Are You Ready For: The Diesel Sportscar?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
are you ready for the diesel sportscar

In the post-Veyron, post-Horsepower Wars world, “Responsible Performance” has been the catchphrase on the lips of every purveyor of performance cars. And with Audi and Nissan already set to brawl for EV sportscar niche that’s being abandoned by Tesla with the forthcoming end of production of its Roadster, diesel power seems to be benefiting from a second look by would-be “responsible performance” vendors.

Unsurprisingly, the tuning houses are promoting their diesel efforts, as EV tuning presents significant challenges to the ICE-based tuning community. And the BMW modifiers at AC Schnitzer are leading the way with this Z4 “99d,” a 188 HP, 310 lb-ft two-liter turbodiesel roadster capable of 146 MPH. Oh yes, and 99 grams of CO2 per Km, or (very roughly) 60-ish MPG (non-EPA). Sound like a healthy compromise between “responsibility” and performance? The only thing you’ll have to give up is the $210,000 that Automobile says this Schintzer concept would cost if it were built.

Prefer something a little more built-in-some-British-guys-shed? Peep the Trident Iceni, a TVR-style British beast that its makers claim returned around 57 MPG (69 MPG Imperial, non-EPA) at a constant 70 MPH in testing at Millbrook Proving Ground. Its 6.6 liter Duramax V8 can operate on 100 percent biodiesel, tops out at 170 MPH (limited) and runs the quarter-mile in 12 seconds. Iceni even claimed the thing will have a (wait for it) 2,000 mile range. And unlike the Z4 99d, it’s supposed to be in production… although the Trident website isn’t encouraging. Perhaps a Britian-based reader in the know could fill us in?

And then there’s the VW Bluesport, a mid-engined MR-2-alike boasting a stop-start-equipped diesel engine, at least in its European iteration. For the US it will almost certainly be offered exclusively with the GTI’s 2.0T powerplant, but if grunty, efficient sportscars are your thing, start lobbying VW now, as it won’t start shipping to the US until 2013 at the earliest. And if VW chickens out, perhaps Audi will supplement its electric R4 eTron with a an oil-burning version in the US market. Or what about a diesel R8, like the one Audi hinted at back in 2008? After all, BMW is combining diesel and electric power for its forthcoming i8 “responsible performance” supercar, which will not be available in a gas version, meaning we’ll be guaranteed to get at least some kind of diesel performance car in the US at some point. And as a US-market leader in diesel sales, as well as a diesel-powered LeMans dominator, Audi seems like a brand begging for an oil-burning supercar. With a little luck, we’ll see more progress in this intriguing trend in the near future…

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4 of 23 comments
  • Th009 Th009 on Mar 31, 2011

    Audi has been selling the TT TDI in Europe for several years already.

  • YellowDuck YellowDuck on Mar 31, 2011

    After watching that Audi diesel GTP car tear up the LeMans series...yeah, I'd say diesel has sporting cred. Probably a lot more useable in real-world "sporty driving" applications than a gas engine too. How often are we shifting our cars at redline currently? Maybe a lot if you are 17 years old.

    • See 1 previous
    • D101 D101 on Mar 31, 2011

      Diesels do better in LeMans only because the regulations were in their favor. We'll see the new rules for this year though.

  • Bd2 The hybrid powertrain in the Sportage and Tucson are the ones to get.H/K should discontinue the base NA 2.5L powertrain and just build more of the hybrid.In the future, maybe offer a 2nd, more powerful hybrid (the hybrid 2.5) which will first arrive with the next Telluride/Palisade.Kia also needs to redo the front fascia for the Sportage's refresh.
  • The Oracle I say let the clunkers stay on the roads.
  • Jpolicke Twenty-three grand for a basket case? And it has '66 wheel covers and gas cap so who knows what else isn't original?
  • Scott Can't be a real 1965 Stang as all of those are nothing but a pile of rust that MIGHT be car shaped by now.
  • 56m65711446 So, the engineers/designers that brought us the Pinto are still working at Ford!