Are You Ready For: A Mass-Market, Variable-Displacement Four-Cylinder?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

If you’re eagerly jumping up to shout “yes” to the headline’s rhetorical question, you’d better live in Europe… or be prepared to move there. The chances of VW ever bringing its 1.4 TSI engine to the US seem dim, based on the brand’s new mass-market-oriented, big-n-cheap approach. But starting next year, Autocar reports that

VW [will be] the first manufacturer to implement the fuel-saving technology in a mass-produced TSI engine, a system that shuts off two of the four cylinders under low to medium loads, between 1400 and 4000rpm.

Volkswagen claims that the EU6-compliant unit saves 0.4 litres (0.09 gallons) of fuel per 100km, rising to 0.6 litres (0.13 gallons) per 100km when combined with VW’s stop-start system.

VW also says that the benefits become more obvious when driven smoothly and slowly: “At 50 km/h, in third or fourth gear, savings amount to nearly one litre per 100km.”

If you’re currently looking up those conversions for use in future conversations (about hypothetical engine swaps for your Em Kay Eye Vee), you’re officially a “Mr Euro” (here’s a hint: it’s cooler to use the European measures and make everyone else do the math). If you’re wondering about how reliable these engines are going to be, or what it must be like to cruise the freeway on 700 ccs of displacement you’ve probably come to the right place.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • L'avventura L'avventura on Sep 04, 2011

    So I guess if you are saving 0.09 gallons for every 100km, then over 100,000kms you save 90 gallons of fuel. Which explains why the US won't be getting it, with gas prices in the mid-$3 range the savings are going to be just ~$320 for 100,000kms. Very poor ROI from the US consumer's perspective. I can only guess what collateral cost this technology will have, and what the downsides are to reliability and performance, but obviously higher European gas prices gives justification to adding this in European models.

  • Theirishscion Theirishscion on Sep 04, 2011

    Eh, Honda have had their version of this on many of their V6 models since something like 2006. My '11 Pilot has it. It's pretty much transparent at this point, if you know what you're looking for, you can sometimes feel the transition between 6,4 and 3 cylinders. Otherwise it Just Works. Proven very reliable so far, worst problem is slightly excessive oil consumption in some engines. They don't fail, just thirsty. The downside, of course, is that you lose out on VTEC performance goodies, those cams are being used for the VCM. That said, I'm not sure how comfortable I would be with the VW system, sliding cam lobes? Really, that doesn't sound nearly as simple (and proven) as the Honda system.

  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Sep 04, 2011

    Ok, so you have a turbo, a supercharger, all their associated plumbing, direct injection and now cylinder deactivation? And people say hybrids are too complex? Geeze...

    • See 1 previous
    • Patrickj Patrickj on Sep 05, 2011

      @Dynasty The original Lexus LS 400 had a 4 liter V8, roughly 240 cubic inches. Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, per Wikipedia, seem to have produced a variety of V8s smaller than that.

  • Wsn Wsn on Sep 06, 2011

    With such mechanical complexity, a hybrid looks positively reliable.