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Top 10 fastest diesel cars 2024

Need to get somewhere quickly without burning too much fuel? These are the fastest diesel cars you can buy new

The fastest diesel cars

There was a time, not so long ago, when buyers had lots of fast diesel cars to choose from, of all shapes and sizes. For instance, those after something small and funky could go for a Mini Cooper SD, while those after something big and practical could have a Skoda Kodiaq vRS, and no matter which end of the scale you sat on, you’d still be getting a fast, fun car.

The best diesel carsTop 10 best diesel cars

However, the popularity of diesel has been nose-diving in recent years, and many of the fast diesels offered way-back-when are no longer sold. However, there are still a few gems out there, and we’ve trawled through the stats to figure out which are the fastest diesel cars still offered for sale. After all, a fast diesel is still a great solution if you want something fun, but you cover lots of miles and you don’t want to spend too much time and money filling up with fuel.

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You might also want to check out our guides to the fastest SUVs, fastest hatchbacks, best four-door sports cars and best fast estates on sale now.

BMW 3 Series saloon review

BMW 3 Series saloon
Carbuyer rating

4.4 out of 5

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The BMW 3 Series has done enough to ensure it still sits at the top of the compact executive market, with plenty of space, an array of modern technology and a range of efficient engines – including diesels capable of 60mpg and a plug-in hybrid capable of over 35 miles of range. New for this generation is a range-topping 335bhp M-badged diesel engine, the M340d xDrive. Despite being capable of 44mpg, you can reach 0-62mph in just 4.6 seconds, which is only two-tenths of a second slower than the M340i petrol. It’s available in saloon and estate body styles, too, so you can have the performance with a much more versatile boot. Prices start at around £60,000 – almost £20,000 more than an entry-level car – but few models offer such a blend of performance, economy, style and technology.

Audi S4 saloon review

Audi S4 saloon
Carbuyer rating

4 out of 5

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Hot on the heels of the BMW M340d is the Audi S4, which is one of a number of Audi S models to eschew petrol power for a punchy diesel engine. The recipe is pretty similar, with the S4 getting a 342bhp 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine, an automatic gearbox, quattro four-wheel drive and a choice of saloon or estate bodystyles. The BMW will struggle to pull away from the Audi, which hits 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds, while its 37mpg fuel economy figure is still reasonable given the petrol-powered Mercedes-AMG C43 tops out at 31.8mpg. You get a fantastic interior full of plush materials and connectivity, although the S4 isn’t so good at agile cornering as the BMW, due to a lack of steering feel.

Mercedes E-Class saloon review (2016-2023)

Mercedes E-Class saloon
Carbuyer rating

4 out of 5

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The Mercedes E-Class underwent a mid-life refresh in 2020, with the new car getting eye-catching styling updates, a new steering wheel and more technology. There’s very little difference in quality between the E-Class and the luxurious S-Class, and the E-Class is comfortable and easily capable of racking up the miles. If you want to get places quickly, the E 400 d diesel is a great option: its 5.1-second 0-62mph time is barely slower than the Mercedes-AMG E53 version, but its 42mpg economy figure is so much higher. The E 400 d is much more subtle than the E53, which may appeal to buyers who don’t want something so aggressive. The E 300 de plug-in hybrid, meanwhile, is only a second slower from 0-62mph but manages over 30 miles of electric range.

BMW X3 SUV review

BMW X3 SUV
Carbuyer rating

4 out of 5

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If you want a higher driving position, the BMW X3 M40d is one of the very fastest diesel SUVs on sale. It shares its 3.0-litre mild-hybrid diesel engine with the 3 Series M340d above, so you get 335bhp, four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox. Despite the heavier SUV body, 0-62mph is still dispatched in 4.9 seconds, while fuel economy is pretty good at 43mpg. The X3 has premium appeal, and looks similar to the larger and more expensive BMW X5. It also offers a better drive than the Mercedes GLC or Volvo XC60, and has a plush interior. 

Audi S6 saloon review

Audi S6 saloon
Carbuyer rating

3.7 out of 5

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The Audi S6 used to boast a 444bhp V8 petrol engine (a previous generation even got a 5.2-litre V10 petrol engine), but the switch to diesel power means it now shares the same turbocharged 3.0-litre diesel engine as the S4. Acceleration is nearly as rapid as the old petrol engine, with the saloon hitting 0-62mph in five seconds flat and the S6 Avant estate only taking a tenth of a second longer. It’s luxurious inside, with heated, power-adjustable upgraded leather seats, four-zone climate control and the latest screen tech, plus there’s plenty of space and a big boot. It does cost over £10,000 more than the Audi S4, though, while opting for the fully specced S6 Vorsprung trim increases the price by around £18,000 over the standard model. If you fancy something slinkier, meanwhile, you can also get this same engine in the S7 Sportback.

Mercedes S-Class saloon review

Mercedes-AMG S 63 e Performance front 3/4
Carbuyer rating

4.5 out of 5

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The S-Class may no longer sit at the absolute pinnacle of the luxury limousine class, but there’s still a heck of a lot to like, including a sumptuously trimmed cabin, lots of tech and a comfortable and refined driving experience. Choose the S450 d variant, and you can add blistering performance and strong fuel economy to that list of abilities. Its 3.0-litre, six-cylinder diesel engine produces a whopping 362bhp, which can propel it from 0-62mph in five seconds dead. And despite such performance, official figures suggest it’ll do 43.5mpg as well.

BMW X5 review – an upmarket driver’s SUV

BMW X5 front quarter driving
Carbuyer rating

4.3 out of 5

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The previous generation of X5 was offered in M50d form, which had no fewer than four turbochargers channelling air into its six-cylinder diesel engine to give an output of 395bhp and a 0-62mph time of 5.2 seconds. The new version of the X5, however, doesn’t have an M50d version. Boo hiss. That doesn’t mean you can’t still have a diesel-powered X5 with crushing acceleration, though. The 40d variant now sits at the top of the diesel X5 range, and with 347bhp, it’s only a fraction behind, with a 0-62mph time of 5.5 seconds. Use it like that, however, and you probably won’t get too close to the claimed 37.7mpg fuel economy.

Mercedes GLE SUV review

Mercedes GLE driving
Carbuyer rating

3.7 out of 5

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Mercedes’ GLE luxury SUV is offered with the same 450 d diesel engine that features in the S-Class found a little further up this list. To recap, it’s a 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder unit producing 362bhp. The GLE’s chunkier bodywork means it's a shade slower in powering from 0-62mph than the S-Class, taking 5.6 seconds, but it’s hardly a slowcoach, we think you’ll agree. Elsewhere, it’s not the most polished car of its type to drive, but it has a beautifully finished interior and a roomy cabin that’s packed with luxury kit.

Mercedes C-Class hybrid review

Best Plug-in Hybrid: Mercedes C-Class
Carbuyer rating

4.3 out of 5

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Until recently, the C-Class on this list was the C300 de, which unusually, was a plug-in hybrid that mated its electric motor and battery with a diesel engine instead of a petrol. The stats were impressive as a result, with an electric-only range of 35 miles, claimed fuel economy of 217mpg, a power output of 302bhp and a 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds. However, it seems that the C300 de variant has quietly and inexplicably disappeared from Merc’s price lists, so it can no longer feature here. However, the C300 d does still exist, and although it only has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, it still knocks out 261bhp, which is enough for a 0-62mph time of 5.8 seconds. 

Audi A8 saloon review

A8 1
Carbuyer rating

4 out of 5

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Rounding off our list of the fastest diesel cars is the latest Audi A8. Specified in 50 TDI form, it comes with a 3.0-litre diesel engine that develops 282bhp, which is enough to haul this large luxury limousine from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds. It’s not all about raw power and speed, though: the A8 is a great car in a number of other ways, too. It has a roomy and sumptuous interior, an effortlessly sophisticated driving experience and more technology than you can shake a stick at. All that, and 40mpg as well.

If you're looking for something quick that's also cheap to run as a company car, a plug-in hybrid might be the way to go – check out our top 10 best plug-in hybrids...

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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