11-03-2012, 01:30 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
2016 Cayman GT4
Volkswagen’s Plans and a BMW Engine That Never Happened
Each week, our German correspondent slices and dices the latest rumblings, news, and quick-hit driving impressions from the other side of the pond. His byline may say Jens Meiners, but we simply call him . . . the Continental.
Volkswagen is working hard to reach the ambitious U.S. sales targets it set for 2018. The new Jetta hybrid is an important step to become more of a mainstream brand. As torquey and efficient as diesels are, they fail to make significant inroads into the mass market. Hybrids already capture three percent of new car sales, while diesels linger at 0.85 percent. What’s more, VW research has revealed that most Toyota Prius buyers didn’t even consider the Jetta TDI. Luckily, the Jetta hybrid delivers—it’s actually quite close in character to the GLI. It’s so good that it bodes well for upcoming plug-in hybrid variations of the MQB platform—like the new Golf or the next-generation Passat. What a contrast to other hybrids, which make you feel like you are maneuvering a spaceship.
Hybrid buyers have an average age of 61 years old, while TDI buyers are an average of 44 years old. VW’s diesel buyers also are predominantly male and more affluent than hybrid buyers. Which group would you rather be in? The Jetta hybrid, of course, will narrow that gap. Enthusiasts should take note, however, that the gas-electric Jetta still is heavy. Volkswagen says that the Jetta hybrid weighs “just” 229 pounds more than the Jetta 2.5 with a torque-converter slushbox and a different rear suspension. But compared to the European-market Jetta 1.4, the difference grows to a whopping 353 pounds.
Replacing the Straight-Five
Only the Jetta hybrid gets the brand-new EA211 1.4-liter TSI engine, which makes 150 hp without the electric motor; regular Jettas instead will receive the equally pleasant EA888 1.8-liter TSI next year. This engine will replace the ageing EA113 inline-five; the naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four remains in the lineup as an entry-level engine. The GLI’s EA113 2.0-liter TSI likely will be replaced by a 2.0-liter EA888 TSI down the road; the TDI remains unchanged for some time.
One year after the Jetta, for the 2015 model year, the Passat and the Beetle will get the 1.8-liter TSI as well. It’s the end of the road, then, for the inline-five. Its ultra-powerful derivative in the Audi RS3 and the Audi TT RS will remain on the market, and it likely will be built entirely in Europe.
Enthusiasts within VW are fighting hard to bring the upcoming Golf MkVII GTD to the U.S. market. Go for it! It’s exactly what brand loyalists need. The next generation of the Golf wagon variant will be offered here as well, and I certainly hope it won’t be called the Jetta SportWagen anymore, because it isn’t a Jetta. Identify it as a Golf, or just call it SportWagen (which, by the way, means sports car in German).
Why We Don’t Get the Cayenne S Diesel
Porsche has big diesel news not only for the U.S., but also for Europe. The U.S.-market Cayenne finally received the 3.0-liter V-6 TDI that works so well in a number of Audi models and the Volkswagen Touareg TDI. Rated at 240 hp and producing 406 lb-ft of torque, the diesel provides a thoroughly pleasant driving experience. Europe, however, has it better: It gets the Cayenne S diesel, which is powered by a 4.1-liter V-8 TDI that produces 382 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque. Why doesn’t it come to the U.S.? Because Porsche doesn’t want to take the financial burden of federalizing this engine, we are told by an insider. The work was largely done for the V-6 TDI by Porsche’s sister brands; don’t hold your breath for a Porsche V-8 TDI until that engine is first launched in the U.S. by Volkswagen or Audi.
BMW Could Have Given Us a V-16
BMW is celebrating 25 years of the V-12 engine‑with a special-edition 760Li, no less. Launched in 1987, it catapulted the E32 7-series beyond the Mercedes-Benz W126 S-class with its far-less-powerful V-8 engines. Concerned that Daimler might react instantly, BMW prepared for the next step with a V-16 engine—and it actually built a prototype. But Daimler took its time, and when its own V-12 was finally launched in 1991, the political climate had changed. The V-16 remains merely a footnote in BMW’s history. Pity!