In examining updated EPA mpg figures for the 2018 model year — as one does — we noticed a curious change. The 2018 Volkswagen Beetle Dune achieves slightly better highway fuel economy, 34 mpg, than the non-Dune 33-mpg 2018 Volkswagen Beetle.
By the by, after posing a handful of questions to Volkswagen of America spokesperson Mark Gillies, TTAC learned that the 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that served as the base engine in the Volkswagen Passat and Volkswagen Beetle from 2014-2017 is out. It gives way in the 2018 Passat and Beetle to the second-generation Tiguan’s EA888 Gen3B 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.
The result? Better fuel economy and more torque.
We knew the change was approaching, as Volkswagen told TTAC in late May that the Tiguan’s new Budack Cycle 2.0T, “will eventually supersede the 1.8T in the Passat and Beetle.” We did not know, however, that “eventually” meant immediately.
Meanwhile, the 1.8T continues apace in the Jetta and Golf.You’ll recall that Volkswagen’s decision to swap out the old 2.5-liter five-cylinder drove Passat fuel economy up from a combined 25 miles per gallon to 28 miles per gallon. By 2017, the Passat 1.8T automatic was rated at 27 mpg combined. The new 2.0T is rated by the EPA at 29 mpg combined. In the Beetle, it also makes for a 29-mpg car (although Beetle Dunes do add that single mpg to the Beetle’s 33-mpg highway rating.)
But the real story will be seen in a different section of the spec sheet. If the Tiguan’s power figures hold, the Passat and Beetle will swap out a 170-horsepower; 184-lb-ft 1.8T that didn’t make peak power at 4,800 rpm and reached peak torque at 1,500 rpm. In its place will be a 2.0T with 184 horsepower (that arrives 400 rpm sooner) and 221 lb-ft of torque at 1,600 rpm.It’s unlikely that a fuel economy uptick and a torque boost will turn the Passat and Beetle into barnstorming sales successes in 2018. This will be the Passat’s seventh model year. While Passat volume is better this year than last — when Volkswagen was feeling the full impact of a post-diesel emissions scandal collapse — sales are 36-percent lower in 2017 than they were in 2012.
Likewise, the Beetle is selling more often this year than last, but U.S. Beetle volume is 62-percent lower than it was in 2013.
No, the 2.0T won’t create instant sales successes. But we’re not going to complain about incremental fuel economy improvements that associate themselves with significant torque boosts.
Volkswagen will provide more spec and lineup details for the 2018 Beetle and Passat in the coming weeks.