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Old 25th September 2014, 09:37   #31
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Default Re: Petrol SUVs: Can they make a comeback?

I use an Ecoboost Petrol Ecosport and am very happy with the performance. Unfortunately most other petrol SUVs in this range have regular underpowered petrol engines. If the TSI, Ecoboost kind of petrol engine is available in duster, I would definitely have picked it up over the diesel.
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Old 25th September 2014, 11:03   #32
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Default Re: Petrol SUVs: Can they make a comeback?

There's a lot of sentiment expressed about the need for torque and price of fuel being the main determinants of choice of SUV (or MUV for that matter) fuel type.

For Indians , 9 out of 10 times it's the perceived total cost of ownership that drives the buying decision. And more often than not, it's based on what they see and hear around them that reinforces the decision to go for the diesel.

Hence comparing the two options for an Indian long term ownership scenario:
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Of the above, the biggest factor , in most minds, is the advantage of subsidised diesel over the highly taxed petrol. The other factors though important in their own right, pale in significance both at the time of buying and during the ownership experience. This ofcourse has everything to do with the way we are pre-conditioned to react to the inflationary tendencies of a fuel price hike. The event of a diesel price hike evokes a stronger and almost visceral reaction from the public at large, but a hike in petrol is acknowledged with the slightest whimper.

It's interesting to see that the same Indians gladly purchase Petrol SUVs in the Gulf (GCC countries). Diesel SUVs are a rare sight. Why? Because the Petrol and Diesel are available at such low rates, that they become a non-entity in the TCO calculation.
That's when people attach more weight to things like low NVH, more refinement, lower maintenance cost, better reliability.
The oodles of Torque by the way does not factor in the equation, because there are no mountains to be climbed. And whatever dunes were there, have been neatly levelled and covered in vast expanses of concrete and tarmac.

And as a family man, they bought that SUV shape - basically because of the space right?

So next time you choose the diesel SUV (or car) over the petrol variant - blame the government of India.

Last edited by joybhowmik : 25th September 2014 at 11:04.
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Old 25th September 2014, 11:46   #33
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Default Re: Petrol SUVs: Can they make a comeback?

I think the market will change in a different way -

1. BIGGEST CHANGE - UPFRONT COST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PETROL & DIESEL VEHICLES WILL VANISH : So far, due to diesel being cheaper than petrol, manufacturers were charging a premium on diesels over a petrol to make more profits (with the logic that people will pay higher for a cheaper Rs. per km vehicle). If I remember correctly, when Skoda came to India, their petrol & diesel versions were priced in the same ballpark.

2. For people who are very keen on price per km, with diesel getting expensive, there will be a new demand segment for CNG fired SUVs, at least the smaller ones and in cities where CNG supply is good like Mumbai-Pune belt, Mumbai - Surat - Ahmedabad belt, NCR and in future Bangalore as GAIL's Dabhol-Ratnagiri-Bangalore gas pipeline getting operational.
People like me for e.g., who want to care for the environment as well as cost per km, would definitely evaluate it.

3. Both petrol & diesel versions will co-exist as they have till now with diesel having somewhat of an advantage in the heavier (weight wise) segments, reasons being torque, etc. (sorry dont understand enough on that front)

4. Diesel has 'compression combustion' which is slow buring just like a sprinkler system in a lawn (excuse if incorrect comparison), and is more fuel efficient - it converts about 55 - 60% of energy into usable energy i.e. moving force.
Whereas Petrol has a 'internal combustion' engine which is similar to an explosion. To use the same analogy as above - a hose left in the lawn, and is less fuel efficient - it converts about 40-45% of energy into usable energy i.e. moving force.
This difference, to my mind, becomes more relevant in a larger vehicle.
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Old 25th September 2014, 11:54   #34
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Default Re: Petrol SUVs: Can they make a comeback?

There is one more advantage of the petrol SUVs, they are the only option for jungle safari. A diesel SUV will not be allowed there. But the market is minuscule. I have one question, once the manufacturing of gypsy is stopped what would these reserved forests do? They might be able to procure army gypsys for another 5 or 6 years, but what after that?
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Old 25th September 2014, 11:55   #35
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Default Re: Petrol SUVs: Can they make a comeback?

First of all, the title is wrong. There is no question of a "comeback" as petrol SUVs never found favour with buyers, even in the past. The only petrol SUV available in the past was the Gypsy, but then it never outsold the Mahindras and the Tatas. Of late, people have started to buy SUVs as family cars, a trend started by the Scorpio. Families prefer soft-roaders than thoroughbred SUVs, and in that segment, high torque and load carrying capacity does not matter. It is no surprise that Ecosport petrol versions have got equal bookings as dieselversions. In smaller SUVs and soft-roaders, people would tend to move towards petrols due to the lower acquisition cost. For thoroughbred SUVs, I don't see petrol engines making inroads in the near future.
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Old 25th September 2014, 14:13   #36
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Default Re: Petrol SUVs: Can they make a comeback?


With the cheaper Petrol or the Diesel coming closer to Petrol price, it will boost the Mini-SUVs like Ecoboost Ecosports. We will have more of cross overs B Segment Hatchbacks like Polo or Punto. Ford Fusion was another mini SUV (ahead of time though) which can re-ignite the interest.
While Petrol Engine may be easy to maintain, it will not be cheaper to maintain a large Petrol SUV like Grand Vitara or CRV.
I am yet to reach that stage but I am told that Toyota Fortuner Maintenance cost is less than that of CRV. (In spite of Honda being next cheapest in service)
Add better Mileage & higher Torque to this and people would be game for Diesel SUVs.

I also understand that earlier thinking that Diesel operating at higher pressure (Higher compression ratio CR) giving more vibration & hence more wear & tear is no different now as the bigger Petrol cars do operate on much higher CR than what it use to be in carburetor era due to better fuel quality and at the same time, with Direct Injection in Diesel engines, the CR in Diesel Engine is getting lower.
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Old 25th September 2014, 18:12   #37
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Default Re: Petrol SUVs: Can they make a comeback?

All an "Indian" common man (majority) cares for, when buying a JEEP (yes, majority of them cant differentiate between a M/C/SUV, MPV and UV) is fuel economy, price, maintenance, no. of passengers it can carry and road presence/image.

Now talk to him about torque, AWD/4WD, soft roader, differential, articulation etc.... he will go

So, give the Indian common man a PETROL SUV, the fuel economy of which is on par with it's diesel counterpart, I don't see a reason why he wouldn't lap it up with open arms, given the petrol variant will be cheaper than the Diesel one and petrol would almost cost the same as Diesel in the near future. Add to that the low NVH levels.

P.S: All I intend saying is fuel economy is what matters, make the petrol variants fuel efficient and then we would club the diesels with unicorns/dinosaurs.

Last edited by wheeledsoul : 25th September 2014 at 18:41. Reason: grammar
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Old 25th September 2014, 20:37   #38
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Default Re: Petrol SUVs: Can they make a comeback?

What's the fun in driving a petrol SUV? It is just the same as no fun in driving a diesel hatch or sedan.

As a petrolhead, I had differentiated when I would jump to diesel and how long to stay with petrol.

I remember in my teens, firing up my uncle's 540 during vacation after coming from cranking my dad's 800 all year long. What a feeling it was, gave me goosebumps to sit high up and listen to that diesel clatter and the whole body shake when you throttle. And of course driving it with all that torque , without having to use first gear to start off unless required and watching the rear view mirror to see the black smoke when revving more than needed.
That is exactly what I would want to feel in any SUV.
A big vehicle without doubt needs the dirty oil heart whatever the reason be.
I would still look at Ecosport, Ertiga to be good in my book as petrols only. Duster for some reason, maybe the way it looks, I would prefer the diesel.

But anything below that, its petrol for me, regardless of how much I run it and anything above MUVs , is always good as diesel only.

PS: I thought petrol versions of Scorpio and Safari were sold here as well since they were mainly exported.
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Old 25th September 2014, 23:01   #39
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Default Re: Petrol SUVs: Can they make a comeback?

I feel it is right time for petrol SUVs to make a comeback. The main reason I believe is the new generation turbo-petrol engines offering amazing power and excellent fuel efficiency and low end torque.
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Old 26th September 2014, 09:45   #40
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Default Re: Petrol SUVs: Can they make a comeback?

Aren't all the SUVs in the USA running on petrol? Does it mean that they are missing all the diesel fun?

Hardly anybody who buys SUVs take it off-road. We buy our soft-roaders for our potholed roads, for which petrols are good enough.
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Old 26th September 2014, 10:33   #41
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Default Re: Petrol SUVs: Can they make a comeback?

'5-6kmpl seems very less. I heard even the CRV also gives 7-8kmpl.'

My CRV which is a Feb 2014 2.0 AT has done over 8000 km, and it gives me a 9.5 to 10.25 Kmpl in city driving. For better mileage is to accelerate gradually rather than push the vehicle as you would do on the track. The best city mileage I have got on the CRV is 10.6 kmpl.
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Old 26th September 2014, 13:25   #42
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Default Re: Petrol SUVs: Can they make a comeback?

Petrol SUV still seems a distant dream for a mileage friendly country struggling with weak economy, reasons (apart from low torque as compared to their Diesel counterparts and other reasons already mentioned) is fuel economy.

In a country where people convert BMWs/Merc and even Porsche's to CNG, it simply means people may have appetite to buy these fuel guzzlers but not able to shell out for their daily running.

Current encounters with me, I had real hard time while disposing my V8 Toyota Landcruiser, which use to make you poorer by approx. 25/- per kms.
Story is not different for <10 Lac segment as well, I had booked Ford Eco Sports petrol with AT box and had to cancel it, after waiting for 6 months, reason company was not at all interested in making Petrol versions, AT boxes even rarer (as told by the dealer).

Hence if you really want to enjoy the smoothness and raw power of gasoline, head to middle east.
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Old 27th September 2014, 09:39   #43
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Default Re: Petrol SUVs: Can they make a comeback?

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Body-on-frame / large / heavy SUVs will continue to sell in diesel only. These cars need the low-end torque from a diesel engine.
I think the low end torque of NA diesel is fine but not drivable (very limited RPM range). Only a turbo makes it worthwhile. However, A petrol with turbo should be able to trounce turbo diesel in every rev range. And thus thus should be able to improve the poor fuel consumption figures.

We have turbochargers manufacturing group in our company (acquisition of Garrett). Though I have no connection to this line of business, but they tell me that turbochargers by manufacturers was never to improve bhp or torque, but to reduce the fuel consumption.

And it so happens that the way to do this is by improving the low RPM torque so that the engine never has to visit higher revs where actually high fuel burning takes place thus pulling down the kmpl figure.

Last edited by alpha1 : 27th September 2014 at 09:50.
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Old 27th September 2014, 11:24   #44
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Default Re: Petrol SUVs: Can they make a comeback?

My sister has a Mitsubishi Outlander in US with a 2L petrol engine that I drove several times too - OUTSTANDING SUV

The problem is in India we have not seen many new age petrol engines in the last few years due to diesel focus.

Imagine how good the Ford Ecosport would be if it had the 1.2L VW TSi engine; with AWD & better suspension. Perfect Compact petrol SUV.
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Old 27th September 2014, 11:54   #45
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Default Re: Petrol SUVs: Can they make a comeback?

The only modern SUV that has enjoyed a semblance of success, is the previous generation Honda CR-V. And the CR-V is not much more than a crossover at best.

A petrol engine in a SUV makes sense, if the SUV is light and small. Compact crossovers like the EcoSport can get away with being powered by petrol engines. But for something on the larger and heavier side, a diesel mill is the way to go. Reasons?

- Torque. You'd need that pulling power low-down in the rev-range to get the thing moving. Diesel engines are inherently torquey. On the other hand, petrols are known for their higher power figures that are accessible only higher in the rev-range. How many SUV owners would enjoy pushing their SUVs and keep them at the business-end of the power-band? Usually, SUVs are driven gingerly, and instant torque is what's required, not absolute power. If you need a demo, I'd suggest you check out the numerous tug-of-war videos between massive petrol-powered Dodge trucks and diesel-powered the humble Land Rover Discovery.

- Fuel Efficiency. SUVs will never be lighter than regular cars. Even the larger crossovers are heavier than their sedan counterparts. More weight would mean higher fuel consumption as the engine will have to work that much harder to lug that mass around.
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