOV (or atleast that's what's Force Calls It)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kandisa View Post
could it be possible that they have taken care of some of the things before the 'official' delivery from September. Any info on this?
Some thing like moving the steering box requires major engineering and Force maynot do it, but if they address the niggles such as overheating due to no condensor fan, etc, then it may still be worth it. Let us wait see what are the issues they have addressed.
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Old 16th July 2014, 10:51   #11
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Default Re: Review of Force Latest Gurkha 4x4x4 EOV (or atleast that's what's Force Calls It)

Tini

Is this the same review you posted elsewhere earlier, or did you get a chance to drive one again recently? The observations seem similar.
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Old 16th July 2014, 11:13   #12
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Default Re: Review of Force Latest Gurkha 4x4x4 EOV (or atleast that's what's Force Calls It)

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4x4addict View Post

Ride & Handling:

The Transfer case shifted smoothly and there are lights on dash for 4H and 4L which is nice.
I have heard about a 4X4 , but what exactly is a 4X4X4 ? Anything additional in it ? Or is it just a fancy name ?
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Old 16th July 2014, 11:29   #13
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Default Re: Review of Force Latest Gurkha 4x4x4 EOV (or atleast that's what's Force Calls It)

Thanks for the review. Very good observations.

Looks like the gear lever was an afterthought with no space around at all.
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Old 16th July 2014, 11:47   #14
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Default Re: Review of Force Latest Gurkha 4x4x4 EOV (or atleast that's what's Force Calls It)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steeroid View Post
Tini

Is this the same review you posted elsewhere earlier, or did you get a chance to drive one again recently? The observations seem similar.
Same one. Will update after I get my hands on the *updated* version due for Sept Launch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by girimajiananth View Post
I have heard about a 4X4 , but what exactly is a 4X4X4 ? Anything additional in it ? Or is it just a fancy name ?
Fancy name coined by a Marketing guy whose previous job was selling toothpaste and whose only experience with 4x4 is the 4x4 sticker on his Maruti 800.
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Old 16th July 2014, 12:02   #15
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Exclamation Re: Review of Force Latest Gurkha 4x4x4 EOV (or atleast that's what's Force Calls It)

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Originally Posted by girimajiananth View Post
I have heard about a 4X4 , but what exactly is a 4X4X4 ? Anything additional in it ? Or is it just a fancy name ?
This is just a fancy but STUPID idea on the part of Force motors

4X4X4 is an internationally accepted norm to represent 4-wheeler, 4-wheel-drive, 4-wheel-steering vehicles only.

This Gurkha vehicle by Force doesnt have 4-wheel steering, AFAIK, or wait, maybe there is a hidden lever somewhere below the steering wheel that actuates the 4-wheel steering .
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