How the Maruti Gypsy made its name in offroading?

How the Maruti Gypsy made its name in off-roading

A long run of more than 30 years is enough to tell how successful the offroading machine, Maruti Gypsy was. The four-wheel-drive car that was based on the Suzuki Jimny as been popular amongst the youth of India. People have been known to love it, especially for its extraordinary offroading capabilities. It has also been famous amongst the rally car racers. The Gypsy can be credited with the vanishing of Premier Padmini in the rally car racing. Without further due, let’s start the saga.

1985 – The new off-roader comes to existence

Maruti Gypsy 1985

Introduced in December 1985, the Gypsy became popular in the offroading community in no time. It was powered by a 1.0-litre F10A Suzuki engine which could produce around  61hp of power and a peak torque of 75Nm. The engine was mated to a 4-speed manual transmission. It was equipped with a 4WD transfer case which had two speeds. Initially, it was offered with a soft top but when the company realised that the aftermarket hardtops were becoming popular, it also introduced the Gypsy with one. There was a mechanism called freewheeling mechanism which would unlock the front axle from the hub when 4WD is not being used. But the feature remained hidden from a lot of people which resulted in complaints of poor fuel economy.

1993 – The time when the company used to take its cars seriously!

Maruti Gypsy Widetrack | Credits: TeamBHP

There were some international allegations on the Suzuki SUVs suspecting them to easily roll over. Maruti decided to take this seriously and increased the track of both the ends by 90mm. The front track was increased from 1,210mm to 1,300mm and the rear one was increased from 1,220mm to 1,310mm. This was introduced as the ‘Widetrack Gypsy’ by Maruti with a codename of ‘MG410W’. Maruti also removed the novel freewheeling mechanism as the users were barely using it. A catalytic converter was added to the Gypsy in 1995 in order to comply with the new emission norms introduced at that time.

1996 – A new power source for the Maruti Gypsy

The King

The Gypsy King was introduced. SUV was equipped with the same engine that powered the Esteem at that time. It was the G13BA 1.3-litre engine which produced 60hp of power. The previous-gen Gypsy which was powered by the F10A engine was discontinued in 2000. The major design cues, to differentiate the King from the ordinary, were the totally different front grille and the pronounced bulge at the hood. In 2000, the King received a new engine which was a 16-valve MPFI G13BB engine with a power output of 80hp. The new Gypsy King was also equipped with a brake booster as well.

Why was it so popular in the offroading community?

The offroading champion

The major reason was the ladder-on-frame chassis which favours the offroading. The next was the rear-wheel-drive layout which made it a really good off-roader, or should I say the best at that time. The 80hp of power and 104Nm of torque is enough for the beginners in the arena and thus favoured a lot when offroading is concerned. The price was also a USP of the Gypsy. And the best part was the 4WD capabilities. What else would one demand?

There was another major Arena of triumph too!

The Indian Army Carrier

And that was the Army. The Army used to use the Jeeps made by Mahindra before Maruti Gypsy was launched. The company received the first order from the frontline force in 1991. Since then more than 35,000 Gypsys have been supplied to the Indian infantry. The biggest order ever received was the 4,000 units in 2017. The last order that the company received was of 2,071 Gypsys. It has been a reliable workhorse for the army and is still used in parades and other ceremonies.

Everything seems to be in favour of Gypsy. Then why discontinue it?

Crash Testing

Not everything favoured the Gypsy. No, it was not low sales or low demand. It was due to the upcoming crash test norms and the BS6 emission norms. The design which dated back to 1985 was not going to meet the crash test norms. And the company took the right decision not to dwindle around with the design as the cult followers of Gypsy won’t have liked it. India not only lost the Gypsy, but it also lost the only off-roader in this price range.

Have a look: Maruti Suzuki WagonR: History Of India’s Most Loved Hatchback

With you, till the end of the line!

Maruti Suzuki Jimny

Although the Gypsy we know has been discontinued, it is expected to make a comeback with the Maruti Suzuki Jimny that was showcased at the Auto Expo 2020. Maruti Suzuki is expected to launch the Jimny under the name of Gypsy as it will surely boost the sales. Maruti Gypsy might have faced some criticism at some point of time, but overall, there was and there is no off-roader yet in India that can beat the class and the legacy of the King.

Fun read: 10 Forgotten Maruti Suzuki Cars In India: From SX4 To Stingray