Volkswagen’s Next Global Four-Cylinder Engine Series

Volkswagen’s various platforms, including the new MQB architecture, can enlist many different engines, but those engines will start to look a lot more similar. As it stands now, VW engines worldwide vary quite a bit. U.S. four-cylinders are fairly similar to the diesel variants—their intake valves are fore of the exhaust valves and the engine is canted forward. But in Europe, the EA111-series engines breathe the other way around and are canted backward.

To complement the MQB platform’s modularity and keep things more consistent, VW is developing the EA211 gasoline engine series, which will replace the EA111 series. The new engine group has a displacement range from 1.0 liter (a port-injected engine) up to 1.6. It’s the 1.4-liter turbo engine, however, that really sparks our interest. (For reference, VW’s ubiquitous 2.0-liter direct-injection turbocharged four-banger—dubbed EA888—that powers the GTI, A4, A5, et al., is actually managed by Audi.)

With 16 valves, direct injection, and a turbocharger, the basics are comparable to what we’ve seen from VW four-cylinders before. But the differences are vast and, aside from sharing an 82-mm bore spacing, little carries over. The 1.4 is the only EA211 variant we expect to get in the U.S. It will arrive first in the Jetta hybrid (more on that later), and there’s a good chance the 1.4 could replace the naturally aspirated 2.5-liter five-cylinder as the base engine for U.S.-bound Golfs. The 1.4 turbo has a slightly lower power rating than the 2.5 (140 hp versus 170) but a little more torque (184 lb-ft compared to the five’s 177), which peaks at 1400 rpm. The decision to use it more widely here hinges in part on the little bit of turbo lag the engine exhibits; Volkswagen planners fear it could be off-putting to American buyers.

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