Diesel cars used to have a poor reputation for being slow, noisy and smelly. As buyers have become more tempted by their fuel saving abilities, however, there’s been an emergence of performance diesel engined cars – offering the best of both worlds.
The best are as powerful and fast as they are economical so we’ve put together a list of the quickest diesel cars around. There’s plenty of choice in terms of bodystyle, so read on to discover your perfect performance diesel car.
Put any cars in our car deals page to see how much carwow could help you save.
1. BMW 435d
BMW has a long history of making powerful diesel engines, and the current ’35d’ unit is the one of the fastest ever made. This 3.0-litre unit has 313hp and is used across the BMW lineup, but it’s in the 4 Series Coupe where it reaches its true performance potential. It covers the 0-62mph dash in a mere 4.7 seconds, only 0.2 seconds slower than the previous generation M3.
In the UK, the 435d comes as standard with xDrive four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox – both help with the impressive acceleration time, but also work together to achieve an impressive 50.4mpg on average. It’s also offered in Convertible and four-door ‘Gran Coupe‘ guises, so there’s something to suit everyone.
2. Audi A8 4.2 TDI
If you’re after a fast and economical luxury car, look no further than the Audi A8 fitted with a powerful 4.2-litre V8 diesel engine. With more cylinders than your typical diesel engine, the V8 is both very powerful and very smooth making it a great match for the A8.
With a staggering 384hp, the A8 can reach 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds, while still returning reasonable average fuel economy of 39.2mpg. The only fly in the ointment is this model’s price – it costs an additional £10,300 over the already impressive 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine. For those wanting the power, however, it’ll be worth the extra money.
Choose your ideal Audi A8 on our deals page to check out what savings can be made.
3. Audi A6 BiTDI
Audi also offers the mid-sized A6 executive saloon with a fast diesel engine. In this case, it’s a twin-turbocharged version of the 3.0-litre V6. This impressive unit produces 315hp, and shifts the A6 from 0-62mph in a mere 5.0 seconds flat.
You also get outstanding fuel economy of 47.1mpg, and the added security of Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system to make sure you can handle all types of road conditions. This engine is expensive, costing £4,660 more than the single turbo 268hp variant and is available in all A6 variants as well as the A7 four-door coupe.
Check out how much you can save with our Audi A6 deals page.
4. Audi SQ5
If you prefer your fast Audi in crossover form, look no further than the Audi SQ5 – the first of the brand’s SUVs to receive an ‘S’ model, and the only S car with a diesel engine. The SQ5 gets the same twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine as the A6 BiTDI, but has an upgrade to 335hp and host of performance enhancements to make this tall car feel more sporty.
Larger alloy wheels and adaptive suspension help make the SQ5 one of the best SUVs to drive, and the powerful engine means a 0-62mph time of just 5.1 seconds – making it the fastest diesel SUV around, and quicker than most sports cars. Priced from £46,120, it’s not cheap but, considering the level of performance and versatility on offer, it actually represents decent value.
Head over to our Audi SQ5 deals page to spec up your ideal car.
5. BMW 640d
The BMW 6 Series is a powerful grand tourer available in coupe, Convertible and four-door Gran Coupe guises. Despite its sleek looks and performance potential, those covering high mileages can still get their hands on a powerful and efficient diesel engine.
The 640d uses a 313hp straight-six diesel that’s powerful enough to propel this heavy car from 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds while still returning 52.3mpg. Refreshingly, the diesel is one of the cheaper ways into 6 Series ownership, but costing more than £60,000, it’s still not an affordable car to buy, even if it is to run.
Put the BMW 6 Series in our car configurator to see how much carwow could help you save.
6. BMW X5 M50d
Surely an SUV weighing more than two tonnes could never be considered fast? The BMW X5 defies the laws of physics, however, thanks to an incredible triple-turbocharged 3.0-litre diesel engine producing 381hp. That’s enough to get the X5 from 0-62mph in a mere 5.3 seconds – just a second slower than the almighty X5M, a car that costs £25,000 more.
You also get a practical family car that can achieve 42.8mpg combined and the ability to seat up to seven people if you go for the optional third row of seats. The X5 M50d has the potential to surprise boy racers and still complete the school run in comfort, what more could you want?
Put the BMW X5 in our car configurator to see how much you could save.
7. Audi A4 3.0 TDI
The latest Audi A4 is a talented compact executive car that has one of the nicest interiors in the class. Buyers can specify the excellent MMI infotainment system and virtual cockpit instrument panel, but keen drivers are also catered for, too.
The A4 3.0 TDI is currently the quickest A4 on sale, and has a 268hp 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine, capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds while still offering combined fuel consumption of 55.4mpg. Company car drivers may prefer the cheaper bills of the 2.0 TDI, but private buyers will love the combination of power and quality this A4 offers.
Choose your ideal Audi A4 on our deals page to check out what savings can be made.
8. Porsche Panamera
Porsche’s Panamera may be a bit of a controversial looking car but, under the skin, it offers a mix of powerful engines and engaging handling that’s hard to match. A diesel Porsche may be frowned upon by some enthusiasts, but the 3.0-litre V6 engine in the Panamera offers great cruising abilities as well as a good turn of pace.
The engine makes 298hp, giving the Panamera diesel a 0-62mph time of 6.0 seconds flat. Official fuel economy figures rate the Porsche at 44.1mpg on average and, with a price tag of £65,269 (before extras), this can end up being rather expensive compared to direct rivals.
9. Volkswagen Passat BiTDI
The Volkswagen Passat might not be an obvious performance model but, choose the BiTDI version, and it turns into the ultimate Q-car – able to blend seamlessly into the company car park, yet still reach 0-62mph in just 6.1 seconds.
The Volkswagen has a twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel, similar to the larger unit used in diesel performance Audis. It produces 236hp and comes with standard four-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The BiTDI is only available in pricier GT and R-Line trims so, frustratingly, it can cost just as much as more premium rivals, although it is a lot faster.
See how much you can save with our Volkswagen Passat deals page.
10. Jaguar XF S 3.0d
The latest Jaguar XF is in many ways a more refined version of the old model. With graceful styling, an elegant interior and an all-new mostly aluminium platform, it’s aimed squarely at the German competition. The current range topping ‘S’ model comes with either supercharged petrol or turbocharged diesel engines, the latter produces 295hp.
When fitted, it’s powerful enough to propel the Jaguar from 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds – faster than rivals and enough to put many performance cars to shame. The lightweight body means average fuel consumption is 51.4mpg, making the XF S a viable option for company and private buyers alike.
Head over to our Jaguar XF deals page to spec up your ideal car.