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Diesel cars haven’t exactly enjoyed a good rep, but the Government has taken steps to ensure car manufacturers clean up their diesel cars’ acts so the vehicles pollute less. Today, not only do diesels stop you filling up your fuel tank every five minutes, but they also work harder to keep their end of the bargain with the Government and the environment and produce fewer emissions than they used to.
What smashing diesel cars are out there, too. Hatchbacks, saloons, estates and more can have diesel engines. Renault, Peugeot, Vauxhall, Ford, Volkswagen, Mercedes and others have all thrown their hats into the ring in trying to produce the best diesel cars for the market. The results have been some fabulous runners.
Diesel cars spoil you with fuel economy, which makes them awesome cars if you have to drive long distances. They’re a bit more torquey, too, so they have good pulling power and serve well as towing vehicles.
Diesel cars are less about high performance and more about being steady and reliable. As a result, they tend to have a little less horsepower and might not shift quite as fast as you like. No matter. With the right maintenance, you’ll spend long, happy times out on the road for many years to come.
Whether you’re going road tripping or just have to make a long commute, a diesel is a good place to start when looking for the right car. Dogs may be human’s best friend. Diesel engines might just be your next best one. Here are 10 of the best diesel cars out there. We start with the Vauxhall Corsa.
The Vauxhall Corsa 1.5 Turbo D in the SE trim is a smasher. This elegant five-door hatchback has superb fuel economy — in fact, it’s one of the best diesels you can get for miles per gallon (mpg) — serving up around 68.9 mpg, and keeps its CO2 emissions to a low 107 g/km. Torque of 184 lb ft (250 Nm) and horsepower of 101(102 PS) get behind the car and carry it from 0 to 62 mph in around 10.2 seconds and to a top speed of 117 mph.
The ride is relatively comfortable and the handling isn’t troublesome. You don’t have to give the steering heaps of elbow grease to manoeuvre the vehicle. Out on the road it feels solid. The cruise control setting and other driver assist features will add extra comfort and reassurance while you’re driving. It’s a dandy little diesel, all in all.
Price starts from £195
The 308 SW Estate from Peugeot keeps its CO2 emissions respectable at around 122 to 127 g/km. The 1.5 litre diesel engine will return around 53.5 to 65 mpg, with the 6-speed manual transmission inching it slightly over the 8-speed automatic. Not much in it really, though, and you may prefer to spend a little extra for the comfort of automatic gears. The engine boasts torque of 221(300 Nm) and horsepower of 131 (133 PS) to help it along. It will deliver 0 to 62 mph in 10 seconds, give or take a few milliseconds, and a top speed of 127 mph.
Naturally, being an estate, there’s a lot of body to handle, but the car does it well, steering nicely — not too light, but also not too heavy — and is agile while remaining stable on the road. You’ll feel some bumps at times, but the ride smooths out as you pick up the pace. You may decide to turn a blind eye to the bumpiness in return for the large volumes of space, safety features and driver-assist functions, including cruise control.
Prices start from £800
Skoda produce gems and the Superb is no different in its SE estate version. You’ll get 49.6 to 56.5 mpg from the 2 litre diesel engine with 6-speed manual transmission, 148 (150 PS) and 251 lb ft (350 Nm) of torque to pull it along. CO2 emissions hover between 132 and 150 g/km. Top speed: a reasonable 132 mph. 0 to 60 mph: 9.2 seconds… respectable for a diesel estate.
You can get seriously comfortable behind the wheel, thanks to an adjustable steering wheel and plenty of legroom and headroom, which set you up for a pleasant drive. The steering is well weighted, accurate and provides reasonable feedback on how the front tyres are gripping the road; the vehicle is easy to control; and the car has decent traction. Still, there are also safety features such as airbags x7 and additional driver assist functions, including cruise control, to ease any jitters while driving this large vehicle.
Prices start from £4,000
Choose a 2.0 litre diesel engine with 6-speed manual transmission on this five-door wonder hatch and you’ll keep your CO2 emissions to 125 g/km and reap the benefits of 57.6 to 60.1 mpg, so it’s a reasonable little runner. Ford don’t skimp on engine power either, equipping it with 273 lb ft (370 NM) and 148 hp (150 PS). You can opt for a more powerful diesel if you wish, but it’s a mixed bag: you’ll sacrifice miles per gallon but gain a quicker top speed of 137 mph versus 127 mph and speedier acceleration of 7.3 seconds for 0 to 62 mph.
This is a reassuring vehicle. The steering is relatively quick and makes you feel comfortable all is well traction–wise. The ride is firm but not harsh when you hit the bumps and the body stays stable, another reassuring sign. Driver-assist and collision-prevention features support you for those days you’re at the wheel but might not be quite on the ball. It’s a marvellous little hatch, really.
Prices start from £1,000
All the fives — five doors and five speed manual transmission – plus an entry level 1.6 litre TDI engine with 113 hp (115 PS) and 184 lb ft (250 Nm) will keep CO2 emissions to around 131 g/km and give you with 54.3 to 56.5 mpg. Increasing the engine size and power will carry you a few units extra into a less favourable direction. Acceleration is from 0 to 62 mph in 10.4 seconds and the top speed is 123 mph.
Accurate steering; a firm suspension that adds balance to the vehicle on corners and coming out of them, not to mention help in providing a comfortable ride; and torque that enables smoother shifts between gears; all make driving a Golf diesel most pleasant. The car features simple safety features such as airbags and basic driver-assist functions, but you may prefer to upgrade for full reassurance from your vehicle.
Prices start from £275
The South Korean manufacturer Kia Motors has mastered the art of making economical cars. They’ve done it again with the Ceed 1.5 CRDi, which in its standard specs comes with a 1.6 litre diesel engine, equipped with 114 brake horsepower (bhp)and a moderate 207 lb ft (280 Nm) of torque. It covers 60.1 mpg but can manage up to 68.9 if you go easy on it. It’s respectably low on CO2 emissions, too, at 122 g/km.
The Ceed is a nimble vehicle with quick steering and decent handling, showing stability on the roads even at higher speeds. Body control is good and the suspension doesn’t disgrace itself when going over bumps, allowing this humble hatchback to offer you a reasonable ride quality. It’s comfortable inside, too, with plenty of leg- and headroom. Nice work, Kia!
Prices start from £500
Kia Motors aren’t the only ones who do high mpg. The Clio Play 1.5 DCi from Renault delivers 67 mpg and trumps the Ceed on low CO2 emissions, with just 107 g/km. the engine houses 85 hp and is more torquey than the Ceed at 162 lb ft (220 Nm). Still, with an acceleration of 0 to 62 mph in 14.7 seconds and a top speed of 110 mph, the Ceed’s respective 10.4 and 119 mph mean it can outrun the Clio.
There’s lots to love about driving this neat little diesel. The steering is light and agile, but communicative enough to inspire confidence. The car feels solid on the roads, stable coming in and out of bends and grips the road well. Older editions may have smothered the bumps a little more, but the ride isn’t uncomfortable. Cruise control, lane assist and other driver-assist features help you to keep safe while using the vehicle and the boot space isn’t half bad if you’ve got little ones.
Prices start from £175
Nissan have nailed it with this spacious crossover. A basic spec 1.5 DCi engine will allow you to cover 53.3 mpg, generally, but as much as 61.1 if you play nicely. Of course, this crossover with 6-speed manual transmission is bulky and is leisurely off the mark with acceleration of 0 to 62 mph in 12.3 seconds and a maximum speed of 112 mph. It has respectable pulling power of 210 lb ft (280 Nm) and 113 hp (115 PS) to help it on its way there. Emissions: 139 g/km, so reasonable but a little less wouldn’t hurt.
This diesel crossover from the Japanese giants is highly competent, too. The steering is responsive, obeying the simplest commands without hesitating and offering encouraging reflection on the front wheels’ traction. There’s little body roll, with the car staying stable and upright in and out of corners and on the roads in general. The ride is slightly firm but not unpleasantly so, especially not for passengers. The car features standard safety features, including airbags and an anti-lock braking system (ABS), and offers cruise control, but you’d have to add a pack for some other driver-assist features such as lane assist and parking sensors.
Prices start from £1,600
The Mercedes Benz A Class 180 d hatchback with a 1.5 litre 180d engine does a handsome job on the mpg, whether with 6-speed manual or automatic transmission, offering between 60.1 and 62.8 depending on your transmission choice. The engine delivers 116 hp and 192 lb ft (260 Nm). Top speed: 126 mph. 0 to 62 mph. CO2 emissions are low at 120 g/km.
The car is agile out on the road, but the body control is tight and the traction is reasonable. Quick but well-balanced steering makes the car easy to drive and you always feel in control when you’re behind the wheel. Give or take a little bounce, the ride is comfortable, with the suspension soaking up the bumps nicely. It’s a family hatchback with class really, is spacious inside and features several safety and driver-assist functions as standard, including emergency braking systems.
Prices start from £500
Choose a VW Passat SE Nav saloon with a 2.0 litre TDI EVO SCR engine and you’ll get 55.4 to 60.1 out of your vehicle. Emissions-wise, you’re looking at 124 to 133 g/km. Behind it all is a 148 hp engine, with 251 lb ft (340 Nm) of torque supporting it, which powers it from 0 to 62 mph in 8.9 seconds and a top speed of 139 mph.
It’s a tidy diesel to drive, with the 6-speed manual transmission allowing you to transition smoothly enough between gears, and the suspension balances soft and firm well. Ultimately, this saloon is at home on the motorway or on smaller roads. Admittedly, there’s a tiny touch of body lean, but overall the car has good grip on the roads. While you’re behind the wheel, you also have the support of driver-assist systems such as lane assist, travel assist and parking sensors, which come as standard, helping you to feel that little bit more confident as you manoeuvre the vehicle.
Prices start from £400
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