By on January 26, 2016

vw tsi tdi

Perhaps you heard. Volkswagen ran into a little trouble with their previously acclaimed TDI diesel engines.

No matter.

Volkswagen’s recently introduced 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gas-fired engine was already beginning to weaken the case for the optional 2-liter diesel. But now a new 1.4-liter turbo – yes, a wee little 1393 cc four pot – generates the same amount of torque as the 1.8T, has only 20 fewer ponies, revs with sweet abandon, and produces real-world fuel economy figures that challenge the TDI.

The pick of the Jetta range? You better believe it. More pertinently, there’s no better base engine in an affordable small car in 2016. Say goodbye to the TDI if you must, even temporarily, then welcome this TSI with wide open arms.

At least, as wide-armed a welcome as you can give a Volkswagen so soon after its betrayal. Our reactions, while at varying points between 1 – amazement that Volkswagen could be so stupid – to 10 – disgust that they’ve harmed your personal green cred and harmed the resale value of your precious VeeDub – fit somewhere along a fairly narrow scale.

Even the jaded cynics find themselves approaching unaffected, enthusiast-oriented Volkswagens like the Golf GTI a little bit differently now. The cool factor once engendered by plaid seats is counteracted by the realization that passersby, from the automotively interested to the automotively unaware, now look at a Volkswagen through an ignominious filter.

ea211_14_tsi_engine_5122

But do all you can for just a few moments to forget the last four months. Imagine yourself as a Volkswagen aficionado, keen on a diesel Jetta but conscious of the 1.8 TSI’s favourable pricing. (In 2015, a Jetta SEL automatic cost $2,130 more in diesel form than as a 1.8 TSI.) Your unfriendly local Volkswagen salesman informs you that there’s a new, even less expensive option. So you drive the cheaper 1.4 TSI back-to-back with the 1.8 TSI, completely ignoring the TDI now that a mid-grade 1.4 TSI SE is $2,720 less than the least costly 1.8 TSI, not to mention the premium-priced TDI.

Can you feel a power difference? If it’s there, it’s scarcely measurable by your backside. Is one torquier than the other? Technically, the smaller engine makes the same amount of torque, but the EA211 1.4 TSI hits its torque peak 100 rpm sooner than the 1.8 TSI.

You wouldn’t have believed that a scraggly one-point-four could steady itself, could find the resolve, could settle into a civilized groove sufficient to meet the NVH demands of our time. Yet here you are in a quiet car with no vibration coming through the pedals, no buzzing in the headliner, no low rpm shuddering, and only hints of turbo lag when it could be confused with or married to the 6-speed automatic’s position in too high a gear.

2016 Volkswagen Jetta Trendline+ front

Admittedly, the 42 mpg result we recorded during a cold winter’s week on winter tires with an automatic-equipped Jetta 1.4 TSI must be an exception, not the rule. The 1.4 TSI automatic is rated at 28 mpg in the city; 39 on the highway. Though very little of our time was spent on the highway, vehicles we test periodically overperform because of vast stretches of lightly trafficked 40 mph four-lane through which we must travel to leave our neck of the woods. It’s worth noting, however, that our vehicle delivery benefactor drove this Jetta 1.4 TSI from Ontario to Nova Scotia when it was wet behind the ears and registered 45 mpg. The word you’re looking for is dieselesque.

Still, establishing the 1.4 turbo as the best engine in the Jetta range is one believable declaration. Naming it the best base engine in a small car is another matter.

But which competitor combines this level of power, torque, fuel economy, and refinement? I’ll be spending the next week with the 1.5-liter turbo from the Honda Civic, but that’s not the base Civic engine. The 155-horsepower 2-liter in the Mazda3 is part of a better package overall, but it needs way more revs to produce less torque. The Subaru Impreza’s 2-liter boxer four is unique, but it’s much thirstier than the 1.4 TSI. You could bring the 1.5-liter turbo triple from Mini’s basic Cooper into the debate – 134 horsepower and 162 lbs-ft of torque at a low 1,250 rpm – but quirky isn’t necessarily better.

Independent rear suspension, Apple CarPlay availability, and other tinkered-with parts of the Jetta work with the 1.4 TSI to make the Jetta better than ever. Nevertheless, we remember why the sixth-generation Jetta came in for such criticism when newly launched. The climate controls from lower-trim Jettas, for instance, are cheaper than the price of gas during a one-day sale at the Beacon & Bridge Market in Houghton Lake, Michigan. Exterior styling barely qualifies as styling. Dynamically, the basic Jetta lacks the distinct Germanic flair of its predecessors. The rear doors don’t thunk, they clink.

Thus, back to reality, we all remember that the Jetta isn’t the even the best compact Volkswagen, let alone the best compact car overall. The Jetta’s 1.4 TSI four-cylinder engine, however, is a separate issue altogether.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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125 Comments on “Volkswagen’s 1.4 TSI is the Best Small Car Base Engine Today...”


  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Get back to us when VW’s powertrain warranty expires, and check the VW Vortex forums for mass wailing & moaning then, too.

    • 0 avatar
      Corollaman

      That doesn’t seem to matter for most buyers nowadays, who have been brainwashed into believing that ALL cars are basically good now and that there are no bad cars anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      TOTitan

      DW……Im on the Golf Sportwagen VII forum of VW Vortex and heard seen much wailing. The MQB based sportwagen is a delightful car that does everything well. I bought my daughter a new Rabbit in 08. Admittedly the 2.5L is not very exciting but after 120,000 miles it has never been back to the dealer and has never had a malfunction of any kind…not even a battery. So while you are certainly entitled to write whatever you want, my real life experience with 2008+ VW’s has been good.

      • 0 avatar
        TOTitan

        * haven’t seen much wailing. The site wouldnt let me edit

      • 0 avatar
        la834

        I also bought a Rabbit but in ’07 when it still used the 150hp tuned version of the NA 2.5L I-5 rather than the 170hp tune in ’08 and later models. The 1.4TSI 4 puts out the same 150hp as my Rabbit, more torque, less NVH, and *much* better fuel economy. It’s a shame VWoA will restrict this engine to a few low-end Jettas, and that the manual tranny available with it, if at all, is only a 5-speed. I wouldn’t mind seeing the 1.4TSI in high-spec Jettas, Golfs, and Beetles. Especially Golfs.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        The 2.5 liter 5 cylinder is/was arguably VW’s most reliable motor (at least as used in vehicles sold in North America).

        In any event, I haven’t pre-judged the 1.4t as unreliable long-term, but given VW’s overall & historic record regarding such matters…

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          The 2.5 was the only engine VW has offered in the modern era to achieve average reliability from CR. Add a technical detail, remove an order or reliability and durability. The 1.4 has too many complications for pathetic VW engineers to pull off.

          • 0 avatar
            never_follow

            The 2.slow is awaiting your apology. Ironic, as it usually keeps the world waiting.

            Solid and understressed though, the one I supercharged took it like a champ for 50 000 kms, and went back to stock without a hiccup.

          • 0 avatar
            la834

            The entire Rabbit did “much better than average” in the CR reliability poll. Mine has been flawless in the 8 years I’ve had it.

            The GTI, which was rated separately, didn’t do quite as well but was still respectable. We’ll see if the Mk7 Golfs can keep that up, with the new platform, new turbo engines, and production for North American cars shifted from Germany to Mexico (save for the Golf R which is still made in Germany).

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Comparing the 2.5 to the TSI is like comparing the Tech4 to the Quad4.

        • 0 avatar
          la834

          Long ago I drove a Pontiac Phoenix with the Iron Duke 4 (absolutely nobody outside GM called it the Tech IV, though C/D called it the “low-tech 4”). It was the most raucous, uncouth, agricultural-sounding engine I’ve ever experienced in something that didn’t mow my lawn. Compared to that, the VW 2.5 feels like a BMW straight 6.

          I’ll vouch for the 2.5 five some. It’s torguey, and rare for a VW engine, it’s reliable. It gets loud and harsh when revved high, but that’s irrelevant since it there’s good power down low and the 6-speed autobox has the gears to keep it that way (the 5-speed stick in my car less so, but it’s still quiet in highway driving thanks to good insulation and effective isolation). Only real downside is the mediocre fuel economy for a car of this size and power.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I love my Golf SportWagen. I haven’t really had any issues with it, either. I’ve put 16,000 miles on it since mid-April of last year.

        • 0 avatar
          johnny_5.0

          I realize this won’t happen because it’s like enthusiasts saying they’d buy a new brown manual diesel wagon, but I’d love to see a GTI version of the SportWagen. The hatch version is practical, but a wagon version would be tits.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Kyree, I actually like your vehicle (even though I’ve been burned by VW twice), but 16,000 miles is nothing by modern standards, and I know that YOU know that.

          Keep us posted (no /sarc intended) at 50,000 miles, 100,000 miles, 125,000 miles, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I just wanted to say, that in 5 years there will be noise, vibration and all other things VW do when they age. And this engine, may just fall apart by then. Besides, this turbo probably needs premium.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      The new ” emissions problem ” is Carbon Monoxide and too many Petrol/Gas engines make too much of that

    • 0 avatar
      incautious

      Indeed with camshafts self destructing( and no fix in sight other that to put the same bad cam design in)low mileage $1000 water pump replacements, bad crankcase ventilation valves and blown read main seals, it seems that VAG’s reputation for spotty reliability still rings true. Should have kept the 2.5 guys

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Admittedly, the 42 mpg result we recorded during a cold winter’s week on winter tires with an automatic-equipped Jetta 1.4 TSI must be an exception, not the rule. The 1.4 TSI automatic is rated at 28 mpg in the city; 39 on the highway.”

    “It’s worth noting, however, that our vehicle delivery benefactor drove this Jetta 1.4 TSI from Ontario to Nova Scotia when it was wet behind the ears and registered 45 mpg. ”

    This is the only section I find compelling. How could Volkswagen have discovered how to make gas turbo actually deliver exceptional fuel economy when the rest of the industry has basically failed? Canadian (real) gas? Manual transmission? More fairy dust sprinkled from the factory?

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Trifec-

      …oh never mind.

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      Canadian (imperial) gallons, maybe?

      45 MPG imperial would be 36 MPG U.S.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I was under the impression Canadians switched and were using litres.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I initially thought they were using the displacement of the Stanley Cup. Then I remembered that a Canadian hockey team hasn’t won a Stanley Cup in almost a quarter century. All their measurements are ours now!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You’re doing it wrong, its ALL YOUR MEASURES ARE BELONG TO US.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Thank you. You are correct.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Always remember: ODB Achieves.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            You’re [email protected] right. Forever.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            So the week of the 14th, when do you fly out?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Everything cancelled. No travel in Q1. All our monies are belong to shareholders!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Shareholders? Who dat?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Oh, you know, just the average investor. Goldman, John Hancock, Wells, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Pfft the squid will be fine, I’m sure the rest will just hit up the money tree out back as needed.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            We must prepare for economic turmoil. I’ve cut expenses in my department by 8% year over year (no personnel cuts). I need to hire more people though. We’re paying enough OT to justify hiring at least one more person.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “We must prepare for economic turmoil”

            You heard it hear first folks.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I work at a very fiscally conservative company. Upper management doesn’t want to be caught with it’s pants down if things go bad. We are still growing though.

            Health care places are feeling a big pinch these days. Everyone at the company my wife works for had to take a 3% pay cut. I know plenty that have had worse. Hospital systems are consolidating like banks did in the 2000s.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “if things god [sic] bad”

            If?

            “Hospital systems are consolidating like banks did in the 2000s.”

            I was at a high level meeting at the now defunct Mckesson Automation in 2011 in which this was being discussed. Something to the effect of state and local gov’t had an interest in seeing failing facilities survive (esp if they were the only such facility in a rural region) so they were “persuading” consolidation with stronger networks. The first thoughts I had were “merger of equals” and “winning!”. I departed not long after when the grand division strategy was revealed as “pool all of our R&D money into AcuDose”. The new Pro Manager (aka “Blister”) robot was basically a failure and at the time they didn’t want to put money into ROBOT-Rx which was the only good product we sold, so it was a desperate throw money at nursing products move. Later I learned the hedge fund which bought them in 2013 turned R&D focus toward revamping the existing robot (duh!). The former division has since been sold again to Omnicell (which is a competitor to AcuDose cabinets) and most likely the nursing product line will be folded. Fcking idiots I was saying in 2010 we need to focus on central pharmacy robotics as that is what built the company, then of course I’m right when both takeover companies bought it for the robot(s).

            AcuDose is/was the DaimlerChrysler of the cabinet world, and they wasted at least $40 million on it to only be sold twice. AcuDose is/was Powerbuilder and Borland C++ no less but yeah here’s a blank check guys. Markets reward good companies and punish stupid ones (unless they are certain banks who get unlimited get out of jail free cards apparently).

        • 0 avatar
          993cc

          We have, but old habits die hard, and when quoting MPG rather than litres/100km, some people revert to the old-world gallons. Not sure if that’s what happened in this case because the author doesn’t specify. Often when writing for a U.S. audience Canadians will use U.S. units. 45 MPG U.S. is pretty good.

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          Hey As long as Seagram’s products keep coming in full bottles

      • 0 avatar
        Timothy Cain

        5.6 L/100km, what we saw in the automatic Jetta 1.4T, is equal to 42 mpg on the U.S. scale; 50.4 Imperial mpg.

        • 0 avatar
          NickS

          Just pointing out that the US is really a metric country in theory, it’s just that it’s bumpkins have resisted change forever and our lawmakers never restricted the use of the outdated backwards units, or limited them to secondary status.

          The larger issue is that the US is stuck in political disfunction and general malaise with respect to modern norms. Things that are dead obvious to other developed countries somehow need to be different for us. Units of measure, the cost of drugs and healthcare, parental leave, and much more. We can’t decide if the penny should go meanwhile other countries have done a few reconfigurations of their coinage and bills. 19/32nds of an inch is meaningless and it’s not obvious that 3.69 lbs is the same as 3lbs 11oz.

          Wow, I didn’t know I felt so pationately about this.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            “it’s just that it’s bumpkins…”

            U GRAMMAR BUMPKIN!

            HA HA!

            “felt so pationately”

            U NO GET TO INVENT, BUMPKIN

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        While the standard fuel economy measurement in Canada is L/100k (litres per 100 km), they occasionally show MPG. In this instance, for whatever stupid reason, they often use Imperial gallons.

        • 0 avatar
          Wheatridger

          The Canadians have a better way of expressing vehicle efficiency, methinks. It is a mouthful, though. In the US, we come up with a nice, neat number to brag about. And those big steps in the second decimal place are so tempting. I’d be happier, I know, if my car scored 30 mpg rather than 29. It just sounds so much bigger! But who would brag about lowering their per-100-mile consumption from 3.33 gallons to 3.44 gallons?

          The most misleading effect of our mpg math is that it exaggerates the benefits of increased mpg scores. It makes us visualize the rising graph as a straight line, but it’s actually a parabola. If you raise mpg from 10 to 20, you’d get a 100% boost, but raising mpg from 30 to 40 only nets a 25% benefit. That can lead to unhelpful choices, like keeping the big pickup but trading the Camry for a pickup.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            MPG measures miles per gallon. If you prefer gallons per 100 miles or whatever, then just do the math and figure it out.

            If arithmetic bums you out, then Uncle Sam will do the math for you. FuelEconomy.gov reports the combined MPG figure in the form of gallons per 100 miles.

        • 0 avatar
          Whatnext

          That “stupid reason” would be that Canada was a part of the British Empire, hence it used Imperial Measurements. Likewise we had the good sense to follow them onto the metric system, as opposed to some more backward former colonies.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The UK still uses standard measurements for distance. Speed limits are mph, road distances are in miles and yards.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      The Cruze and the Dart also have 1.4T options that get 40MPG.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Wait…area 51…martians….kryptonite propelled…. Say it ain’t so: 40+ mpg!?

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Doctor

      It’s probably related to the fact that the 1.8T and 1.4T have pretty flat torque curves from 1500 to 4500 RPM. If you don’t need to go heavy on the boost pressure to get the engine to pull, fuel economy goes up.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I don’t know about the 1.4T, but the 1.8T has turned a base Golf into a poor man’s S-Class. Truly effortless driving.

    I am with DW here though- I need to see what these things are like out of warranty before committing to one. The current TFSI iteration works pretty well in 2.0T guise though.

  • avatar
    ducatimechanic

    I recently purchases a Fiesta ST, and the 1.6L turbo engine is just silly fast (and remember that it’s still being broken it, so more fun awaits).

    The Golf R that I drove a few years ago, was not nearly as much fun as this (numb is a good description).

    Ford is already doing what you’re giving VW pats on the head for; see the upcoming Fusion (most especially if there is an ST / RS version; the return of a real SHO?).

    Oh, and I have a 2015 WRX for comparison. Where the WRX is solid and pulls strong, the Fiesta ST is frantic (when you get past a certain RPM).

    Around town, people are wondering why I traded my truck for this little white clown shoe… it’s only when I get out into the country that it reveals itself to be a go-cart that I can carry 3 dogs in…

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/capsule-review-2014-ford-fiesta-st/

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I think the point is that Ford hasn’t exactly hit efficiency targets in the real world. Part of it is that Ford seems to go one size too small for turbocharged engines in their cars.

      2.0T is too small for the Taurus
      1.5T is too small for the Fusion (I haven’t driven the new 1.5T in the 2017 Fusion)
      1.0T is too small for the Focus

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Ford needs to loosen up the “Eco” part and just go full hotrod becuase that is when their turbo engines seem to shine.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I tend to agree. I am a fan of the Ford turbocharged engines in top trim or performance applications. I think they are at their best when they have more power than what is necessary. The 1.0T in the Focus should be available in only “Stugglebus” trim level.

      • 0 avatar
        ducatimechanic

        “I think the point is that Ford hasn’t exactly hit efficiency targets in the real world.”

        While I agree here, if we’re willing to just forget that VW is currently the one who is under siege, and selling vehicles at fire sale prices, not Ford.

        As to your very valid point about the too-small “eco-boost” engines in their current lineup:

        2.7 Turbo V6 moving to fill the gap.
        2.3 Turbo I4 moving to fill the gap.

        Hybrid and new transmissions to address the fuel economy issues, but that’s not really the point: People in most markets don’t care about fuel economy right now (other than the very valid “oh, you own one of those pollution cars” thing, as possibly associated with diesels).

        As fuel prices fall, we’re seeing the completion between the governments who want to get us consumers off oil, the dealers who actually buy the cars from the car makers, and then the actual car buyers who seem to want performance vehicles (hemi and hellcat, oh my).

        3 competing demands, and we wonder why the auto folks do crazy things; even Subaru and VW are building big SUVs?

        —- Full disclosure, I own both Ford (F) and VW (VLKAY); please go out and buy several VW autos, and tell me how wrong I am about this company.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I mean, I own two FoMoCo products and have owned multiple Ecoboost vehicles. I’ve also driven just about every Ford and Lincoln vehicle with currently available engine options. What VW did with their diesel engines doesn’t change the fact that the Fusion 1.5T should get better mileage than it does. There should also be a non-turbo V6 option on the Fusion.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        2.0T is definitely not too small for a Taurus. Have you seen the cars that Audi puts their 2.0T in?

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          I had a 2016 A6 2.0T as a service loaner. It was quick enough to keep up with traffic, which hasn’t always been the case with German base engines, but it was far from a luxurious engine. Close your eyes and an Impala V6 would have seemed like an S-class Mercedes in comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Oh, and I have a 2015 WRX for comparison. Where the WRX is solid and pulls strong, the Fiesta ST is frantic (when you get past a certain RPM).

      See turbo lag isn’t a bad thing. My ’96 Eclipse GS-T had this feeling and it what made me fall in LOVE with turbos. Its a Dr Jekyll / Mr Hyde kind of engine: you can be cruising along with no boost returning good mileage (because 4 cylinder), then screaming forward with a huge shove of torque when the boost kicks in (because race car). After that car we got a 1.8T VW Passat and now have a T5 Volvo C30 due to how fun the turbo Mitsubishi was to drive.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    My local VW dealers are selling the Jetta 1.4T with a manual transmission for $13,077. This is probably the best deal I’ve seen in 10 years on a vehicle. The manual 1.4T is more fun to drive then you would expect from such a small engine. In fact I would choose this engine over a tdi any day. That is if VW was still selling the tdi.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Sounds like something worth investigating if one plans to run it into the ground.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        Junk priced like junk by Germans under duress.

        Or are the dealers just getting scalded?

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        If I was in the market for a car, the Jetta 1.4T would be at the top of the list. Especially for $13k and free maintenance for two years.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          You might be a tad biased VW16v but on the face of it, this sound like something worth investigating for the row your own folks of the nation (despite all the VAGery later).

          • 0 avatar
            VW16v

            I could a bit bias. But, the 1.4T and 1.8T engines are fantastic engines. Take one for a test drive and post your opinion.

          • 0 avatar
            tedward

            I’m with vw16v

            The 1.4 literally blew my mind when I drove it. The jetta isn’t my cup of tea, but it fascinated the big picture, industry enthusiast side of me. I, obviously, also have an affinity for their current stuff, but still…

            The 1.8, in the golf especially (different turbo I think) is more of the same. 200 lb/ft on 87 getting high 30’s to low 40’s? Damn.

            Least impressive is the 2.0t that we just bought. Other brands do offer similar or higher value propositions here in terms of raw numbers. Still, very smooth, very good torque, decent fuel economy.

          • 0 avatar
            blppt

            @tedward

            Bear in mind that the VW 2.0T is universally underrated in hp/tq vs the competition. The previous gen one in my 2013 CC makes about 230-240hp at the crank in real life. (stock dynos are pretty much always in the 200s).

            VW advertises this motor at 200hp, flat.

            I think the 1.8T is underrated a bit too–not that well versed in that particular model tho.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    The 1.4T has been in use in the Jetta Hybrid since its inception, but this is the first time it’s made its way to an ordinary, “volume” model here in the U.S. It definitely makes the Jetta a nicer value proposition, but I feel like competitors (Cruze, Civic, Focus, Forte) give people more of the stuff they actually care about for the money.

    As far as the whole TDI scandal thing, not a single person—to my knowledge—has looked askance at me or my car. The only people who’ve even commented on it…were other TDI drivers. I really don’t think all that many non-industry people care or even know about it.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      We car writers are exposed to a lot of vehicular opinions on a constant basis. I’ve had one TDI tester – an A6 TDI the week the scandal broke – and one Jetta – this one – and I’m asked questions and presented with theories by all the neighbours and friends who used to ask about cars PLUS a whole legion of aunts, long-lost friends, people in the grocery store parking lot, dentists, doctor… everybody. Here in Canada, where Volkswagen’s market share is at least twice as strong as it was in the U.S., the brand was already a more frequent topic of discussion.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    The little engine that could……………….save VW, maybe?

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I think the little engine that could save VW was the TDI that didn’t run a cheat program.

      At this point, VW engineering a time machine to rectify that problem seems easier than recovering from the scandal. A nice little 1.4 turbo isn’t going to come close.

      Unless…it is as reliable as the Toyota 1.8, gets 50mpg real world, is installed into a Jetta that feels like a million bucks but costs less than a Hyundai and never ever falls apart, is successfully marketed as The Next Big Thing, and the space-time continuum is warped so the car-buying public simultaneously forgets all about the curse of TDI and knows with certainty that this new VW will run for 15 years without so much as a bulb burning out.

      I dunno, I think it could happen. Until then, Corolla/Civic will pound it.

      • 0 avatar
        Corollaman

        Sorry, I bet to differ, Diesel just did not catch on here like it does in other parts of the world, this new one, if it turns out to be half reliable, should get traffic moving into VW dealers once again. The other day I met a young fellow who bought a new Jetta with that engine and he was very happy with his car.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          I should clarify what I meant. I don’t think the TDI would generate large sales volume, but the damage the cheating did to the brand is costing them and will likely hinder future growth of all VWs, gas or diesel, for some time.

          Reliability takes years to establish and may not be enough to spur huge sales gains. The 2.5 5-cylinder introduced in 2006 was quite reliable, but Jetta sales didn’t really pick up until the Americanized 2011 redesign.

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      For this engine to save VW they’ll have to offer it in more than one car.

      I would consider a 1.4 turbo as an alternative to the diesel that I really want, but I won’t consider a sedan instead of the wagon or hatchback that I need.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    My local VW dealers are selling the Jetta 1.4T with a manual transmission for $13,077. This is probably the best deal I’ve seen in 10 years on a vehicle. The manual 1.4T is more fun to drive

  • avatar
    gasser

    Where is this deal????!!!

  • avatar
    NickS

    I don’t have a problem with the claim that you can get 42 mpg — that’s what lean burn does. But these guys don’t tell you anything to make the number meaningful. A tweet isn’t going to tell you much more than a pic of a trip computer, both of which are wholly inadequate to make their claim of observed mileage believable. The trip computer can give you a lot more information, there is pen and paper which is still essential, and a whole lot more.

    I actually like that engine a lot (its nano-particles are a whole ‘nother issue).

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      The tweet itself didn’t measure the fuel consumption.

      Our consumption was measured at the pump as 5.6 L/100km, slightly better than the 5.7 L/100km measured by the Jetta’s trip computer. On this basis, I suspect Mr. Sowerby’s 5.2 L/100km from Ontario to Halifax would likely have been verified by pump-to-pump measurements, as well. Just a few years ago, I was always skeptical of trip meter readings largely because vehicles our own measurements were always off by around 10%, typically in the negative direction. Over the last year or two, we’ve noticed a massive change, as in the dozens of new vehicles we drive over the course of a year – for a week at a time and between 150-500 kilometres – the trip meter readings are now typically coming within 1-2% of the pump-to-pump measurements, and not always optimistically.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        That is very interesting. I wonder if lawsuits spurred legal departments to get involved in that or if the marketing side did within each of those companies. An unknowable curiosity.

      • 0 avatar
        NickS

        OK, that’s better, but I’d prefer more detail from a tech site.

        – Over how many km/miles were your measurements?
        – Show all trip computer data for that trip: time, avg speed, etc.
        – Road conditions, and terrain: flat? freeway? sleet, snow, etc.
        – equipment used: AC on to defog windows?

        I see why you say “on that basis” but I’d let the tester explicitly state their methodology rather than suspect they did it the same way you guys did.

        FYI, VW trip computers have been pretty close to P2P measurements for a number of years now. But that is an issue of calibrating the measurements to be sure. It still does not say if it was under some ideal conditions that maximize fuel economy.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    The A3 e-tron also comes with the 1.4TSI engine which is priced at $46k from what I remember.

    The 1.4TSI makes the same torque as the manual 1.8TSI which is less than the likely more common automatic 1.8TSI. The auto is 200lb ft. So if you drove an automatic, the comparison should be to an automatic 1.8TSI which produces more torque than the 1.4TSI automatic. Apples to apples and all that.

    The 1.4TSI is not an EA888 engine like the 1.8TSI and 2.0TSI. As such the engine is very different in the details. A big detail is that the 1.4TSI has a timing belt which will need changing at regular intervals but it is the dual camshaft adjusters which might make that process a bit more challenging as in the previous AVK/BGN engines locking the cams in a fixed known position to change the belt is likely necessary.

    The 1.4TSI doesn’t do air to air intercooling for reasons uknown to me at this time. The little air to water intercooling system of the 1.4TSI is a departure from the norm for VW/Audi in the US. One hopes that the system does not develop a coolant leak inside of the intake manifold which is possible with air to water systems.

    The 1.4TSI does respond positively to tuning, better than say the old 8 valve crossflow ever did.

    It will be interesting to see what comes of this engine in terms of tuning.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      APR advertizes 168hp/216ft-lb out of their stage 1 kit. Very impressive.

      • 0 avatar
        qfrog

        That is completely adequate for a daily driver. I’d like to see what happens with a slightly larger turbocharger for folks that aren’t fearful of torque lag. Naturally with an improved downpipe situation and some improved intercooling, air to air preferably.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      “as in the previous AVK/BGN engines locking the cams in a fixed known position to change the belt is likely necessary”

      I presume there’s a tool for that, like their older engines. That one wasn’t very expensive, paid for itself on the first job.

      • 0 avatar
        qfrog

        I miss it being easy like the 1.8T with the intake cam being chain driven off of the exhaust cam. Better still in longitudinal mounting form! No obnoxious engine support bracket to fight with for belt routing.

        I expect a tool exists to lock the 1.4TSI cams and if the engine is produced in sufficient volume there will probably be aftermarket versions that make sense to own as a tech or a home gamer.

  • avatar
    atat

    The 1.8 TSI in my Golf can easily do 38mpg highway but when it comes to the city it lingers around 20-22.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Lease deal: 1.4S w/auto, $1999 down, $169/mo x36 mo, plus $1500 bonus for switching to VW. Not bad.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Thank you, oh thank you, Tim, for your rare focus on the metal here — an actual, 1.4-liter piece of automotive technology that you and I can buy today. Instead of writing about the deception, the fumbled response, the kind of people who drive VW’s, WWII or some lousy experience with a 15-year old Passat, whichever sounds worse.

    But please, let’s just talk about the car. I’ve been waiting for decades for to get access to lively, efficient & tiny engines like this 1.4 TSI, and now it’s here. If you’re a James May type who makes wry cracks about “slow car fast” (and I am), it’s almost irresistible. Certainly it takes away the appeal of a TDI. At fueleconomy.gov, the little gasser and the despised diesel average the same annual fuel cost.

    So here comes a technological breakthrough that arrives precisely too late. Now that VW’s credibility is low and the public’s trust level lower, and gas prices low, too. Reminds me of the second-generation Corvair, with its completely revamped suspension that resolved the original’s flaws… but who cared. rear engine cars were unsafe at any speed, right?

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Impressive numbers for sure, but I’d still be leery of buying anything “TSI.” Too many horror stories of massive oil burning, malfunctioning PCV valves, sooted up intake valves causing all sorts of fun running issues, and worse (shearing camshafts on the latest EA888s). I think buying one of these cheapo Jettas with a stick for commuting purposes and dumping it three years later on trade or lease end is a smart way to play it. What sort of resale due VWs have these days? Any commentary from 28 cars?

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      I don’t care about VW’s reputation as much as I care that they still seem to be doing the same kinds of things that earned it.

      The DCT slushboxes are still suspect. And if I understand correctly, the cause of the sludge problems has been remedied on the latest VW 2.0t (even they knew years earlier how to fix it — they were using better tech on the Audi version and screwing the VW customers), but still not bothering to safeguard the 1.8t to this day. Which do you think they’re doing with the price-leader 1.4? Me, too.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        I have an Audi A5 with the 2.0T and I’ve been closely keeping an eye on the intake valves since I purchased it new 5 years ago. So far, no issues at all. It just doesn’t seem to be an issue anymore….

  • avatar
    wmba

    No real miracles here. Despite claiming the same power and torque as the 1.8 TSi, a glance at Car&Driver’s reviews shows the bigger engine is handily quicker, but a lot less efficient – 22mpg overall vs 27 for the new 1.4. Zero to 60 is a second slower.

    Of course, if you don’t drive like a maniac, and a deadly dull boring car like the Jetta suits your colorless lifestyle, none of this matters as it’s obvious you’ll easily get in the mid 30 mpg range in average driving.

    My pal went to a Mazda3 2.0 from a TDI Sportwagon (both 6MT) in May 2014. Loves it and so far its lifetime average is 6.2l/100km, 80% highway, 20% city. Not much worse than the 5.8 he got from the diesel, and he much prefers driving the Mazda. Lives 5 miles from Cain as the crow flies so weather the same.

    The 1.4 TSi in Euro form has ACT cylinder-deactivating technology and runs in 2 cylinder mode a lot. Anyone know if the North American version has this feature? Or is it dumped like the dual port/direct injection Europe gets on the bigger 1.8/2.0t for us Western heathens? Along with the more advanced cooling system and variable valve lift.

    Since I do not trust VW, maybe the 1.4 press cars have this ACT feature while the one you actually buy does not. Who’d be surprised?

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    Wow, it’s just a matter of time before the 2.0T is considered the “big” engine. A guy at work just got an A3 with the 1.8T and I can’t understand why he didn’t just get the 2.0T instead.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    The cracks about the Jetta’s styling get old fast. Why is an Audi with nearly the same styling considered and elegant and restrained? I much prefer the VW to the weird atomic radiation stuff coming out of Japan. I mean WTF is up with the new Civic? It’s not daring, it’s just weird and ugly.

  • avatar
    darex

    Wasn’t the BMW B38, which is used in the MINI models, Engine of the Year, last year, “quirky” or no?

    I bet it trounces the VW 1.4.

  • avatar
    Thabo

    I think this is what my m-in-law has in her Audi A1. We’ve been up to about 105Mph, seems to be ok at those speeds, of course the roads don’t have the annoying expansion joints like they do in the US, it’s a little rough in my opinion and every time we shoehorn our family small kids 3 adults into the car I feel like say BooHYaaa George Bush but that how things roll in Europe!

    You can see it in action here in a “race” with The Boss on the Autobahn!

  • avatar
    Thabo

    I think this is what my m-in-law has in her Audi A1. We’ve been up to about 105Mph, seems to be ok at those speeds, of course the roads don’t have the annoying expansion joints like they do in the US, it’s a little rough in my opinion and every time we shoehorn our family small kids 3 adults into the car I feel like say BooHYaaa George Bush but that how things roll in Europe!

    You can see it in action here in a “race” with The Boss on the Autobahn!
    https://youtu.be/FdBFCXDHU_k

  • avatar
    motoridersd

    If this is the same engine that VAG has been using in the Golf 1.4TSI and Seats in Europe and Mexico, I hope they have worked out the kinks. Shop techs that have worked on these in Mexico say the water pump is one of the major issues in these. My friend in Tijuana has a 2013 Golf 1.4 and has not had the best experience (the car only has 40k KM). The water pump was the last thing to go this week, and because it’s not a very common engine, his dealer said a new one would take a week to arrive. He ordered it on eBay from the UK.

    It is a fun car though. With a 6 speed manual, that Golf gets out of the way and is a blast to drive.

  • avatar
    threeer

    If that engine, along with the manual tranny, could find its way into a base(r) Golf Sportwagen for a decent price, I’d be tempted to consider it as a replacement for my ’04 Lancer Sportback…

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      Wow, you have an 04 Lancer Sportback? I had one but it was totaled from a rear end collision. I used it for a business and racked up 70k in three years. Only in the shop once unexpectedly and it wasn’t even a Mitsubishi issue, the plates in the battery cracked.

      It was a rare bird, since the CUV craze was beginning and Mitsubishi was also selling the nearly identical 1st gen Outlander next to it. My car sat for nearly a year before I bought it at a good discount (5000 off sticker)

      Ralliart or LS? Mine was an LS in black with the alloy wheels.

  • avatar

    I have a 2016 Jetta 1.4t, poverty spec.
    My wife has a 2016 Jetta 1.8t sport.

    I honestly see no justification to go with the 1.8t over the 1.4t other than getting into optional trim levels. My 1.4t is just as powerful (maybe a little less power, but the car is lighter) and gets 37-38 mpg vs. my wife’s 30ish mpg (both combined city/highway driving averages – and yes, I calculate by hand, not by what the computer says).

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