Force Gurkha 5-Door Review: Old School Brawn Meets New Age Comfort

Bringing its big, burly old-school SUV into the new age, Force Motors has updated the Gurkha with updated styling, improved performance, new features and a five-door option. So, is this the practical ‘proper’ off-roader we’ve all been waiting for?

By Karan Mathur | Photography Sunil Chauhan | on May 5, 2024 Follow us on Autox Google News

There are very few automobiles in our industry that have stayed true to their roots, despite modernization pressures from new-age buyers. The formidable Force Gurkha, with its boxy design, utilitarian interior design and go-anywhere ability embodies this trend to the tee. However, while the outgoing Gurkha tried its level best to combine rugged mechanical hardware with a hint of creature comforts, the lack of a five-door option was definitely one of its biggest downsides. With its 2024 iteration, the Force Gurkha doesn’t just bring in new, and more high-tech, features but also gets an added dose of practicality from the addition of its two rear doors. So, is it now the five-door, seven-seater SUV that you’ve always wanted? Should you even bother waiting for the arrival of Mahindra’s Thar 5-door rival? Well, we try to answer all the questions you might have had in this review.

Force Gurkha 5-Door First Drive Review: What’s Changed?

Well, if you talk about differences between the old and new outside, not much. First and foremost, in my opinion, the biggest change has to be the fact that the Gurkha 5-door looks a lot more proportionate than its 3-door counterpart. The wheelbase, length and height have grown by 425mm, 495mm and 15mm respectively. It also gets an added ground clearance of 23mm. The 3-door was referred to as the ‘desi’ G-Wagon but the 5-door actually looks like one. The key design changes though is an updated mesh grille, wider fenders due to the increased wheel track, 18-inch alloy and ofcourse, addition of the two rear doors. Overall, it still retains the boxy shape, flat body lines and sharp edges, and I love it for that very fact.

Force Gurkha 5-Door Front and Side View

However, where you find the key differences in the Gurkha are inside. Though the design remains largely the same, its key feature differences give it the aura of a work horse wearing a tuxedo. You love it for what it is but you can't help escape the feeling it's trying a bit too hard. You now get a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system from Nippon which works well but you can only mirror your phone through the Carbitlink app, for which you also need to download an application on your smartphone. You also get a 7-inch all-digital instrument cluster and it rather impresses with its graphics and intuitive information display. 

Force Gurkha 5-Door dashboard

Crucially, you now also find the dial to adjust the electric ORVMs right next to it but I did find the size of the mirrors a bit too small for the size of the vehicle. Not to forget, you now have two rear doors and the buttons for all four electric windows can be found on centre consoles, similar to the 3-door version. All four of them have a one-touch down function and that was rather a neat touch. A great thing here though is that the window switches for rear occupants are integrated on top the door pad as normal, unlike the out-of-reach position for the front. Well, what about comfort and practicality though?

Force Gurkha 5-Door First Drive Review: Comfort and Practicality 

It's a mixed bag, I'd say. At the front, you continue to get a similar layout and that means two large accommodating seats with loads of storage spaces. The second row of seats, though, left me thoroughly unimpressed. You get a bench seat with an armrest and integrated cup holders, charging ports, storage space behind the front seat back but no actual space. The third row of seats, on the other hand, are the same size as the ones at the front. Which means, they are large and accommodating, offering plenty of space for full-grown adults. Ironically, the actual usable adult space has no charging ports and a rudimentary cloth style bottle holder. One saving grace though are the roof-mounted AC vents which also get their own blower control.

Force Gurkha 5-Door second row seat space review

So, how does all this space translate to practicality? Is this what we expected from a Gurkha 5-door? Well, I think it is. In my opinion, what we wanted was space for four adults and a tad more practicality. Here, you get the benefit of a 5-door configuration but the only downside is that the space for adults at the back has moved to the third row. The second row is best left for children or dogs who would like window space to feel the wind of their face. Over that, the limited movement of the rear AC vents means shorter passengers will have cold air blowing straight into their face and the second and third row space suffer from lack of adjustability. The 3-door configuration gets a claimed boot of 500-litre but Force Motors has not mentioned numbers for the 5-door. I feel it might have decreased slightly but still had plenty of space for four people's full size luggage during our test event. Yes, it might leave you unimpressed as I was about the second row seat space but it tries to make up for it in other areas.

Force Gurkha 5-Door third row seat space review

Force Gurkha 5-Door First Drive Review: Improved Performance

Another area of difference in the new Gurkha is the added performance that it has to offer. You still get the familiar 2.6-litre turbo-diesel engine option but it now makes 140bhp and 320Nm of peak torque, compared to 99bhp and 250Nm in the outgoing version.  The unit is still the tried and tested derivative of Mercedes-Benz' OM616 engine which has been in continuous development for almost 5 decades. 

Force Gurkha 5-Door engine review

This latest iteration has very strong low-end grunt, with its now usable mid-end power delivery making it more tractable than the outgoing Gurkha. In fact you can really feel the peak power band coming in around 3500rpm and the surge of power makes it usable in a wide variety of conditions. Now, this is not a sporty or eager unit by any means but it is definitely hardy, and feels that way too. Vibrations are a lot smoother but it is still gruff around all edges. It is a purposeful engine for a no-nonsense purposeful SUV.

Adding to list of new featuturea, the new Gurkha now also gets two drive modes - Eco and Power. You start off in Power mode as default and to be honest, I never bothered switching because I wished to experience the full power all the time. However, thanks to the good low-end grunt and flat torque curve thereafter, you never have to push too hard to get the most out of the engine either. This, along with the new auto start-stop system, will definitely aid with the SUV's efficiency as well

Force Gurkha 5-Door Drive Review

Overall, how is it to live with on a day to day basis? Well, if you're stepping into the Gurkha from a high revving petrol, there'll definitely be some getting used to. However, if you know what you're getting into, the new Gurkha is now easier and more powerful than it has ever been before.

Force Gurkha 5-Door First Drive Review: Familiar Handling Dynamics

Now, when it comes to handling, where it feels most at home is off road. We got a brief chance to explore its capabilities at a curated track and to be frank, it was too easy for it to be exciting. With the approach, departure and breakover angles being as good as they are, it really felt like a walk in the park. In fact, switch the dial to 4L, stick it in first and you can literally let it walk itself across those obstacles. I was literally doing nothing.

Force Gurkha 5-Door off road review

However, it's on-road dynamics remain similar to what you had in the outgoing Gurkha. It's a bit, tall and heavy utilitarian SUV and that's exactly what you feel while driving it too. It is far from what you can call sporty and you'll just have to make peace with that fact because off-road prowess comes at a price. What it is though, is comfortable. The suspension absolutely irons out potholes and bad patches of road like it's nothing. With the increase length, wheel and track and tyre width, the new Gurkha now also feels a lot more at home on the highway. Don't get me wrong, it can deal with slow-speed situations well and if they're broken patches of tarmac, it still seems unfazed.

Force Gurkha 5-Door Rear and Side View

Force Gurkha 5-Door First Drive Review: What's The Verdict?

Well, I'd be lying if I didn't say that it's hard for me to fault the Gurkha just for its sheer coolness factor. Ofcourse, the only SUV that can ever be cooler is a G-Wagon but that is more than 10 to 15 times the cost of the new Gurkha's expected price tag. The Gurkha, on the other hand, has always appealed to a niche crowd but with the addition of its 5-door variant, it can only help it grow bigger. As for the new 2024 iteration, the price for the 3-door variant has been updated to Rs 16.75 lakh (ex-showroom), while the price tag for its 5-door variant is Rs 18 lakh (ex-showroom). So, while the updates to its styling, features list and performance has brought the Gurkha into contention with other modern SUVs, its off-road ability gives it an edge over them at a relatively competitive price too. Not just that, the addition of its rear doors and seating for 7 has, to an extent, elevated that status to a practical, 'proper' family off-roader too. Yes, it has its fault and shortcomings but they all contribute towards its character too and I absolutely love it for that.

  • Force Gurkha

Fuel: Diesel

Transmission: 5-Speed mt / Four-Wheel Drive

Engine: 2596cc/Four-Cylinder

Power: 138bhp @ 3,200rpm

Torque: 320nm @ 1,400 - 2,600rpm

Price: ₹16.75 Lakh Onwards (Ex-Showroom)

X-Factor: The new gurkha now combines old-school charm with new-age amenities & more practicality.

•  Off-road ability

•  Size

•  Grunt

• Rear-seat space

•  Scratchy plastics

•  Sub-par infotainment system

Tags: Force Gurkha 5-Door Five-door Force Gurkha 2024 Force Gurkha

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Starts at ₹ 16.75 Lakh Ex-showroom, New Delhi

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