Volkswagen. 30 years of VR6, from golf to Bugatti

In early 1992 Volkswagen marketed the Golf VR6 and Corrado VR6 that had been unveiled a few months earlier. The engine they were installed in quickly formed a fan club for its ability to deliver unprecedented performance in the large compact car segments. He then moved several sports models of the Volkswagen Group. Stronger: Its atypical and pointed design, far from being an industrial defect, made it A real Swiss military knife used as the basis for the development of other engines. This is why the VR6 is still included in the Volkswagen catalog, thirty years after it was introduced.

VR6 in version 3.2.

Small car looking for big displacement

At the launch of the third generation of the Golf, Volkswagen sought to offer a high-performance version of its compact that was more powerful and more refined than the four-cylinder GTI. However, installing a classic six-cylinder in a V or in-line was incompatible with the vehicle’s architecture in terms of volume. Then the company’s engineers came up with the idea of ​​a V6 engine with a very low opening angle, It is a concept that Lancia already tested many years ago.

Volkswagen Corrado VR6
Under the hood of the Corrado, the VR6 was more powerful.

Thus VR6 was born, with R as Reihe (“line” in German), where only an angle of 15 degrees made it possible to combine the two banks of the cylinders into one cylinder head in a transverse position. So the VR6 debuted under the hood of the Golf with a displacement of 2.8 liters, two valves per cylinder, 174 hp at 5800 rpm and a maximum torque of 235 Nm at 4200 rpm. All with a new kind of sound. The Corrado VR6 Coupe was entitled up to a 2.9-liter block that delivers 190 hp, an evolution found in the all-wheel drive version of the Golf, then called the Syncro.

Volkswagen Golf VR6 Station Wagon
Torque in the VR6 isn’t just for sports.

to read. Volkswagen Golf (1991). The third generation is 30 years old

Two decades of improvement, then forgetting (or almost)

Audi TT 3.2 Quattro
Audi TT V6 3.2 quattro (2008)

I quickly channeled the VR6’s relative power, torque and pressure to the less sporty but bigger models (Passat, Sharan, etc.) that didn’t accommodate the big displacements with the traditional arrangement either.

The engine was carried over to the next generation of Volkswagen, and the R lost its name but not its own architecture. However, it has evolved significantly, for example adopting a 24-valve configuration to power the Volkswagen Golf V6 4Motion and its “cousin” Seat Leon V6 Cupra4, both of which offer 204 hp and all-wheel drive. Its displacement increased to 3.2 liters, while its power increased to 241 horsepower under the hood of the Golf IV R32. It even came out to 250 hp for the Golf V R32, as well as the more luxurious Audi A3 and TT, among others. Then came the 3.6-liter, 300-horsepower Passat R36 unit, for example. Porsche also adopted this engine for the entry-level versions of the first Cayenne.

Volkswagen Golf R32
Volkswagen Golf R32 (2002)
Seat Leon V6 Cupra4
Seat Leon V6 Cupra4 (2001)

In 2011, the entry into force of the Euro 5 environmental standard became better than almost all cars of the group that were equipped with this engine on the European market. Volkswagen’s VR6 fell in the field of honor, along with VTECs from the Honda Civic Type R and S2000 and Wankel from the Mazda RX-8 to name a few. If on the Old Continent it was replaced by a turbocharged four-cylinder, He pursued a secret career in certain regions such as North America. In Uncle Sam’s country, today’s 3.6L VR6 can be found under the hood of the 280hp Atlas Cross Sport.

Volkswagen Passat R36 station wagon
Volkswagen Passat R36 (2008)

VR6, from 4 to 18 cylinders

Bugatti W18 Drawing
The design of the Bugatti W18 (then the W16) from the VR6 started with this drawing by Ferdinand Pietsch.

The VR6 served as the basis for other engines. The V5 that Volkswagen introduced in the 2000s was a single-cylinder VR6 engine. The W8 available for some time for the Passat was made up of two small V4s made with VR6. Opened by the concept car of the same name, the W12 was a combination of two VR6s.

Even the eighteen-cylinder engine for the Bugatti EB 118 (1998) and EB 18/3 Chiron (1999) was made by assembling three VR6 cars. You’re probably thinking about it, the W16 8.0 l quadriturbo that Bugatti uses because the Veyron stems from this business. With electrification gaining traction across the auto industry, will the VR6 change its shape yet again to survive another generation? History has shown that it is full of hidden resources…

Volkswagen W12
Volkswagen W12 (1997)

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