21 November 2008

LA show: Volkswagen

A diesel Touareg Baha racer and a Jetta CleanDiesel. We know which one we’ll take, ta

Baja Race Touareg TDI

One of the maddest races on earth is the Baha 1000. About 400 starters spend more than a day and a night tearing non-stop down insanely rough desert tracks. It all takes place in Mexican bandit country so remote and lawless that no-one goes to spectate.

VW has built this silhouette Touareg which ought to be in with a shout. It’s got a mid-mounted Le Mans Audi V12 TDI in a purpose-built spaceframe chassis, and suspension travel as high as a bus. It’s like a remote-control toy, except some drastically superfit driver has got to strap himself into the maelstrom and take the bucking beast by the scruff of the neck.

VW has done this as part of its effort to promote diesel in the US. And the US seems to be listening.

On the day of the show, the new Jetta Clean Diesel won the Green Car of the Year award in the US, a gong whose jury includes such various environmental worthies as the heads of the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council. And Carrol Shelby. How we’d love to be in the room when they meet.

The Jetta CleanDiesel has the 140bhp 2.0TDI we’ve seen before, but with a whole chemistry lab in the exhaust. The resut is emissions clean enough to be sold in all 50 US states – and it’ll pass all European regulations until at least 2015.


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