With the earlier ban on diesel vehicles with engines larger than 2.0 litres, many carmakers introduced petrol versions of their diesel SUVs in order to compensate for declining sales. Easier said than done though since consumers in India are not used to seeing petrol SUVs and the widespread notion is that any petrol SUV would burn a big hole in deep pockets too. Toyota too in wake of the diesel ban launched the Fortuner's petrol versions and we got our hands on it for a few days to find out what is it to live with a petrol SUV.
The new Fortuner features a completely new design compared to its predecessor and unlike the older Fortuner, which was boxy and rugged, the new one's more sleek and upmarket. The butch appeal of the older model is gone but the new one looks suave and thoroughly modern. The sleek headlamps with LED DRLs and triple slat grille lend the SUV with an expensive-looking front. The massive ground clearance too helps it dynamic appeal. Compared to the diesel version, there isn't any notable difference except for the badge at the rear door. Overall, a good looking SUV that has given up on its well-known visual characteristics and adopted more urban traits instead.
Engine & Performance
The main reason you're reading this story is to understand how the petrol engine performs in the real world. To start with, the Fortuner petrol is powered by a 2.7 litre naturally-aspirated engine, which also powers the Innova Crysta petrol. Power on offer is 164 hp, while torque is healthy for a petrol motor at 245 Nm. The engine starts with a gentle note and settles into an almost inaudible hum at standstill. Moving around in city and traffic is dealt with quick response and the motor continues to be smooth and very little sound filters into the cabin.
It's only when trying to accelerate had, the engine sound gets a bit loud and the weight of the SUV starts to show its effect on the performance. Adding further to the sluggishness is the six-speed automatic transmission, which struggles to shift quickly under hard throttle inputs. While the low-end torque in the diesel motor compensates for the transmission's slow pace, the petrol motor doesn't do so and hence the gap is more pronounced. As a result, although the Fortuner petrol isn't underpowered, it isn't really a fun to drive vehicle as well.
The engine is reasonably fuel-efficient as during the time it was with us, we got an average fuel-efficiency of 8.9 kmpl. For an SUV of its weight and size, these are respectable numbers, especially since we were pushing the engine for quite a while.
In terms of handling too, there isn't any notable difference compared to the diesel version but the petrol one does feel a little more agile and the low-speed ride quality too felt marginally better. Apart from that, the petrol SUV drives similar to the diesel one and at par with its competition, especially in terms of high-speed stability.
In a nutshell, if you're looking for an SUV but do not travel much on a daily basis and do not require four-wheel drive to encounter bad roads, the Fortuner petrol makes good sense. The diesel one still is a better buy since it feels better to drive, is better going off-road and offers better resale value potential as well. However, if you factor in the volatile policy trends involving diesel off-late, petrol vehicles make better sense for buyers in the long-run, especially in larger cities. The Toyota Fortuner petrol then is a good way of indulging into a full-sized premium SUV without having to worry about the uncertainty around diesel fuel. In addition, at Rs 27.65 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi, the Fortuner petrol is about Rs 1.5 lakh cheaper too than the diesel automatic with rear-wheel drive.