1.5 TSI Evo engine issues: Which models are affected?
The 1.5 TSI petrol engine fitted to various Volkswagen Group models has not been without its problems. Here we explain all.
In late 2018 we started hearing from an increasing number of readers who were experiencing issues with the 1.5 TSI Evo petrol engine fitted to a range of Volkswagen, Skoda and SEAT models.
The issue - which particularly affects 1.5 TSI models paired with the manual gearbox - results in the car hesitating when cold, creating a 'kangarooing' effect.
What was the 1.5 TSI engine issue?
The issues with the 1.5 TSI engine occurred when the car was started from cold. It mainly affected 1.5 TSI manual cars with software issues creating odd juddering and a 'kangarooing' effect when moving away at slow speeds.
This hesitation was something we ourselves experienced on several Volkswagen and Skoda 1.5 TSI manual cars.
Over the following months, hundreds of TSI owners contacted HonestJohn.co.uk complaining of a 'kangarooing' sensation when cold - something we also experienced in our SEAT Arona long-term test car.
Some readers told HonestJohn.co.uk the issue made them think twice about buying a new Volkswagen Group model with the 1.5-litre petrol engine - with some saying it might convince them to buy a diesel instead.
The 1.5-litre TSI Evo petrol engine made its debut in the Volkswagen Golf in 2017 and was rolled out across the Volkswagen Group range as a replacement for the 1.4-litre TFSI turbocharged unit.
Which cars are fitted with 1.5 TSI engine?
The 1.5 TSI engine, sometimes referred to as the 1.5 TSI Evo, was launched in the Volkswagen Golf in 2017 before being introduced across the Volkswagen Group.
The list of models fitted with a 1.5 TSI engine (both manual and DSG) from 2017 includes:
- Volkswagen Golf
- Volkswagen Golf Estate
- Volkswagen Golf SV
- Volkswagen Arteon
- Volkswagen Passat
- Volkswagen Passat Estate
- Volkswagen T-Roc
- Volkswagen Tiguan
- Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace
- Volkswagen Touran
When did Volkswagen acknowledge the issue?
In January 2019, Volkswagen said that it was aware of a possible fault with its 1.5-litre petrol engine - and did not rule out a possible recall that could have affected thousands of cars in the UK.
In a statement from Volkswagen in Germany, the company said: "Volkswagen is aware of reports from customers complaining that some vehicles featuring the 1.5-litre TSI Evo engine with manual gearbox can be slightly hesitant in the cold-running phase.
"We are currently developing a solution to prevent these rare effects in the affected vehicles."
When pushed about whether this could lead to a recall for all 1.5-litre Volkswagens in the UK, a spokesperson said they had "no further info to add to the statement at this stage".
With the launch of the 1.5-litre engine, Volkswagen bucked the downsizing trend by replacing a 125PS 1.4 four-cylinder unit with a 1.5 four-cylinder producing 150PS. The move was intended to improve performance as well as provide better real-world fuel economy.
When did Volkswagen issue a fix?
Volkswagen Group issued a fix in February 2020, designed to solve the ongoing hesitation issues with the 1.5 TSI petrol engine.
Volkswagen didn't clarify exactly what the problem was, but a spokesperson told HonestJohn.co.uk: "Since February 2020, there has been a fix in the form of a software update for all Group brands and models affected by kangarooing during the warm-up phase."
Owners were advised to contact their dealership for more details about the update.
Did the 1.5 TSI fix work?
Four months after the software update to fix the 1.5 TSI issues, Volkswagen told HonestJohn.co.uk that it considered the fix "a success" - despite continued reports of ongoing issues from owners.
One reader told HonestJohn.co.uk that his 2018 Skoda Octavia suffered the issue all the time, regardless of whether the engine was cold or hot. Some owners say they have successfully rejected vehicles that suffer with the kangarooing issue.
However, Volkswagen has told HonestJohn.co.uk: "We can’t see any active customer complaints logged with our customer service team relating to 1.5 TSI issues after the software update."
"As far as we are aware the software update has been a success and no further measures are planned. However in isolated cases it is possible some vehicles may have another mechanical fault unrelated to the software update."
The fix was applied to new cars, too, so any new Volkswagen Group model would have the software update already applied.
What problems did our readers report?
We had huge numbers of readers getting in touch having bought a car with a 1.5 TSI and experiencing problems with it.
One reader has recently bought a new Skoda Karoq 1.5 TSI manual and immediately started experiencing problems in 1st and 2nd gear.
"No matter how carefully I increase the rpm and slowly release the clutch. The car lurches away until I manage to select 2nd gear. I have also lost power when moving in 2nd gear on at least six occasions. Three of which, I have been turning at very busy junctions."
Another reader with a new Volkswagen T-Roc SEL 1.5 manual had similar issues.
"I am finding it impossible to pull away smoothly. It kangaroos around unpredictability and I am starting to find it a real chore to drive. As you change from 1st to second it almost sounds as though it is falling out of gear."
A number of readers successfully rejected their cars over the fault, while others found dealers refused to accept that it was a known problem.
A reader who had recently ordered a brand new Golf 1.5 TSI was assured by the dealer that the Volkswagen Golf was not affected.
"On his word, I proceeded with the purchase. The Golf arrived and was faulty with kangarooing. I informed the dealer who picked it up and confirmed the diagnostics. The car has now been rejected," he told us.