Force Motors Force One : First Drive
After teasing us with some really enticing pictures of the Force One and then having spotted the Force One under testing in the Himalayas, it is finally here. ZigWheels took the first passenger car product from the Force Motors portfolio for a spin even before its launch though and first impressions seem commendable!
On the inside things have been kept simple with a lot of beige everywhere interspersed with another Indian favourite – wood-finish garnish. The ‘wood’ though doesn’t seem like too much of an eyesore and integrates well with the light interiors. I for one am not a big fan of light interiors, especially in such dusty conditions as India and when things can get really dirty in the monsoons but considering that most people like it this way, Force One has done a good job with not just the way the cabin looks, but also with its comfort. The dash itself is a simple and clutter-free layout with the speedometer and odometer on the far ends flanking a row of tell tale lights and a trip computer that gives you all sorts of information on a digital display. The steering wheel is nice and chunky – just the way it should be and is nicely weighed to give decent levels of feedback from the front tyres while still keeping things stress-free in tight traffic. The horn pad – which wasn’t exactly the final production piece when we drove the Force One also houses controls for not only the JVC music system, but also for a Bluetooth phone and cruise control! The only niggle we had with the Force One’s controls were the very tacky stalks for the headlights and wipers – which again, weren’t exactly the final production pieces. The centre console follows the ‘simple’ theme and is dominated by the large music system which has both AUX and USB capability. The air conditioning vents get sandwiched between the audio controls and the twin cigarette lighter and electric socket at the bottom. The rear passengers get their individual air con vents – even for the third row.
Space is the key selling point on the Force One and it has loads of it. Even with the front seats pushed all the way back to the stops the middle row occupants have more than enough but what really surprises is the room on offer for the third row. You see, the backrests on the middle row can be inclined to suit your mood and despite that the third row can easily seat two adults – though the really tall ones would rather be in the front or second rows! The seats themselves are plush and supportive though we will still have to await the full road test to see if they can hold their own on a long journey and considering that Force Motors plans to reel in more than one Toyota Innova mindset buyer as well, we’d say they should be up to the task. Storage space, quite obviously isn’t any trouble at all with a ginormous glovebox and loads of cubby holes all round.
So they’ve done a good job on the ergonomics but Force Motors haven’t really left the performance bit unattended. It is old news that the Force One is powered by a 2.2 litre Mercedes powerplant built by them under license from Daimler. But the engine is also mated to a 5-speed Mercedes gearbox which is a great move to have made – after all, why change it if it works, and it works so well! We were driving a pre-production unit which still had a few rough edges which the boffins at Force Motors assured us will be sorted out by the time the vehicles hit the showrooms – which is now, so the gear lever didn’t really slot into its shift gates as easily as we would have liked it to, but that said the engine and gearbox combination is a delight. Armed with loads of torque that kicks in at just the right rpm and stays there through the rev range, the Force One is a good SUV to be driving. Mind you, it isn’t really blisteringly quick or anything, but just so easy and stress-free to drive. That means minimal gear changes even when stuck in peak traffic and also comfortable cruising speeds without the need to downshift every single time you plan on overtaking someone. And that in turn translates into good fuel efficiency coupled with the fact that this car is run by a diesel motor – smiles all around and savings in your pocket! There’s not much noise seeping into the cabin either and considering that vibrations from the engine have been well taken care of you aren’t going to be rocking inside every time the engine is running. Now that makes for a strong and comfortable package indeed, but there’s one more aspect that needs mentioning here.
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