The VW diesel station wagon I had in high school was the most unsexy car imaginable: it took about 5 minutes to warm up, rumbled like a farm tractor, and did 0 to 60 in about 2 minutes flat. Apparently, diesel has been working on its game since then. Audi’s new diesel R8 TDI is a green muscle machine that does 0 to 62 mph in 4.2 seconds, and gets about 24 mpg on the highway. With a top speed of 186 mph, you could also hold your own on the Autobahn, and blow right on by those clunky new Mercedes sedans.
The R8 TDI is a concept car based on the R10 Le Mans diesel racecar, but Audi plans to produce a commercial model in the next two years, and market it as the first high-performance diesel sports car. The fuel-efficient engine meets Cali’s strict emission standards and has a three-stage exhaust treatment system that includes a small injection of "AdBlue," a chemical that helps break down nitric oxide, one of the ingredients in acid rain. The 6-liter, Twin-Turbo V12 engine makes 500 horsepower and 737 ft/lbs of torque, and you can witness all this green-muscle action via the see-through engine cover. Toss in a glass roof panel and a roof-mounted air intake, and I bet most teenagers would be stoked to pull up to school in this baby.