Engine of the Year: Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSi
VW could not have chosen a worse time for a petrol engine in India. But boy, what an engine...
Apologies. Well, you know. Engine… next to an engine… it’s clichéd. But we couldn’t think of anything better for what’s been the most breathtaking of powerplants around – VW’s 1.4-litre TSI. The beauty is, you don’t expect much of it, but it still manages to blow your head away. We’ve always maintained that unless you’re going for a V8 or a V12, a petrol engine isn’t really worth it. Moreover, with fuel prices as skewed as they are in India, getting a petrol may seem like a death wish. And VW announced the petrol Jetta just as petrol prices here were hitting the roof. But as we’ve said earlier, unless you do more than 100km a day, a petrol isn’t all that bad an option. And the mill powering the Jetta is perhaps the best small-capacity petrol engine in the world.
It is only 1.4 litres, but the turbos take the power up to a very healthy 121bhp. Which isn’t the best part. The best part is the manner in which those 121 horses are made available. There is barely any turbo lag and power is available right through the rev range. And the engine’s mated to what is perhaps the best manual gearbox of this era. It has six speeds and the gearshift action is short and precise.
Now, the Jetta is a good car that isn’t properly equipped for a car this price. With the petrol engine, the Jetta feels even more spartan inside, especially the centre console. But the biggest advantage the petrol offers over the diesel is the handling. Since this 1.4-litre powerplant is lighter than the diesel, the front of the car is lighter and the steering has become more involving.
We only hope VW specs the Jetta better – if it does, with this engine in this car, it’ll be the sweetest package around.