Advertisement

Smaller, More Efficient: VW Passat With 1.2-Liter 3-Cylinder Engine

Follow John

2009 VW Passat wagon test car w/Bosch-Mahle turbocharged 1.2-liter, 3-cyl engine, from WardsAuto.com

2009 VW Passat wagon test car w/Bosch-Mahle turbocharged 1.2-liter, 3-cyl engine, from WardsAuto.com

Enlarge Photo

How large an engine do you need in a mid-size car?

Just a few years ago, the answer would have been a V-6 of 2.8 to 3.5 liters, perhaps with a base model offering a four of 2.4 to 2.8 liters.

Then Hyundai announced in late 2009 that it would abandon V-6 engines altogether for its 2010 Sonata, fitting only fours. The base Sonata engine is a 2.4-liter four putting out 175 hp.

But how small can you get? And how many horsepower do you need? Would, say, 160 hp be enough?

A 2009 Volkswagen Passat wagon, used as a test bed for "radical downsizing" and shown in Germany by Bosch Mahle Turbo systems, generates 161 hp and a peak torque of 210 foot-pounds across a wide range of engine speed from 1600 to 3500 rpm.

2009 VW Passat wagon test car for Bosch-Mahle turbocharged 1.2-liter, 3-cyl engine, courtesy Ward's

2009 VW Passat wagon test car for Bosch-Mahle turbocharged 1.2-liter, 3-cyl engine, courtesy Ward's

Enlarge Photo

So is it a 2.0-liter four? Perhaps a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine, similar to Ford's upcoming EcoBoost four?

Nope. Not even close. That power and performance came from a three-cylinder turbocharged engine with a mere 1.2 liters of displacement.

What about gas mileage? In the Passat test car, the engine is rated at 40 miles per gallon on the European test cycle. That would likely translate to 32 to 35 mpg on the U.S. combined cycle.

Which is pretty good for mid-sized five-passenger station wagon, no?

2009 VW Passat wagon test car for Bosch-Mahle turbocharged 1.2-liter, 3-cyl engine, courtesy Ward's

2009 VW Passat wagon test car for Bosch-Mahle turbocharged 1.2-liter, 3-cyl engine, courtesy Ward's

Enlarge Photo

This is just another example of the development of much smaller, more efficient engines that produce the same power as larger ones but from far smaller sizes--and deliver vastly better fuel efficiency in the process.

Among the manufacturers planning or launching such engines are Ford (across its successful and growing range of EcoBoost engines), BMW, Fiat, Buick, and others.

And both BMW and Ford are planning three-cylinder engines, a first for each maker.

With U.S. corporate average fuel economy rules potentially requiring gas mileage as high as 62 mpg by 2025, carmakers know they have to wring a lot more miles out of each gallon of gasoline.

But as demonstration projects like the 1.2-liter turbo Passat show, there's a lot of life left in the gasoline engine yet.

[Ward's]

+++++++++++

Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook and Twitter.

Advertisement
 
Follow Us

 

Have an opinion?

  • Posting indicates you have read this site's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use
  • Notify me when there are more comments
Comments (5)
  1. It would be nice to know the 0-60 time. The link notes the vehicle can travel at 112MPH, so hopefully the acceleration is still good.

    Now, how to get the 40 MPG up to 62.5 MPG.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

     
  2. The Ward's article doesn't give a 0-60-mph time, but had this to say: "With a manual transmission, the engine is a bit hesitant at launch, but throttle response is excellent at mid-range and high engine speeds...."
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  3. My last Passat, a GT had a 112BHP 1.8 four and was fine. I bet this turbo 1.2 sounds good and revs furiously!

    161bhp is fine, The turbo will really push up the torque.

    Time for some blind tests I'd say.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  4. I'm just kind of curious why they don't just downsize the diesels you can still keep respectable torque but just lost a little high end power. Cruising on the highway at speed nothing does it better than a diesel (yes I know I am a little biased) I just think a 1.2 3-cyl diesel may be more advantageous than a 3cyl gasoline.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  5. I agree with Tyler, diesel is good, gas not so much. Love my diesel truck it will lope along all day pulling my 7K trailer.
    I don't see an issue with downsizing engines as long as the power is their. My old Suzuki Swift Gt only had a 1.3L (100hp) but it was still a fun car to drive.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

 

Have an opinion? Join the conversation!

Advertisement
Advertisement

Get FREE Dealer Quotes

From dealers near you
Go!

Find Green Cars

Go!

Advertisement

 
© 2014 Green Car Reports. All Rights Reserved. Green Car Reports is published by High Gear Media. Send us feedback. Stock photography by izmo, Inc.