Same Engine, Different Car - 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI Long-Term Road Test

2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI Long-Term Road Test

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2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI: Same Engine, Different Car

March 19, 2014

2014 Seat Leon

Our long-term 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI's 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is one of the great engines out there, boasting energetic power and excellent fuel economy. It certainly seems well-suited to our big Passat, bringing it from zero to 60 mph in a quicker-than-average 7.7 seconds and thus-far returning 27 mpg (versus an EPA 28). Plus, it hasn't done many miles at this point, so future road trips could improve that number.

However, this engine gets even better in smaller vehicles. It's a major reason to buy the otherwise unremarkable Jetta, and was thoroughly impressive in a European-market Seat Leon I rented recently while on vacation in Switzerland.

Attached to a slick Volkswagen six-speed manual and paired to the Leon's "FR" sport package, the 1.8-turbo helped create the impression of a hot hatch lite. Not only did it provide ample get-up on the mountain roads of Switzerland's Bernese Oberland, it managed a remarkable trip average of 36.6 mpg. Credit an Eco setting that aids fuel economy without sucking the life out of the throttle.

Though there's zero hope of getting the brilliant little Leon here in the United States, the fact that it's based on the next-generation Golf certainly provides a glimpse of how good that car will be when it eventually shows up here.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

2014 Seat Leon


  • reminder reminder Posts:

    Got the same motor in my '14 Jetta. Like it so far. Fairly broad power band, typical of most turbos. Rare in small displacement motors.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    It's popular right now to say that the new breed of small turbos do not outperform larger naturally-aspirated engines, but...just took a look at the LT 2012 Camry, and over 17,000 miles, with the standard 2.4 liter four at 178 hp vs. 170 hp for this VW, the Camry averaged 25.7 mpg and went 0-60 in 8.6 seconds, compared to 27-and-improving mpg and 0-60 in 7.7 for the Passat. Now, VW always underrates its engines, and the turbo gives a much wider powerband, but the Passat is a slightly larger and heavier car than the Camry, so this is a clearly superior powertrain performance.

  • bassrockerx bassrockerx Posts:

    ive seen one here in Alabama i assumed that it was from canada or mexico or perhaps purchased in Europe by a military serviceman. had to a double take. forgot what tags it had.

  • gloss gloss Posts:

    The Leon's a great-looking little car. Like an Audi-lite.

  • barich1 barich1 Posts:

    fordson1, the Toyota engine isn't even direct injected, so that's not a very apt comparison. That makes a big difference by itself. A better one would be with the new Mazda6, but there's no Edmunds average for that of course.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    barich1, here is the comparison I'm making: this is the powertrain Toyota is selling in its midsized sedan, and this is the powertrain VW is selling in its midsized sedan. Nobody told Toyota that in the year 2014, they could not sell a direct-injected engine in the Camry. This is the car they brought to market, and so I'm comparing.

  • barich1 barich1 Posts:

    You said that "It's popular right now to say that the new breed of small turbos do not outperform larger naturally-aspirated engines, but.." and then used Toyota as an example to prove your point. If you didn't start off making a broader point that isn't accurate, and were just comparing the Camry to the Passat, yeah, the Passat's powertrain wins.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    The other reason I compared is because Edmunds had a LT Camry, so it was apples to apples. If they had a long-term DI car like a newer Accord or Mazda6 four, I would have compared that.

  • emajor emajor Posts:

    fordson, When I've made the "WTF is up with these small turbos" comments, I'm referring to the 1.6 and 2.0 Ecoboost and 1.4 Cruze turbo, and I think the criticism is well deserved there. The 1.6 provides no power or fuel economy advantage over the Toyota 2.5, the 2.0 can't compete with the Japanese 3.5 V6s or Pentastar, and the 2-liter NA Focus engine makes the Ford quicker than the 1.4 Cruze without using any more fuel. VW does the small turbo thing right. This 1.8 looks like what the 1.6 Ecoboost was trying to accomplish.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    emajor, I agree that VW does this right - they have been doing it since the B5 Passat in 1998, and that's about 10 years longer than anyone at Ford, Hyundai, etc. have been doing it, and it shows. I would add that as installed in the Escape, Fusion, etc. the 1.6 and 2.0 Ecoboost are kinda installed in the Fiesta ST and Focus ST, they are much better.

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