You’re dead to us.
When you write about cars it’s natural that friends and family ask you for advice when they’re in the market for something new. Over the past few years, we haven’t hesitated to heartily recommend any and all diesel-powered Volkswagens because our experience with the current generation VW TDI diesel has been a very happy one since an ’09 Jetta SportWagen found its way to our driveway.
That all ended a day or so ago when news broke that we’ve been duped in no uncertain terms. VW (and Audi) admitted that TDI-equipped cars (this so-called ‘clean diesel’ motor is available, for a premium, across many model lines including Beetle, Golf, Jetta, Passat, A3) have been fitted with software to deliberately violate Clean Air Act emissions laws.
That’s right, VW TDIs passed emissions tests because “defeat” software was programmed to stifle emissions when the cars were tested but allowed them to emit up to 40 times the legally allowed amount of potential carcinogens into the environment under normal use. This is a literal “dirty trick,” if ever there was. We’re painfully aware that at least three people took our solicited advice and bought or leased a “Clean Diesel” VW.
Volkswagen was a pioneer in equipping passenger cars with diesels for quite some time as photos of surviving diesel Rabbits, an appliance white sedan and beige pick up, attest. After some quiet years, VW’s US diesel program roared back to life for the 2009 model year with the launch of the TDI “Clean Diesel.” While, perhaps, not as polluting as the superannuated Rabbits seen here, we’ve found out they’re far from “clean.”
We are disappointed that VW engaged in egregious deception and fear that the “fix,” once vehicles are recalled and software is recalibrated, will diminish performance and fuel economy. Overnight, we’ve gone from fanboy status to major haters, a consequence of VW’s cheating, snookering consumers and despoiling the environment. It all makes us yearn for the “good old days” when diesels weren’t marketed as “clean” by a campaign of overt lies.
If you’d like to drive down memory lane, we suggest “the highest mileage car in America,” the Volkswagen diesel for ’81 when they, perhaps, told some semblance of truth.
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Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes. If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.