In the endless pursuit of higher fuel economy, Volkswagen is thinking small; really, really small. In fact, Vdub is cutting one of its most popular engines, the 1.6 liter TDI, in half. This will create a two-cylinder diesel engine that will deliver impressive fuel economy for some of VW’s most expensive, and least expensive vehicles.

Automakers regularly cut popular engines down in size to save on engineering a whole new engine from scratch. GM’s 4.3 liter Vortec V6 shares engineering aspects of the popular small-block Chevy V8s. It saves money and frees up engineers for other projects.

Volkswagen hopes that by cutting its 1.6 liter diesel engine down in size, they can deliver the promised 313 mpg in the experimental XL1. The diesel-hybrid uses exotic materials and will likely cost far more than most people can, or will, pay for a slow-but-ridiculously-fuel-efficient vehicle.

More importantly though, thise two-cylinder diesel engine will make its way into the Volkswagen Up! city car. Rumors suggest 58 horsepower and 88 ft-lbs of torque for this tiny diesel engine, and it could deliver fuel economy upwards of 70 mpg in a car that sells for around $13,000-ish.

Top speed is said to be around 99 mph. Right now, the gas engine in the Up! offers up to 74 horsepower, but less torque, and 0 to 60 mph takes 13 seconds. CNG and battery-electric versions are also in the works.

This is the latest effort by an automaker to drasticly downsize engines in the pursuit of fuel economy. Ford’s smallest offering is a 1.0 liter EcoBoost engine with three cylinders that produces about twice the power as VW’s two-cylinder diesel.

It’s an interesting dichotomy to be sure, one that is sure to affect America more frequently as the price of gas continues to rise.

How much performance and speed would you sacrifice in the name of 70 mpg?

Source: LeftLane News