The venerable Gypsy is one of the most successful rally cars in the country. Look at it if y ou want to go off road
The Gypsy has been in production for over two decades, since 1987. The looks of the car have remained pretty much the same since launch, like a proper SUV with twin round headlamps and straight lines. Its looks hint at its utilitarian nature; after all it is a rugged off road car.
The Gypsy was launched with a 1-litre engine that was replaced with the carburetted version of the 1.3-litre Esteem powerplant and finally with a fuel injected variant in 2000, which put out 82bhp, and was badged the King. The fuel injected versions will return a decent 12kmpl overall and are known for their bulletproof reliability.
Don’t be fooled into buying an old model year car, no matter how low the asking price. Also watch out for poorly modifi ed iterations sporting wide tyres and such. They only increase weight and hamper the turning radius. If you want to go off road, buy a stock car and customise it yourself rather than getting duped into buying a modifi ed one.
The car has a simple fourwheel-drive system, which can be engaged using a lever next to the gear lever. Its off roadability is also helped by its high ground clearance.
Interiors are simple and functional. There is no power steering and the three door layout limits daily usability. The seats are high and give good forward visibility to the driver.The same cannot be said for the rear though; the small glass area and thick pillars limiting the view at the back.
It isn’t a very comfortable car either at the back with the bench at the back severely restricting the seating comfort and knee room for occupants.
The ride is nothing great on road and throws the passengers about thanks to a stiff suspension. The upside is the handling, with little roll even for a car as tall as this. Off road the stiff suspension works well again taking the worst of surfaces in its stride.
If petrol running costs scare you Mahindra Bolero look at the Bolero. It is as rugged and comes with a torquey diesel engine. Some versions also get shift-on-the-fly 4WD but are hard to fi nd. The Bolero can seat more people and more comfortably. It is more usable on a daily basis too. Mahindra network is good with reasonably priced spares. Older variants of the Tata Safari or the Mahindra Scorpio also can be looked at.
Buy one if your heart is set on one or you're planning to go off road. The hard top version makes more sense than the soft top. It is not the best car for every day driving but then an enthusiast wouldn’t mind it too much. The asking prices are quite attractive and the fuel injected ones are decently fuel effi cient. Spares and service aren’t much of a bother either thanks to the widespread Maruti service network.