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OffRoad Mania – M&M Thar vs Force Gurkha

Boxes with 4 wheels attached below, towering over our heads, wading through mud and water like nothing before and looking like the sexiest things ever made when dirtiest. For me, two cars that have always stood out in this category have been the Mercedes Benz G-Wagon, even in non-AMG guise, and the Jeep Wrangler. However, like most Indians, these two have been out of my reach but the desire to own and experience one of them has been ever so strong yet so far.

However, now we have not one but two affordable versions of the original trendsetters in the form of the 2021 Force Gurkha and Mahindra Thar!

Born with controversy, both these cars from their respective manufacturers bear a striking resemblance to the trendsetters. The Force Gurkha, just a few days old in its new avatar seems to have embodied the face of the G Wagon to the T, with its circular headlamps ringed with LED DRLs splitting the chunky grille you may find familiar. The Thar does not care to derive inspiration and instead copies the exact look with a few tweaks from the Jeep, I mean why fix something that’s not broken? The Thar also has an ace up its sleeve in the form of the convertible roof, something which will now finally be accessible and enjoyed by the masses.

So there you have two of India’s most easily accessible and affordable offroaders, but they are more different than you might think with one being more of a weekend toy and the other a fun daily. So which is the one for you?

Let’s quickly glance over both the cars quickly:

Looks: Both the Gurkha and Thar have a good amount of road presence but despite the Gurkha having gone through a civilization process from the last generation, it still remains a little rural and rough around the edges, something the Thar seems to have taken care of with its universally lovable design blending well in city traffic and offroad.
The Gurkha sits tall, while the Thar in this second generation squats wider and lower giving it a bolder look with the Gurkha going for a more traditional one with small elements like the hood-mounted snorkel.


The rear profile of both the cars could not be more different than the other with the taller Gurkha having a larger glass window and elongated stance while the Thar’s squatted stance gives it a smaller glass area but far bolder back end, and to add to this are those gorgeous looking tail lamps compared to the slightly blander ones on the Gurkha.

Details: Small elements like the hood clamps, neater-looking alloys, and easy-to-use drop-top are what do it for me in the Thar, however, the Gurkha is not far back thanks to its stock roof-mounted snorkel, higher ground clearance, and much more usable rear seat.

Inside: A good-looking car is great, but a comfortable one is better. Both the Gurkha and Thar’s interiors have seen a massive jump over their predecessors in terms of ergonomics, creature comforts, and quality. The Thar once again is the better put-together cabin, not only in terms of quality but features and materials as well. It also has a more OEM look as compared to the Gurkhas aftermarket esh one. Both cars come with an instrument cluster with integrated tachometers, while the Thar goes one up with its central digital screen giving crucial information about the car and its drive modes/settings. The quality of plastics is also higher in the Thar with the Gurkha feeling a tad too scratchy in almost all areas. Both cars have a high driving position allowing you to tower over the rest of the traffic, however, the feeling behind is very different.

The Thar thanks to its lower roof, feels a bit smaller with the seats ending up a tad tighter for healthier peeps while the Gurkha cabin feels much airier. The ingress and egress are also better executed in the Gurkha especially for the rear seat occupants who enter via the rear hatch instead of the front seat flip in the Thar allowing the Gurkha to be a tad bit more comfortable. The Gurkha also has a larger rear window allowing for more light to enter in. However, both seats, when sat in, feel comfortable and allow it to be adjusted for a reclined angle boosting comfort.

Motors:
The Gurkha, unlike previous generations, will now only come with the sole 2.6L Mercedes-derived diesel motor putting out 91 hp and 250 nm of torque, marginal bumps over previous versions. This 2.6L motor is mated to a 5 Speed Mercedes derived gearbox, and with the power band starting at 2,500rpm and ending at 3,500 you won’t find yourself shifting a lot either. Something which you may be thankful for, due to its odd gear shifting patterns and uneven clutch release.


The Thar on the other hand is a jack of all trades with petrol and diesel engines mated to manual and auto boxes. The debutante mStallion petrol unit is a 2.0L Turbo unit which puts down 150 hp and 320 Nm while the diesel is a second-generation 2.2-liter mHawk putting down 130 hp and 300 Nm of torque. Both motors are mated to a 6-speed manual which is light, sorted, and easy to use in the city traffic or on the open roads of the highway. Auto duties are carried out by an Aisin sourced Torque Converter unit which is smooth, subtle, and occasionally quite fun when driven in the manual mode. Boxes with 4 wheels attached below, towering over our heads, wading through mud and water like nothing before and looking like the sexiest things ever made when dirtiest. For me, two cars that have always stood out in this category have been the Mercedes Benz G-Wagon, even in non-AMG guise, and the Jeep Wrangler. However, like most Indians, these two have been out of my reach but the desire to own and experience one of them has been ever so strong yet so far.

However, now we have not one but two affordable versions of the original trendsetters in the form of the 2021 Force Gurkha and Mahindra Thar!

Born with controversy, both these cars from their respective manufacturers bear a striking resemblance to the trendsetters. The Force Gurkha, just a few days old in its new avatar seems to have embodied the face of the G Wagon to the T, with its circular headlamps ringed with LED DRLs splitting the chunky grille you may find familiar. The Thar does not care to derive inspiration and instead copies the exact look with a few tweaks from the Jeep, I mean why fix something that’s not broken? The Thar also has an ace up its sleeve in the form of the convertible roof, something which will now finally be accessible and enjoyed by the masses.

So there you have two of India’s most easily accessible and affordable offroaders, but they are more different than you might think with one being more of a weekend toy and the other a fun daily. So which is the one for you?

Written by Aakash Kalro