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Downsized engine technology comes to the Golf with mixed results

What is it?

The Volkswagen Group is at the forefront of the downsizing trend with its small-capacity turbocharged petrol engines. The larger 1.4 TSI has won numerous awards for its impressive mix of power and economy, but VW hasn’t stopped there; it’s now launching its new 1.2 TSI engine in the Golf and Polo models, and it’s tested here in a five-door Golf.

What's it like?

We’re already familiar with the Golf’s capabilities; the competent dynamics and impressive interior quality are particular highlights. But the real story here is the engine

The 1.2 TSI unit is smooth, quiet and refined. Off the line it can feel underpowered, as it does near the top of the rev range, but progress is swift when peak torque kicks in between 1550rpm and 4100rpm. But this sprightly performance comes with a question mark over economy.

In its week with us, the Golf covered several hundred miles of motorway runs and city commutes, but not once did it get near VW’s claimed combined figure of 49.6mpg; mid-30s was nearer the mark.

Should I buy one?

This is a Golf with an element of compromise. It’s a fine car with an engine that delivers impressive refinement and performance.

However, the real-world economy means it’s not for those in pursuit of as few fuel stops as possible on long-distance runs; they should try the 1.6 TDI. Instead, it’s more suited to daily driving around town.

But the tech is getting there; a bit of work improving economy and emissions without sacrificing the mid-range urgency would make it hard to fault.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
beachland2 8 June 2010

Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.2 TSI

interesting to see those engine weights in that link.

the old 1.6 petrol which is related to my lupo gti engine is 109.5kgs. The 1.4tsi is 125.6kgs. 11kgs heavier, down to the turbo and supercharger. I had a fancy of my gti being upgraded to that engine in the future, lots of power, but that increase in front end weight has put me off, it has enough front bias as it is already.

the 1.2tsi is 93kgs. perhaps for super economy and high tune 180bhp version of the little 1197cc unit is a nice idea...

theonlydt 8 June 2010

Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.2 TSI

Thanks J400 - I was under the impression that the 105 was 16v and the 85 was 8v - maybe both are 8v because with direct injection you decrease the space available on the cylinder head for valves? That and low down torque to work with the low pressure turbo. Information on the engines is pretty poor actually - looked high and low for reliable info.

J400uk 8 June 2010

Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.2 TSI

Also just to answer an earlier question, both the 85PS and 105 PS 1.2 TSI engines are 8v. This is comfirmed in VWs internal publications - Page 9