2012 Volkswagen Beetle: 2.0 TSI Engine Makes Them Great
March 27, 2013
Earlier this week, my spouse and I drove different cars to the same destination resulting in the scene above. The GTI is his, while I had our long-term 2012 Volkswagen Beetle for the night. The lighting was poor obviously, but when the cars are side by side like this, the Beetle's extra width is striking. It's 1.2 inches wider overall with a 1.4-inch wider rear track, and it looks it.
I enjoyed what our modern Bug had to offer when I drove it to Albuquerque and back last year, but forced to choose, I'd end up with the GTI. Its bigger backseat and plaid upholstery tip the scales in its favor.
Yet, the thing that I enjoy most about both cars, and the one thing that makes them really great for me, is the 2.0 TSI engine they share.
This 2.0-liter four-cylinder is the oldest turbocharged and direct-injected engine in the sport compact class, and it's still the best. It doesn't matter that the gray GTI has the conventional six-speed manual and the black Beetle has the six-speed, dual-clutch automated manual gearbox (with a less aggressive shift program than I'd like). They both feel quick when you step out to pass in freeway traffic. There's a lot of mid-range torque with this engine, and it always takes me by surprise when I haven't driven the cars in a while. The Beetle's version of the 2.0-liter turbo makes subtly different sounds in these situations. Chris Walton called it once: It's like an old air-cooled VW.
The ratings on this engine (200 horsepower, 207 pound-feet of torque) are no longer that impressive alongside the competition in this class, at least not on paper. But as VW guys know, those numbers have always been on the low side. If you recall, we dyno-tested our old long-term 2010 GTI and it came up with 203 hp at 5,740 rpm and 214 lb-ft of torque at 2,960 rpm at the front wheels.
In addition to all that satisfying torque, you can still lay down respectable mpg on road trips if you're so motivated. This combination of performance and efficiency remains one of the very best in this price range. That's why it pains me that you can no longer get this engine in the Passat.
Erin Riches, Deputy Editor @ 16,051 miles