Federico Pavoncelli of RD Sport says: "Even though there's still a trade-off, a 15- to 20-percent boost in performance will result in only about two to three percent more fuel being used. It only really becomes apparent when the car is being flogged. A tuned diesel provides phenomenal drivability, performance, and mileage." Even the slightly heavier weight of a diesel engine has little significance. "We use the same front suspension components for a BMW 335d that we'd use for a 335i," says Pavoncelli.
Alpina's diesel-powered version of the BMW 3 Series, the D3, takes the stock 2.0-liter twin-turbodiesel and gives power a modest bump from 204 to 214 hp. But torque goes from 295 lb-ft to 332 lb-ft. That's a difference that can be felt. Standstill to 60 mph is dispatched in a whisker below seven seconds, yet average fuel consumption is stated at 43.6 mpg.
Brabus has transformed a Mercedes-Benz E300 Bluetec into the D6 Blue (seems that German tuners keep their ingenuity for engineering rather than nomenclature), pushing output from 205 hp to 255 and 398 lb-ft to 450 (kicking in at just 1600 rpm). That's enough grunt to send this 3,800-pound car tanking from zero to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. Yet emissions are 65 percent better than the figure required by stringent 2011 Euro V standards and average thirst is 38.7 mpg. Brabus is seeing diesel as a growing part of its business. With figures like this, it's easy to see why.
Mercedes-Benz ML350 Bluetec
It's no surprise, then, that AMG is also rumored to be developing a diesel super-sedan, having dabbled so successfully in 2002 with the C30 CDI Sport Coupe. Back then, 231 hp and 398 lb-ft was pretty good. Now Mercedes' tuning arm is said to be looking at a C-Class with 500 hp and around 700 lb-ft of torque, ready for 2011. And only a fool would bet against a high-powered diesel version of the new E-Class.
7. Why Diesel Has A Bright Future
Gearheads may barely stifle a yawn when hearing that Volkswagen might be bringing its Polo subcompact to North America, and there's a good chance that some diesel option would be in the cards. Same deal with the Passat CC and Touareg II. But one look at the BMW Vision concept might make them pull up fast.
The full name is Vision EfficientDynamics Concept and, admittedly, the car's complete spec does include the h-word in there with a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder turbodiesel and all-wheel drive. But BMW is claiming a zero-to-60 mph time of 4.8 seconds and 62.2 mpg. Although this has little chance of going into production, it shows how far diesel has come from powering farm machinery to being uppermost in the minds of those who will shape the world of mobility.
It's not just happening at BMW. Check out the VW L1. This super-sleek two-seater is being hailed by its makers as the most efficient car in the world. An 800cc twin-cylinder TDI engine is augmented (yet again) by an electric motor to produce a top speed of 100 mph. Meanwhile, fuel consumption is quoted at 157.8 mpg. There's talk of it being available in 2013.
8. Why The Wagon Is Already Rolling
Volvo and Saab plan on bringing diesel models to the States; there might also be a Smart diesel. According to J.D. Power, sales of diesels will triple between now and 2015. Diesel sales in Europe already account for over half of all new cars sold.
Maybe the industry will fragment, people might start using a whole range of fuels, vehicles and propulsion systems. But if we want to make a smart choice with our next car purchase, diesel has to be considered. And Mr. Buffett, it's time to sell that spark plug company stock, if you still have any.