Which is the best of the VW engines

Finding what is the best VW Transporter engine is one of the many items you may research when looking at which model to buy. The problem is what does “BEST” mean to you?

The best engine might mean the most powerful, most reliable, nicest to drive, best to tow, highest MPG etc! The word best means lots of different things when talking about which VW Transporter engine is the best!

We will try and address this question logically and factually.

A brief history on VW Transporter engines

The VW Transporter is the longest production van in history. It has been in manufacture since the early 1960’s and is now into it’s 7th generation.

The first of the series was the T1 followed by the T2, T3, T4, T5, T6 and most recently the new T7. It will come as no surprise that there have been a LOT of different engines over the years and to discuss the merit of every single one would take an absolute age!

If you wanted to take a more in depth look at the various models over the years you can visit VW Transporter Models Explained

Here we will look at the most common options found in the T5 T6 and T7 to try and answer what is the best VW Transporter engine.

What is the best VW Transporter T7 engine

Let us start from the top. The T7 is due to hit the road in 2023 and the engine choice is fairly simple.

  • Petrol 1.5 TSI 136PS
  • Petrol 2.0 TSI 204PS
  • eHybrid 1.4TSI and 85kW Electric motor – Combined power 218PS
  • Diesel 2.0 TDI 150PS

The technology in the eHybrid is new to market but does have some of the best specifications on paper.

The eHybrid can achieve up 156.9MPG Petrol and 17.2 kWh/62mi Electric and delivers 218PS making it the most powerful option of the range. For this reason it is expected that this will become the most popular option to purchase.

The unknown question is whether it will be as reliable as the tried and tested Diesel and Petrol engines.

As the technology is relatively new – If you were playing it safe and after reliability/reputation based on previous models you would probably go for the 2.0 TDI Diesel or the 2.0 TSI Petrol which have both been around for a number of years in the T6 range.

What is the best VW Transporter T6 engine

This is where it gets a bit more interesting. The T6 has been on the roads since 2016 so we are starting to see some higher mile examples which help us identify the better of the engines.

  • Diesel 2.0TDI 90PS
  • Diesel 2.0TDI 102PS
  • Diesel 2.0TDI 110PS
  • Diesel 2.0TDI 150PS
  • Diesel 2.0BiTDI 199PS
  • Diesel 2.0BiTDI 204PS (standard in the 4motion from 2018)
  • Petrol 2.0 TFSi (From 2017)
  • Electric ABT e-Transporter (from 2020)

That is a lot of options! In addition to the above there were 3 different gearbox options – the 5 and 6 speed manual gearboxes from the VW T5 were carried over. The automatics come fitted with a 7 speed DSG gearbox.

What VW T6 engine is the best MPG?

The best VW T6 engine for MPG is the Diesel 2.0TDI 150PS in automatic trim. The claimed MPG is 46.3–47.9 mpg – the real MPG average which covers town and motorway miles is around 30MPG.

What VW T6 engine is the best for power BHP?

This is a nice easy answer. The highest powered T6 engine is the Diesel 2.0BiTDI generating 204PS. It is typically found in the highest specification Transporter – the 4motion.

What VW T6 engine is the best for reliability?

This is still up for debate however the Diesel 2.0TDI 150PS gets my vote. It has enough power and torque to avoid the need to over rev under load (either uphill, overtake or heavy load).

The 150PS is a good all round engine and you can expect to achieve a good level of reliability. The most common fault with any of the T6 2.0 Diesel engine range is with the EGR valve.

You can read more on the T6 common problems here Common problems with VW T6 transporters

What is the best VW Transporter T5 engine

The VW T5 was also available in a lot of different options when it came to engine choice. Something that VW is very good at is offering choice to appeal to the widest market audieance suiting every budget.

The VW T5 is available in the following options

  • Petrol 2.0 116 PS (85 kW; 114 hp) (2003-onward)
  • Petrol 3.2 235 PS (173 kW; 232 hp) (2003-2009 only)
  • Diesel 1.9 TDI PD 84 PS (62 kW; 83 hp) (2003-2009 only)
  • Diesel 1.9 TDI PD 102 PS (75 kW; 101 hp) (2003-2009 only)
  • Diesel 2.5 TDI PD 131 PS (96 kW; 129 hp) (2003-2009 only)
  • Diesel 2.5 TDI PD 174 PS (128 kW; 172 hp) (2003-2009 only)
  • Petrol 2.0 TSI 204 PS (150 kW; 201 hp) (2010+ only)
  • Diesel 2.0 TDI CR 84 PS (62 kW; 83 hp) (2010+ only)
  • Diesel 2.0 TDI CR 102 PS (75 kW; 101 hp) (2010+ only)
  • Diesel 2.0 TDI CR BlueMotion 114 PS (84 kW; 112 hp) (2010+ only)
  • Diesel 2.0 TDI CR 140 PS (103 kW; 138 hp) (2010+ only)
  • Diesel 2.0 BiTDI CR 179 PS (132 kW; 177 hp) (2010+ only)

The VW T5 engine range was huge, partly due to the fact the T5 was in production from 2003 through to 2016 – a 13 year span where new technologies became available.

The major change was in 2010 where the automatic gearbox became a DSG Auto. The engine range was simplified down to just 2.0 Inline four cylinder engines in Petrol and Diesel variations.

The old PD diesel engines were replaced with TDI CR technology which were more efficient/cleaner to run.

If you plan on taking your VW T5 into a main city, keep in mind your engine selection will affect whether you are ULEZ compliant before buying – be sure to check our guide on Which VW Transporters are ULEZ compliant

What VW T5 engine is the best MPG?

In terms of reputation the T5 1.9TDI (PD) 103PS is supposed to be the most economical van in the range with some road tests reporting up to 52.48MPG! That isn’t bad going for any van really!

Most normal users that drive with a bit of life in the old right foot see somewhere around the 40MPG however.

What VW T5 engine is the best for power BHP?

If you can get your hands on a Petrol 3.2L VW T5 variant then you can expect 232BHP as standard. It was a very cool engine but unfortunately only ran from 2003 to 2009 and not that many were actually produced or sold. For this reason they hold a high second hand market price.

A more common variant that does not have such a high asking price and gives a good level of power is the later model Diesel 2.0 BiTDI CR 179 PS.

What VW T5 engine is the best for reliability?

This question gets discussed in length many times over by avid VW Transporter fans.

The truth is the Diesel 1.9 TDI PD 102 PS is a firm favourite by many a fan. It is a very lazy engine with a low state of tune that also ran in the T4 range. It’s definitely one of the slower variants but is renowned for its reliability, simplicity and life expectancy.

We take a closer look at the common issues with the 1.9 Diesel engine here – VW Transporter 1.9 D TD TDI engine problems

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