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First Drive

Road Test: Volkswagen Passat C Turbo 5dr

Published: 01 Sep 1998
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A diesel Rolls-Royce? Surely not. But Rolls-Royce is now owned by Volkswagen, which has just stated that the engine of the future is diesel-fuelled. And the German firm has just unveiled an innovative new oil-burning engine and put it in a Passat.

Now the Passat doesn't make the same statement as a Rolls, but this one has leather seats and wood on the dash, and it's quiet, and fast. What makes its new engine new is that diesel fuel is injected into the combustion chamber at a much higher pressure than normal. The result: more efficient combustion, higher torque, fewer emissions| and it actually smells cleaner. Seriously.

The four-cylinder, 1.9-litre turbo engine develops 115bhp (five more than the current 1.9 TDI) and an impressive 210lb ft of torque at 1,900rpm. On the road that translates to pretty quick and plenty of low-end oomph. Like all oil-burners it gets noisy in the upper rev range, where it also runs out of puff, but it's probably the best diesel engine I've driven.

Interested Brits must wait until the end of the year. So far, only the Passat comes with this engine - but you never know where else it could end up...

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