Eurovan Camper – First reached U. S. shores in 1992-the fourth new platform within VW’s half-century of van assembly. Initially fitted by having an anemic 109-hp five-banger and priced as if this were about to become auctioned off at Christie’s, the EuroVan ended up being to U. S. buyers what Eddie the Eagle ended up being to Olympic ski jumping.
So dismally did the EuroVan sell that VW simply gave the thing the large Teutonic sky hook-a four-year timeout to formulate a fix. (Persons desperate to the Camper version from the VW van could, during this point, acquire one through Winnebago. ) The fix turned out to become VW’s sporty VR6 engine, first installed inside the Camper in ’97 after which inside the seven-seat minivan in ’99. Except during this guise it was eventually perversely detuned to supply only 140 horses.
Oh, boy. If VW’s goal was rarity, success was achieved. By 2000, sales had stalled at 1331 units. As rare as chicken molars.
For 2001, VW has therefore hatched yet another fix, although this one actually is sensible : much more power for plenty less money-the kind of formula your average 50ish flower child can grasp inside a flashback.
First, the ability. Because of a brand new variable-resonance intake manifold, variable intake- and exhaust-valve timing, and also a doubling of valves, the VR6 now produces 201 horsepower at 6200 rpm and can also pull the EuroVan to 60 mph in 11. 0 seconds-coincidentally the typical 0-to-60 clocking during our last minivan comparo. That is 0. 8 second quicker compared to the GLS we tested in 1999. Equally useful, the VR6 is tuned to obtain peak torque as early as 2500 rpm, so step-off is not a maneuver measured using a sundial. It might help, in fact, if the van weren’t this type of perennial porker-it’s 754 pounds heavier compared to the last Chevy Venture LS we tested. Fortunately, VW’s four-speed automatic is diligent about importuning urgent revs, although there is an annoying half-second wide-open-throttle gasp that interrupts one-two upshifts. The sporty gearing is otherwise a godsend, since the crotchety floor-mounted shifter, which pokes skyward like an attack periscope, resists a lot of the driver’s manual second-guessing.
Really bad the revitalized engine includes a drinking problem. It slurps premium unleaded at an EPA-rated clip of 15 mpg in town. The fact is, this VR6 will enjoy a much more satisfying milieu to begin with half 2002, when it appears inside the Golf GTI and Jetta Sport.