Spending a few days behind the wheel of a 2013 Volkswagen Jetta TDI
reminded me once again how well diesel engines perform. In pretty much every application, a turbodiesel will produce a modest amount of horsepower, but plenty of torque down low, which means good acceleration from a standstill.
These engines also provide excellent fuel economy. In the Jetta, I averaged 6.3L/100km and I wasn’t even trying. If I’d eco-drive as if I were in a hybrid, or spend more time on the highway, shaving 1L/100km off my average would be an easy task.
As much as turbodiesel engines make sense, the fuel itself stinks. Yeah I know, gasoline smells too, but diesel is greasy and foamy. Ever use a soda fountain? It’s easy to fill up a cup with cola, but root beer makes a lot more suds, and if you want to fill your cup to the top you have to wait for the suds to pop.
Diesel is similar to root beer. It takes patience to top up a diesel tank because you have to wait for the suds to disappear. If you’re patient enough, you can squeeze another couple of bucks in the tank. Problem is, many people overfill their diesel vehicles, causing a mess on the ground, on the pistol and on the pump. Yuck.
Ever step in a puddle of diesel? It’ll take a week for your shoes to stop smelling like an oil refinery. You must wash your hands more than once after you grasp a dirty diesel fuel pistol. And if you spill that stuff on your clothes before heading in to work, expect to get some negative comments about your new perfume.
I might be picky, but this is what would prevent me from buying a diesel-powered car. It wouldn’t be an issue if everybody was more careful handling the fuel at gas stations; unfortunately, some messy people ruin it for the others.
Solutions? I could wear gloves that would be stowed away in the trunk, and I could choose service stations on my daily commute whose staff proactively keep the diesel pump and its surroundings clean. However, there would need to be a station on my commute that sells diesel, because it’s not available everywhere. A full-serve station would also be an easy solution.
First world problems; I know.