4 x 4 Australia



FORD’S upcoming performanc­eoriented Ranger Raptor’s relatively small (3.0-litre but twin turbocharg­ed) petrol V6 is a sign that change is afoot. If things were continuing along as usual, this performanc­e Raptor would come with a relatively large-capacity (5.0litre or so) naturally aspirated petrol V8, an engine configurat­ion that Ford knows a thing or two about.

The fact that there’s even a petrol engine in the new Ranger’s line-up, even if the Raptor is a bespoke performanc­e model within the line-up, is also telling. Until it arrives, you can’t buy a petrol engine in a new mainstream 4x4 ute. The last time you could was in 2017 before Toyota withdrew the 4.0-litre V6 from Hilux.

In fact it was a surprise that Toyota carried over the petrol V6 from the previous generation Hilux in to the current generation model when it was released in late 2015. Toyota’s thinking at the time was that given no other manufactur­er offered a petrol engine in a mainstream 4x4 ute, then the Hilux V6 would attract petrolpref­erence buyers from other brands. But as it turned out that wasn’t the case, at least in sufficient numbers to keep the V6 on sale. By that time 4x4 ute buyers were totally convinced that the modern turbo diesel with its combinatio­n of relaxed power and good economy was the only way to go compared to petrol engines as they had known them.

It’s noteworthy, too, that the new Raptor isn’t offered with a diesel option in Australia and, as the curtain inevitably comes down on diesel engines in next decade or so, the replacemen­t engine in 4x4s will be small to mid-sized turbocharg­ed petrol engines, such as the new Raptor’s V6. Don’t be surprised if the Raptor’s turbo-petrol V6 finds its way in to mainstream Rangers here in a few years time, even if it does so in a detuned form than what’s found in the Raptor. The Raptor’s V6 has been tuned by Ford Performanc­e from the standard version as sold in the USA in the Ford Explorer.

Meanwhile over at Toyota in those overseas markets where you can buy a petrol Landcruise­r, the naturally aspirated 4.6-litre and 5.7-litre V8s are gone, replaced in the 300 by a 3.4-litre twin-turbo V6, the first turbo-petrol engine ever to appear in any Landcruise­r. This engine will eventually be coming to Australia in the 300 Series – around or after 2025 – but almost certainly as the main part of a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain and will sell alongside the V6 diesel in the 300.

If new 4x4 ute buyers liked modern turbo diesels for their relaxed drivabilit­y where there’s good power and response at low and middle engine speeds combined with moderate fuel use, they will love these new-generation turbo-petrol engines. They, too, offer excellent low and middle-rpm response but combine that with the sort of high-rpm power that diesels just can’t do. The turbo-petrol V6 in the 300, for example, has its maximum torque (650Nm) available at just 2000rpm but spins out to over 5000rpm to make a more than handy 305kw of power, a fair jump up from the 3.3-litre V6 diesel’s maximum of 227kw. Some versions of this 3.4-litre twin-turbo V6 – used in other Toyota-family models – have maximum torque available at an even more diesel-like 1600rpm.

Of course the concern with a petrol engine, compared to a diesel engine, is fuel consumptio­n but these new generation turbo-petrol engines will be far more fuel efficient than the naturally-aspirated petrol engines – like the 4.0-litre V6 that disappeare­d from the Hilux five or so years ago – without being quite diesel-frugal. However, add on a hybrid system (electric motor/generator plus battery) and diesellike economy becomes achievable.

These new generation turbo-petrol engines, with or without electric hybrid add-ons, have of course been around for a while now in pricier passenger cars and SUVS and some very pricey 4x4s – think Range Rover – but haven’t appeared as yet in mainstream 4x4 utes or wagons. But that’s changing.

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It is only a matter of time before diesel engines will be replaced by equally fuel-efficient new generation turbo-petrol engines.
BY DESIGN It is only a matter of time before diesel engines will be replaced by equally fuel-efficient new generation turbo-petrol engines.

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