In recent years, Volkswagen has used a naturally aspirated five-cylinder engine as motivation for much of its lineup; but with fuel-efficiency a far greater shopper concern in recent years, these models’ EPA ratings—24 mpg city and 31 highway, for the five-cylinder and automatic—just weren’t good enough.
What’s changed for VW are some of its economics pertaining to supply and production. The new EA888 1.8 TSI is built at a new factory in Silao, Mexico—unlike the 2.0T, which has been built overseas.
Five gets 'phased out' this year
Initially, the 2014 Jetta SE and SEL get the new engine, while the Passat lineup and Beetle will get it later in the model year. “Phased out” is the term that Volkswagen uses—meaning that there will still be plenty of the five-cylinder models at dealerships.
Note that in the price leader of the lineup, the basic 2014 Volkswagen Jetta S, VW will still offer the ancient 115-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder—a model and engine best avoided, in our experience. While this engine felt reasonably perky with that same output in the 1990s-era Jettas, today’s model remains hundreds of pounds heavier.
In the 2014 Beetle, Volkswagen predicts a highway fuel economy improvement of 17 percent, while in the Jetta the improvement is 16 percent—and in either case it notes that there will be significant highway mileage gains. Although it doesn’t actually cite figures in the press release, we anticipate that it will bring highway numbers approaching the 40-mpg mark for some models, while boosting city mileage by as much as 2 or 3 mpg over the old five.
Additional changes for Jetta: better handling?
Among other changes for 2014, a new electro-mechanical steering system will accompany the new engine in the Jetta, replacing the hydraulic setup for the model line. Also, all the 1.8T, 2.0, and TDI models receive a new rear multi-link suspension.
VW also announced new performance- and appearance-focused R-Line models for its Tiguan, Touareg, and Beetle—renaming the Beetle Turbo Convertible the R-Line Convertible. And a sporty Beetle GSR special-edition model joins the lineup.