By The Lenspeed Team


We get down and dirty with two diesel engines for two very different purposes

Diesel vehicles might only form a minority of passenger cars on local roads these days, but we are slowly noticing an upward trend, with local dealers hyping up the benefits of diesel haulers over the past year.

Actually, diesel ownership makes plenty of sense, both from a driver and financial standpoint. Your perception about diesels might be swarmed with encounters in taxis with “clattery” motors, leaving you concerned with excessive noise levels from the engine bay. But modern interpretations of diesel engines have improved through the years in terms of refinement, to an extent that they feel as quiet and polished as the petrol equivalent. They are extremely frugal and can easily cover longer distances than petrol variants, too. And they deliver plenty of low-end torque, which makes city driving a cinch.

Both cars featured here are unconventional (and probably unloved?) variants of their respective models, largely due to the fact both feature diesel motors beneath the hood. But more drive time revealed plenty of advantages unique to each car. The Volkswagen Touran TDI and Volkswagen Touareg R-Line 3.0 TDI are clear-cut examples of utilising diesel motors to complement VW’s efficient motoring philosophy. They might have paper numbers wedged on both ends of the spectrum, but scrutinise the spec sheet and you get the drift. One has a motor that can very well redefine efficient motoring, while the other makes you wonder if there is actually logic behind big petrol SUVs.

The Touran TDI’s 105bhp 1.6-litre unit churns out 250Nm right from the get-go. We are talking about torque levels more than a 2.0-litre Honda-fettled K20A engine. But that’s only the bonus, really. What it can do is achieve well over 1000km per tank of fuel. (1300km to be exact, proven by VW’s drive to Ipoh and back without the help of petrol stations) When put to the test on a quiet Saturday morning, we covered 25 kilometres per litre – a figure only petrol owners can dream about.

While it can probably go about its business an entire month without hitting the pumps, this ridiculous efficiency does not come at the expense of performance, too. Admittedly, off-the-line sprints can be rather lethargic, which is no surprise for a car engineered to be smooth and well-sorted. But ride it on its wave of torque during in-gear acceleration and it covers ground at a decent pace. That’s petrol performance for more than twice the range. Efficient motoring for the people indeed…

The next car might not be entirely frugal but it makes use of the strength of its heartbeat to slingshot its way through almost any surface without much fuss. Think 550Nm handled by four wheels. The Touareg R-Line 3.0 TDI runs about its errands like a behemoth on steroids, and that is largely due to the fact that most of the torque is served under 2000rpm. Instead of piling on the revs, keep it within the narrow power band under 3000rpm and the tall, hulking SUV can plough through nip-and-tuck roads (and even humps) faster than most cars on the road. It lacks the top end envy of high-revving petrol units, but we reserve the beauty of these motors for smaller, sportier cars. Our three-day test drive over 500km of tarmac (and 500m of grass) yielded 9.4km/l, and we consider this mightily impressive for an engine needing to lug two tons of heft (and one horizontally-endowed driver). V8 turbo petrol SUVs might be able to keep up in the lower regions of the rev range, but their thirst for fuel is something we could not swallow.

Both cars represent the beauty of diesel engines. For whatever reason that might steer you away from diesel car ownership, give them a chance, take the plunge, and you will be rewarded with less holes in your pocket in the long run.