6 Strange Uses Of The Volkswagen VR6 Engine

Volkswagen’s unusual VR6 engine has had some unusual homes during its long lifespan. We pick out some you may not have known about…
6 Strange Uses Of The Volkswagen VR6 Engine

Volkswagen’s VR6 engine sits as one of the most renowned out there. The unusual, narrow-angle take on a six-cylinder first arrived in 1991 and has most famously seen action in the Golf R32, while also appearing in the Passat, Audi TT and even the Porsche Cayenne in its time, among others.

It remains in production today, albeit in incredibly limited applications, giving the various forms of VR6 a lifespan of over 30 years. Naturally, in that time, it’s found some very unusual uses. We pick out six of the strangest.

Volkswagen Beetle RSI

6 Strange Uses Of The Volkswagen VR6 Engine

Before the Volkswagen Golf R32 was a thing, the engineers in Wolfsburg had the crazy idea of making a balls-to-the-wall version of the New Beetle which was based on the hatch’s platform.

The Beetle RSI was born and, as its OTT bodywork will clearly tell you, it was no ordinary bug. Under its stubby bonnet sat a 3.2-litre VR6, good for 219bhp (in 2001!) sent to all four wheels through a Haldex clutch-based system. This is pretty much the setup that would find its way into the Golf R32 two years later.

Although it was sort of a test mule for the R32, you could buy an RSI. Just 250 were made, though, and as of 2018, just two right-hand-drive models were known to exist.

Ford Galaxy Mk1

6 Strange Uses Of The Volkswagen VR6 Engine

Ford rebadging Volkswagen products is the on-trend thing again, with the Transit Connect a Caddy in cosplay and the Explorer based on the MEB platform. However, the two have shared cars long before.

The first generation Ford Galaxy was the result of a joint venture between the VW Group and Ford of Europe to build a new MPV. While the Galaxy wore the blue oval, the VW Sharan joined the German’s line-up with the Seat Alhambra making it a trio.

Though a clever thing, there’s little to get excited about from an enthusiast’s perspective. Other than the 2.8-litre VR6 being available in a four-wheel-drive version of the Galaxy with 201bhp on tap. It wasn’t fast, but was surely the best-sounding MPV of its time (until the Mercedes R63 AMG came along, anyway).

Artega GT

6 Strange Uses Of The Volkswagen VR6 Engine

From a people carrier to a hot hatch, the only logical next step for the VR6 would be into a sports car, right?

Volkswagen itself never put the six-cylinder into a proper mid-engined sports car, with the Audi TT 3.2 coming closest. Rather, it was the work of small-volume German manufacturer Artega.

The Henrik Fisker-designed two-seater used an aluminium space-frame chassis with carbon bodywork, and used a 3.6-litre version of the VR6 as found in the Passat. That would send 296bhp and 260lb ft of torque to the rear wheels through a six-speed DSG.

Production began in 2009 but was quite short-lived, with only 153 made before Artega filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

YES! Roadster

6 Strange Uses Of The Volkswagen VR6 Engine

Artega wasn’t the first to have a go at the VR6 sports car, though. Back in 1999, the YES! Roadster (seriously, in block caps) arrived with a 1.8-litre four-cylinder sourced from VW but its second generation would really up the ante.

Second-generation is perhaps a stretch, as it was effectively the same car, just with the four-pot switched out with the 3.2-litre VR6. You could have it in 252bhp naturally-aspirated guise or YES! would turbocharge it for a peak of 350bhp.

Was it a success? MAYBE! We can’t find exact sales figures, and information on the car beyond its initial launch is quite scarce, but it appears you could buy one as late as 2011 at least. At the time of writing, the firm’s website is seemingly long gone, though, and we couldn’t find any second-hand examples available to buy.

Mercedes Vito

Credit: M 93
Credit: M 93

This is a harder one to explain than the Ford Galaxy. While that was an exercise in badge engineering with Volkswagen, the Mercedes Vito shared comparatively little with the VW Transporter.

For some reason, Mercedes chose to buy in Volkswagen’s 2.8-litre VR6 engine for the first-generation MPV and even designate it as one of its own - the M104.900.

You wouldn’t know it was a Volkswagen engine without a trained eye, getting its own Mercedes V6 branding (despite, you know, not being a true V6). It’s unclear if Mercedes did much else to the engine, but forum posts would suggest a few minor tweaks.

Linde Forklifts

6 Strange Uses Of The Volkswagen VR6 Engine

No, seriously, the Volkswagen VR6 engine is forklift certified. Unsurprisingly, it’s tricky to source exact models using the VR6 but Linde Forklifts has used the six-cylinder engine across several, both in 3.2- and 3.6-litre form. It seems overkill, especially with all being limited to around 90bhp, but it’s a delight to see.


No comments found.


Sponsored Posts