The classic Volkswagen six-cylinder engine is finally done.
It's a sad thing to have to announce, but the Volkswagen VR6 that's powered some of the great Volkswagen models won't be available in a new car in the US again. Volkswagen has never been afraid of updating its engines but emissions are the VR6's problem.
"The VR6 engine is done in America. The technology is old, and emissions targets are key. It's not worth re-investing in the engine to achieve this," Hein Schafer, Volkswagen's SVP of Product Marketing and Strategy, said in a roundtable interview at the Chicago Auto Show.
The VR6 probably doesn't fit into Volkswagen's electrification plans, and emissions will become an issue worldwide, so we don't expect it to last long in other markets, either.
The VR6 is a six-cylinder unique cross between a V and an inline design that uses two banks of three cylinders offset against each other. The design was constructed so a six-cylinder engine could fit into bays designed for an inline-four engine. It first appeared as a 2.8-liter in the Volkswagen Passat B3 sedan and the Corrado, depending on the geographical market, before it became an option on the MK3 Golf and the third generation of the Jetta. Various models used a 2.9-liter version, including a Mercedes minivan, and a cylinder was lopped off to create the VR5.
In 2001, Volkswagen introduced a 3.2-liter version which was used in the now-legendary Volkswagen Golf R32 and the Audi TT. It's also the engine that inspired epic Bugatti W16 engine which was first envisioned as W18 using three banks of VR6.
In 2006, the VR6 became a 3.6-liter engine in Volkswagen models and spread to be used in the Porsche Cayenne in a 3.2-liter guise, later upgraded to the 3.6-liter version. After around 2010, Volkswagen started phasing out the VR6 as it downsized four-cylinder turbocharged units, but it made a comeback in the midsized Atlas crossover in 2017 and as a redesigned unit for the Chinese market.
It's the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas where the story ends for the VR6, as even the Golf R's engine was downsized to a four-cylinder turbo. The 2023 Volkswagen Atlas is available with the VR6, but the newly-announced 2024 Atlas has a four-cylinder turbo direct-injection TSI engine making 269 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. It's almost as powerful as the outgoing VR6 in horsepower but produces more torque across a broader rev range.
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