VW Up! Getting Two-Cylinder Diesel Engine


In the endless pursuit of higher fuel economy, Volkswagen is thinking small; really, really small. In fact, Vdub is cutting one of its most popular engines, the 1.6 liter TDI, in half. This will create a two-cylinder diesel engine that will deliver impressive fuel economy for some of VW’s most expensive, and least expensive vehicles.

Automakers regularly cut popular engines down in size to save on engineering a whole new engine from scratch. GM’s 4.3 liter Vortec V6 shares engineering aspects of the popular small-block Chevy V8s. It saves money and frees up engineers for other projects.

Volkswagen hopes that by cutting its 1.6 liter diesel engine down in size, they can deliver the promised 313 mpg in the experimental XL1. The diesel-hybrid uses exotic materials and will likely cost far more than most people can, or will, pay for a slow-but-ridiculously-fuel-efficient vehicle.

More importantly though, thise two-cylinder diesel engine will make its way into the Volkswagen Up! city car. Rumors suggest 58 horsepower and 88 ft-lbs of torque for this tiny diesel engine, and it could deliver fuel economy upwards of 70 mpg in a car that sells for around $13,000-ish.

Top speed is said to be around 99 mph. Right now, the gas engine in the Up! offers up to 74 horsepower, but less torque, and 0 to 60 mph takes 13 seconds. CNG and battery-electric versions are also in the works.

This is the latest effort by an automaker to drasticly downsize engines in the pursuit of fuel economy. Ford’s smallest offering is a 1.0 liter EcoBoost engine with three cylinders that produces about twice the power as VW’s two-cylinder diesel.

It’s an interesting dichotomy to be sure, one that is sure to affect America more frequently as the price of gas continues to rise.

How much performance and speed would you sacrifice in the name of 70 mpg?

Source: LeftLane News

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • t_

    No problem. For a city car it is perfect. The diesel engine is quite powerful in the lower rpms, so 58 hp diesel is like 75 – 80hp gas engine in the lower rpm range. And the prize is high. One could forget the last time on the gas station.

  • Jason Carpp

    Sounds good. A city car with a diesel engine would be perfect. Yes, the cost of diesel is more expensive than it is for gasoline, but so what? The smaller the vehicle is, the less you have to pay to fill up. The bigger the vehicle is, the more you have to pay to fill up. So for a small city car about this size, it’d be perfect. Import it to the USA, please!

  • Mark W

    Sounds like a nice little Charge Sustaining engine for an PHEV, you know like a volt… that way you can get triple digit MPG and 150hp/ 300lb torque sports car instead of an ECO box that will get blown over in a stiff wind.

    • Tim Cleland

      Of course, a Volt costs 3X what this is purported to cost (assuming the article’s $13,000 MSRP is correct).

    • Jason Carpp

      I agree. I’m not against hybrid engines. In fact, I like the idea behind the hybrid engine. I’ve ridden in a couple of Toyota Prius and I love the sound they make. I love the way they perform. What I’d like to see is a diesel electric hybrid engine, particularly for cars and light trucks.

  • R. Pfeiffer

    The article does not mention to what cc the 1.6 Liter engine is being downsized. Did VW keep that secret?

    • Jason Carpp

      It doesn’t say. I wish they would. I also wish they would mention what cubic inches it translates into.

    • T Adkins

      The source article says it should be roughly 800 cc. The numbers sound good when compared to what Fiat was able to do going from a 1.4 liter to the 900 cc twin air motor for the Fiat 500, but Fiat was cutting down a gas motor not a diesel.

  • carguy

    My 1979 diesel rabbit was a 1.5 litre with 48 horse power. Traded up for a 1986 diesel jetta that displaced 1.6 litres with 52 horse power. EPA was 40/50 and 36/48 respectively. No turbos. Power was adequate. 58 hp will be fine with less weight.

    • Jason Carpp

      I agree. Depending on how much a car weighs and how many people are going to be riding in the car, 58hp is just fine for the car, like the VW Up. The problem comes when such engine is used to power a bigger, heavier car, such as the VW Vanagon (Kombi, Transporter, Eurovan, etc.). For a vehicle of that size, you’d need a 2 litre or bigger diesel engine, delivering 140hp or more, and 258ft-lbs or more of torque.

  • Doc_Who

    My 1966 VW bug took 23 seconds to reach 60 mph. The boss ’66 was fun to drive in California.

    12 seconds 0-60 is a lot better. And the fuel economy of the Up! is more than twice that of the Beetle.

    And the Up! is just as cute as the Beetle. Plus, the Up! has a hatchback, and does not suffer from oversteer.

    Ever see a Beetle do an unintentional 360?