Wolfsburg, 29. August 2011 – A six-cylinder engine in the Golf: a nice idea, but the two more cylinders mean significantly more space is needed under the hood – and that in a modern front-wheel-drive car, where it is already tight in the engine compartment. In order to still be able to offer customers a six-cylinder engine that runs comfortably and full of character, VW came up with the VR design. The compact engine was to be used in the Golf, Vento, Corrado, Passat and T4 models, and 25 years ago it was ready for the first time.
VR concept from Lancia
An in-line engine would have been too long for transverse installation, a V-engine with a 60 or 90 degree cylinder angle too wide. The VR engine was therefore chosen as a kind of middle way. This type of engine with a small cylinder angle, in which the first letter stands for the V-configuration and the R for the in-line configuration, was developed by Lancia in 1915. After the first use in V12 aircraft engines, a V8 with a 45-degree cylinder angle and a V12 with a 30-degree cylinder angle followed in 1918 – both for use in cars. One of the first series-produced vehicles with VR engines was the Lancia Lambda of 1922, whose four-cylinder engine had a cylinder angle of 13 to 14 degrees.
Debut of the Golf III
VW has now taken up the old concept again for its six-cylinder engine. The cylinder banks are arranged with three pots at an angle of 15 degrees to each other. This allowed the cylinders in the engine block to be arranged closer together than in an in-line engine without becoming too wide. In 1991, the VR6 engine was presented – among others in the Golf III, which is now also celebrating its 20th anniversary. Technically continuously developed up to the four-valve version, the VR design lived on under the shortened designation V6 and in a shortened design also as V5 in the subsequent Passat and Golf generations. The VR6 reached its final stage of development in the Passat R36, which generated an impressive 300 hp from a displacement of 3.6 liters.