For many years, diesel cars got a bad rep for being loud or stinky, and that reputation didn’t improve following the so-called ’emissions scandal’ a few years ago.
But the fact remains that diesel cars are cleaner and more efficient than they’ve ever been. What’s more, they can be a cost-effective option if you’re the sort of motorist who does a high number of miles every year, or drives long distances at once.
If you’re absolutely sure that diesel definitely isn’t for you, though, check out our favourite hybrid / electric cars for the next best thing in hyper-economy.
Here’s our round up of the best diesel cars around today. Feel free to browse the full list, or jump to the cars that best match your budget using the links below:
Best New Diesel Cars: Under £18k
Price: from £15,550
Most economical model: Vauxhall Corsa 1.5 Turbo D 102PS [70.6mpg]
Vauxhall’s all-new Corsa will hit UK roads in 2020, and it promises to be a whole new proposition compared to the outgoing model. There’s just one diesel engine in the line-up, making your choice easy if you want a small diesel-powered Vauxhall, but fortunately, the 1.5-litre unit delivers sensational economy and impressive refinement.
Price: from £17,760
Most economical model: SEAT Arona SE Technology 1.6 TDI 95PS [71mpg]
Brand new from 2018, the Seat Arona quickly garnered a five-star review from What Car?. This small SUV offers refined engines and a great range of equipment as standard. Our pick of the diesel range is the 1.6 TDI FR Sport 115ps 1.6TDI 6 Speed Manual.
Best New Diesel Cars: From £18k-22k
Price: from £18,435
Most economical model: Audi A1 1.6 TDI 116PS S Tronic [74.3mpg]
Named WhatCar? Car of the Year back in 2011, the Audi A1 continues to offer a high-spec interior, firm suspension and a fantastic infotainment system. The 1.6-litre unit is the only diesel engine in the line-up, but it more than measures up to its petrol counterparts, with plenty of shove at low revs.
Price: from £18,850
Most economical model: SEAT Leon 1.6TDI 115PS 5-speed manual [57.6mpg]
AutoExpress are big fans of the SEAT Leon, calling it “one of the best family hatchbacks on sale, blending style, practicality and excellent dynamics”. As an all-rounder, we’d recommend the SEAT Leon FR Technology 150ps 2.0 TDI with 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox – it achieves a combined 57.6mpg, just like its smaller capacity sibling mentioned above.
Price: from £18,855
Most economical model: Vauxhall Astra 1.5 Turbo D [65.7mpg]
In their in-depth review of the Vauxhall Astra, AutoCar noted that this popular hatchback offers a “strong, frugal diesel engine”. We’d recommend the Vauxhall Astra 1.5 Turbo D with 122PS. It boasts a little extra power over the 105PS version, while only sacrificing a tiny bit of fuel efficiency, and we reckon the extra go will come in handy more often than a couple of extra miles per gallon.
Price: from £20,170
Most economical model: Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi ISG 114BHP 2WD [68.9mpg]
“One of the best all-rounders in its class” according to AutoExpress, the Kia Sportage comes with Kia’s industry-leading seven-year warranty, a spacious boot, and roomy back seats that ensure the whole family can get comfortable. Our favourite in the extensive diesel line-up is the Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi 134bhp AWD, which blends great fuel economy with the security of all wheel drive.
Price: from £20,150
Most economical model: Peugeot 2008 1.5L BlueHDi 100
With Peugeot’s patented Grip Control®, this compact crossover has been praised by AutoExpress for being “practical, well-equipped and [having] an upmarket feel”. With just one diesel engine in the line-up, it’s a good job it’s an economical one!
Most economical model: Volkswagen T-Roc 1.6 TDI SCR 115PS Manual [67.3mpg]
This small SUV “looks good, drives well and offers plenty of space” according to CarBuyer. The powerful diesel engines ensure you’ll enjoy a smooth and comfortable ride. And, for the especially safety conscious among you, the Volkswagen T-Roc also offers plenty of safety-related kit and a 5-star Euro NCAP rating.
Price: from £21,125
Most economical model: Peugeot 308 1.5L BlueHDi 100 [64.6mpg]
Top Gear have called the 308 “the best family hatch Peugeot has ever made.” Comfortable and refined, it’s especially well-suited to long motorway drives and comes with a great range of kit as standard. Our favourite model is the 1.5L BlueHDi with 130PS and an 8-speed automatic – perfect for those longer journeys.
Price: from £21,125
Most economical model: Mitsubishi L200 2.2 [41.5mpg]
As the only pick-up truck on this list, the Mitsubishi L200 definitely has a niche to fill. Thankfully, the all-new Series 6 fulfils that role comfortably, with impressive off-road ability along with a 3.5-tonne towing capacity, in addition to a cabin that is packed with the latest technology.
Best New Diesel Cars: From £22k-30k
Price: from £22,725
Most economical model: Audi A3 30 TDI 116bhp [64.2mpg]
With a luxurious interior, the Audi A3 is comfortable and classy, and also offers fantastic efficiency. Named WhatCar? Car of the Year in 2013, it’s only got better since, and the latest models are packed with safety and efficiency technology that ensures the A3 ranks amongst the best premium hatchbacks on the market.
Price: From £24,395
Most economical models (all 64mpg): Mazda6 2.2 Skyactiv-D 150PS [55.4mpg]
Praised by Carbuyer for its “sharp looks, precise handling and fuel-efficient engines,” the Mazda6 is a stylish family car that offers plenty of reassuring safety features. The diesel models boast Mazda’s impressive Skyactiv-D engine, which offers 20 per cent better fuel efficiency thanks to the low compression ratio.
Price: from £25,865
Most economical model: Peugeot 3008 1.5L BlueHDi 130 EAT8 Auto [56.3mpg]
Taking home the New Car of the Year crown at the AutoTrader New Car Awards 2019, the Peugeot 3008 is a great-looking, reliable crossover, complete with Peugeot’s remarkable i-Cockpit infotainment system which allows you to personalise what’s displayed so you can create your perfect driving experience. Our favourite in the extensive diesel line-up? The 2.0L BlueHDi 180 with a smooth 8-speed auto – lovely!
Price: from £29,040
Most economical models (all 72 mpg): Mercedes-Benz C-Class C220d Saloon [55.4mpg]
Available as a saloon, coupe, estate and open-topped convertible, this compact executive car boasts a comfortable and luxurious cabin and a range of smooth engines that perfectly combine efficiency with performance.
Best New Diesel Cars: £30k+
Price: from £30,750
Most economical model: Audi A4 30 TDI S tronic [72.4mpg]
Top Gear have called the latest incarnation of this exceptional car “the best A4 ever” – and we’re inclined to agree. As you’d expect with Audi, the interior is designed to be both useable and great to look at, and the ride comfort is next-level, ensuring that spending time behind the wheel of the A4 never feels like a chore.
Price: from £33,915
Most economical model: Jaguar XE 2.0D 180PS RWD Auto [50.7mpg]
The Jaguar XE saloon has been recognised by AutoExpress for its excellent handing balance, and was described as being ‘very cost effective’. For three years running from 2015-2017 it has won Auto Express’s Compact Executive Car of the Year for being a cut above its rivals with Jaguar being voted Brand with the Best Features in the AutoTrader New Car Awards 2019.
Price: from £39,295
Most economical model: Mercedes-Benz GLC 220 d 4MATIC [47.9mpg]
This compact SUV offers a particularly strong line-up of diesel models powered by refined, economical four-cylinder diesel engines, ensuring it cruises pleasingly along the motorway but is also able to handle itself off-road.
If you’d like more advice on the right diesel car for you in 2020, then feel free to get in touch with our team or drop into one of our showrooms. Or if you’re ready to start looking for your perfect car now, you can start your search here.
*** Please note, all prices shown are based on the MRRPs at the time of going live (December 2019). Also, some images/videos shown are for illustrative purposes only and may show additional extras. ***