Force Gurkha vs Mahindra Thar vs Isuzu V-Cross

The Gurkha has always been a bit player with marginal monthly sales, yet it does have a fan following.

Force Gurkha

Link to Review

Mahindra Thar

What you'll like:

  • Fun, fun, fun! A loveable car that will bring you loads of laughs & smiles
  • Handsome Jeep styling & brute character. Tough build too
  • Far more user-friendly than the ol’ Thar due to superior interiors & the amenities
  • Very competent, refined turbo-petrol & diesel engine range
  • Butter-smooth 6-speed Automatics available with both engines
  • 4x4 hardware, offroad capability & 226 mm GC. Get ready for slush, muck, deserts, jungles & the mountains!
  • Practical hard-top or fun convertible available in the Thar – take your pick
  • Features such as removable doors, ESP, cruise control, hill hold / descent, TPMS…
  • 4-star rating in the GNCAP crash test (more information)

What you won't:

  • Very bumpy ride quality. The Thar is never settled, no matter what the road or speed
  • Poor road manners at high speed. Best to cruise at 100 - 110 km/h only
  • Impractical due to the 2-doors, 4 seats (not 5) & difficult access to the back seat
  • Laughably small boot simply isn’t enough for holiday luggage
  • Petrol AT is thirsty due to its hefty weight, 150 BHP & torque-converter AT
  • Premium pricing for the higher variants. Lot of money for the Thar's limited usability
  • Sad feature list for a 17-lakh car. No reversing cam, auto-dimming IRVM, auto headlamps & wipers, electrically-folding ORVMs, rear wash & wipe…
  • Apprehensions of niggles & Mahindra's hit-or-miss after-sales service quality

Link to Review

Isuzu V-Cross

What you'll like:

  • Macho styling & incredible street presence. Turns heads wherever it goes
  • Very solid, very robust. Build quality is the best among pickups in India
  • Practical 1.9L diesel engine. Good driveability too
  • Proper 4x4 system with low range transfer case. Ground clearance = 225 mm
  • Excellent cargo capacity makes it a talented work truck
  • User-friendly cabin can easily accommodate 5 adults. Rear legroom is sufficient

What you won't:

  • Sheer length, heavy steering & 6.3m turning radius make it cumbersome in the city
  • Bumpy ride quality, especially at the rear (due to leaf springs)
  • Isuzu's wafer-thin dealership network
  • Short 5,000 km service interval. Dealer visits will be frequent!
  • Heavy kerb weight, long wheelbase & rear overhang limit its off-road credentials
  • No audio head-unit in a car costing ~30 lakhs on the road
  • The same $$$ can buy you a proper 7-seater SUV

Link to Review

Here's what GTO had to say about the matter

Voted for the Thar. The Gurkha has a few advantages over the Mahindra - looks bad ass, ride quality, 4-door option coming etc., but it's not enough to offset the disadvantages. The Thar has way more power, fit & finish are superior, there's lots of equipment, a 4-star GNCAP rating, Automatic gearbox (Diesel AT is my pick) and Mahindra's wide dealer network. I have not seen a Force workshop in my life.

Here's what BHPian KingKong had to say about the matter

Voted for the Thar. The others are too niche for me. The Gurkha has poor servicing, interiors and is longer than the Thar. It is also too focused on being an off-roader. But the Thar is a good mix of Lifestyle and off-road. The Isuzu is too big, does not have enough service options and the stigma against pickups in India is huge. Also, this basic pick-up truck now costs almost 30 lakhs. For 30 lakhs, I would happily purchase a Thar and a Seltos instead of the Isuzu.

These are reasons why the Thar is so insanely successful. Over 3,000 were sold in September, but that was because Mahindra could not make more. When you see a lifestyle UV like the Thar selling almost as much as the Honda City, you will notice what people like.

If you watch EVO India's series on Thar ownership stories, you will see that even people who own supercars will buy a Thar as a city + off-road car. Not a single person who owns the Thar in my neighborhood is upset over the purchase. This is one of the rare times an auto-maker has got an almost perfect vehicle for the segment.

The Thar can also be used by the rural communities as it is the best off-roader/UV in India.

These are many reasons why I love the Thar, and am deeply upset that we cancelled our Thar booking.

Here's what Aditya had to say about the matter

Three vehicles that I absolutely adore. All look great, have good off-road capabilities and are loaded with character. However, if I had to choose just one, it will have to be the Thar.

The Gurkha is still decades behind in terms of finesse and Force Motors is yet to set up an established sales and service network. The Isuzu is too expensive and too big for driving on a day-to-day basis. The Thar is too bumpy when it comes to ride quality and has just no luggage space. But, it's the most modern, has the best sales and service network and good engines and gearboxes. It also fits more easily in the urban scenario than the others. No wonder it's flying out of the showrooms.

Hence, my vote goes to the Thar.

Here's what BHPian .anshuman had to say about the matter

I own 2 of the vehicles in this list, for common folks, one is too small so its impractical- Thar, other one is too big so its impractical- Isuzu V-Cross, though both are perfect for my usage.

If I had to recommend one of out of these 2, It would be Isuzu V-Cross(if you have parking space and you have skills and patience to drive a XL sized truck).

  • Customisation friendly- Check
  • Off-road capable- Double check(post Airlockers, tyres & lift)
  • Reliable- Check
  • Dependable and long life- Check Its an Isuzu
  • Fast- Check(post remap)
  • Rides & handles well, super composed at speed- Check(post Suspension upgrade)
  • Can carry as much luggage as I want- Check
  • Has character and road presence- Way more than the common Thar
  • Family doesn't feel like they are traveling in a uncomfortable off-road car- Check

The Thar on the other end also has advantages:

  • Engine is more refined.
  • Auto gearbox is nicely tuned.
  • Smaller footprint, so my choice as a daily local use car.
  • Smaller size, so better suited for off-roading in tighter trails.
  • Better after sales network.

But ride quality is too busy and seats are uncomfortable compared to Isuzu.

IMHO Gurkha is not worth considering in this age and time.

Alternatively if I were not in NCR region, I would have picked either of the old Classics listed below over my Thar:

  • 2007-2009 Prado V6
  • 2009-2016 Fortuner
  • 2008-2012 Pajero SFX

Here's what BHPian Bibendum90949 had to say about the matter

It's the Thar all the way, no way the Gurkha way.

Reasons for voting the Thar:

  • Most affordable hardcore 4*4 vehicle available as of now.(Gurkha may under cut it, but after sales and service is a big risk)
  • Diesel option with AT, my most preferred combination.
  • Smaller footprint, means one can explore the hinterlands without any worry.
  • Mahindra's wide service network. After all it's a company that's "on the rise", and an Indian one at that.
  • Commanding driving position just like the Isuzu.
  • Love the retro styling to the core, controversies notwithstanding.
  • 3 door makes it high on novelty.
  • Infinite mod potential, especially to make it an overlanding vehicle.
  • Relatively affordable to maintain.

Reasons galore to opt for Thar and as you see, i've fallen for it and as things stand I've booked one.

Isuzu V Cross is a vehicle which i've used a fair bit, a close friend owns one. I've driven it for a few inter state trips to haul cargo(my farm produce). It effortlessly cruised at 90-100 kmph with three fourth of a ton loaded in that. The rear drum brakes are a weak point. I've driven it largely in it's stock form. But later on my friend upgraded it's suspension with Iron Man and that has transformed the car in a very big way. The highway manners even under load had jumped by leaps and bounds. You could still have a bit of fun and make the behemoth dance to your tunes a bit, but one has to stay well within it's limits. It's a work horse in all sense of the word and built like a tank. I often pray for bad roads when I'm behind it's wheel, that's when it shines and comes to the fore. It takes potholes and rough roads with such elan that one can literally glide over them. It has the most silent suspension operation we've ever come across, and that's V cross.

Despite all this, it's little impractical for off-road usage. There's no doubting it's capabilities, it has the hardware to support hard off-roading. But the very high kerb weight and the rear over hang are it's achilles heel besides the length of the car, which makes it tough to maneuver in narrow trails. But it has surprised me with it's abilities whenever i've taken it off the road. We had put it to very good use during flood relief operations in Wayanad, Kerala couple of years back. It climbed over many washed away and non existent roads effortlessly with relief materials for the marooned, and through quite deep water logged places. It's just an absolutely brilliant vehicle for what it's designed for. Attaching couple of pictures of the Isuzu.

It's indeed a tough choice between the two. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. However, the Thar outscores the Isuzu in many aspects as I listed above. Hence, it's the Thar for me.


Here's what BHPian Dippy had to say about the matter

It has to be the Thar. No two ways about it. The Gurkha is macho but still feels dated. The Thar feels plush in comparison. I like the V-Cross, but its too big for urban scenarios. Plus, both the Gurkha and Isuzu don't have a vast service network like Mahindra.

Sure the ride is bumpy and the boot space is a joke. But I can still see myself driving one as a daily. Two capable engines with the choice of an automatic gearbox along with just the right amount of creature comforts. No new age connected car tech and all that jazz. I'm old school.

Long back when I drove the first gen Thar for the first time, I had tweeted Anand Mahindra to give the Thar an auto box. Maybe my tweet was seen.

Here's what BHPian Manuuj had to say about the matter

A bit early to decide since one hasn't had an opportunity to drive the all new Gurkha as yet.

Despite that my choice without question is the all new Gurkha! I will not book one till I've driven it but the cheque is ready.

Have driven the new Thar and the Vcross as both are owned by close members of my family. Both are very capable vehicles with their own advantages and disadvantages with regard to ride quality, space and comfort that have been well elaborated on this Forum.

I will therefore not go into why i am not choosing them. I will focus on why I am choosing the 3 door Gurkha.

  • The way it looks! Since launch year, the Gurkhas looks have really evolved over time and got better and better. Except for the Tow Mater version, when I thought Force had really lost it, all others have really appealed to me.
  • The 2019 Extreme version, to me still is the best looking, despite the newly launched 2021 version (exterior wise). It was always the interiors and horrible fit and finish etc that had in the past, let me down.
  • The Gurkha in 2021 really looks very good from the exterior, fit and finish also seem at par with its competition (have yet to see one in the flesh though), and interiors are 2 decades ahead of its predecessor. The street presence of a Gurkha is really a sight to behold.

 We will all agree that the all new Gurkha has addressed the issues regarding the interiors and have made a big leap when compared to even the 2019 version below.

  • I find the new interiors to be very very acceptable now and love the exterior design too.
  • The proven 2.6 engine and gearbox which has been tweaked over time. It has a lot of low end grunt which is a very important aspect when off-roading in the hills especially. (Many here may have seen the Gurkha owned by Prashant ji in Manali towing a 2 tonne vehicle up the slippery rocky road to Shinku La in a recently released YouTube video.)
  • I don't think anyone doubts the reliability of the Gurkha. It is a very capable and reliable vehicle.
  • Right mix of exterior size and space. It's not too small and not to big. Just right in my view. Should be nimble and maneuverable on twisty mountain tracks.
  • Front AND Rear locking diff. (don't need to elaborate further here)
  • Very customisable but that is true for all 3 vehicles on this list.

Now my reasoning may seem a bit thin since its a new vehicle which I have yet to see and drive but going by what I've heard in all reviews and specially from current owners like Trojan, the new Gurkha has managed to address the major issues I had with it.

These being the ghastly fit and finish, painfully ugly interiors and abysmally low refinement in the past.

Force motors has made a really strong effort with the 2021 Gurkha in all three spheres listed above.

Most will also agree that Force Motors on its own is also very receptive to customers, quite unlike their dealers who have traditionally dealt with a different type of customer.

Infact in April 1994, when I bought my first vehicle it was a Mahindra 540 DP and the attitude of the dealer and his showroom staff was identical to Force Motors then. Even the showrooms looked spartan and basic just like the cars they sold in that era.

Though even before that, Mahindra was on the right track and had recognized that India was ready for lifestyle 4x4 vehicles. Remember the CJ340? Many kids like me who were in their teens in the late eighties had posters of it up on their walls.

Credit goes to Anand Mahindra for completely revamping Mahindra once he took control and making it the company it is today, where it commands respect in tough markets like Australia and South Africa too.

Force is at that same crossroads where Mahindra once was in the late 90's and 2000's. They can really come into their own now if they make the effort.

They have appointed one special executive to handle the Gurkha in each dealership. This person will be incharge of dealing with all Gurkha customers and sales.

It is a step in the right direction by Force and I am going along for the ride. I sincerly hope it will turn out to be a pleasant experience.

Everyone loves a surprise.

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