VW has three 4-cyl. gas turbos in this year’s Ward’s 10 Best Engines competition, powering the VW Golf and GTI and Audi S3. To stand out in this crowd, an engine will need great fuel economy, lively step-off and a smooth demeanor in casual driving.
The ’14 Jetta we tested last year stickered for $23,985, compared with $21,815 for the fun and functional ’15 Golf TSI hatchback we are evaluating this fall. Stepping up the displacement ladder in the EA888 engine family brings us to the 2.0L turbo, which makes 220 hp in the new VW GTI and 292 hp in the ’15 Audi S3.
So why isn’t the industry giving us fantastic new naturally aspirated 6-cyl. engines? Blame CAFE. Engineering budgets can stretch only so far, and automakers have discovered a turbocharged 4-cyl. can deliver the same, if not better, performance.
For the 2015 Ward’s 10 Best Engines competition, we have seven new or improved gasoline 2.0L turbo-4s among the 38 nominees to evaluate, and a number of them, including the WRX boxer, are drawing solid reviews from the judges.
Eight WardsAuto editors drive the vehicles in October and November during their routine daily commutes in metro Detroit, the same way most Americans experience their vehicles – going to the grocery store, visiting relatives on weekends, taking kids to school and occasionally wearing down the treads with a thick smoky burnout in a vacant parking lot.
The pool of Ward’s 10 Best Engines nominees consists of the 2014 winners plus every new or significantly improved powertrain that is priced below $60,000 and is available in U.S. showrooms during the first quarter of 2015. Eight WardsAuto editors based in Southfield, MI, drive the vehicles in October and November.
Potential customers for 4x4 Sprinters include ski resorts needing to shuttle people through heavy snow; emergency crews needing to battle inclement weather; railroad workers coping with steep grades; and oil crews working in muddy conditions.
As the horsepower war rages on, it’s Chrysler’s turn this year to claim victory with a massively re-engineered Hemi “Hellcat” 6.2L pushrod V-8 said to corral the cumulative force of 707 ponies. Editors recently evaluated the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat for Ward's 10 Best Engines.
Automotive engineers gathered recently at Detroit's Cobo Center for SAE 2014 Convergence to map the future of electronics as it enables autonomous vehicles, electric drivetrains, new human-machine interfaces, greater connectivity and faster computing speeds. The conference featured several panel sessions, and 70 companies exhibited on the show floor. IAV also demonstrated its highly automated concept vehicle on Detroit highways.
With NFC, “we can now add things like unpairing, which is something that we really, really want to promote people to do, especially if you’re driving rental cars and so on,” says Ford's Jim Buczkowski. “You don’t want to leave any of your identity in the vehicle. Often today, we’re so quick to get out of the vehicle, we don’t do that.”
Kroeger describes himself as a “frequent user” of the service where he lives in Stuttgart. “In that city, you have free parking with that vehicle everywhere in downtown. That’s a big advantage, so the city promotes that as well,” he says.