There’s little that can match the thrill of threading a small, sporty car along an engaging country road. Equally, there’s little that can match the misery of forking out a handful of cash every time you burn through a tank of fuel.
Many car makers are turning to diesel to offer the best mix of performance and economy. Some might feel diesels lack the feeling and aural pleasure of their petrol equivalents, but their huge reserves of torque tend to make them feel just as fast in the real world.
We’re taking a look at six of our favourite diesel sports cars. Remember, if any of them take you fancy, our car configurator could help you to save thousands of pounds.
6 – MINI Cooper SD
The Mini hatchback might not be a sports car in terms of its body style but, when you drive it, its sporty character becomes obvious. Strong performance, engaging handling, a unique, high quality cabin and a desirable image are all Mini hallmarks present here.
In diesel form, the Cooper SD is powered by a 170hp 2.0-litre turbo that helps it reach 62mph from rest in 7.3 seconds. Thanks to impressive average fuel economy of 68.9mpg, a reasonably low insurance group and a starting price of just under £22,000, the Cooper SD is the cheapest car on our list both to buy and run.
5 – BMW 4 Series Convertible
From the cheapest car on our list, we move on to the fastest. The most potent diesel in the BMW 4 Series Convertible range, the 435d xDrive is rated at 309hp and backed up by a whopping 465lb ft of torque. Thanks to impressive traction courtesy of the four-wheel-drive system, it’s capable of 0-62mph in only 4.7 seconds – the same as a Porsche 911 Carrera S…
All this is achieved while offering room for four, the security of a metal folding hard top, and the promise of 52.3mpg.
4 – Mercedes SLK
If a relaxed cruise is more your thing, then the diesel Mercedes SLK might be a better choice than many of the petrol options. While, for outright performance, the 250 CDI isn’t the pinnacle of the SLK range (despite its top speed of more than 150mph), the flexibility brought by the sizeable 369lb ft of torque makes it easy to drive.
Best of all, the 2.1-litre turbodiesel claims to return 56.5mpg – almost 14mpg more than the next most frugal petrol.
3 – Audi A5 Cabriolet
As a rival to the BMW 4 Series, the Audi A5 Cabriolet is slightly larger than some of the other options here. That means that it’s one of the few options here capable of carrying four people in an acceptable degree of comfort.
There are several diesel A5s to choose from – including a 2.0-litre ‘Ultra’ variant which can return 67.3mpg. We’ve focussed on the sportiest option, however – the 3.0-litre V6. It deploys 245hp through Audi’s quattro four-wheel-drive system to deliver a 0-62mph sprint of 5.8 seconds, all of which can be enjoyed from a typically high-quality interior.
2 – Peugeot RCZ
The Peugeot RCZ sports car is definitely a head-turner thanks to its sporty profile and interesting ‘double-bubble’ roof. While its body looks decidedly sporty, you can specify it with a smooth and sensible diesel engine.
The 2.0-litre HDi unit produces 163hp and, while it can’t quite keep up with the petrol powered versions, it returns a claimed 53.2mpg – much more than its green pump counterparts. Testers note it feels smooth and impressively responsive, too.
1 – Audi TT Roadster
The Audi TT Roadster is the official car of having your cake and eating it too. It takes the top spot because nothing else on this list manages to tick all of the sports car boxes so emphatically.
Performance? It’ll crack 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds. Economy? It’s claimed to return 67.3mpg. Fun? Absolutely – the latest TT is genuinely good fun to drive. Stylish? It has a desirable ‘mini-R8’ look and, if anything, the stunning interior almost puts the £120,000 supercar to shame.
If you want a convertible sports car but don’t mind the higher costs of petrol engines, read our list of the best convertible sports cars. For more options, head over to our deals page or, if you still can’t decide what car you’d like, check out our car chooser.