Why VW Pulled The Plug On A 400bhp VR6 Arteon R

Now the Arteon R is here with an inline-four, a VW exec has explained why it didn't get a VR6 engine, despite being tested with one early on
Why VW Pulled The Plug On A 400bhp VR6 Arteon R

Two and a half years ago, we were enormously excited when VW global product line spokesperson Martin Hube told us that a prototype Arteon with a turbocharged VR6 engine was being tested. This, we hoped, would go on to be the production Arteon R, with a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo engine derived from the 2.5 fitted to ‘Teramont’ - the Atlas’ Chinese market cousin providing nearly 400bhp.

Fast forward to today, and the Arteon R has finally been revealed, coinciding with the arrival of a new ‘Shooting Brake’ body style and a refresh for the hatchback version. But there’s no big six here; instead, the R uses a 317bhp inline-four ‘EA888’. So why the change of internally combusted heart?

This could have been a VR6, but VW decided an inline-four was a better bet for the Arteon R
This could have been a VR6, but VW decided an inline-four was a better bet…

As you might have guessed, emissions were a factor, albeit more from an image perspective rather than any potential issues with regulations. “We can’t talk maybe daily about our way to zero [emissions] on the one hand, on the other hand, we come up with a VR6 turbo engine,” Hube noted at a digital press conference for the updated Arteon.

“We had a couple of cars prepared with the VR6 TSI engine and we had several cars with the four-cylinder engine,” Hube confirmed, adding, “The decision [to go with the I4] was quite clear after we had driven the cars because we invested so much in the torque splitter at the rear of the car to make it as agile as possible”. The considerably heavier VR6 would “counteract” this, so the engine was ditched for the lightweight inline-four.

Why VW Pulled The Plug On A 400bhp VR6 Arteon R

Speaking to Car Throttle after the conference, he noted that Audi’s 2.5-litre inline-five as a halfway house would have been “a bad idea…because the long, heavy crank is rotating like a gyroscope”. He concluded, “The best choice is a lightweight and powerful four-cylinder. High torque at low rpm, and best in CO2. This is the target in our days”. Although not mentioned by Hube, cost was likely a factor too, and adopting the widely-used EA888 would have almost certainly been the cheaper option.

So, while we may rue the VR6 Arteon that never was, the inline-four production version should hopefully be more entertaining, cheaper to run and less expensive to buy. We’ll find out how it all shapes up when we drive it for the first time later this year.


Olivier (CT's grammar commie)

Volks is definitively in an interesting position right now compared to fifteen years ago when Piech was in control: you’d have expected such a car to come with a W8 or a VR6 for sure

That said I still feel like the VR6 could have deserved to get placed in the Arteon: yes the EA888 is more common, easier to service, easier to mod, but the Arteon is pretty much VW’s halo car, so for it to come with the EA888 is a bit disappointing. At least it’ll turn out to be very interesting in terms of tunability.

06/23/2020 - 22:44 |
14 | 0

As a bit of a vw nerd, i can tell you that these ea888 i4s are quite good engines for a 4cyl. Vr6 is my all time favorite engine, having owned several. But honestly after owning my mk7 gti with the ea888, the amount of aftermarket support is mind boggling. A bigger turbo amd some supporting bolt ons with a tune gets some seriously wicked power numbers. I’m with you on being disappointed, but not surprised given their current position, post dieselgate and all.

06/24/2020 - 02:51 |
2 | 0

This dude is trying really hard to justify this shit.

06/24/2020 - 05:19 |
6 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Yeah, there are brands like Ford for example which put 5 liter V8s into their mustangs, make electric cars, put I3s into their fiestas and they people don’t hate on them for not being consistent with making their cars more eco. I’m sure that wouldn’t be the case if VW put a VR6 into their Arteon R either…

06/24/2020 - 10:29 |
4 | 0

Let’s be real, the only reason they used the 4 cylinder is cost and increased profit margins.

06/24/2020 - 05:49 |
8 | 0
Freddie Skeates
06/24/2020 - 09:30 |
10 | 0


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