Volkswagen moving to all turbo engines in last ditch effort to revive sales
Volkswagen announced this week that it is moving away from normally aspirated engines and towards all turbocharger-equipped engines. VW said in a statement that in the next year or two upwards of 90% of its engines sold in cars in America will be turbocharged. The new turbocharged 1.8 liter engines will replace the uncompetitive 2.5 liter five-cylinder that VW has made its base engine in everything from the Golf to the Passat. VW is claiming some big gains in torque and efficiency with the new engines, but they will still trail the industry leaders like Honda and Toyota in almost every measurable way.
The new 1.8 liter gasoline engines are direct injected (as almost every new engine in the US market is now) and turbocharged. In the Passat, VW claims the mileage with the 6-speed automatic transmission will bump up to 34 highway and 28 MPG overall. So compared to the current Accord base model, the base Passat will soon be 2 MPG less efficient on the highway and get 2 MPG less combined. And the Accord is not even the class leader in highway mileage. The Altima and the Mazda 6 now get 38 MPG with their base four cylinder (non-turbo) engines and are just as fast as the new Passat will be. How this new small turbo will improve sales is a mystery. The Accord’s V6 model gets the same highway mileage as this new Passat and it has 108 more horsepower.
The real reason Volkswagen and other manufacturers are all moving to the turbocharged smaller engines is that they do better on the EPA test cycles than other engine options at equivalent cost to the manufacturer. For most passenger cars the smaller turbos don’t match the power and efficiency of the non-turbo market leaders.