When we were handed the keys to the Mk4 VW Jetta in Eurospec Sport’s parking lot, our hearts weren’t exactly aflutter. With its missing center caps and stock ride height, the sedan was a bit ho-hum.
Of course, we didn’t really know what to expect when Eurospec had invited us to come and try its larger VR6 24v conversions, but the first impression wasn’t overwhelming.
Firing the ignition didn’t give the game away either. It had a slightly louder exhaust note, but otherwise it was like any other mid-’90s GLI.
We followed the directions given to us by company owner, Steve Zlotkin, and found ourselves on a deserted, twisting stretch of black-top. After a quick scout of the area, we let it rip.
During our previous 15-20min with the car, nothing had prepared us for what just happened. When we mashed the throttle, even the hounds of hell were afraid to come out!
The Jetta had severe bipolar disease, and we were only in the 3.6-liter version; we couldn’t imagine what the 3.8L VR6 would be like…
Eurospec is the tuning division of Overland Parts – both of which focus on the supply of standard and performance parts for VW/Audi cars. The parent company has been in business for 36 years, supplying replacement and upgrade engines to outlets around the world, with everything from diesel conversions to the latest FSI engines.
With a preference for large-capacity, naturally-aspirated engines, they have offered parts for the VR6 for the last 10-12 years. Their popular stroker kits for the 2.8L VR6 include a 3.0L capacity increase as well as a 3.2 and even a 3.4L.
Taking the capacity increase a stage further, Overland looked at the possibility of a 3.6-liter VR6 conversion based on the engine in the Touareg, Passat, Q7 and Cayenne. Seeking ease of installation, they decided the optimum route would be to mate the original 2.8 or 3.2L cylinder head to the 3.6 bottom-end. This would negate the need for special manifolds and adapters or dealing with the 3.6’s FSI systems. The engines are offered for the 2.8 and 3.2L VR6, and are referred to as the 3.6/2.8 and the 3.6/3.2 respectively.
By providing a 3.6 long block, you simply bolt it into the car using your original induction, exhaust and ancillaries. Not only does it simplify installation, but the conversion looks original, too, which might be useful when smogging the car.
Whether you’re starting with a GTI or Jetta 2.8L 24v or even an R32, the engines are sold outright, so you keep your old motor. The 3.6/2.8 is supplied with a new 2.8L head because the company carries out modifications to the head in order to mate it to the 3.6. This involves machining the water- and oilways, manufacturing timing components to get the 3.6 timing chain to turn the 2.8 cams, and fitting a special head gasket. Therefore, they don’t offer a 3.6L short block.
Through its long-standing connections, Eurospec has a good supply of 2.8 heads so provides them at no charge, making it cheaper than the 3.2 conversion by $900 on exchange (see table).
Of course, you could install a 3.6/3.2 into your Jetta or GTI 2.8L if you acquire the necessary 3.2 intake system – the exhausts are the same. This is what Eurospec had done with their grey Jetta 24v and it developed 290whp at 6400rpm with the company’s 264/268˚ cams and exhaust system. Torque was quoted at 335 lb-ft at 5000rpm, with 280 lb-ft available at 3400rpm even (it would be around 260whp at 6400rpm and 260 lb-ft with the same mods on a 3.6/2.8).
Fortunately, the engine management systems in both the 2.8 and 3.2L donor cars have the flexibility to provide sufficient fuel for the 3.6L conversion. In fact, Revo Technik spent many hours on the dyno and drove hundreds of miles to develop the software. As a result, Eurospec can either supply a pre-flashed ECU with the engine, or flash your existing ECU.
The 3.6L engine is a no-brainer for the 3.2L motor in the Mk4 VW R32, although they’ve yet to see what the torque does to the Mk5 R32’s DSG transmission. It’s also perfect for something like the Audi TT 3.2, but what if you’ve got the bigger Touareg or Cayenne 3.2? Or you just want a bit more grunt?
Europsec also has a 3.8L version of the 3.6/3.2 in development, using a 100mm stroke plus custom rods and pistons. It’s going to be more expensive but if you’re looking to build perhaps the ultimate R32 3.8L twin-turbo, this might be the answer to your prayers.
While Eurospec’s test mules won’t win beauty contests, the appeal of the two Jettas was more than skin deep. Being FWD models, the extra torque makes the lower gears slightly redundant and they begged for a longer sixth gear, but we appreciated the presence of Eurospec’s own 14" brake kit with four-piston calipers on the 3.6L car (the 3.8 had 15" rotors and four-pistons).
Both cars were fitted with cams – the 3.6 had Schrick 264/268˚ sticks, while the 3.8 used 260/264˚. Both also had Eurospec’s manifold-back exhaust systems on the stock manifold, but the company is developing a header as well.
Having driven both cars, we would recommend building in stages. Converting a 2.8 to a 3.6/2.8 motor, for example, is a huge jump from the stock 201hp and 195 lb-ft at the crank to the 290hp and 335 lb-ft at the wheels we sampled with the 3.6/3.2. That was with a 3.2L head, Schrick cams and a Eurospec exhaust. But you could certainly enjoy the base engine and add those parts later to relish each step.
Interestingly, the two engines drive quite differently. The 3.6 is very smooth and revs to its 7000rpm redline very quickly, pulling hard and smooth all the way. Whereas the 3.8 gets to its 6500rpm redline in a more brutal fashion, punishing the tires more and letting you know who’s in charge.
Both engines have the same split personality disorder; able to roll along on a light throttle with very little effort, perfect for daily driving. But when you stomp on the accelerator and demand power in the upper rev range, they’re raw and vicious. No matter what engine speed, the power delivery is incredibly smooth. Revo certainly did a great job with the software. The engines never felt over-fueled or splutter, nor do they hesitate when you want them to go.
We had so much fun pulling onto the freeway and powering past newer cars in our 10 year-old Jetta. The look on the faces of other drivers was priceless. Both cars also had the ability to terrify the unwary on back roads.
While the Eurospec engines are undoubtedly expensive, if you need to replace a worn or damaged engine, or simply want to bring a project car to life, we highly recommend the 3.6L VR6 conversion.
The 3.8L is quite expensive for most applications, but it would be at home in a heavier SUV or a project where only the best will do, money no object.
Of course, don’t forget Eurospec’s low-compression 2.8, 3.0, 3.2 and 3.4L blocks as well. These are designed for turbo applications with forged rods and pistons. Check out the website for more details.
|2.8 to 3.6L conversion (3.6/2.8)||$5950|
|3.2 to 3.6L conversion (exchange) (3.6/3.2)||$6850|
|3.2 to 3.6L conversion (outright)||$7850|