The new Golf GTI and R will benefit from VW's constant evolution of the EA888.
The 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI and R are on their way shortly (we're going to drive them in a few weeks) so VW thought it would be a good time to look back on the changes to the - we'll say it - legendary EA888 engine. We're now beginning the fourth generation of the turbocharged 2.0-liter (actually 1.984) dual-overhead-cam four-cylinder, and a lot has changed for this latest version.
Originally Audi-designed and developed, the EA888 was one of the first engines to prove that punchy power and fuel economy weren't mutually exclusive. The mill now makes 241 hp in the GTI while returning 34 mpg on the highway, and 315 hp and 30 mpg on the highway in the Golf R with the dual-clutch transmission.
To make that power so efficiently and reliably, both EA888 variants have high static compression ratios (9.3 to 1 for the R and 9.6 to 1 for the GTI), chain-driven camshafts (as opposed to belts) and continuously variable valve timing. They also feature variable lift and duration on the exhaust side, "allowing VW engineers to calibrate for a broad sphere of driving situations."
The new Evo4 gets a new direct injection system that works at 5,076 pounds per square inch, more than double the last generation. That plus the turbocharger brings more of the torque down low in the rev range, where it's needed. The GTI hits 273 lb-ft at just 1,750 rpm while the R hits its max twist of 295 lb-ft at 2,000 rpm.
Its exhaust manifold is inside the cylinder head, which means the turbocharger is basically mounted to the engine instead of downstream. That means quicker warmup times and better efficiency. Exhaust gases are routed for quick spool up times, making turbo lag a thing of the past. Because it's so near the heat of the engine, "a special turbocharger is used that can withstand the high temperatures," said VW, adding that it doesn't need extra fuel to be cooled.
The EA888 has a massive following between all the Volkswagen Group vehicles it's been in. A quick search reveals tuning parts, forums and instructions for all three of the previous generations. That means the smart money says this too will be a sweetheart. Come to think of it, we have driven it on the track, and it was.