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An ode to the Maruti Gypsy

The Maruti Gypsy is one SUV which has ruled the roads for a longer time than many of our ages. The Gypsy Maruti car has always been a highly capable off-roader with a rear wheel drive layout, managing to capture the most difficult terrains with minimum fuss. Not only has it won several rallies in India, but it was also the most favoured vehicle for the Indian Army until they recently decided to induct the Tata Safari Storme.

What made the Gypsy such a popular SUV?

  1. Lightest SUV in the country- The Gypsy Soft Top was commonly being used by the Indian Army, and weighed at only 985 kg. Similarly, its Hard Top variant was 1020 kg, still making it the most agile vehicle across just about any terrain. This property makes it ideal for both rallies and the Army, so that even if the front wheel lands in a big trough, the weight allows the car to bounce right back up and continue on its journey. A low weight also helps the vehicle remain clear of slush and deep snow. Since the Army’s first order in 1991, Maruti Suzuki has delivered more than 35,000 of them to the Force, and the company’s last order for the Army was for 2,071 cars.


Light weight allowed the Gypsy to be transported easily by aircrafts and low power helicopters to high altitudes. Air force planes C-17 Globemaster, IL-76 and light helicopter Dhruv were used to transport it.


  1. Short wheel track- With a short wheel track of 1310 mm, the Gypsy was always ready to make tight and difficult maneuvers. A turning radius of 5100 mm allowed it to be driven easily on winding mountainous terrains.
  2. Petrol powered vehicle- Throughout its existence, the Gypsy always came with a petrol engine, allowing it to be operated easily in extreme temperatures. Gypsy new model car came with a 1.3L petrol pot that delivered 103 Nm of torque and 80 bhp of power.  
  3. Highly reliable- Despite the last price being about INR 6.4 lakhs (ex-showroom, New Delhi) for the soft top, Maruti always made this car with the simplest of electricals. No power steering or AC was ever made available, making it less susceptible to breakdowns under harsh weather.
  4. Leaf suspension setup- All four wheels of the Gypsy had a leaf suspension system. This made the car relatively bouncy on regular tarmac, but with 200 kg, it automatically became the most comfortable SUV on difficult terrain.

One way of truly gauging the Gypsy’s potential as an SUV is to embark on an animal safari in Places such as Sariska and Jim Corbett Park. You will see the terrain consisting only of stones, potholes, slush, half broken tree stumps and other natural bits, despite which the experienced driver will be able to negotiate them all. Though it’s a pity that such a car had to be axed, one hopes that the new Jimny will be prove to be an even better alternative for enthusiasts and families.