Since its creation in 1991 by German automotive giant Volkswagen, the VR6 engine has been a fascinating part of the automotive world.

    Famed for its unique blend of V-style and inline attributes, the VR6 packed the power of six cylinders in a compact design ideal for small engine bays. As it made its way into a range of Volkswagen models, from the nimble Golf to the luxurious Passat, the VR6 solidified its place in the heart of automotive enthusiasts.

    Fast forward to today, and the world of automotive engineering is witnessing a shift towards downsized turbocharged engines and electric powertrains.

    However, the legacy of the VR6 lives on through the efforts of a company based in Canada known as HPA Motorsports. Renowned for their expertise in VR6 engine tuning, HPA is keeping the VR6 legend alive with its new crate engine program.

    Firstly though, what is so good about the VR6, and why is it so popular?

    One of the most compelling aspects of the VR6 engine is its unusual configuration.

    It stands apart in a crowd of more conventional engines, primarily due to its unique blend of V-style and inline attributes.

    The “V” in VR6 stands for “V-Motor,” while the “R” is short for “Reihenmotor,” the German word for an inline engine. Essentially, it’s a compact V-engine that borrows characteristics from an inline layout.

    The genius of the VR6 lies in its staggered bore. In traditional V-engines, cylinders are arranged in two separate banks with a distinct angle between them.

    This angle typically measures 60 to 90 degrees. However, the VR6 pushed these boundaries, placing its cylinders at an initial angle of just 15 degrees, allowing them to share a common head.

    This unique approach enabled the VR6 to pack more power into a smaller space. It was as if Volkswagen had figured out a way to fit six-cylinder performance into a four-cylinder’s engine bay.

    Moreover, the VR6 had a profound influence on future Volkswagen engines, forming the basis for the VR5, a VR6 with one cylinder omitted, and providing the architectural foundation for the famous W engine.

    The W engine design took the concept of the VR6 to another level, and variations of this engine found their way into everything from the humble Passat to the Bugatti Veyron.

    The VR6 crate engine project, branded as the VR550T, has been two years in the making. This venture aims to breathe new life into the VR6 engine by transforming it into a 2.5-litre turbocharged beast that delivering 550 horsepower and 550 lb-ft of torque.

    This engine, originally intended for the Chinese market Volkswagen Atlas, known as the Teramont, has been given a new lease on life.

    HPA’s vision with the project is not just about repurposing an engine; it’s about fulfilling the long-standing desires of Volkswagen enthusiasts.

    The goal of HPA’s VR6 crate engine program is not limited to performance enhancement; it’s about maintaining reliability and drivability.

    This point is particularly notable given the VR6’s history. Originally designed as a diesel engine built for hefty torque, the VR6 was quickly adopted by tuners seeking to create the ultimate sleeper or track weapon.

    The VR550T, as described by HPA, is a true ‘supercar killer.’ Yet it’s as comfortable doing grocery runs as it is tearing up the racetrack. The program aims to deliver cars that function as if they rolled out of the Volkswagen factory, with every detail reflecting the precision and care that HPA is known for.

    The first batch of the VR550T program will see the new VR6 engine fitted into 50 special edition Golf Rs.

    These models will receive exclusive badging and serialised plaques, marking them as unique pieces of automotive history. It’s a fitting homage to a legendary engine that has left an indelible mark on Volkswagen’s heritage.

    While the current focus is on Mk7.5 Golf R models, the VR550T engine is designed to fit into virtually any MQB vehicle. That extends the possibilities to vehicles ranging from the Audi TT to the Volkswagen Passat. There’s even talk of a Beetle RSI tribute, hinting at the potential reach of this engine program.

    HPA Motorsports’ VR6 crate engine program is more than a nod to the past; it’s about rekindling the spirit of automotive innovation and performance that the VR6 engine represents.

    The buzz around this project and HPA’s history of delivering extraordinary VR6 engines are clear indicators of the significant demand for this engine. It’s a testament to the allure of the VR6 engine, a classic design that continues to resonate with car lovers to this day.

    Whether it’s for Golf R owners yearning for a more robust drivetrain, or car enthusiasts seeking a unique engine swap, the VR6 crate engine program is a venture echoing the spirit of Volkswagen’s golden age.

    It’s a celebration of a time when Volkswagen dared to defy norms, and it stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of the VR6 engine. And with enough inventory to continue production for the next decade, HPA Motorsports is set to keep the VR6 alive even longer than Volkswagen itself.

    But, “How much?” You might ask.

    At present, pricing details are currently under wraps, but the anticipation and excitement building up in the automotive community suggest that HPA Motorsports is set to deliver something extraordinary.

    For more information, check out HPA Motorsports here.

    Mark Trueno

    Mark Trueno is a CarExpert Contributor.

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