Why is Volkswagen turbocharging all its engines?

February 18th, 2016 by

Are VW turbo engines better or more reliable?
It seems there’s a turbocharged takeover when it comes to engine options, especially on smaller cars. This is just as true for most automakers as it is for Volkswagen, but with the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta losing its naturally-aspirated option, we have plenty of shoppers asking, are VW turbo engines better or more reliable than regular engine options? In the past, turbochargers have gotten a bad rep for being unreliable, but technology has changed and they are becoming a preference for a reason.

How is a VW turbo different from a naturally-aspirated engine?2016 VW Golf R TSI Engine
We aren’t going to go too in depth on how engines work, but it’s important to understand how turbocharged engines are different in order to even debate whether you should be looking for one. Basically what you have is the difference between an engine which draws air in all on its own, the naturally-aspirated, and a forced-induction engine, which uses a turbocharger. The more air you can get into the cylinders, the more fuel you can combine with the air for more power output. This is why naturally-aspirated engines must have a higher displacement in the cylinders to increase power output, while a turbocharger simply forces more air into a smaller space.

More on engines: Volkswagen may soon offer a 6.0L engine

A turbocharger is a part of the exhaust system and is powered by the exhaust gases. Inside the turbocharger are two fans, a compressor fan and a turbine, which pull in exhaust fumes, compresses them, and pushes them into the engine cylinders to burn fuel more efficiently. Compressing the fuel creates a lot of heat, so an intercooler is also connected between the turbocharger to cool off the compressed air to prevent the engine from overheating. A waste valve also prevents the turbocharger from pulling in too much exhaust gases so it limits the speed of the turbine wheel. The result is a much more reliable system than previous generation had.

Why has Volkswagen turbocharged most engines?
As we’ve said, power and efficiency come down to how much air you can pull into the engine to mix with fuel for combustion. Aside from using a turbocharger, there are two ways in which this is done. One is with more displacement in the cylinders and the other is adding more cylinders. Volkswagen’s six-cylinder engines do not have a turbocharger, for example. For four-cylinder engines, it makes sense to add one because the smaller engine setup provides more room in the engine bay and typically you’ll see V6 engines switch up to a twin-turbo setup, which Volkswagen models aren’t designed to accommodate.

The reasons Volkswagen has switched all its four-cylinder engines to turbocharged ones is because they are more efficient. The most recent vehicle to switch is the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta, and we can see the base engine for 2015 model year was a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder naturally aspirated engine with a power output of 115 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque. The new engine has a power output of 150 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. If all else remained the same, it would simply be more fun to drive, but it also gets better fuel-economy. For 2016 you can expect to get an EPA-estimated 28 city and 40 highway mpg rating, compared to 25 city and 34 highway last year.

Though turbocharged engines have more working parts, and therefore more maintenance, we think the extra power and fuel economy makes them well worth it. Do you have an opinion on turbocharged engines? Drop us a comment below, and stay tuned here at the New Century Volkswagen Blog for more posts on VW news and FAQs.

Posted in FAQ, Fuel Economy