First Class - Particulate Matters
Luxury Diesel Sedans
OK, it’s confession time! Believe it or not, sometimes I find myself actually agreeing with friends who (jokingly, of course) call me crazy or slightly left of center. I guess I cosign this because, while I know they’re not evaluating me as being an absolute nutcase, I do have occasional tendencies to (adamantly) march to the beat of my own drum and avoid conformity.
I’ll also cop to being slightly loco because topic ideas for this monthly column come to me while I’m in the proverbial “darndest places.” No, I haven’t been inspired while using the restroom (yet), but gumption for these particular reports definitely has come at moments and in places when at least I wouldn’t expect it. Case in point is this month’s topic, which hit me in the head at 30,000 feet as I traveled from Los Angeles to Dallas, Texas, in the first class cabin of American Airlines Flight 2424.
While I am a frequent flyer, I seldom get to sit in the exclusive space up front (I use the miles and points I accrue for whole trips, not upgrades). So, I made it a point to fully enjoy the lush surrounds and awesome service—and be sure to note the difference between being a front-runner in Seat 5A…and someone who takes the long walk back to the wing area or beyond.
In a nutshell, the difference is huge, and the whole experience made me wonder what “First Class” is when we apply the concept to diesel cars, and specifically, four-door sedans. We spend a majority of our time talking about and occasionally getting to drive pickup trucks that fit the “high-line” description: the Ford Platinums, Chevrolet High Countrys, GMC Denalis, and Ram Laramie Limiteds of the truck world. However, despite that ballyhoo, the high-end brands that build (or should build) turbocharged, clean-diesel passenger sedans are not discussed as much.
Mercedes-Benz has been a leader in this category for many years. As we noted in our review of the ’15 Volkswagen Golf TDI, diesel-powered Benzes once stood alone as practically the only players in the game. Sure, they were miserably slow and not overwhelmingly attractive when compared to today’s Euro sedans, but the M-B brand symbolized high-end luxury nonetheless.
Now, with Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, and others solidly entrenched in the diesel sedan mix, my wonder is, which manufacturer produces a diesel sedan we’d categorize as a “First Class” ride, just like the lap of luxury I’m enjoying as I write this? In your opinion, is it the Audi A8 L TDI? BMW 750Ld xDrive? Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTEC L? Or, would Porsche’s Panamera get your vote? How about the diesel version of Maserati’s Quattroporte?
The dreamer in me would love to get behind the wheel—or sit in the back seat of and be chauffeured around in—something as luxo and ultra-plush as a turbodiesel Maybach, should such a vehicle ever be constructed in this lifetime. I’d also take a Bentley (while building a diesel SUV may be on the company’s production docket, don’t you agree a Flying Spur TDI would be awesome?), or, of course, a Rolls-Royce. In my book, and I’m sure most of yours, too, they’re all first class, for sure!
I’m glad to know that while my fantasy of experiencing diesel sedans that are above and beyond Audi’s, Mercedes-Benz’s, BMW’s, Porsche’s, and Maserati’s offerings will probably remain a dream for a long time (I’m aware of the diesel conversions out there, but we’re talking about factory-built cars), statistics confirming many diesel truck owners also have oil-burning sedans (Volkswagen Jettas and Passats, Audi A3s, and so on) in the driveway makes me think you may have a similar interest, curiosity, or fantasy about next-level cars powered by diesel engines (Staff Editor Brett T. Evans has a hankering for a Duramax-motivated Cadillac Sixteen).
In addition to the latest insights on the trucks and SUVs, I think we’re also going to start giving more shine to the cars that are available, like we did with the Golf TDI. I mean, I sure wouldn’t mind seeing that four-door Porsche make its way into our long-term test fleet! I bet ole Trevor wouldn’t, either. I just might have to start working on making that happen. First class, baby. First class, all the way!