By on February 24, 2010

The benefits of gasoline engine downsizing has its latest poster child: the new Polo GTI. It’s a graphic example of why diesel market share in Europe is declining, especially in smaller cars: a 25% reduction on the European mileage standards, without any loss of performance. The GTI’s 1.4 liter TSI produces 177 hp (132kW), exactly the same as its 1.8 liter predecessor. But the combined fuel consumption is 5.9 L/100km (40 mpg US)—equivalent to CO2 emissions of 139 g/km, 25% lower than the outgoing model. Knowing that it also squirts to 100km (62 mph) in 6.9 seconds and comes standard with a 7 speed DSG transmission is only rubbing the wound of knowing it’s not coming to the US with salt. But undoubtedly, tightening CAFE standards will eventually send VW’s pioneering 1.4 and 1.6 TSI engines our way; the question is only in what body.

VW’s small TSI engines are to gas engines what it’s also pioneering TDI engines were to the diesel world: a breakthrough in shattering assumptions of what small artificially-aspirated gas engines are capable of, in terms of both performance and economy. Due to its combination of supercharging and turbocharging, an semblance of turbo lag is history. The 177 hp Euro-5 16-valve four-cylinder engine reaches its maximum power at a relatively low (for such a small engine) 6,200 rpm. Maximum torque of 250 N·m (184 lb-ft) arrives at 2,000 rpm and stays at a constantly high level up to 4,500 rpm. The effect is to recreate the feel of a much larger normally aspirated engine without any of the typical detriments.

Another graphic example of the narrowing gap of diesel and gas consumption is in the European Golf: two almost identically powered Golf VI versions: 140hp TDI – 5.4L/100km (43.56mpg); 160hp TSI – 6.0L/100km (39.2mpg). That represents a 10% difference. Meanwhile, the US version gas Golf slogs along with its antiquated 2.5 liter five that bumbles through the EPA test with a 26 combined rating.

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25 Comments on “New VW Polo GTI “Textbook Engine Downsizing” Yields 25% Reduction Of Fuel Consumption...”

  • avatar

    Porsche Polo has a certain ring to it.

  • avatar

    Bring it to the US @ sub 20k with OK options and an OK interior & I can sell my wife on it.

  • avatar

    I suspect it’s not offered here because their cost on the Mexican-made Golf is lower. But is the Polo also assembled somewhere in Latin America?

  • avatar

    actually considering diesel has about 13% more energy per liter the gasoline engine seems more efficient.

    What about cars with reasonable horsepower? A Polo with so much hp is not needed (I know, it is a GTi etc…). I’d be OK with a 130 hp golf, and 100 hp Polo. If they had TSi motors that small, how much better would mpg be?

    Obvioulsy I want to see real world mileage. I used to have 75 hp Seat TDi and no matter what I did, it always was 5l/100 km (all around town and in between towns) to 6l/100 km (Autobahn, 85 mph). the gasolines might get thirstier at higher load.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    That image shows the old Polo GTI.

    A 105hp Polo TSI is available. It’s pretty economic.

  • avatar
    bill h.

    It’s been said here by others before, the Polo GTi will not come to the US because it (being much closer in size and spirit to the original Mk I GTi) will compete too much with the plusher, porkier, more profit-laden Golf VI GTi.

  • avatar

    Here are the specs for the 105 HP Polo (with DSG):

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    These TSI engines are very clever , but quite complicated. Waiting to see how well they last.Many turbo-diesel BMWs are on their third turbo by 150K miles.VWs DSG gearbox has its own ECU and it is not unknown for this to fail after 3 years – just after the warranty has ended. It doen’t come cheap.

    • 0 avatar

      The TSI engines are the newer iteration of the TFSI engines present in my ’07 GTI. I would love to have the TSI because of how it is fundamentally more reliable than my engine. It has a rolling cam instead of a cam follower with a flat strike plate that routinely fails.

      Basically – the turbo diesel (and also twin turbo) BMW’s that have so many more miles use this rolling cam design.

      Also, the DSG issues have netted me a 10 year, 100K warranty – which I can’t complain about. So unless VW is willing to have another lovely fiasco, I’d imagine they’ll figure it out.

  • avatar

    If they brought it to the US with five doors and a real manual gearbox, I would be willing to forgive a few reliability concerns…

  • avatar

    Polo GTI looks like more of a true return to the early Golf GTI. Small and nimble, with somewhat modest power. Too bad it’s not coming to the states, I’d kind of dig it.

  • avatar

    Forgive the purists, but if VW doesn’t want to sell it here, this is a prime donor for an ‘entry-level’, 2016 CAFE-meetin’ Porsche. Either this or the A1. To borrow a Hyundai slogan, think about it.

  • avatar

    My concerns are similar to Uncle Mellow. Will these new high-output, smaller engines operate trouble free for 400K+ kM like my Hondas?

  • avatar

    I’d love it if VW actually sold the 1.4 or 1.6 TSI in the U.S. It might happen eventually. I’m a TDI fan, but if they actually sold an efficient gas engine, it would be nice. Although it’d probably be an epic failure in the U.S. once turbos start failing because VW dealers would likely be dumping conventional 10w30 into the engines.

    Perhaps they continue to offer the 2.5 litre engine in the Jetta because there’s no turbo to deal with and replace under warranty.

    VW service departments in the U.S. are generally useless, so I wonder if that factors in to the decision as to what engines are offered here. It’ll be interesting to see how the CBEA 2.0 litre TDI engine is doing in general in about 5 years. There are enough screwed up ALH engines that dealers touch and they’re fairly simple compared to the CBEA.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m a TDI fan, but if they actually sold an efficient gas engine, it would be nice. Although it’d probably be an epic failure in the U.S. once turbos start failing because VW dealers would likely be dumping conventional 10w30 into the engines.

      The 2.0 TFSI is not efficient? Maybe you meant to say a “smaller” efficient gas engine.

      Your last comment is gratuitous. VW specifies synthetic for their turbos, and it would surprise me very much if “dealers” would be routinely “dumping” the wrong oil into their cars (accidents can happen, though). Especially in today’s age of litigation.

    • 0 avatar

      mpresley has it right.

      All 3 VW dealerships I’ve gone to have provided full synthetic for all turbocharged applications.

      And yes, 3 is a wonderfully small sample size, but I’ve never heard of the dealership messing up on something so simple.

      Now, I have heard of forgetting to fully tighten the oil drain plug, but that is pretty complicated : )

  • avatar

    there’s a downside to this…

    you do not want to own one out of warranty

    1. the clutch system used in the supercharger to turbocharger switchover is faulty… been well documented. The 90TSI with a single turbo with 120hp may be a better option in the long run.

    2. the DSG is a sealed unit and non repairable. Again the 6 spd manual would probably be a good choice.

    3. the DI fuel system is pretty complex and any repair or parts will be extortionate.

    4. it’s VW

    I like the Polo and especially the concept Cross Polo but you know what VAG cars are like..,.

  • avatar

    This car reminds me of the Nissan March Superturbo (from way back in 1989) with the very small displacement supercharged + turbocharged engine and good performance numbers (I learned about that one from Gran Turismo 2, which had essays on the history of every car featured).

    Kudos to VW for putting all this together (direct injection, supercharging, and turbocharging) into a great package. It would take either heroic idiocy or terrible emissions to NOT bring a 40 mpg small car with great performance to the US. Let’s hope VW has a brain in departments other than engineering.

  • avatar

    Wait, did you just say something positive about CAFE standards? That they’ll force VW to give us their better, smaller powerplants? That can’t be true, since I read here everyday that government regulations will sweep the Earth clean of good cars and all those who enjoy them. Did you miss your local tea party today?

    Bring it all on, I say– tougher regs, smaller cars and smarter engines. My Beetle TDI will only last another couple hundred thousand miles before I need a replacement.

    • 0 avatar

      As long as I’m not forced to buy one due to them being the only choices they can be “brought on” all they want. Just don’t expect EVERYONE to want, or even worse be “socially engineered” into one.

  • avatar

    The US government is not going to force you to buy a VW or any other car, so drop that fear. But you won’t have unlimited choices, either. You never have. It’s increasingly hard for me to find cars with manual transmissions, but that’s the fault of the market that prefers automatics. “I have found that enemy, and it is us.” I’m sure there will be high-powered cars sold by somebody for a long, long time. I’m happy to see them get rarer and more expensive, though. My choice has always been to look for lower-powered models that still have excellent handling and braking. That’s why I’ve done a lot of work on the suspension of my TDI Beetle, but the engine is stock. Hey, if 90 hp.140 lb ft. can pull me up the highest, steepest interstate in Colorado at illegal speeds, that’s enough power, thank you. I hope that CAFE regs lead us in that direction. If not, there’s millions of used cars out there, of every shape and size.

  • avatar

    The declining share of diesel in Europe has nothing to do with technological development.

    Europe needs to tax gasoline; it would be unlivable if car use is not restricted in some way; and the way this is done is through gas taxes. Diesel is taxed less, because of the trucking lobby.

    However the relative price of gas vs. diesel is ultimately a decision of politicians. If everyone starts buying gasoline cars, surely gas taxes will increase up to the point where driving diesel becomes sensible again.

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