Volkswagen Engines in the 90's

Published: 23rd August 2010
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The 1990s saw Volkswagen engines in a state of transition. For almost fifty years, Volkswagen engines had been air cooled-a cooling method that employs a forced airflow directed towards a series of fins on the heads and cylinders of the engine, causing transfer of the engine's heat to the air, and consequently temperature reduction. Although these Volkswagen engines were lighter and less complex, air cooling systems were found to be inefficient and resulted in a considerably shorter engine life span.

The water cooled Volkswagen engines that began to be used in Volkswagen vehicles from the late 1980's on used a liquid coolant that circulated around the cylinders and heads, and finally transferred heat to the outside air using a separate, efficient radiator. These water cooled Volkswagen engines were also a lot quieter and resulted in a longer lifespan for the engines, although short term maintenance costs were slightly increased.

Water cooled Volkswagen engines grew in popularity over air cooled ones from the 1970's on and finally put air cooled Volkswagen engines completely out of production by the early 2000's. In the 1990's this transition was in full swing and with the waning popularity of the then still dominating air cooled model, Volkswagen was already starting to release vehicles with various new types of water cooled, gasoline or diesel powered Volkswagen engines. Three we'll talk about here are the EA111, the EA113, and the VR6.

The EA111 was one of the first water cooled Volkswagen engines. It was released in the mid 1970s and has continued in production to the present day. The EA111 is an overhead camshaft engine coming in a variety of displacement sizes, but limited to either 3 or 4 cylinders. The head design of these cylinders is a crossflow design, and the auxiliary units are directly driven, making the EA111 one of the smoother running, longer lasting Volkswagen engines. This was one of the main Volkswagen engines released in new vehicles during the 1990's, including models such as the Volkswagen Polo (Mark II and III, 1981 - 2002) and certain versions of the Volkswagen Golf (Mk 2 and 3, 1983 - 1999). Certain earlier models of the EA111 engine have been discontinued, but some continue to be produced today, featured in such current models as the Volkswagen Up!, Fox, and Polo Mk5.

Another of the Volkswagen engines widely used in the 1990's was the EA113, a family of internal combustion engines updated from the EA827 and released in 1993. This engine was given direct fuel injection, making it one of the cleaner, environmentally safe options. The EA113 also came in a variety of displacement sizes and numbers of cylinders and was available in various Volkswagen Jettas, Golfs, and the New Beetle (1997).

One of the most powerful of the Volkswagen engines of the 1990's was the VR6, which is still produced today in various updated and evoluted versions. It was introduced in the late 1980's and used during the 1990's in various Volkswagen passenger vehicles such as the Passat, the Corrado, and the Golf Mk3. In 1997 the Volkswagen Group created a VR5 from this engine by removing one of the cylinders for greater fuel economy with similar power. The VR6 remained popular in its various updated versions-including in 1999 when it was updated to include a 12 valve model with new camshafts, improved emissions equipment, and a higher compression ratio than the original model. It remains a popular high performance option today.

The 1990's also included some setbacks for Volkswagen including various Volkswagen engines that had to be discontinued. Among these was the Volkswagen wasserboxer, a horizontally opposed, 'boxer' engine, water cooled, and coming in various 4 cylinder sizes. It was produced for 10 years, used in 4 different obscure Volkswagen vans, and discontinued in 1992 due to inherent design flaws, not generally considered a loss for the industry.

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