Volkswagen is modifying a long-serving gasoline engine to market one version to a new segment of potential customers: those who prefer greater fuel economy over the engine's traditional sporty power.
The new strategy — which will debut with the launch of the redesigned Tiguan compact crossover this summer — uses a version of the automaker's EA888 2.0-liter inline-four engine that can achieve up to 8 percent better fuel economy in certain vehicles in the brand's lineup.
The Tiguan, and later versions of the Passat and Beetle, will be offered with the new variant, which VW calls a B-cycle engine. VW says the modified engine cycle, with shorter intake valve timing, longer exhaust valve timing and higher compression, will allow the 2.0-liter to offer the power of a 1.8-liter with the fuel economy of a 1.4- or 1.5-liter inline-four. In the 2018 Tiguan, the engine puts out 184 hp and delivers 221 pounds-feet of torque.
The current third-generation EA888 2.0-liter powers VW vehicles such as the sporty GTI, which offers up to 220 turbocharged hp, and will continue to do so as needs demand. It may take some time to convince customers that two engines with the same displacement might have widely different operating dynamics and fuel economy, but VW says the new B-cycle engine is best compared to a 1.8-liter turbocharged inline-four, with added displacement from a longer piston stroke.
"It's a trade-off that you have a slightly reduced power," said Marcel Zirwes, product manager for VW powertrain. "So in the end, we will offer both of these engines in parallel, and adjusted for different power classes.
"Because we have these two engines, and at least part of the hardware is the same, we have a lot of scale."