Oh, now that is an interesting topic… It is a bit like when you ask someone if they have a PC or a Mac, both camps will fight to the death for their cause. The basis for this article was born out of a debate on Twitter that lasted until 1:25AM. The root of the argument was formed from the notion of a “sporty diesel” and if such a thing existed, also if it did could it ever match the traditional petrol equivalent?
First of all “sporty diesels.” I will concede that this juxtaposition can exist but only in rare cases and only since very recently. You see diesel engines were designed for tractors. The high levels of torque are perfect for pulling ploughs, lugging trailers or even dragging a cow along by its tail if you really must. Putting a diesel engine in a car with sporting credentials, in most cases, is much like eating a cheesecake via your ear. It will go in, but it doesn’t really have the desired effect. The low end grunt is great but they are heavier, lack the theatricalities of revving the nuts off a petrol and as a result are slower. I wouldn’t ever call something like a Golf TDI “sporty.” Quick, efficient, dependable, all these things yes, but sporty it is not. And lets face it, the one you really want is the GTI.
Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate diesels for all they are good at and some of the recent ones I have driven really are VERY good. But lets say you are in identical sports cars, like a BMW Z4. Now this car is about performance and the way it makes you feel behind the wheel. Pretending that each car was fitted with identical engines but one powered by diesel and one by petrol, what car will win in a 0-62MPH sprint? The petrol. What car produces the best non-artificial noise? The Petrol. What car is the most fulfilling to drive? Again it will be the petrol because it encourages all of those great sensations a performance car requires to score well. These are the reasons you will not see Lamborghini loading one of their raging bulls with a diesel motor, because the oil burners are not the optimum piece of equipment for performance. “But what about endurance racers” I hear you cry? Do you think teams such as Audi would still use diesel if they didn’t have to worry about how much fuel they were using? There is a very good reason why you will never see a diesel powered Formula One car…
I’m not saying diesels cant be fun, but in order to get them to that stage they often need to be fettled with by adding turbos and the like. Diesel or petrol 3 Series? If you’re a fax machine salesman who just uses his car to trawl the motorway there is no contest. But if you seek the highest level of enjoyment then it is the petrol that wins hands down.