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Old 14th June 2016, 16:41   #1
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Default An owner's review of the VW 1.2L MPI engine

Dear Folks,

There is a lot of talk in town, regarding the VW Ameo and also the 1.2MPI engine it comes with.

At this juncture, I would like to share here an owner's take (myself) on the VW 1.2MPI engine. I have tried to cover the primary aspects of driving and living with it. My experiences are from my usage of my polo 1.2MPI for over 12K KMs over a period of 3.5 years. We have car reviews and ownership reviews. Why not have an engine review?

A lot has been said about the poor chap (1.2MPI). So, lets try to get deeper into it. Shall we?

1. What is it?

It's a 1.2 Litre, Naturally aspirated, 3 cylinder-Inline, 4 valve per cylinder, all aluminium engine.
It makes 75PS Power & 110NM Torque at a rather low 3750rpm.
It is the oldest engine in VW's polo lineup (India).
Quite naturally, it could be the cheapest as well.

2. Where is it made?

Looking at the stamped markings and signs on the engine, it looks like it is manufactured in the EU.
The word 'Holland' is also stamped at few placed on the engine block. So, may be it is made there.

3. Is it any good?

We will see!

4. How does it start?

Normally, of course.
There is a little shake during start up.
Vibes during idle are less, if not zero.
Some minor vibes creep in when AC is ON.

Note: VW does not uses hydraulic mounts for 1.2MPI.

5. How does it sound?

At start up: coarse and rough
At Idle: Audible, but not coarse
Between 1K to 2K : Audible, sounds like a refined turbo diesel.
Between 2K to 3K : Sound turns bassy and harmonious (2K is the sweet spot)
Between 3K to 4K : Starts gets Vocal. Sound note turns sharp and industrial
between 4K to 5K : Really vocal. Very sharp, industrial note.

Note: Velvety refinement of 4 cylinders will be missed at any rpm. (Except 2K rpm, which is the sweet spot)
Note: With the audio ON, engine is inaudible till 2K rpm.

6. How is it geared?

Short.
1st gear@2000rpm: 15
2nd gear@2000rpm: 28
3rd gear@2000rpm: 40
4th gear@2000rpm: 60
5th gear@2000rpm: 70

rpm@100KMPH: 2900

7. How does it drive?

7.1 Driveability through the gears:

1st gear: Short. Needed only for dead stop. Not much increment in speed till 3K rpm.
2nd gear: well geared. Takes you from near stand still to 30 plus in no time.
3rd gear: Great tool for the traffic. Pull from 20 plus speeds in no lag or delay.
4th gear: Pulls well from 35 onwards without any delay.
5th gear: Pulls well from 50 onwards without any issues.

It is the torque produced at low revs which shines through the gears.
Note: Driveability remains good even with 4 people on board.

7.2 Performance across the Rev range:

1k to 2K : Good torque and instant power delivery
2K to 3K : Flattens out into a linear build up, the initial enthusiasm gets reduced.
3K to 4K : wakes up again and pulls with all it's might
4K to 5K : Not interested anymore
5K to 6K : No more power increment felt.

Again, It is the torque produced at low revs which shines

7.3 On the Highway:

@80 in top gear: Calm, relaxed, soothing. Feels like adequate Power on tap.
@100 in top gear: Distant and low volume hum comes into picture. Still some power left to be used.
@120 in top gear: The hum changes into sharper note. Almost at the end of power zone.
@140 in top gear: vocal, sharp and industrial note. Not much juice after this point.

8. Is the performance affected by AC?

Yes, but not by much.

9. How is the Fuel efficiency?

12 in City. 14-15 on Highway. (I keep it withing 2K rpm in city and under 3K on highways)

10. Any engine problems?
None faced yet. I have done 12K KMs so far.

11. So, finally, Is it any good?

Depends on you.
If you drive majorly in city and don't have a keen ear, you will be happy.
If you are a refinement nut, or a power monger, stay away.

12. Will the reviewer (that's me) buy a car with the 1.2MPI again?
No.
Why?
Even though the performance is acceptable, the velvety smoothness of Hyundai and Maruti 1.2 units is missing.
My ear longs for that smoothness alone.

Last edited by GTO : 15th June 2016 at 13:06. Reason: Spacing :). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 15th June 2016, 13:13   #2
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Default Re: An owner's review of the VW 1.2L MPI engine

Super detailed review, thanks for sharing!

The engine has two things going for it - driveability & decent fuel economy. In all other areas though (NVH, power), it fails miserably. Maruti's 1.2L K-Series petrol has been around since 2009 and it's a lovely motor even by current standards. Hyundai's 1.2L engine is butter smooth too. With competition as good as this, VW's 3-cylinder 1.2L never had a chance of being loved. Best summed up by this line of yours:

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhishek46 View Post
12. Will the reviewer (that's me) buy a car with the 1.2MPI again?
No.
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Old 15th June 2016, 13:35   #3
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Default Re: An owner's review of the VW 1.2L MPI engine

There is was just one thing that caught my attention when I drove this car for a considerable distance after my sister bought one last year.

That was the torque wave , not low end, because I felt that is bad as well, but there was this nice pull from just above 1200 rpm which probably lasts till around 3k rpm. That made me feel that this is a point and shoot sort of car in some sense.
I would use this only as a dedicated city ride. Although I haven't done it, I feel when the car is loaded and doing good speeds on the highway, it will be a chore to keep those speeds consistent.

One other point is the low end torque. It is a sort of lag when there is no power at all after hitting the gas pedal from slow speed or standstill and it takes a second or two for the revs to pick up. This is not a good things because it becomes a pain in traffic as well as inclines or bumps when lot of clutch slipping and accelerating is required.

The saving grace is the car as a whole.
Polo for me is a tight car and every thing else is good, except that my left knee keeps fouling with the steering when shifting gears.

And for a person who is not that keen on out-right power and may not even know what difference a 4 and 3 cylinder will have (like my sister), it is a good buy.

Totally agree with the sound levels and that was something VW should have worked on more. The stock exhaust even has quite an audible bass sound .

EDIT: With the Ameo , they should have upgraded the engine for sure. In Ford's case, the Aspire and New Figo engines were the same one as the old petrol engine, except they added the variable valve technology which increased power on paper.

Last edited by tharian : 15th June 2016 at 13:47.
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Old 15th June 2016, 14:30   #4
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Default Re: An owner's review of the VW 1.2L MPI engine

Great idea to review engines and good amount of detail put forth in a concise manner As GTO said, it is best summed up by your closing statement:
Quote:
Originally Posted by abhishek46 View Post
12. Will the reviewer (that's me) buy a car with the 1.2MPI again?
No.
The engine always felt strictly driveable within city limits. Nothing more. Might have been acceptable in a much cheaper car, but while the Polo is still VWs smallest and cheapest offering in India, the motor still felt very out of place in the car especially in the face of its competition like the 1.2 K series motor which itself IMO is no great shakes in terms of power compared to the old G13b Suzuki motor.
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Old 15th June 2016, 14:38   #5
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Default Re: An owner's review of the VW 1.2L MPI engine

Well written review and it matches my thoughts, which are based on driving my cousins Polo!

My cousin is a mechanical engineer and a VW fan (because he studied and is living in Germany :stupid ) and myself being a Honda fan, we always have a clash over cars. But regarding the refinement, he provided a technical answer that even though the VW engine is unrefined, the in cabin refinement is higher due to the weight of the car and the superior insulation that VW uses. If the same engine had been in a Maruti or a Honda, the NVH levels would be even worse.

One question has been bugging my mind since a long time. Why is VW so hesitant to offer the 1.2L TSI + MT combination? Won't volumes justify the localization and cost reduction? I believe that this combination can turn around the fortunes of Polo, Ameo and even the Vento, despite the increased costs.
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Old 15th June 2016, 14:53   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by govindremesh View Post
Well written review and it matches my thoughts, which are based on driving my cousins Polo!

My cousin is a mechanical engineer and a VW fan (because he studied and is living in Germany :stupid ) and myself being a Honda fan, we always have a clash over cars. But regarding the refinement, he provided a technical answer that even though the VW engine is unrefined, the in cabin refinement is higher due to the weight of the car and the superior insulation that VW uses. If the same engine had been in a Maruti or a Honda, the NVH levels would be even worse.

One question has been bugging my mind since a long time. Why is VW so hesitant to offer the 1.2L TSI + MT combination? Won't volumes justify the localization and cost reduction? I believe that this combination can turn around the fortunes of Polo, Ameo and even the Vento, despite the increased costs.

The 1.2l TSI is a fuel guzzler in city. While the manual transmission can improve the efficiency a bit, still it wont be as efficient as the 3 pot motor. I guess its because of the Turbo Charger, which is not efficient at idle or near idle Rpms(Where DSG loves to be).It just loves to Revv and its efficient after 2-3k Rpm.
Probably one of the reasons VW is hesitant in plonking this to polo Manual.
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Old 15th June 2016, 15:21   #7
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Default Re: An owner's review of the VW 1.2L MPI engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by govindremesh View Post
Well written review and it matches my thoughts, which are based on driving my cousins Polo!

My cousin is a mechanical engineer and a VW fan (because he studied and is living in Germany :stupid ) and myself being a Honda fan, we always have a clash over cars. But regarding the refinement, he provided a technical answer that even though the VW engine is unrefined, the in cabin refinement is higher due to the weight of the car and the superior insulation that VW uses. If the same engine had been in a Maruti or a Honda, the NVH levels would be even worse.
Thanks!

By the way, there is an option to reduce Engine sound to some extent in VW Polo1.2 MPI, which i recently got to know from fellow BHPian.
Fitment of TDI's engine insulation cover on the petrol's bonnet (which is a direct fit).

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/test-d...ml#post3990156 (My Lieblingswagen - 2015 VW Polo MPi Comfortline)



Last edited by GTO : 16th June 2016 at 10:47. Reason: Correcting image size
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Old 15th June 2016, 16:48   #8
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Default Re: An owner's review of the VW 1.2L MPI engine

Nice review, somehow couldn't help compare the engine with the Beat Diesel.
There are lots of similarities between both of them.
One thing I have seen is, for small cars, more torque at lower rpms is better than more power at higher rpms.

I drive a Brio's 1.2 vtec and my dads Beat Diesel. The Beat reaches 60-70 kmph much quicker than the Brio, after 80 kmph its all punk rock under the bonnet. Rolling acceleration is fun in case of Beat. While the Brio is dead below 2500 rpm and you have to stomp the accelerator to get it going in some stop-and-go cases, on highways the Brio is at ease around 80 kmph and you know there is a lot of unused power. But do I really use that ? No, on NH4 I dont feel comfortable driving a small car fast, partly because its not a great handler (like Fiat) nor is it safe.
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Old 15th June 2016, 17:33   #9
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Default Re: An owner's review of the VW 1.2L MPI engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by sid93 View Post
The 1.2l TSI is a fuel guzzler in city. While the manual transmission can improve the efficiency a bit, still it wont be as efficient as the 3 pot motor. I guess its because of the Turbo Charger, which is not efficient at idle or near idle Rpms(Where DSG loves to be).It just loves to Revv and its efficient after 2-3k Rpm.
Probably one of the reasons VW is hesitant in plonking this to polo Manual.
I would like to differ from that opinion. The DSG in D mode shifts up really early keeps revs much much lower than an average manual-driving guy would. It almost never stays in 1st and prefers to slip the clutch in 2nd. Hell, it sometimes shifts to 5th at 45-48 kmph with revs near idle. I feel the 1.2 TSi+manual combo, while more/equally fuel efficient on paper (looking at you, ARAI numbers), would be at least 5-10% less fuel efficient in real world use cycles. In S mode, well let's leave FE out of the question then.

Maybe some of our resident VAG experts can comment more.

Cheers,
Sid.
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Old 15th June 2016, 18:26   #10
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Default Re: An owner's review of the VW 1.2L MPI engine

Nice Review Shiekh

Whenever I benchmark vehicles, my first point is always its drive-ability, and there's where the engine has a majority of its role to play with.

I have driven Micra's 1.2L 3Cyl, Beat's 1.2L 4Cyl, My Own Swift's 1.2L 4Cyl, Polo 1.2TSI 4Cyl, Tata Zest's 1.2L 4Cyl

All I can say is Polo 1.2TSi is the smoothest and rev friendly engine, my Swift's K-series 1st gen also loves to Rev and is quiet refined.

Micra's engine feels quiet unrefined but still rev happy.

Beat's engine is a turn off. It just doesn't have that zing to it, which all petrol engines have.
Tata's engine is a thing of both world's, but still is a far cry away from TSI. But nonetheless they are improving.

The Ecoboost is a gem of an engine. Failed to understand why it didnt deliver the mileage it claimed in India and after all the accolades it got worldwide.

VW should bring its UP! engine to India.

Last edited by Sudeep_Kimster : 15th June 2016 at 18:28. Reason: missed something
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Old 15th June 2016, 18:46   #11
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Default Re: An owner's review of the VW 1.2L MPI engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by sid93 View Post
The 1.2l TSI is a fuel guzzler in city. While the manual transmission can improve the efficiency a bit, still it wont be as efficient as the 3 pot motor. I guess its because of the Turbo Charger, which is not efficient at idle or near idle Rpms(Where DSG loves to be).It just loves to Revv and its efficient after 2-3k Rpm.
Probably one of the reasons VW is hesitant in plonking this to polo Manual.
Normally turbo engines should deliver better FE when compared with their NA siblings as one doesnt have to slam the accelerator for quick acceleration in turbo motors, of course, the assumption is that the person is well versed with driving a turbo car.
The only reason I see, for Volkswagen not plonking the TSI in manual avatar, is that they want to position their GTs around the same price range. GT TSI in manual avatar would reduce the price and the GT TDI in DSG avatar would increase the price which might cannablize their Vento TDI DSG sales as well.
The 1.2 TSI is manual avatar would be way more engaging to drive, coupled with the slick gear box and it would attract lot of enthusiasts as well. Nowadays I have noticed that the majority sales of 1.2 TSI is coming from the first time car drivers including one of my friends because of its convenience+power combo.

Last edited by Waspune : 15th June 2016 at 18:47.
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Old 15th June 2016, 19:15   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waspune View Post
Normally turbo engines should deliver better FE when compared with their NA siblings as one doesnt have to slam the accelerator for quick acceleration in turbo motors, of course, the assumption is that the person is well versed with driving a turbo car.
The only reason I see, for Volkswagen not plonking the TSI in manual avatar, is that they want to position their GTs around the same price range. GT TSI in manual avatar would reduce the price and the GT TDI in DSG avatar would increase the price which might cannablize their Vento TDI DSG sales as well.
The 1.2 TSI is manual avatar would be way more engaging to drive, coupled with the slick gear box and it would attract lot of enthusiasts as well. Nowadays I have noticed that the majority sales of 1.2 TSI is coming from the first time car drivers including one of my friends because of its convenience+power combo.

I guess Turbo petrols are different from Turbo diesels. Turbo petrols need more fuel at idle rpms than the required ration to prevent knocking. So unlike diesels, when driven in stop and go traffic,which is where you will spend most of the time in India, it will be less efficient than the NA engines. When driven on a highway or less traffic roads, its a different story though.

PS: May i know whats the special way to drive a turbo car? Am a newbie and own GT TSI, but didn't buy solely because of the convenience though. I became addicted to the power from the moment i test drove it. Nothing else in that price bracket could satisfy me
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Old 15th June 2016, 20:10   #13
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Default Re: An owner's review of the VW 1.2L MPI engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by sid93 View Post
So unlike diesels, when driven in stop and go traffic,which is where you will spend most of the time in India, it will be less efficient than the NA engines. When driven on a highway or less traffic roads, its a different story though.
Coming from a 1.2 iVtec in a brio to the 1.2 TSi, I can say for sure that the 1.2 TSi + dq200 is less of a guzzler than the honda 1.2+Mt in the brio. The brio consistently gave me 9-10 in my office commute which I thought was rather poor. This is no better FE than the 200hp 1.6 ecoboost in my v40. The polo GT is giving me 11-12 in the same scenario. Color me impressed!

Direct injection turbo petrols are the future. No two ways about it!

Last edited by reignofchaos : 15th June 2016 at 20:14.
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Old 15th June 2016, 20:10   #14
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Default Re: An owner's review of the VW 1.2L MPI engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by Waspune View Post
Normally turbo engines should deliver better FE when compared with their NA siblings as one doesnt have to slam the accelerator for quick acceleration in turbo motors, of course, the assumption is that the person is well versed with driving a turbo car.
That might be true for diesels but certainly not for petrol powered cars. How did you arrive at this conclusion? When the turbo begins to spool, it forces more air into the engine and at the same time, the engine needs to compensate by taking in more fuel in order to maintain optimum air-fuel ratio. Turbos are more efficient in that they allow smaller capacity motors to produce the same output as a larger naturally aspirated motor would. That is it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by reignofchaos View Post
Coming from a 1.2 iVtec in a brio to the 1.2 TSi, I can say for sure that the 1.2 TSi + dq200 is less of a guzzler than the honda 1.2+Mt in the brio. The brio consistently gave me 9-10 in my office commute which I thought was rather poor. The GT is giving me 11-12 in the same scenario. Color me impressed!
There are so many other factors to take into consideration here not the least of which would be the way Honda's VTEC is tuned for maximum power output which means it needs to be revved high and hard to get anywhere. Volkswagen's tsi also employs direct injection which the Honda 1.2 does not. Comparing the two completely different motors just due to that fact that they are the same displacement does not support the theory that a turbo charged car is more fuel efficient in contrast to the same car with the same motor just void of a turbocharger.

That said, as a die-hard fan of naturally aspirated motors, I have to admit that turbos are indeed the way of the future. Just going to miss the feel of an NA motor.

Last edited by IshaanIan : 15th June 2016 at 20:20.
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Old 15th June 2016, 20:20   #15
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Default Re: An owner's review of the VW 1.2L MPI engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by IshaanIan View Post
There are so many other factors to take into consideration here not the least of which would be the way Honda's VTEC is tuned for maximum power output which means it needs to be revved high and hard to get anywhere. Volkswagen's tsi also employs direct injection which the Honda 1.2 does not. Comparing the two completely different motors just due to that fact that they are the same displacement in no way supports the intended conclusion.
Agreed but then again, I am comparing two engines that belong in the same segment, being driven in the same manner on the same route. The 1.2 TSI is at a disadvantage to be honest. It is having to lug over 1100 kilos compared to 900 kilos in the brio. At the end of the day, as an end user, I am comparing apples to apples here not apples to oranges.
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