The answer to your first question is no, you cannot swap your deposit on a Nissan Leaf towards a Volkswagen Passat diesel BlueMotion sedan – at least not here in the United States. More's the pity, in this case, because this stock, production series 2011 VW just entered the Guinness World Book of Records for accomplishing a rather wondrous feat: Achieving more than 1,500 miles on a single tank of fuel.
This was no Sunday drive, although the speeds attained by pilot Gavin Conway, a writer for the Sunday Times of Britain, were hardly rushed. His three-day jaunt took him from Kent, just south of London, to the south of France -- remember, France is a big country, rather Texas-sized -- then back to Calais, just south of the English Channel, before the tank ran dry.
Total distance travelled: 1,531 miles, according to VW. Average speed: 45 miles per hour. Average miles per gallon: an awesome 75. You'd think Mr. Conway would've consumed more coffee than he did diesel fuel, given that the Passat's tank held just 20.4 U.S. gallons.
This front-drive Passat, which sells in Germany for about $32,600, is not that special. It's powered by a 1.6-liter TDI diesel engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission. As with other BlueMotion diesel models VW sells in Europe, the Passat was fitted with rocker panel extensions and a deep front air dam, and it had a lowered ride height, an engine stop-start system, longer gearing and low rolling resistance tires.
VW has no plans to sell its BlueMotion vehicles in the U.S. at this time. The company was most recently offering the 2010 Passat in the U.S. with a 2.0-liter, 200-horsepower, turbocharged gasoline engine. That vehicle is being supplanted by a new midsize sedan about which VW has yet to reveal details.
While Conway was alone in the cockpit for his record-setting drive, he wasn't on the trip by himself. He was followed by a pair of patrolmen hired by Guinness to substantiate the record. Conway said that he kept the windows rolled up and the air-conditioner switched off to further economize on fuel. The route he took was mainly on highways, but did include some in-town driving as well.
The previous record was set in 2002 when a Peugeot 406 driven by an Australian couple managed 1,459 miles on a single tank of fuel.