Our team was invited on Leg 4 of Volkswagen‘s Great Canadian TDI Tour. We started our journey on a crisp Wednesday morning in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
After a briefing about the next couple days, we set out on our first challenge. Following the directions provided to us, we had to get to lunch at the Blü restaurant in Brandon, Manitoba. Roughly 200km away from our start point, we were expected to achieve the best fuel economy possible without sacrificing speed. Our assigned vehicle? The 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI. Earlier this year, we tested the 2013 model of this identical car and were pretty familiar with its abilities. The huge sedan comes packing Volkswagen’s 2.0L turbodiesel motor, with 140 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. The huge fuel tank means a seriously long range.
In typical Double Clutch fashion, we decided that even though it’s not a race, arriving last or getting the worst fuel consumption would be unacceptable. We kept the windows up, the air conditioning off, and modulated the pedal ever so carefully in order to achieve a brilliant average of 5.2L/100km. Somehow, we were still the first to arrive at the restaurant. The other teams were either driving too slowly to try and conserve fuel, or just enjoying the flat roads of the Prairies too much.
After a delicious lunch, we hopped into the 2014 Touareg TDI R-Line for a one-hour stint to the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border, where the group collectively decided that an authentic Canadian experience was in store. We hopped off the Trans-Canada Highway for a pit stop at a Tim Horton’s, where we lined up the cars (in order by size) in the drive-thru for a group photo. The Touareg TDI has always been one of my favourite vehicles; a first-generation V10 TDI model graced my garage a few years ago. Even when factoring in stops for a few scenic Manitoban photoshoots, the huge SUV with 407 lb-ft of torque managed to return 7.5L/100km. Insane.
We thundered into Saskatchewan in style, piloting the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle TDI. When driving this one, we decided to take a slightly different approach. Rather than driving at a reasonable (read: slightly slow) rate of speed, the Beetle literally careened into Regina a solid 45 minutes before the rest of the group. While the iconic Bug with the turbodiesel engine is no Porsche 911 (not really, anyway), it definitely has some serious character to it. It has this attitude about it that makes you feel as though the car is your true companion no matter how much fun you want to have on the road. Granted, following hypermiling techniques or driving it a little bit more slowly could yield better than the 7.8L/100km I saw, I guarantee it won’t be as much fun. Not to mention I’d be hard-pressed to find a car that I could have this much fun in and spend this little on fuel.
During the product presentation prior to taking off from Winnipeg, one phrase stood out to me. “Hybrids aren’t for everyone. Electric cars aren’t for everyone. Diesels actually suit the lifestyle of most Canadians, and it’s up to us to make the public give them a second look.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. The diesels of decades ago were smelly, noisy, and slow. While coasting down the extremely flat Trans-Canada Highway at 120 km/h in the Passat TDI, I had the sudden epiphany that the car felt smooth as glass. The Volkswagen group definitely makes a compelling argument; it’s hard to say no to a car that feels just as smooth as a gas-powered Lexus but costs a fraction at the pump.
Day 1 – The Great Canadian Tour Gallery