Diesel sells. In fact, almost half of all cars sold each year in the UK have a diesel engine. It’s easy to see why: they offer significantly better fuel economy than their petrol counterparts, while tax obligations can be lower if you choose diesel over petrol.
Despite the government’s recent switch to a new set of rules for road tax that puts petrol engines more on a level pegging with diesels, they do nothing to detract from the 60mpg+ returned by many modern diesel cars – a figure many petrol engines struggle to match.
It’s worth pointing out that diesels deliver their power in a different way to petrol engines. That means a petrol car may have a better 0-62mph time than a diesel model with similar power, but once on the move, the diesel may feel – and be – faster. This can make long motorway drives more relaxing in a diesel car, and is another reason why the UK has taken diesel to its heart over the last two decades or so.
It’s also likely that diesels will continue to remain something of a default choice for SUVs and large executive saloons for a while, as the extra grunt a medium-sized diesel engine produces is comparable with a far larger and thirstier petrol engine. It’s a similar story with caravanners: diesel engines produce their power at low revs, making them perfectly suited to towing, as they don’t have to be worked so hard to make progress.
Diesel cars are more expensive to buy than petrols, though, and that means it’s worth doing your sums before ordering. As a rule of thumb, if you cover more than 12,000 miles a year, a diesel’s extra economy will pay for itself over the course of ownership. If you aren’t sure whether diesel or petrol is best for you, our guide is here to help.
Our top 10 rundown selects the best diesel cars on sale today. It comprises SUVs, executive saloons and family hatchbacks that are all excellent models in their own right. They’re also all available with some of the smoothest, quietest and most economical diesel engines currently being built.