Volkswagen drops five-cylinder for turbo four, joining trend to smaller engines

2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR

2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR , introduced at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, goes on sale this fall as a limited edition

Gimme five. Well, no longer. Volkswagen is dropping the venerable naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter engine in favor of a new direct-injection 1.8-liter four-cylinder. The new engine, dubbed EA888 to insiders, will eventually replace the 2.5 for the Jetta, Beetle and Passat models.

Although the engine is rated the same as the outgoing five-cylinder—170 horsepower—torque has been increase by seven pound-ft. And the 184 lb-ft of torque, like that of the 2.0-liter turbo in the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo for example, comes in low on the engine’s rpm range, unlike the 2.5, which must be revved to get to the torque sweet spot. Not only will the new engine give base trim VW’s a lot more pep, Volkswagen says it will yield improved mileage as well.

Volkswagen plans to have 90 percent of its small engines turbo and direct-injection equipped. The Jetta and the Passat SEL—which we tested and found down on power with the 2.5—will get the “TSI” 1.8-liter first.

The new engine will go into a limited edition Beetle GSR (German for “Yellow Black Racer”). However, because the new engine is turbo equipped, Volkswagen is renaming the Beetle Turbo model the R-Line to distinguish it from the turbocharged 1.8 models. Only the Beetle models will get the R-Line designation.