Watch: 4 Compelling Economic Reasons to Kill the VR6 and Break Our Hearts

America rarely gets any VW products that Europe doesn’t, but there’s one: the VR6.

That’s cool for us, but not so cool for the VR6. That Europe, VW’s heartland and engine of sales, does not have any car fitted with the brand’s compact six-cylinder, means that sales are limited.

So there are good reasons to fear for the VR6’s fate. The hosts of Engineering Explained and the Humble Mechanic go through 4 more reasons why the VR6 is dying out.

Enumerated simply, the reasons are as follows: the VR6’s torque curve is bumpier than the I4’s, it uses more fuel, it’s bigger than the I4, and it’s an oddball.

Going a little more in depth, the guys argue that flat torque curve of the I4 is better than the somewhat wavy torque curve of the VR6. Further, the bigger engine doesn’t make more power.

In the Mk5 Golf GTI, meanwhile, the bigger VR6 was less fuel efficient than the heavier I4, despite the fact that they made the same amount of horsepower and the I4 made more torque.

As to the size of the engine, the advantage of the VR6 is its size. Substantially smaller than a traditional V6 or I6, the VR packs a lot of cylinders in a compact unit. It is still bigger than an I4, and engineers are constantly looking for smaller packaging to improve cabin size, make more room for other stuff in the engine bay, and make the whole car as small as possible.

The VR6 may be small, but it might not be small enough.

Finally, the video argues that cost of engineering and producing all the extras that go along with a VR6 is enormous for a company the size of VW. The automaker already has one chassis working across multiple models, across multiple brands, across markets around the world, so pennies saved really matter.

Effectively, the hosts argue that the engine’s advantages over the EA888 are too slim to make up for its disadvantages. But there’s hope yet.


Fortunately, VW has the capacity to make decisions whose fiscal value is neither immediately nor eventually evident (see: Phaeton) and there are reasons to think that even if the VR6 goes away, it might be replaced with another six-cylinder unit.

Speaking to the UK’s AutoExpress, VW’s head of mid- and full-size products, said: “If we build a six-cylinder engine – we are discussing it for the Arteon, we have built one already in a prototype vehicle – it will be one which you can also use in the Atlas and vice versa.”

With both mentioned vehicles based on the MQB platform, it wouldn’t be too outlandish to suggest that a new engine would have to be mounted transversely, making the VR arrangement attractive. A turbocharger, though, seems inevitable at this point.

That is, of course, speculation, but when you’re dealing with grief, denial is a healthy stage in the process of dealing with it.