While doing research for my article “It’s Diesel’s Time to Shine,” I was astounded to learn how far today’s diesel-powered cars have advanced over the diesels of the Eighties. The old diesels were noisy, smelly, and slow, and they often didn’t start on dead-of-winter days. The fuel would turn to jelly.
Today’s turbodiesel cars, which are sold in the U.S. only by German automakers (Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen), are quiet, reliable, and remarkably fuel efficient. But what makes me chuckle is how much faster they are off the line.
A 2012 Volkwagen Golf TDI has a 0-60 time of 7.9 seconds. That’s about a second and a half slower than the gas-engine Golf, but it’s light-years better than the old diesels could muster.
Check out these diesel times from yesteryear, courtesy of zeroto60times.com:
1979 Cadillac Eldorado (Diesel) 16.8 seconds
1980 Chevrolet Caprice Wagon (Diesel) 19.5 seconds
1980 Volkswagen Dasher Diesel 19.3 seconds
1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass Diesel 18.1 seconds
1981 Volvo Diesel 18.4 seconds
And the slowest of all was the ironically named . . .
1979 Volkswagen Rabbit (Diesel) 21.2 seconds!
More than half of the cars on the road in Europe today are diesels, but in the U.S. diesel has long been a dirty word. It has taken over 30 years to get the smell, noise, and general distaste of the old diesels out of our collective consciousness.