Crank-angle resolved, gas temperatures are determined in the combustion chamber of a Volkswagen (VW) standard-production, port-injected SI engine. During idle, two different methods are applied: (1) a direct spectroscopic emission-absorption technique at a resonance line of potassium, seeded to the air stream to generate sufficient spectral absorptance (‘colouring’ technique), and (2) a more standard, indirect method in which temperatures are derived from pressure recordings using a two-zone thermodynamic model. Combustion temperatures obtained during idle with both the spectroscopic (1) and ‘two-zone’ (2) methods are in good agreement. In addition, the spectroscopic technique is extended to transient operating conditions where the ‘two-zone’ method is not applicable. Combustion temperatures measured during cold-start and abrupt load alteration are in good agreement with former investigations.