It’s not hard to fathom why the Gypsy isn’t really popular amongst the civilians. It’s uncomfortable, is devoid of air-conditioner, power window, power steering and lacks even the basic fitments of any modern day SUV. On the contrary, it’s still the only SUV that ‘actually does’ what it was built for—off-roading.
Inducted in the army in 1985, Gypsy has since been a staple.The gypsy started out with a 4 cylinder, 1.0-litre putting out 45 odd BHPs. That was until Maruti updated the gypsy with a more competent 4 cylinder, carbeuratted, 1.3 litre engine putting out 80 BHPs and 103 NMs of torque. Which, later, was introduced with Fuel Indection (MPFI). Maruti Gypsy falls under the GS500 (500 kg payload) category and has been Army’s favorite ever since its launch.
Here are 8 reason why it has been Army’s Favourite for 36 Years –
1. Light Weight
Gypsey is very light and by a significant margin. Its 765 kgs lighter than the Mahindra Thar. This makes a tremendous difference.It lacks unnecessary equipment like AC’s and other electrical systems inside the cabin makes it lighter than other SUV’s. The light weight gypsy is much, much superior than other bulky SUV’s like the Mahindra Bolero and the likes. Owing to its light weight, it does not get bogged down in muck, slush and sand.If it does sink, it can be lifted out or pulled out more easily.
2. Power to Weight Ratio
The car is powered by a 1298cc G13BB MPFI 4-cylinder engine that can create a maximum power of 80bhp@6000 rpm and maximum torque of103Nm@4500 rpm.The Gross vehicle Weight of Gypsey is 1620 kg.This combination of high power with light weight gives Gypsey the Power to Weight ratio of 0.0812 which makes it fast.130 kms fast.
3. Airdrop and Special Insertion Capabilities
Anytime Anywhere Maruti Gypsy can be loaded on boat,carried by helicopter or dropped behind enemy lines by Indian Air Force planes like IL-76 and C-17 Globemaster III.Gypsey being very light and tough makes it the best and the first vehicle of choice of Army and Air Force.Being an SUV,it is designed to take on rough terrain and being light,it can be lifted by Light helicopters as well as light transport planes.This is the why Special Forces like Para and Garuds use it as their Fast Attack vehicle.
4. Off Road Capabilities
Gypsy was made specifically to tackle any Indian terrain which is why it has been widely used by the Special and Armed forces since its inception. The Gypsy uses a Rear Leaf spring with Double action damper suspension system which works wonders.Gypsy offers better ground clearance … Which affects movement of vehicles specially in snow clad areas. Gypsy can move through 3 feet snow when the temperatures are as low as – 30 degrees with ease.
5. Versatile and Durability
Gypsy for the army come equipped with black-out convoy lights, which emit a green ray during black-outs. The SUV also come with towing hooks and special hooks for mounting weapons. The elaborate standards and quality inspection processes are carried out continuously as the vehicle needs to be prepared to take a rough beating in tough geographic adversities. The car continues to come with an All-Wheel Drive set-up.The vehicle can be used in combat also by taking its head off and mounting a light machine gun and using it for anti air craft role.And talking about Durability, the life of a Maruti Gypsy in army is 120,000 kms .That’s the distance between New Delhi and Chicago !
The Gypsy runs on Petrol, every other competitor runs on Diesel. How is this a deal breaker ?
Its well established that the temperatures in the Himalayan Region go far below sub zero. As long as the vehicle is running, the temperature is not a problem since the engine generates heat and all components including the fuel pump and fuel lines would be at temperatures above 3 deg C. However, if the vehicle is left unused for enough time to allow the engine to attain ambient temperature, the engine will refuse to start.
Diesel starts becoming viscous at approx 3 deg C, the pour point, and some of the the wax constituents of diesel freeze at -8.1 C, the gel point. Put simply, diesel does not flow freely at temperatures below 3 deg C.
Incidentally, to remedy the no start situation for diesel engines, a jugaad is used,which most people in the taxi industry will be familiar. It’s interesting, simple and dangerous: a fire is lit below the engine to warm it up.
In contrast to diesel engines, the petrol Gypsy starts up immediately without any fuss.
7. Wheel Track
The Wheel Track determines the width and the turning radius of the vehicle.
Lets compare the Wheel Track, Width, Length, turning radius and weight of the Gypsy and its smallest competitor – the Mahindra Thar.
Gypsy Thar Diff
Wheel Track (mm) 1,310 1,445 135
Width (mm) 1,540 1,726 186
Length (mm) 4,010 3,920 -90 <- The Thar is shorter
Turning Radius (mm) 5,100 5,250 150
Weight (kg) 985 1,750 765
Versus the Thar, the Gypsy has a 135 mm smaller Wheel Track and a 150 mm lower turning radius.
The lower Wheel Track and turning radius make a tremendous difference in drivability in narrow Ghat roads, especially when part of the road may have been washed away due to avalanches or blocked due to stones falling. Vehicles coming in the opposite vehicles may be passed, and vehicles traveling in the same direction can be overtaken without waiting for a broader stretch of road to become available.
8. Army Procurement Criteria
Army procurement criteria focuses on utility, durability and low maintenance costs. Luxury is not a criterion. Gypsy fits all the criteria while not being a very comfortable vehicle due to its stiff suspension setup and build. Moreover, it allows several modifications and additions to better suit the terrain.It cost less too.Compared to other SUV and Offroader vehicle,Maruti Gypsy was ingenuously made and cost effective.Its the cheapest SUV in India.