Best diesel sports car

Strong performance and impressive fuel economy don’t usually go hand in hand, but the best diesel sports cars can offer just that

Joe Holding
Jun 28, 2021

Sports cars and diesel power don’t seem to go together on the face of it, partly because of their opposing objectives. A sports car is meant to be fun to drive above all else, while diesel engines are normally focused on providing maximum fuel economy rather than speed.

However, not many drivers can afford to get a sports car and not give a second thought to the running costs. The fact is that fuel bills are a concern to a vast majority of drivers, and just because you want a car that provides a bit of excitement at the weekend doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be frugal going to and from work during the week. This is where diesel sports cars come in.

Diesel isn’t just an eco fuel either: diesel engines naturally produce a lot of muscle at low engine speeds, which is also known as torque, so it’s perfectly possible for a diesel sports car to be just as fast as a petrol one. In fact, since diesel engines have so much torque, they can actually pick up speed more easily than many equivalent petrol models, making them quicker in everyday driving.

This torque also means they’re also better equipped to cope with heavy loads, so if you’re going on a family holiday with luggage in tow, a diesel sports car is actually a very sensible choice. And another benefit, is that since diesel engines are typically more fuel-efficient than petrol engines, you can expect lower fuel bills, too.

Although they’re not exactly common, we’ve put together this list of the best diesel sports cars to give you an idea of the driving thrills that can be had in various types of diesel-powered car. And on BuyaCar we make it as easy as possible to get top value used versions of these great cars delivered to your door at amazing prices, all in just a few clicks.

Best diesel sports cars on BuyaCar

1. Kia Stinger

Used deals Limited stock

Kia made its first foray into the performance car world with the Stinger back in 2018, and it surprised a lot of people with its mix of speed, practicality and strong build quality that rivalled that of mainstream rivals from German manufacturers. 

There are two petrol engines and one diesel available on the Stinger: the latter is a 2.2-litre 'CRDi' unit producing 200hp and it’s by far the most economical, returning up to 50.4mpg on paper. Capable of 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds, it’s no slouch either. True, there are alternatives that are quicker, and the 406-litre boot isn’t as big as you’ll find in some saloons, but as an all-round package the Stinger has a lot going for it; it's quick, comfortable and desirable.

Standard equipment is decent too, including a head-up display, an eight-inch touchscreen media system, a reversing camera, sat-nav and a nine-speaker sound system, among other things. Oh, and Kia’s excellent warranty lasts seven years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first, so many used versions will include more manufacturer warranty cover than a number of brand new cars.

The diesel-powered Stinger remains something of a rare find, but these models do appear from time to time on BuyaCar. If you can find one, you won’t be disappointed.

KIA STINGER BUYERS’ GUIDE

2. Jaguar XF

Used deals from £16,789
Monthly finance from £265*

Another alternative to the numerous German saloons available is the Jaguar XF. Benefitting from a lineup of powerful engines, the XF is great fun to drive and suitably luxurious thanks to its upmarket interior finish. As a new car it’s a little expensive, but as a second-hand purchase it really stands out in terms of value.

The 2.0-litre diesel engine is available with three levels of power. The entry-level, 163hp version is the most economical, but will still shift the car from 0-62mph in well under 10 seconds. The mid-range 180hp unit achieves up to 56.5mpg and powers the car from 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds, while the top-spec, 240hp version enables the XF to accelerate from 0-62mph in just 6.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 155mph. Fuel economy does suffer though, with this model offering 47.9mpg according to the laboratory figures.

The middle-power diesel strikes the best balance between speed and efficiency, and in the most basic Prestige spec you’ll get leather seats, sat-nav, cruise control and a whole lot more. If you want the looks to match the car’s performance, go for R Sport XFs; these add sports seats for that authentic sports car feel and look sharper on the outside, too.

JAGUAR XF BUYERS’ GUIDE

3. Alfa Romeo Giulia

Used deals from £18,265
Monthly finance from £260*

The Alfa Romeo Giulia was a revelation when it was launched in 2016. It was Alfa Romeo’s first attempt at an upmarket saloon car for a while and few people expected it to be as good as it was. Consider its sharp looks and sporty feel from behind the wheel and it's an appealing sports car - even with diesel power.

Thanks to its specially-developed lightweight construction, the Giulia is great fun to drive with the kind of handling that would give even the most capable sports car a run for its money. The 2.2-litre diesel version develops 180hp, and while that won’t quite pin you into your seat, a 0-62mph figure of 7.1 seconds is suitably lively for a car that will take everyday tasks like the school run in its stride.

If you have teenage children, you needn’t worry as there’s plenty of room in the back for two fully grown adults to sit comfortably, and the excellent suspension soaks up even the worst bits of our uneven roads. Meanwhile, the 480-litre boot is more than big enough for a decent selection of shopping bags and any other clutter you might need to chuck in the back of the car.

Nearly new, 2020 examples of the Giulia can be found for £25,000 on BuyaCar, while four-year old cars cost less than £20,000. If that doesn’t sound like much of a difference, bear in mind that the Giulia is a relatively rare model, and used ones are in high demand. The fact it holds its value well should mean that PCP finance monthly payments are surprisingly low.

ALFA ROMEO GIULIA BUYERS’ GUIDE

4. BMW 4 Series

Used deals from £14,200
Monthly finance from £240*

When it comes to diesel sports cars, the two-door coupe version of the BMW 4 Series is an obvious choice. Unlike many of the latest BMWs - which feature deliberately controversial styling - it’s undeniably stylish and it shares a common BMW trait in that it’s very engaging to drive.

From the driver’s seat, you’ll feel that the 4 Series is incredibly responsive when you turn the wheel - more so than the closely-related 3 Series. This means it feels very agile and is ideal for blasting along country roads, and yet it’s still comfortable on harsher surfaces. Some models come with adaptive suspension, and this can be adjusted to favour comfort or performance, depending on your mood.

There are three diesels: the 420d, 430d and 435d. Sports car drivers won’t be able to ignore the latter, which churns out 313hp and can blast from 0-62mph in a rapid 4.7 seconds. In terms of fuel economy the most you’ll likely see out of this is 40.4mpg, or about 10mpg less than the most frugal 420d, although that model is much slower. All diesels were available with the option of four-wheel drive when new (referred to as 'xDrive' by BMW), so you’ll need to decide if the extra grip they provide is worth the expenditure.

A new 4 Series was revealed towards the end of 2020, which should push prices of the old model down over the next few months. Sport and M Sport are the only two trim levels, with the latter adding a sportier exterior design and a 10.3-inch touchscreen media system. 

BMW 4 SERIES BUYERS’ GUIDE

5. Audi S5

Used deals from £44,499
Monthly finance from £592*

Staying on the two-door coupe theme, the Audi S5 is another car you should contemplate for your diesel sports car fix. The current model has been around since 2016, however it only introduced diesel power for the first time in 2020; this consists of a 3.0-litre engine that uses mild hybrid technology to produce a hefty 347hp and enable the car to cover 0-62mph in an extremely fast 4.8 seconds. Meanwhile, the five-door Sportback version of the S5 is only a tenth of a second slower, so if you need more practicality, it's a great option.

Fuel economy compares well with the diesel 4 Series, with the S5’s 40.9mpg putting it top of the class by a small margin. The steering isn’t quite as precise as that of the 4 Series, but Audi’s Drive Selector lets you tailor the suspension settings to suit your particular driving style. The ride isn’t too stiff either, making the S5 a car for all seasons, especially when combined with the standard four-wheel drive.

Standard features include Audi’s 12.3-inch ‘Virtual Cockpit’ digital instrument display, plus an 8.3-inch touchscreen media system, sat-nav, matrix LED headlights - which offer maximum illumination of the road ahead without dazzling oncoming drivers - and 19-inch alloy wheels. As the diesel S5 is a fairly new phenomenon, it’s still relatively expensive as a used buy, although we expect that figure to fall notably in due course.

AUDI A5 BUYERS’ GUIDE

6. Mercedes SLC

Used deals from £19,026
Monthly finance from £238*

If it’s a two-seater convertible you’re after, don’t go thinking that diesel power won’t meet your needs. It absolutely can, and the Mercedes SLC is just such a car. The diesel-powered 250d version of the SLC wasn’t available for very long, but the fact that it was the most popular choice in that brief spell tells you all you need to know about its abilities.

What other two-seater sports car can hit 70.6mpg fuel economy? Such a good efficiency figure really helps drive down the total cost of ownership, which can be the difference between choosing such a vehicle or having to go for a more sensible type of car. Diesel power also suits the SLC's relaxed drive, as the engine offers decent power without fuss, making it an easy car to cruise around in.

Inside, the interior is well finished, and you can really tell that the car is designed for comfort above all else. There’s plenty of onboard equipment too, so you won’t feel like you’ve missed the boat on the latest technology. This includes a folding metal roof, so you can choose between hard-top refinement or roof-down enjoyment at the flick of a switch.

MERCEDES SLC BUYERS’ GUIDE

7. Range Rover Sport

Used deals from £34,501
Monthly finance from £535*

Yes, the Range Rover Sport is an SUV rather than a sports car, but there’s a reason it carries the word ‘Sport’ in its name. The entry-level diesel engine is a 3.0-litre unit that churns out 306hp and means it's capable of 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds, and if that’s not enough power for you there’s also a 339hp, 4.4-litre model, too.

The Range Rover Sport combines its power with a luxurious interior, designed to keep passengers in their own little bubble out on the road. The seats are incredibly comfortable, the suspension is immaculately smooth over bumps and potholes, and the space inside is expansive. There’s a substantial 780 litres of boot space to go with it, plus a seven-seat option if you ever need the extra capacity.

It goes without saying that all this ability comes at a cost. Prices rise dramatically through the various trim levels, so HSE-spec cars - which get fully electric, heated leather seats, parking sensors and cameras, sat-nav and dual-zone climate control, among other things - offer the most value.

RANGE ROVER SPORT BUYERS’ GUIDE

8. Porsche Macan S

Used deals Limited stock

Another SUV that really lives up to that title is the Porsche Macan. A 3.0-litre diesel engine was available from the car’s launch in 2014 until 2018, when - despite its popularity - it was dropped in favour of a single petrol unit. The 258hp diesel engine meant the Macan S diesel could do 0-62mph in a speedy 6.3 seconds, and as well as being faster than the Range Rover Sport above, it was also more economical, achieving 44.1mpg according to the official tests.

Like the Range Rover, the Macan boasts a lavish interior finished to the highest standards, with a seven-inch touchscreen media system and plethora of buttons on the centre console giving the car a space-age feel. Its 500 litres of boot space isn’t in the same league as its rival, but the Macan is smaller and easier to manoeuvre, and it's more than practical enough for most people’s needs.

Despite its size, the Macan still feels like a sports car, making light work of corners with its sporty suspension. You may find this a little firm for everyday driving, but there are custom settings that can change its behaviour at the push of a button.

All Macan S diesel models come with an automatic ‘PDK’ gearbox, and all-wheel drive is a universal feature, too.

PORSCHE MACAN BUYERS’ GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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