Volkswagen TDI Phaeton: The TreeHugger Test Drive

Photos: Brian Merchant

In Europe, the concept of a diesel-powered luxury car is anything but surprising. In the US, it's a bona fide oxymoron. Many folks stateside still equate diesel to the thick, particulate-laden exhaust that blasts like black smog from semis on the highway. Yet, as most TreeHugger readers are likely aware, new developments in technology have enabled diesel engines to burn even more cleanly and efficiently than the average gas-powered ICE. Which is why in Europe (and China and South Korea), the diesel-powered Phaeton, Volkswagen's luxury car, is an extremely popular car. On a recent trip to Germany to check out VW's e-mobility strategy, I was fortunate enough to take its diesel-powered Phaeton for a spin -- here's what it was like.

Now, the TDI Phaeton isn't available in the US -- an unsuccessful stateside run a few years back has kept VW's luxury model overseas. But it's a beautiful car, and an absolute pleasure to drive.

Here are some shots of the Phaeton in Berlin:

Clearly, a luxury car is never going to be the greenest auto option, even if it's a hybrid or a diesel-powered one. The Phaeton, after all, gets around 25 mpg on the road. Which, if you're angling for impressive mileage, is obviously not top tier. But for a luxury car, it's pretty good. And the entire point I wanted to underscore in reviewing this car is that if American consumers were to warm to diesel, we'd be saving a decent amount of yearly emissions.

People are going to continue to buy luxury cars, even if their bigger engines and more opulent interiors are going to be less environmentally sound than average sedans. But opting for diesel cuts back on emissions and particulate pollution. It's a good example of why more should be done to get the word out about clean diesel in the US -- people could be driving cars every bit as powerful and beautiful as this, and be making significant savings on fuel economy.

More TreeHugger Test Drives
VW Unveils its Electric Car: Test Driving the Golf Blue E-Motion
Tesla Roadster Sport 2010: The TreeHugger Test Drive (Photos + Video)
Test Driving Volkswagen's First Hybrid Vehicle: The 2011 Touareg
Chevy Volt: The TreeHugger Test Drive (Photos + Video)

Tags: Transportation


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