How the humble Hyundai Santa Fe once had the same AWD as a 911 Turbo

2008 Hyundai Santa Fe

Common parts used on entirely different automobiles is nothing new, but it still can lead to some fun coincidences. Like when a humble Hyundai can claim to use the same all-wheel-drive system as the mighty Porsche 911 Turbo. Yes, that happened. No, it doesn’t mean you’re only  a flat-six engine away from turning a Santa Fe into a Safari 911.

In this case, such overlap comes about through the supplier chain. Sometimes, automakers will partner up on cars, like how Mazda builds the Fiat 124 Spider as an MX-5 Miata twin or Porsche’s own collaboration with Mercedes-Benz on the mighty 500E. Far more common is when automakers buy the same off-the-shelf technology from a supplier. In fact, a surprising number of components on your car fall into this category.

The rationale is that the supplier company can specialize in a component, or set of components, spreading the cost of development across the automotive world. For automakers, it means an easy, affordable solution. It’s exactly the kind of thing that an early 2000s Porsche—still quasi-independent and at the start of its modern revamping—would benefit from. Ditto for Hyundai of the same era, rapidly improving in both quality and number of product offerings.

cutaway illustration of the ITM 3e
BorgWarner
cutaway illustration of the ITM 3e

Thus Hyundai and Porsche found use for BorgWarner’s ITM 3e transfer coupling. The initials stand for Interactive Torque Management, and it’s basically an on-demand transfer case. The 3 stands for its three friction elements, or clutches, that allowed the unit to be small but still handle plenty of torque. And, as was becoming commonplace, ITM 3e is electronically controlled. As opposed to a passive system, that locks up after the wheels start spinning, active all-wheel-drive can adjust the power distribution before the driver notices.

Porsche used the system on the 997-generation 911 Turbo and Carrera 4 from 2005–12. Strictly speaking, it was not exactly the same piece of hardware found on the Hyundai Tucson and Santa Fe—Porsche used a different variant.

That also brings up why automakers still matter, even if they share many of the same parts. Nobody would be so daft as to compare a Hyundai crossover to a Porsche sports car—not just because they’re so different but also because even the common supplier parts were tuned and adjusted by entirely separate teams for entirely unique goals.

But hey, next time you see a Hyundai Tuscson or Santa Fe (or even a Chrysler Pacifica or Dodge Journey), you can still tell your friends it has the same fancy all-wheel-drive system as 473-hp Porsche Turbo.