Force One : Road Test

That's exactly what it is for the first personal passenger vehicle offering from Force Motors. But will this Force be the One to be reckoned with? ZigWheels takes you behind the wheels for the answer

Force One Action Shot

So I’m in the middle of a movie when I get a call about collecting Force Motors’ latest baby, the Force One. Now it turned out to be more than a coincidence that the movie I was watching was also called ‘Force’. And the similarities don’t end there. The movie features the brawny John Abraham beating the baddies to pulp and here we have the Force One which with its gigantic proportions looks all set to clamber over anything in its path. That’s really how intimidating the new car from Force Motors is. Coming back to the car, the Force One has to be Force One of the most important launches for its maker, since it marks the company’s foray into the passenger vehicle segment. From hardy utility and commercial vehicles like the Minidor, Trax and the still very popular Traveler, Force Motors have come a long way and thus starting off with an SUV was possibly the best bet to move itself up the pecking order. It’s been a long time coming, and now it’s finally here. But is it worth the wait? Let’s find out.

Size does matter

If it’s an SUV, it has to have presence. At almost 16 feet long and 5.8 feet wide, the Force One is simply enormous and as a result, garners attention by the bucket loads. While the whole design in itself is nothing out of the box, its conservative lines leave nothing to complain about. In fact at a passing glance there’s a fair chance that one might mistake the Force One for the Ford Endeavour. However its massive dimensions will make sure you get more than a passing glance at it and that’s more than enough to differentiate it from the slightly similar looking Ford product.

Force One Static

Look at it when stationary though, the Force One reveals an identity which is very much its own. The front is totally dominated by the big twin slatted grille which is doused in chrome. In fact there is enough to blind the guy in front with its reflections. While it definitely draws attention, it does not really feel classy thanks to the iffy plastic. The grille further intrudes into the bumper which is basically a plain Jane affair with chrome ringed fog lights on either sides. A mandatory skid plate is there but barely visible. A nice chunky aluminium plate showing up front would have definitely made a lot of difference. The shiny grille is flanked by rectangular projector headlamps which are again all chrome from the inside but feature for the first time in an Indian vehicle, daytime running LED lamps. The recently unveiled XUV500 has them too now; however, the Force One holds the distinction of being the first to have them.

Moving on to the side, you see nice fat wheel arches covering one of the nicest looking OEM alloy wheels which come wrapped in chunky 235-section Apollo Hawkz rubber. It’s a pretty slab sided affair from there on till you get to the nicely arched D-pillar. The neatest touch though is the slick looking spoiler which nicely rounds off the rear. There are also chrome tipped twin tailpipes which would have looked the business had they not been a little offset. But I’m hoping that was a one off and the production vehicles will have properly aligned tail pipes. All in all, this is definitely a good looking SUV, if not the best but comes across as one with a honesty of purpose.

Force One Rear Seating

Space, space and then some more space!

With the increasing rates of flats in cities, buying a home is pretty much beyond the means of the average person. If you don’t mind your house on wheels, the Force One is pretty much the equivalent of a 2-bedroom-hall-kitchen. Stepping inside, the Force One feels cavernous. There are acres of space and leg room for any seat in this house which is simply phenomenal.

Starting with the driver’s seat, one literally has to climb into the Force One thanks to its extremely generous ground clearance. Once seated though it’s a pretty comfortable high perched position with the seat being further adjustable for height. You rest your hands on the fairly large leather wrapped steering wheel with your run-of-the-mill steering controls. Beige takes precedence on the inside with shiny fake wood inserts. The central console consists of a 2-DIN JVC audio system which sounds pretty ordinary thanks to the average quality speakers. While everything feels decently put together and go about their jobs, the knobs and controls fail to impart the right clicks and noises and at times need a forceful touch to actuate them.

Force One Driver Display

The speedo console features twin silver ringed dials giving out the speed and rpm with the fuel and temperature gauge thrown in. The tachometer however does not feature a red line and reads all the way up to 5000rpm. There is also a multi-information display which reads out the time, outside temperature, odometer, trip meter, fuel consumption, range and then some. Turning on the ignition literally lights up a Christmas tree with a barrage of warning lights showing themselves.

The middle row seats are pretty wide and can seat three abreast with ease. They offer more than decent support as well and as a result long journeys will be an extremely comfortable chore. In fact even the last or the third row seats are a pretty comfortable place to be in, but the slightly highish floor can make it a bit uncomfortable over long distances. This detail apart, the Force One has to be the most spacious and comfortable SUV in its segment. There are glitches though. For starters, quality of plastics can definitely be cranked up a notch for the better while fit and finish needs more care on the final assembly. The good thing is that the personal vehicle division is just starting out and the base it has begun from is pretty high making for infinitely better put together interiors.

Force One Engine

A ‘Starry’ performer under the hood!

Force Motors has been using the OM616 unit whose design was sourced from Daimler AG many years ago and the Force One receives this reliable and proven performer which is also robust and highly bullet-proof. The 2.2-litre FMTECH CRDi heart that beats in the Force One is manufactured completely in-house at Force Motors and so is its 5-speed gearbox. At start up there is a bit of diesel clatter but once warmed up the engine thrums nicely and from there on just goes about its duties most obediently. Shift into first and you realise how heavy the Force One’s gate is. The throws are long and shifting takes quite a bit of an effort especially when you want to slot it into reverse. Once on the go though it gets a lot better. There is ample torque on demand, 321Nm to be exact and coupled with 140PS of power you are never left wanting. And for a vehicle as large and as cavernous as this, the strong engine and transmission is something which can deliver mighty big smiles.

Force One Action 2

In-gear times are pretty good with the Force One rolling from 60-120km/h in 4th gear in about 12 seconds. Outright acceleration from nought to 100km/h was covered in 17.18 seconds which is pretty much apt for its segment. Drivability is strong throughout the rev range and the Daimler inspired FMTECH unit makes the Force One a very good performer. While acceleration is good, the deceleration could be a lot better. Lack of ABS and EBD means, it’s extremely easy to lock up the brakes.

The pedal feel is also slightly numb which means you don’t really get an idea about much happening on the braking front. And it reflects on the braking times as well. From 100km/h the behemoth took 4.27 seconds and a slightly lengthy 63.16 metres before it ground to a halt. Again the good thing is that ABS and EBD are on their way, coming soon to the Force One by this year end while also on the anvil is a four wheel drive version. The intent is quite clear to see, it just needs patient and careful execution.

Force One Static 2

Pothole basher!

With the roads disintegrating day by day and even more so in the monsoons, it is literally impossible to have a comfortable drive in your everyday sedan. It’s another issue that the craters on the road warrant a suspension change almost every other year. With the Force One though, bad roads and bad ride quality is a thing of the past. An independent double wishbone set-up with gas shock absorbers in the front coupled with a multi-link Panhard rod and coil springs at the rear the Force One simply glides over the worst of roads.

You don’t even have to slow down thanks to the brilliantly configured suspension componentry and also the geometry and that amazing ground clearance. As far as bad roads and good ride quality is concerned, the Force One has it totally covered. Of course a lot of the credit also goes to robustness of the all new ladder type chassis and the way it was tuned by the ride and handling experts at Lotus Engineering.

Force One Action Shot 2

With its tall stance and pliant but firm suspension, one might expect the Force One to be quite a handful around bends. Going up the Lavasa ghat, where there are more curves than straights, the Force One does a more than decent job despite its substantial dimensions. There is more than ample grip from the tyres despite featuring just a 4 x 2 set-up. There is roll, which is expected from an SUV with a tall stance, but never is it alarming enough for you to hold back. Its only when massive understeer kicks in that you know you are reaching the car’s limits. It’s not without reason that the Force One handles this well.

As already mentioned, the suspension has been tuned by none other than Lotus Engineering of the UK who worked not just with the Force Motors boffins but also devised the suspension set-up with the tyres in mind. Along with the chassis and suspension work credit also must go to the tyres employed. The 235-section 16-inch Apollo Hawkz are plain brilliant and serve as a force multiplier towards enhancing the handling and ride of the Force One.

Fill it, shut it, trip it!

There are certain things which the laws of physics cannot contravene and that reflect strongly in how much the engine needs nourishment to be able to perform strongly all throughout. In our fuel efficiency runs, we were all constantly thinking of how good this vehicle would lend itself to all of us young chargers for a dash to Goa and back. And when on our second tank refill we pondered the same, we got an incredulously good consumption figure of around 9.45 kmpl in the city and 11.7kmpl on the highway which meant we could easily knock off 700 km on a full 70-litre tank of HP’s finest Power HSD. More than enough to head to Goa, loiter around and yet have enough on the return leg before trying out BP’s Speed HSD.

Is this the one?

This being Force Motors first headway into the passenger car segment, the company has really made quite an effort to churn out a good product. Yes, there are some areas where they could have done better, but then there is always room for improvement. The Force One however, delights in a lot of areas and the one place where it scores majorly is equipment. With features like progressive cruise control, independent air conditioning for occupants on all three rows of seats, leather interiors, parking sensor, brake pad wear indicator and then some, the Force One is loaded and how. It also looks the bit and with those dimensions it’s a lot of car for Rs 10.65 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). With minor quality glitches get ironed out and a strong after-sales set-up, this butch and burly SUV is surely a Force to be reckoned with.

Recommended Variant : Force One SX ABS 6 STR

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