Is there a problem with the Volkswagen Group 1.5 petrol engine?

Reader is buying a new Seat Arona and is concerned about reports that his car's 1.5-litre engine suffers from 'kangarooing' when cold...

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Claire Evans
10 September 2019

Seat Arona

As a regular reader of What Car? magazine, I am hoping that you can assist me with a concern over a vehicle I'm in the process of buying.

I have ordered a Seat Arona FR Sport, which has the Volkswagen Group TSI Evo 150 1.5-litre petrol engine. I have recently become aware of owner reports of issues with this engine stuttering during low revs and in low-speed situations.

I am in contact with my Seat dealership and Seat UK and awaiting information on them about this, but I'd also very much value your independent assessment of this issue.

So can you tell me about your experiences of driving cars with this engine, and is the problem historical or does it affect the latest cars? 

David Smith

What Car? says…

We are aware of the problem with the 1.5-litre and 1.0-litre VW Group petrol engines with a manual gearbox, which are fitted to a number of Audi, VW, Seat and Skoda models.

It appears to happen when pulling away when the car's engine is cold – some owners report that the car judders violently in first gear and also struggles to pull away smoothly if they change up to second gear.  

As well as reports from owners, our colleagues at Autocar ran a 1.0-litre Skoda Karoq last year, which suffered with the problem. 

However, we have been told that the Volkswagen Group has issued a software update for existing cars, which some owners have told us has improved the cold-starting performance of their cars. Not all owners are happy with the fix, though, and some have said that it didn't resolve the problem. We understand this has been applied to new cars, too, so your Arona should have had the update done. 

Seat Arona engine

The problem doesn't appear to be consistent across all cars – some owners have told us they find it only mildly annoying and can overcome it by keeping the engine revs up at first, while others say it makes their cars very difficult to drive. 

Although we believe that Volkswagen has remedied the problem in many instances, we'd recommend you take a test drive in a car with this engine – ensuring the engine is cold and the outside temperature is low – to see if you are happy with the way the car pulls away from a standstill when cold.

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