There's a war being waged in Europe for the highest output from the smallest displacement. Alfa Romeo has managed to squeeze 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque out of a 1.7-liter turbo four for the 4C. Mercedes-Benz has coaxed 355 hp and 332 lb-ft out of a 2.0-liter turbo four to drive the new A45 AMG, CLA45 AMG and GLA45 AMG. But not to be outdone, the Volkswagen Group is said to be working on one of its own that will put both to shame.
The engine is reportedly being based on VW's existing 2.0-liter turbo four, only enhanced to produce a massive 375 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The key to getting there was poaching Friedrich Eichler, the engineer who designed AMG's aforementioned high-output engine, and mandating him to do still better.
That's all well and fine – and perfectly impressive – but just what does VW plan on doing with the new engine? A whole lot, according to reports. It's expected to power the new Scirocco and a new Golf R Evo expected to debut at the Beijing Motor Show in April, and you can bet it'll be slotted into another few applications as well. But the first vehicle expected to get it will be the Audi S3 Plus.
S3 Plus? Don't we mean the new RS3? Not according to the buzz, no. Apparently Audi wants to use the engine to power a hot hatch to slot in between the existing S3 (where the 2.0-liter turbo four produces 290 hp and 280 lb-ft) and the next RS3. The outgoing RS3 packed a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-five with 335 hp and 332 lb-ft. Audi thinks that the turbo five has more potential, and that the high-output turbo four will light a fire under the engineers at Quattro GmbH to find every last drop of it.
If you assume the same differential in power between the three increments of Audi hot hatch, we could be looking at a good 460 hp and just as much torque, which would propel the next RS3 and TT RS into positively bonkers territory. That would make it an incredible hundred horses more powerful than the 360-hp TT RS Plus. Which might seem outlandish, but with the A1 Clubsport Quattro concept, Audi has shown that engine can produce as much as 500 hp.