It appeared the era of the dynasty had died last year when Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.’s VQ V-6 failed to win a spot on the Ward’s 10 Best Engines list for the first time in 15 years. The streak had ended.
But the same year, a revised version of Audi AG’s 2.0L TFSI turbocharged direct-injection 4-cyl. had been refreshed for eager driving in the all-new A4 Avant S-line, as well as a slew of other Audi- and Volkswagen-brand luxury cars, family haulers and cross/utility vehicles.
This wonderfully balanced and fuel-efficient I-4 was beginning one dynasty as another ended: It won its fourth consecutive 10 Best Engines award last year and its fifth this year, driven in the A4 sedan.
With such remarkable turnover on the list this year, the Audi 2.0L stands as the seasoned veteran. No other engine on this year’s list has notched more than two consecutive honors.
Seat time is all that is necessary to appreciate our infatuation with this magnificent example of German engineering. It oozes with practical, yet elegant, technology, including the optimized variable turbocharger that debuted last year, along with Audi’s new valvelift system, which allows for variable control of the exhaust valves.
And the engine retains its more-efficient intercooler, lower-friction internals, twin balance shafts, revised electronic controls, 6-hole fuel injectors, variable-nozzle turbocharger, variable valve timing and variable-length intake manifold. With so much variable this and variable that, it’s easy to appreciate the engine’s flexibility.
The numbers cannot be overlooked: 211 hp and 258 lb.-ft. (350 Nm) of torque and a specific output of 106 hp/L, aided and abetted by a juicy torque curve that peaks at 1,500 rpm and holds steady north of 4,000 rpm.
The engine is so good, Audi discontinued the much larger 3.2L V-6 previously available in the brand’s entry-level A3 5-door sedan. It’s the perfect mix of sport-car thrill and luxury-car sensibility.
“It would be hard to imagine this car without this engine,” writes Associate Editor Christie Schweinsberg after her drive in the A4 sedan.
And the A4 – Audi’s best-selling vehicle in the U.S. by a factor of five – relies on but one engine: the 2.0L TFSI. More power requires a step up to the S4, equipped with another stellar engine among this year’s honorees.
Audi deserves credit for giving more than lip service to engine downsizing. It pioneered the concept with the outstanding 1.8L turbo I-4 (a 10 Best Engines winner in 1997 and 2001).
Now it stands as one of the few luxury brands confident enough to stake its reputation on a 4-cyl. engine in a fiercely competitive 6-cyl. market. This engine remains peerless as a premium I-4.
Do you believe in dynasties? The powertrain folks at Audi may be creating one.
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