First Drive: BMW 335d xDrive Sedan

True, we owe our love of diesels to the Volkswagen Group and their infamous “TDI” named diesel engines.  We cut our teeth on the first generation, 1.9L TDI motors, and today we sit on top of a wide range of new diesel offerings from many different manufacturers.  Recently we took a step away from our VWAG comfort zone and tested the new 2014 BMW 328d xDrive sedan.  Needless to say this test left us impressed and excited about the future, but with lots of questions too.

Our test vehicle was a 2014 BMW 328d xDrive sedan.  The 328d model is equipped with a 2.0L, twin-turbo (called “TwinPower”) diesel engine with common-rail injection and a variable-geometry turbocharger.  Attached to this motor is a new 8-speed automatic.  Our vehicle, being an xDrive edition, also had all-wheel drive, though rear-wheel drive editions are available as well.  As for options, our test vehicle was very close to the base model, with the exception of heated front seats.

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2014 GLK BlueTEC Diesel

The Flood of New Diesels – 2014 Mercedes-Benz

For the past 6 years or so, Mercedes has offered its 3.0L V6 diesel engine (OM642) in the E-Class, ML, GL, and R-Class models.  This motor underwent some small upgrades through the years, bringing more power and more fuel efficiency.  The S-Class BlueTEC made the most power out of this unit, making 240 horsepower and 466 ft/lbs of torque.  Overall the 3.0L engine has proved durable and reliable, though not incredibly fuel efficient.

For 2014 the 3.0L stays in some models, but most exciting is the new 2.1L twin-turbo 4-cylinder diesel.  Dropping 2 cylinders doesn’t make this motor any slouch, however, as it still puts out an impressive 195 horsepower.

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The Flood of New Diesels – 2014 Volkswagens

Volkswagen TDI

Historically the most diesel supportive manufacturer in North America, Volkswagen has a full line up of TDI diesel models for 2014.  Even with no new models for 2014, these 2013 carry over still gives VW the largest diesel offering in the United States with 6 different models (7 if you consider the Beetle Convertible separate from the Beetle Coupe).

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The Flood of New Diesels – 2014 Overview

Things have changed in the last 10 years.  In 2003 there was one diesel game in town – Volkswagen and their Golf/Jetta/Beetle MkIV series with the venerable 1.9L ALH motor.  Between 2004 and today there have been many “false starts” for diesel engines in the industry, most notably Jeep’s Liberty and Grand Cherokee in 2005-2008.  Now, as 2013 wraps up and the 2014 model year is here, there are more diesels than ever.

In this series of articles we will overview, manufacturer by manufacturer, the wide array of 2014 diesel offerings, concentrating on price, fuel efficiency and what these new, next-generation diesels bring to the market.


Diesel Benefits Are Shrinking!? We don’t think so… recently published an article that caught our eye – “Diesel benefits shrink as gas engines get more fuel-efficient, torquier”

The title of the article says it all, really, about the writer’s opinion. We found it interesting that they published this article when they did, right after many new diesel powered models were introduced at the New York Auto Show. We think this writer misses the point of diesel technology altogether.
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2013 Passat Update – ESP is a modern marvel…

I remember when driving a 2003 Passat 1.8T I used to own.  This car was equipped with “ASR”, or anti-slip regulation.  Practically speaking, this meant that when the front wheels started slipping, a light on the dash would start blinking frantically, the engine would cut power to near zero and a whole bunch of noise would come from the front end.  It was not a comforting system and it didn’t do a great job of keeping the car moving forward.

Enter 2013, ten years later, and these systems are nothing a like.  In 2003 the world was still using StarTAK flip phones from Motorola – color screen? Please.  Today, smartphones and tablets can get access fast, reliable internet nearly anywhere.  Similarly, electronic stability systems are much improved.

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Product Spotlight – Winter Fronts

Years ago Volkswagen sold Vinyl covers for the front grills on the MkIV Golf and Jetta.  These originally were only available in Canada, though VW USA had them for a short time too.  These were great on the TDI models during the cold winter months, allowing the car to heat up faster & keep some of the grime from winter roads out of the engine bay.   Sadly these were discontinued a few years ago, but they could be available once again…

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