With the DVLA’s recent statistics being published, it’s apparent that diesel cars are steadily declining. With a majority of cars being sold in 2018 being petrol, and electric vehicles becoming a rising star – it’s time to start waving goodbye to our dear old friend: The Diesel Engine.

As an owner of a diesel car, it’s a saddening time to be around for. But the needs of the many rule supreme.

I’ve compiled a list of my 10 favourite diesel cars as a send off to the mighty torque-heavy engines. We’ll be looking at the great, the worst & the revolutionary amongst diesel cars.

10. Citroën Rosalie

It all starts somewhere. The Citroën Rosalie is the grandfather of the diesel engine. The first ever diesel engine to be used in a mass produced commercial passenger car. Originally introduced in 1933, though, due to legal restrictions, did not go into production until 1935.

A rear view of the Citroen Rosalie
A Citroen Rosalie

The bulky Rosalie could just barely reach cruising speeds of 70mph. But, it did provide some excellent storage solutions including its huge extended boot.

9. Audi R8 Quattro V12 TDI

A top speed of 186mph and a blazing 0-60mph time of 4.2 seconds. It’s easily one of, if not the fastest diesel engine.

Unfortunately, however, the car never reached production and was simply just left as a concept. Still, it’s certainly something I’d love to see produced if the opportunity ever did arise.

A rear view ofan Audi R8
The grunt of a diesel. Finely contained within the beautiful shell of an Audi R8.
Photo by Vlad Alexandru Popa from Pexels.

It’s a diesel car that’s truly a thing of beauty and prowess. This may be a bit high up on this list, but there’s so much more a diesel can be, and can do. Which leads me onto my next choice…

8. Miles, The Skoda Octavia

A Skoda Octavia
It’s not the real Miles… but it sure is an Octavia, so, you get the picture.

The car that’s driven the circumference of the Earth 17 times! CarThrottle’s very own high-miler, Miles. If you’ve been a follower of their YouTube series, you’ll know how much of a testament Miles is to the diesel engine.

We’ve seen the Octavia’s engine taken apart and inspected. It’s also taken an 800 mile journey to the Nürburgring and back in just one tank. And, that much needed TLC was given to a car that clocked well over 400,000 miles.

7. Citroën BX Turbo Diesel

A Citroen BX front view
The retro BX had many different styles during its life cycle. This style was one of the more commonly seen.

Love it or hate it, you choose. I, for one, personally love the retro styling of the BX. It’s obscure rear arch wing that just dwarfed the wheel. The Citroën BX, as unusual as it may seem was praised for it’s reliability.

Making use of the XUD turbo-diesel engine, shared with the Peugeot 405 of the same era. It was one of the most reliable and economic diesel engines of its time.

6. Naturally Aspirated Volkswagens

Yes, that’s right, we’ve used a plural here – Volkswagens. And yes, you’ve read that right too – naturally aspirated.

A Volkswagen Polo Mk. 3 1.9 SDI. Photo by Santeri Viinamäki [CC BY-SA 4.0]

To give you a brief overview, diesel engines are well known for mostly being turbocharged. This is because a diesel engine benefits a huge amount from increased compression. Before the days of TDI, way back in the 80’s, Volkswagen toyed with naturally aspirated diesel engines.

In came the SDI engine. That’s “saugdieseldirekteinspritzung” or “Suction Diesel Injection” for most other people. The least powerful of these came in at a magnificent 49hp. It’s certainly nothing incredible, but it’s worth an honorable mention.

5. Mini Cooper SD

The same fun of the Mini Cooper S, but with the economy of a diesel engine. I recently reviewed the standard Mini Cooper D, that car alone running off a 1.5 litre engine was enough to knock me back into my seat.

The 5-Door Cooper SD Variant. © M 93 / Wikimedia Commons

However, a 2 litre turbocharged diesel with 168hp, 68mpg and a bunch of torque is a rather generous upgrade.

4. Suzuki Celerio Diesel

Some people may think this is an unusual choice to put this far up the list, but hear me out. This car is impressive for one particular reason: It uses the smallest diesel engine to ever appear in a production car.

The Suzuki Celerio as featured at the Geneva Motor Show in 2014. Photo by El monty [CC BY-SA 4.0]

A displacement of 793cc was created for this variant. It was praised for its excellent economy in India and for it unique approach to the diesel engine. Just two cylinders, 46hp and a small box to take you around town.

3. Audi R10 TDI

No, it may not be the first diesel car to feature in 24 hours of Le Mans. But, it is definitely the most well thought out, and most celebrated diesel Le Mans racer.

Rinaldo Capello driving an Audi R10 in its natural habitat; The Race Track. Image taken by Darren [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The R10 is a testament to the success of the Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) engines found in many of Audi’s diesel cars. Audi’s 5.5-litre V12 diesel has won every year since it was first introduced until the end of its life cycle.

What makes this diesel engine more impressive is that it was the first diesel powered racer to win 24 Hours of Le Mans and 12 Hours of Sebring.

2. BMW 840d

A pricey car coming in at roughly £75,000. But BMW’s heavily refined diesel engines deserve a space on this list. The 2018 8-series BMW is a remake of the original 1990 model, taking design hints and bringing back one of the best models from their marque.

A BMW 840d, one of the quicker diesel cars available today.
A BMW 840d. Image by Vauxford [CC BY-SA 4.0]

The 840d makes use of a 3.0-litre straight-6 cylinder engine producing 315hp, a rather modest amount. But, as we all know, diesels produce a lot of torque – 502lb-ft to be precise.

But again, you’re getting a sporty car with plenty of power with the economy of a standard every day car. Roughly 52mpg on highway and 38mpg in city. This is a car that can reach 155mph, and has the economy of a family hatchback. It’s good enough to be a daily driver at that rate.

1. Lada Niva

There is no vehicle more deserving of this number 1 spot than the Lada Niva. The Russian brute is a great example of an all-round rugged off-roader.

Hill climbing in the Lada Niva

If you’re a regular reader of Scoopd, you may have seen one of my opinion posts on SUVs & Crossovers. As you’re probably aware – I’m not a fan. Though, there is always a place for true off roaders.

The diesel variant of the Niva runs on the previously mentioned XUD engine that the Citroen BX also runs on. And the quirky Niva puts it to good use for its off-roading capabilities.

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