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Force to reckon with?

With a new SUV, Force Motors is stepping into a segment ruled by the Scorpio and Safari. We find out if it can actually find its place in the pack.

entertainment Updated: Sep 05, 2011 01:53 IST
Ouseph Chacko
Ouseph Chacko
Hindustan Times

The makers of Traveller minibuses and Trax utility vehicle, Force Motors, has made a paradigm shift and moved into the passenger car segment with its SUV offering, the Force One.

Its boxy design however looks a bit outdated with the small glass areas and horizontal lines giving it a 1990s look. A quick search on Google further explains that the Explorer III, a Chinese SUV, inspires the One’s design language.

The SUV uses the same body panels as the Explorer III. They are imported directly from China for assembly in Force Motors’ Pithampur factory. The chassis, however, has been designed completely in-house.

The company has roped in Lotus Engineering UK to fine-tune the chassis and set up the vehicle specifically for the Apollo Hawkz all-terrain tyres it comes shod with. Mercedes-Benz engine Power comes from Mercedes-Benz’s 2.2-litre, OM611 common-rail engine that meets BS IV emissions norms and makes a Tata Safari-rivalling 139bhp and 32.6kgm of torque.

It drives the rear wheels via the Mercedes-Benz G32 five-speed manual gearbox. At 4.8m, it is 400mm longer than a Scorpio. And with a wheelbase that’s 345mm longer than the Mahindra, the Force One promises to be very spacious inside. Enter the vehicle and you will find the driving position similar to the Ford Endeavour’s, thanks to the high floor.

The second row seats have great legroom and good headroom. But thigh support is compromised. It has reasonable space for luggage even with all seats up.

Plastic quality is decent but there are quite a few panel gaps. It also has air-conditioning for all three rows, a trip computer, a service schedule indicator, electric mirrors, remote locking, projector headlamps, daytime running LEDs and an audio system.

Twist the key and the engine settles into a refined idle. Peak torque kicks in at 1,600rpm and the engine pulls well to its 4,150rpm redline. There is a hint of lag but once the turbo kicks in, performance is sprightly. The only issue is with the gearbox, which needs strong triceps to operate.

On smooth roads, the Force One seemed well planted with not too much body roll around corners. But it feels softly sprung, and displays pitching over bumps in the off-road section. That said, you can hammer over bad sections and it feels more stable than a Scorpio.

Price: Rs 10.65 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi)
Engine: Front, longitudinal, rear-wheel drive
Type: 2.2-litre, 4 cyl in-line, DOHC 16 Valve, turbo intercooled
Power: 139bhp at 3800rpm
torque: 32.9kgm at 2,400rpm
Transmission: G32/ 5, Synchro-mesh with DMFW, 5-speed manual
Dimensions: 4860x1780x1885mm
Wheel Base: 3025mm
Ground clearance: 205mm
Steering: Hydraulically assisted, rack and pinion
Brakes (f/r): Discs/Drums
Tank: 70 litres
Tyres: 235/70 R16 tubeless

Given the list of features the price seems valid. It is spacious and underpinned by an indigenously developed platform. But the finish needs more improvement. It is a safe bet, but doesn’t compete with the Scorpio or Safari.

First Published: Sep 04, 2011 15:35 IST