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For VW, new turbo brings more power, fuel economy for key models

These cars will look like the other 2013 Jettas and Beetles from the outside, but will get more horsepower and better fuel economy than their turbo counterparts.

Why is Volkswagen willing to confuse buyers in the middle of a model year? Because the engine swap begins Volkswagen's bold plan to make turbochargers standard across most of its best-selling models.

The new 2-liter turbocharged and direct-injected engine that will go into the Beetle Turbo coupe, Beetle Turbo convertible and Jetta GLI will produce 210 horsepower, 10 more than the current 2-liter turbo engine, and four to eight percent better combined fuel economy, which translates to an extra 1 or 2 mpg on the window sticker.

VW says the EA888 'Gen 3' engine was designed to be lighter and more fuel efficient than the engine it replaces. Engine weight has been trimmed by eight pounds to 290 pounds overall.

It is just the first wave of turbos from VW's engine plant in Silao, Mexico, that started production on the new EA888 family of engines earlier this year.

A less powerful, 1.8-liter turbocharged and direct-injection engine will essentially become the base engine in the Jetta, Passat and Beetle over the next year, offering more gains in performance and fuel economy.

(Volkswagen will keep offering a 2-liter non-turbocharged engine in the Jetta, as an option for budget buyers, but the company expects most buyers to opt for the turbocharged engine.)

The transition will not be without confusion for finicky Volkswagen buyers in the United States. The brand already offers four engines in the Jetta, plus a hybrid option, and now it is throwing another one into the mix.

But as the latest and greatest redesigned cars from rivals start to take a bite out of Volkswagen's sales momentum, adding a few more horsepower and a few more mpg can't hurt.

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