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VW 3.2 VR6 Engine Specs, Problems And Reliability

VR6 and, subsequently, VR5 are internal combustion engines, first released in 1991. They are known for their narrow-angle (10.5 or 15 degrees) V shape. Having six cylinders, the VR cylinder block contains 2 cylinder banks (left 1-3-5 and right 2-4-6), covered by a sole cylinder head cover.

R32 is a famous representative of the EA390 series. This VR6 3.2L naturally aspirated gasoline motor was employed for Volkswagen Golf R32 mk4/5 in addition to being a part of some other Volkswagen and Audi automobiles.

The motor features a grey cylinder block of cast iron with an angle of 15 degrees between cylinder banks. Cylinders have been relocated by 12.5 mm from the die-forged steel crankshaft center. It results in a 120 degrees firing interval between cylinders. The crankshaft keeps 7 main bearings.

Because of the narrow angle, separate cylinder heads for each cylinder bank become unnecessary. The R32 features an aluminum head and dual overhead camshafts. Gaining a simple timing chain, this motor owns 4 valves for each of 6 cylinders. As camshafts have 12 cam lobes, the front camshaft manages intake valves while the back camshaft controls exhaust ones.

The valve mechanism is provided with roller finger cam followers with reduced friction, having automatic hydraulic valve clearance settings. Besides, VR6 motors feature VVT-i for camshafts: 52 degrees on the front intake camshaft and 22 degrees on the back exhaust camshaft.

Having an electronically managed twin-path variable intake manifold, the motor features classic sequential multi-point fuel injection with six injectors located on intake manifold ports and concealed by the intake manifold top. The engine’s backside contains 2 cast iron exhaust manifolds. Additionally, this 3.2L motor gained an electronic ignition system with separate spark coils for every cylinder plus wire throttle body electronic control. Engine control unit Bosch Motronic ME 7.1.1 controls motor functioning.

Volkswagen VR6 Engine Specs

ManufacturerVolkswagen AG
Cylinder block materialCast Iron
Cylinder head materialAluminum
Fuel typeGasoline
Fuel systemMulti-point fuel injection
Number of cylinders6
Valvetrain layoutDOHC
Bore, mm84.0 (3.31 in)
Stroke, mm95.9 (3.78 in)
Displacement, cc3,189 (194.6 cu in)
Compression Ratio11.3:1
Power, hp235-250 (173-184kW)/ 6,200-6,300
Torque, lb-ft232-236 (315-320 Nm)/ 2,500-3,000
Firing order1-5-3-6-2-4
Engine oil weightVW 504.00; SAE 5W-30
Oil change interval, mile9,000 (15,000 km) or 12 month

What Cars Have A VW VR6 Engine?

The VR6 engine is currently used by Volkswagen in:

  • Volkswagen Passat NMS
  • Volkswagen Atlas

The VR6 engine was used by Volkswagen in:

  • Volkswagen Golf Mk3
  • Volkswagen Golf Mk4
  • Volkswagen Golf Mk5
  • Volkswagen Vento/Volkswagen Jetta Mk3
  • Volkswagen Bora/Volkswagen Jetta Mk4
  • Volkswagen New Beetle RSi
  • Volkswagen Passat (B3, B4, B6 and B7 chassis)
  • Volkswagen Sharan
  • Volkswagen Phaeton
  • Volkswagen Caravelle/Multivan/Eurovan T4 and T5
  • Volkswagen Eos
  • Volkswagen Passat CC
  • Volkswagen Touareg
  • Volkswagen Passat

The VR6 was also used in other Volkswagen Group products, namely:

  • Audi A3 Mk2
  • Audi TT Mk1 and Mk2
  • Audi Q7 4L
  • Porsche Cayenne E1 and E2
  • SEAT Alhambra
  • SEAT León
  • Škoda Superb (B6, 3T)

The VR6 is also used by other manufacturers, namely:

  • Artega GT[9]
  • Ford Galaxy (first generation)
  • Mercedes-Benz V 280
  • Winnebago Rialta, Vista, and Itasca Sunstar

VW VR-6 3.2 Engine Modifications

  • 173 kW (235 hp) at 6,200 rpm, 232 ft-lb (315Nm) at 2,950 rpm. This is an engine for the Volkswagen Transporter T5.
  • BFH – 177 kW (241 hp) at 6,200 rpm, 236 ft lb (320Nm) at 2,500-3,200 rpm. Application: VW Golf Mk4 R32 for the US market.
  • BML – 177 kW (241 hp) at 6,250 rpm, 236 ft-lb (320Nm) at 2,800-3,200 rpm. Application: Australian VW Golf Mk4 R32 engine.
  • BDB, BHE, BMJ, BPF, BUB – 184 kW (250 hp) at 6,250 rpm, 236 ft-lb (320Nm) at 2,500-3,000 rpm. This engine has a lower compression ratio of 10.85:1 and a different intake manifold. Application: Audi A3, Audi TT, VW Golf Mk5 R32.

Volkswagen VR6 Engine Oil Capacity

The VW VR-6 engine requires 6.1 quarts (5.8 liters) of 5W-30 oil with a filter replacement.

VW 3.2 VR6 EA390 Engine Problems And Reliability

R32 motor is rather reliable and doesn’t have many disadvantages. Its weakest point is a serpentine belt tensioner. Motor stammering may be caused by a broken coil pack, while flywheel bolts are easily broken or can unscrew due to strong pressure or high rpm. Besides, this motor consumes a lot of fuel.

However, in total, VR6 engines are rather enduring and don’t cause many troubles. They can run for more than 150,000 miles (250,000 kilometers) with no faults. They provide no noise and operate calmly.

Being now employed for Volkswagen Atlas SUV, Passat, and Porsche Cayenne, this motor will probably be discontinued soon.

Volkswagen builds a straight-4 motor with turbocharging, which is more lightweight, compact, and consumes fuel more rationally while having the same output. Being constructed before it became possible to create efficient 4-cylinder turbo motors with great endurance and almost no malfunctions, VR6 seems to be rather outdated now.

For instance, being utilized for Volkswagen Atlas, VR6 fails to provide significantly more torque than a 4-cylinder turbo engine. Moreover, it features a smaller power range. Now, it’s impossible to acquire a new brand’s vehicle with this motor in Europe.


About Dan Hoffman

Dan is a co-founder of Engineswork. He knows everything about internal combustion engines. Ask your questions in comments down below this article - he will be glad to help you anytime.