Theme : Engines – Ford, VW and Opel’s Engine Ranges

Who has the most engines to offer customers? DTW takes a close look at the state of play at VW, Opel and Ford.

This has a V6 under the hood.
This has a V6 under the hood.

The operating assumption behind this small study is that engines matter. More precisely, if a manufacturer can offer a decent range of engines for a given class of vehicles then they are very likely to have a better chance of selling something to someone. I’ll restrict my research to Ford, Opel and VW for this particular study.

I wanted to see the composition of the range of engines and also to find out the average age of the engine families. The second point was rather hard to ascertain and I failed to determine this. Just sorting out the engine ranges was time consuming enough. I imagine that such information is not well signposted. Having an elderly engine range is not something you might like to advertise.

The immediate results of this analysis are offered here with a
medium level of confidence. As Simon Kearne pointed out yesterday the relation between cylinders and power has diminished. The cylinder-count is not a matter of prestige anymore. The Ford Mondeo’s highest power engine is a 4-cylinder mill which turns out 240 PS compared to the 170 PS of the 2006 Duratec 2.5 litre V6.

More power is being offered through tuning not changes in capacity, which is how the modern 4-cylinder turns out the same power as the discontinued six. I don’t find that comforting though.

2014 VW Eos
2014 VW Eos

Economy is also a parameter as well as power. This means that VW, Opel and Ford are offering Econetic, BlueMotion and Flex versions of their engines. Are these to be considered separate units? They have the same power outputs as the engines of the same capacity. Customers are paying for economy and so this constitutes as much of a choice as that of latitude in cost and in power.

For simplicity’s sake I’ve decided not to include the economy versions as separate engines but I have chosen to count engine capacities as the defining unit: a 1.2 litre with 78 PS, 94 PS and 99 PS are counted as one basic engine.

Here then is a rough guide to what’s on offer.


Ford offer the following petrol engines. The 3-cylinder Ecoboost engine comes in a 1.0 litre capacity. The Ecoboost family comprises four-cylinder units in 1.0, 1.4 and 1.6 litre capacities. This series appears to be an adaptation of the Sigma series which itself seems to stem from the Zetec family from 1995. They also have a 4 cylinder motor called Ti-VCT which does not appear to be part of the Ecoboost family and whose purpose is not immediately clear to me. Topping things off is a 2.0 litre unit which powers the upper echelons of the Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy ranges.

2014 Ford Mondeo Titanium X
2014 Ford Mondeo Titanium X

All of Ford’s passenger cars get by with 4-cylinders, except for the Fiesta which has an Ecoboost 3-pot available. Car and Driver  found this unit overburdened in the Fiesta but it still mananged 0-60 in ten seconds.

One of those petrol engines is the 5-0 litre V8 which is only fitted to the Mustang, a rather specialised car. Sales volumes of this must be considered to be on the small side.

There are four main diesel engines, from 1.5 to 2.2 litres, and ranging from 75 to 200 PS.

What Ford don’t have in Europe is a V6 (I looked at the UK and German website for this data). That is some discovery, a change of which I wasn’t aware. Since this review is restricted to Europe, I won’t be including Ford’s global range which does indeed include six sixes used currently elsewhere**. The question is why one of these is not offered.

Ford sell the focus with an electric power pack with 145 PS. And they have an autogas/petrol dual fuel 1.4 litre with 92 PS.

Ford do not generally mention cylinder-counts in their publicity material.


Now I’ll turn to Volkswagen. As with Ford of the UK, their website was not easy to poke around in. There may be some engines on sale in Germany that are not in the UK. I am not going to double-check that but people are welcome to play spot the differences.

VW have a something-for-everyone approach. First, VW offer 22 distinct bodyshells (e.g a cabrio is distinct from a hardtop). I have treated all the Golfs as one car but I have taken a look in each of their specification sheets to see what power units are on offer. They have 23 versions of their engines based on cylinders and power output.

They have 16 diesel engines variants. A lot of the effort is on the 1.4 and 2.0 litre range with power outputs ranging from 115 to 240 PS. And given that the 1.4 litre engine block and 2.0 litre engine block cover such a wide range of power outputs one might wonder if they could be overstressed at the higher power outputs. And indeed some say the 1.4 Tsi is problematic. What’s missing is a 1.6 litre petrol unit, leaving a gap from 1.4 to 2.0 litres capacity.

2014 VW Polo; it probably has a 1.4 litre motor fitted.
2014 VW Polo; it probably has a 1.4 litre motor fitted.

The core of their range, the Polo and Golf; are superserved with engines, having seven or eight each, from slug to rocket. There are 15 engines in all: a 3-cylinder petrol, four petrol 4-cylinders, a V6 and a V8 petrol, three diesel 4-cylinders, and a diesel V6 and diesel V8. I noted that there are just three engines in the Passat range.

The CC however has a mighty V6 available for the CC. This is probably more convincing than Ford offering Titanium X spec matched with a 2.0 litre for their flagship saloon. And VW have plutocratic V8s for the Phaeton and Toureg while Ford and Opel do not come near to these heights.

VW have four other engines: one biogas (68 PS), one gas (80 PS), and two petrol hybrids (150 and 333 PS).


And now we turn to Opel. Opel don’t explain the cylinder count. It seems this detail is not important to their customers or else they don’t want them to know. As with Ford, most are four-cylinders barring the obvious exception the 2.8 litre V6 the Insignia may be specced with.

2014 Opel Astra GTC
2014 Opel Astra GTC

Opel have 16 different petrol engines, rated by cylinders and power output. This is based on what appear to be 4 different basic units tuned different ways. They have 16 diesel variants, with fewer small diesels than VW. They have five basic diesel units tuned to different outputs. As with VW their middle-range cars have the most variations in engines. One oddity is the 1.8 litre four-cylinder still doing duty in the old Zafira. It still probably sells a lot more units than Ford’s 5.0 litre engine. Opel also offer the entertainment of a biturbo diesel in their 2.0 litre range.

Opel they also have a CNG (1.6 litre) and two LPG (1.2 and 1.4 litres) motors plus an electric-petrol hybrid in the Volt .

It seems Opel to have fewer diesels in the small range but have eighteen basic engine variants to choose from overall.

Summary and discussion: 14, 15, 18

Ford have not won this comparison, based on numbers. They are running fourteen basic engine types in their passenger cars (and one of those is the 5.0 litre V8 in the Mustang). VW are offering fifteen units and GM offer eighteen units.

There is some room for clarification and qualification. Ford have most variety in the 1.6 litre class with a power range from 85 to 182 PS. Volkwagen cover this ground with the 1.4 litre unit, from 120 to 180 PS. Their units are possibly over-stressed. Opel plays it safe and use a pair of units in 1.4 and 1.6 litres to serve this heartland of power outputs. You can also say that having the right engines matters more than just having a lot of them. Ford’s 1.0 Ecoboost unit, for example, has won awards in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and sells well.

VW play the capacity card and offer some V6s and V8s while Ford offer no V6 at all. Ford can sell you the Ford Mustang with its V8 but this must be regarded as something as a specialist vehicle whereas VW and Opel sell V6s and V8s as a matter of routine. Again, you could say that Ford has moved with the times and has noticed that V6s are not that much in demand in the C/D class. Giving such cars a bad review has been a sport in motor journalism for decades. But still, VW and Opel seem to think its worth it and they are being sold, regardless of what journalists feel about them.

2014 VW 1.4 TSi engine
2014 VW 1.4 TSi engine

Opel have good spread of engine capacities and some extra fuels but have only one V6 and no V8 (nor the kind of cars VW puts them in) But, one can see that their engine capacities are more evenly spread than VW. Both the 1.4 litre unit and the 2.0 unit from VW are tuned to a wide spread of outputs and this means they may be stressed, short-lived or more prone to failure. Whilst Opel has foregone the prestige of a V8 one might be more confident of their small cars’ long term health.

Turning back to Ford we see that unlike VW and Opel, they are at present discounting the value of a spread of engines. This hasn’t stopped the Focus selling very well but overall, it’s a reasonable bet to say that Ford might very well do a lot better if there was more choice in power output. Another area where Ford has not invested much is the C/D class.

Their Mondeo is old and has a diminished set of options in terms of configuration and engines. It will be interesting to see what the new Mondeo will be have under the hood. Unlike Ford, Opel still sell a four door in the C/D class and have an All-Road model. Insignia range is has quite lavish possibilities including a 2.0 twin turbo and 4WD which is going to be popular in Alpine areas of Switzerland, Austria and Germany.

The Insignia also comes with a 2.8 V6 with a convincing 325 PS. Alas it’s only sold with the Sports Touring OPC format which means you might miss the comfort. What would be nice would be that engine with standard suspension. All of this is in stark contrast to the Mondeo and the Passat which lack V6s. The Passat is not available as a 5-door and you have to move up a price level for the CC. What you can’t get is a 4 door Passat with a big engine, whereas Opel offer the Insignia with a full choice of doors and engines.

In conclusion, Ford have some strengths in other areas but engines and choice of models is not among them. Despite Ford’s global reach they have not been able to broaden the European model range by using vehicles from other regions as GM do. Opel do very well from providing the engineering for the globally successful Astra and they also can use platforms from the US and Asian market.

VW can defray its costs over a bewildering range of cars from the portfolio. Audis and Bentleys allow for the economies of scale to develop V6 and V8 engines to be used in the Passat, Phaeton and Tuareg.

Engines matter and it would appear that Ford are a bit weak in this area. They have engines from other markets that are not being used in the EU. And VW might be playing with fire by relying on over-tuned units as the problem with the 1.4 TSI has hinted. Opel could do with expanding their engine set in the higher capacity range but they lack cars to use them in.

This underlines Opel’s lack of a really good large car (a problem also besetting Ford). Opel could use the Zeta platform which is under-utilised globally. It is RWD and would give a useful sales proposition in that class that Ford and VW could not match. Ford don’t seem to have a ready solution to the large car problem.

There are other parameters not considered here, among them the overall age of the engines and their economy, pulling-power and reliablity. But just considering the choice offered to customers to match the outputs to the body-shell both Opel and VW seem to be on safer ground than Ford in numerical terms. Opel’s lack of many large engines is offset by the robustness of their four-cylinder units which, in the end, might matter more than being able to boast of having V6s and V8s in the portfolio, as VW do.

The study has provided some surprises but could be further illuminated by examining the fuel economy figures and the power to weight ratios. And finally, I have truncated the study by ignoring gearbox options and special fuel economy packages.

Note: the data was gathered from Ford, Opel and VW´s own websites between August 5th and August 11th, 2014.

Engine Range Summaries

FORD ENGINE RANGE – EUROPE (14 engines including the Mustang 5.0 litre)

  • Petrol engines (8 basic units, 65 to 250 PS not including the Mustang 5.0 litre)

1.0 litres with 65, 80, 100, 125 and 140 PS

1.2 litre 69 PS

1.25 litre with 60 and 82 PS

1.4 litre 90 PS

1.5 litres with 112 PS.

1.6 litres with 85 PS, 105, 120, 125, 160, 182 PS

2.0 litre with 2ß3, 240 and 250 PS

5.0 litre V8 in the Mustang

  • Diesel Engines (4 basic units, 75 to 200 PS)

1.5 litres with75 PS and 90 PS

1.6 litres with 95 PS and 115

2.0 TDCi with 115 PS, 140 and 163

2.2. TDCi with 200 PS

Electric power pack with 145 PS

  • Autogas/Petrol dual fuel 1.4 litre with 92 PS.


  • Petrol units (7 basic units from 60 to 335 PS)

3 cylinder 1.0 litre in 60, 68, 70, 75

4 cylinder 1.2 litre with 85, 90, 105 , 110 and 120 PS

1.4 litres 120, 122, 125 and 150,160 and 180 PS

4 cylinder 2.0 with 210, 220 and 230, 240 PS

4 cylinder turbo 2.0

V6 with 3.6 and 280 and 300 PS

Petrol 4.2 V8 with 335 PS

  • Diesel engines (5 basic units, from 70 to 340 PS)

Four cylinder 1.4 litres 70, 90 and 110 PS.

Four cylinder 1.6 litres with 105, 110 PS

Four cylinder 2.0 with 115, 140 PS, 150 PS, 177 and 184, and 210 240 PS

3.0 litre V6 with 204, 245 and 262 PS

4.2 litreV8 with 340 PS

  • Other engines:

Biogas 3 cylinder 1.0 engine with 68 PS

Gas 1.4 litres with 80 PS

Petrol Hybrid 1.4 with 150 PS

Petrol hybrid 3.0 V6 with 333 PS

OPEL ENGINE RANGE ( 9 petrols, 5 diesels and 4 alternative motors: 18 engines)

  • Petrol (9 petrols, from 68 to 325 PS)

Petrol 3-cylinder 1.0 ecoFLEX, with 68 PS,

1.0 turbo SGE with 115 PS,

1.2 16v with 70 PS.,

1.4 16v  with 87, 100, 120, 140 PS

1.6 with 170, 192, 200, 210 PS

1.8 with 115 PS,

2.0 Turbo with 250 and 280 PS

4-cylinder 2.4 litre 167 PS,

V6 Turbo 2.8 with 325 PS

  • Diesel Engines (5 diesels, from 75 to 195 PS)

1.3 CDTI, (75 and 95 PS),

1.6 CDTI ecoFLEX, (95, 110, 120, 136 PS)

1.7 CDTI, (110, 120, 125 PS),

2.0 CDTI, (130, 140, 163, 184, 165)

2.0 BiTurbo CDTI, (195 PS)

  • Electric motor

11 kW (150 PS), and 1.4, (86 PS)

  • LPG and CNG

1.2 LPG ecoFLEX, (83 PS),

1.4 LPG ecoFLEX, (140 PS)

Gas 1.6 CNG ecoFLEX, (150 PS),

 ** The Volvo-designed SI6 in 3.0 or 3.2 litres (2006), the Cyclone V6 aluminum 60° DOHC (2006), the two Duratecs in 3.5 (2006) and 3.7 litres (2007) and the Ecoboost 3.5litre (2009).

Ford´s 5 cylinder unit has also vanished from the range, another Volvo-related unit that was fitted to the Mk 2 Focus ST and S-Max.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

15 thoughts on “Theme : Engines – Ford, VW and Opel’s Engine Ranges”

  1. Re : ‘Lines-Up’ v ‘Line-Ups’. I applaud the attitude of my staff to keep high grammatical standards, but I must hold this open for debate since it is my responsibility to ensure that this site is foremost a people’s site, welcoming and accessible to all.

    Of the examples that Richard cites, a court-martial still remains a court and a comptroller-general remains a comptroller. As such ‘line-up’ does not strictly compare and is surely best seen as a portmanteau word where a hyphen has been retained to avoid the ungainly proximity of two vowels. Although arguably incorrect, I feel that ‘line-ups’ does work better in this case and, as further evidence, would ask how one would pluralise cock-up?

    In fact this probably demonstrates why such words, which I assume originate in some sporting endeavour, are possibly best excluded. In my youth ‘range’ always sufficed, even if it was generally a range of just two.

    Does anyone else have any opinions on this?

    1. Editor’s Note : The above relates to an earlier title by Mr Herriott that used the term ‘Line-Up’ in place of ‘Range’. Although, in the spirit of reasoned debate that we encourage at DTW, he has now chosen to alter the title, I leave this comment in to show the lengths we go to to ensure that our contributions are honed to as much perfection as we can modestly muster.

  2. So, is it correct that we’ve lost Ford’s V6 and 5 cylinder Petrol engines as well as VW’s V10 Diesel and W12 Petrol? Although they’re all generally irrelevant engines to our time, that is a pity.

  3. There was no sight of them.
    In our times big, fierce animals are rare. I haven’t looked at VW USA but I don’t expect the Americans want such contrivances. I’ll look into the demise of the 5-cylinder. I think they are going the way of the typewriter too.

  4. The V10 is gone for good (something to do with emissions, I’m told), but the W12 isn’t just reserved to Audis and Bentleys these days, oh no! You can still order your Phaeton with the Ol’ Big’ Dubbya, even if it is my belief that all those high-spec 6.0s one can spot on German roads on an irregular basis were first registered sporting either WOB or DD registration plates. Mind you, these cars must be the second hand bargain of the millennium, and VAG’s board of directors is probably large enough these days to warrant the model’s ongoing production. Just as long as there are some particularly loyal, formerly VW Santana-driving Chinese plutocrats as well, I’d guess.

    In contrast to Richard’s analysis, I can report that as part of many an analysis of the Opel malaise in the German press, the lack of modern engine technology has been named the second worst culprit (after “image”). Only recently has Opel brought what could be called “modern” engine technology to market, which – according to press reports – is also starting to reap rewards.

  5. It is very hard for me to detect on what basis the “image” problem of Opel rests. That isn´t to say it isn´t there; very plainly it is. I just can´t see it myself. For my own part, I psychoanalysed myself and found my problem with Opel stemmed from my childhood recollections of rusting Asconas and faded red Omegas. In the meantime, much of what Opel have done has been as worthwhile as Ford and VW. It´s more what they haven´t done than what they have is the problem. Opel never managed to make a striking, popular, fun car that got people talking as did Ford with the Focus and certain Escorts or VW with the Vento and Polo 1.0.
    I had another look at VW Germany and I am sad to report that the engine range of the Phaeton is no minus anything with ten cylinder. But be thankful there is still an 8-pot in the diminished range. Looking at the photos I see a car to aristocratic to be rubbing shoulders with rough-handed, quotidian fare like the Golf and Passat. I notice the Phaeton is not in the configurator screen but on a separate pull down menu, so far down you might not see it. A fine looking car. It looks appealing for the same reasons I like 90s Buicks. That is not intended as an insult.
    The engine range is a petrol 3.6 litre V6 with 280 PS and and a petrol 4.2 litre V-8 with 335, and a 3.0 litre diesel V6 with 245 PS.

  6. ‘DTW takes a close look at the state of the art at VW, Opel and Ford’

    I think you meant ‘state of play’, not ‘state-of-the-art’ (hyphenated)…

  7. The modern buyer likes maximum choice in most things. In being given this choice, we flatter ourselves that we have specified and purchased the product best suited to our needs. Speaking for myself, the breadth of choice frustrates me more than it satisfies. There are some things I have the will and time to research, but every occasion I need a new Washing Machine / Toaster / Bath Tap / TV / PC / Indigestion Remedy, I am confronted with scores of items, all superficially identical. Do I really flatter myself that my research is so thorough that I have honed in on the perfect item for my needs?

    This choice of engines is beyond me to decode, even with my interest. It used to be easy to decide whether to buy the diesel Peugeot or the petrol one. You took into account that the diesel was probably 15% more expensive than the petrol version, found realistic consumption figures for each from road tests, factored in your annual mileage and found that unless you did 20,000 miles a year (and could put up with the clatter and slothfulness) petrol was best. Now there are so many options, tax bands and congestion charges to bear in mind. Add to that the unreality of official consumption figures and the likelihood of finding the perfect engine option in all the above is slight.

    I’d speculate that 5% of the above engines would satisfy 95% of the car buying public.

  8. Regarding choice, I find it over-rated if it not clear what I am choosing. With so many parameters such as purchase price, running cost, power output, torque character to consider the VW and Ford customer has very little chance of being sure more choice translated into the best choice for them. It reminds me of the deliberate muddling of contract and pre-pay ‘phone tarrifs. I think the blizzard of engine variants is a smokescreen or net. It avoids giving the customer no certain reason to avoid the car. In a way it makes the engine choice as subjective as the choice of style. The question is, did they intend this or is it a happy accident for the marketing people. One thing I can say is that few people bother to spend the time I did even comparing one model with its peers. Another thing is I won’t be recommending VW 1.4s in the higher power outputs.

  9. I think it’s all surprisingly ramshackle. Marketing people aren’t that interested in engineering, but they do have Buzzwords. CHOICE / PERFORMANCE / GREEN / TAX BRACKET / ECONOMY. They pass these on to engineering who are only too happy to come out with a raft of options that fulfill some, but not all, of these criteria. Somewhere, someone assumes that the options will be whittled down, but that never happens.

  10. A few points, if I may?

    I am pretty sure that the “Ford” 1.2, 69 PS engine is actually a FIAT unit that appears in the KA.

    Coming out of the detail, TBH, I am not sure what this analysis is meant to prove? I think most reviews would state that, by and large, the GME powertrains lag those of Ford, which in turn lag those of VW. I am not sure which has the oldest, or oldest tech group of powertrains; is that not a more relevant comparison?

    Going back into the detail, the 1.0 triple in Fords is a rather endearing and flexible thing, of which we have not yet seen its true potential. I eagerly anticipate finding out how well it works in the upcoming Mondeo, as I suspect that, if it is effective (by which I mean, if it achieves those targets which Ford is setting for it), we may well see other manufacturers follow its lead and stretch low capacity units high up into their ranges.

    In a similar way, I’m intrigued by Volvo’s experiment with a new range of 4 cylinder only powertrains that are enhanced by turbo/ super/ battery charged means. In some respects, I want this experiment to fail (4 cylinder cars in general are such dull, droning things – I did say “in general”) as the loss of 5,6,8 etc. cylinder cars would be tragic for the more emotional and romantic amongst us. On the other hand, I rather admire their nerve …

  11. Kris has pointed out the criticism that Opel has received for their engine range. And indeed I would guess a fuel-efficiency comparison would throw up some interesting results. But can I say in defence of Adam Opel AG, the very fact they still use larger capacity engines for higher power outputs means in principle those engines are more robust. I feel the little ones will be like mice hearts: high BPMs but short lived. I´d make a point of not buying a VW engine in the lower capacities.

    I wasn´t very aware of Ford´s shared engine so we can mark one of their score, then. Fiat´s engine range is coming up soon, if you´re curious.

  12. This excess of engines contrasts so strongly with the ethos at BL, hinted at in the Stag piece. They looked at the Jaguar XK and V12, at the Stag V8 and at the Rover V8 and were appalled. They couldn’t wait to rationalise and reduce the number of engines on offer. We can condemn these people as short-sighted or just parochial but maybe it’s a different generation’s philosophy. Their’s was the attitude of ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ of ‘Make Do And Mend’ – they had been through World Depression, Wars, Rationing and they felt genuinely threatened by profligacy.

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