In the first part of this series on diesel powered performers we looked at
cars from Peugeot and Mercedes-Benz (Diesel Discovery - Part One). These
two companies have offered more diesels in Australia than any other manufacturers
– but there are plenty of other brands that have jumped on the bandwagon...
In the second and final part of this series we’ll look at the most desirable
diesel machines from Audi, Volkswagen, Citroen and Rover. Oh, and we’ll also
look at a couple of interesting Japanese imports...
Citroen C5 HDi
If you enjoy driving something quirky you’ll love this – the post-2001
Citroen C5 HDi.
This medium-size luxury sedan has an unusual tall body design for an airy
cabin feel and features Citroen’s sophisticated Hydractive suspension. In
addition you’ll find the same engine as used in the late-model Peugeot 406 HDi –
a 2-litre SOHC turbo diesel (coded DW10ATED). In C5 guise, the engine generates
82kW and 255Nm and, tied to a 4-speed auto, the C5 HDi can hit 100 km/h in the
The conventional C5 HDi hatchback was joined by a wagon version in 2003. When
new, the C5 HDi cost about AUD$50,000 - but you can now grab a second-hand
example from about AUD$26,000.
An update in recent months has seen the previous SOHC 2-litre engine replaced
by a 2.2-litre DOHC multi-valve job. Coded DW12TED4, this engine runs an 18:1
static compression ratio and an intercooled turbo to produce 98kW and 314Nm from
2000 – 4000 rpm. This should improve 0 – 100 km/h performance into the 10 or
11-second range. Sedan and wagon versions are available for around 52 grand.
The first turbo diesel Volkswagen Golf seen in Australia came in the 1995
3rd Generation Golf.
The rock-solid 3rd Generation four-door Golf hatch is available with a
1.9-litre SOHC, 8-valve engine with a 19.5:1 compression ratio, intercooled
turbo and electronic management. Max outputs are 66kW and 202Nm and, with a
standard 5-speed manual, it can reach 100 km/h in the mid 12s. A slightly
slower 4-speed auto version was also sold until the model was discontinued
The turbo diesel Golf then disappeared from the market until, in late ’04, it
remerged with the 5th Generation. Two engine configurations are currently
available – the base SOHC 1.9-litre TDi and the upmarket DOHC 2-litre
Even the base 1.9-litre engine offers more grunt than the previous generation
– 77kW and 250Nm – but it’s the upmarket 2-litre that’s of most interest. This model employs a larger 2-litre engine with the advantage of DOHC
16-valve breathing. The static compression ratio is a relatively mild 18:1 but,
thanks to a variable geometry turbo, output is a handy 103kW at 4000 rpm and
there’s 320Nm from 1750 – 2500 rpm. These little machines can whip to 100 km/h
in the low 9s when teamed with a 6-speed manual ‘box.
Selling new, these tempting Golf TDis are stickered at under 40 grand.
Alternatively, there are a few second-hand examples on the market that are
typically five to seven grand cheaper than a newie.
Audi A3/A4 TDi
The Audi A3 uses the same platform as the 5th Generation Volkswagen Golf but
is generally a bit sportier.
The A3 TDi employs the same DOHC 2-litre TDi engine producing 103kW and 320Nm
but it’s available in a choice of two and four-door hatch configurations. The
Audis are also dearer than their Volkswagen counterparts – a newie costs almost
50 grand and the cheapest second-hand example on the market is a shade under 40
grand. See Audi A3 2.0 TDi for our detailed test of the A3 TDi.
If you’re looking for something a bit larger, the next step up is the
front-wheel-drive Audi A4 TDi which uses, again, the 103kW/320Nm 2-litre
direct-injection turbo diesel. The A4 version offers more space and a ‘7-speed’
CVT but, due to its extra weight, 0 – 100 km/h performance slides into the high
9s. Eight airbags come as standard in this 57 grand vehicle.
Audi A6/Allroad TDi
The biggest Audis to offer turbo diesel technology are the A6 and Allroad
The A6 is a real stunner – the fastest diesel car ever sold in Australia.
Under the bonnet is a 3-litre DOHC V6 with direct injection and a variable
geometry turbocharger that helps punch out 165kW at 4000 rpm and a hefty 450Nm
from 1400 – 3250 rpm. A CVT and quattro AWD come standard and, despite weighing
1765kg, this amazing car can reach 100 km/h in a mere 7.3 seconds (claimed)!
In real-world conditions, the A6 TDi should be capable of hosing Holden Gen 3
V8s and Subaru WRXs. Not bad for a luxury car that can return average fuel
consumption around 8.3 litres per 100km...
The Audi A6 TDi quattro fetches about AUD$100k new and the cheapest second-hand
example we’ve been able to find is 89 grand. Certainly, this is a car we’ve
included in our list of cars to investigate when they become more affordable.
Not as quick but almost as appealing is the TDi version of the Audi Allroad.
Released in 2002, the Allroad TDi employs a 2.5-litre DOHC V6 with the same sort
of variable geometry turbo and direct injection technology as the A6. Peak
outputs are 132kW and 370Nm (achieved between 1500 and 2500 rpm). With a 5-speed
Tiptronic trans and AWD, the 1825kg Allroad TDi can accelerate to 100 km/h in
the 10s and has tremendous in-gear urge.
Currently selling for more than 80 grand new, you can pick up one of these
ripper machines from about 60 grand second-hand. See New Car Test - Audi Allroad quattro TDi for our test.
Rover 75 CDti
In late 2004, the slightly odd looking Rover 75 was made available with a
common rail turbo diesel engine – this created the Rover 75 CDti.
Interestingly, the 75’s 2-litre turbo diesel is a very short revver – peak
power (96kW) is achieved at a lowly 3500 rpm. With 400Nm of torque on tap from
1900 rpm this means the effective rev range is approximately 1600 rpm – hardly
sporting... Still, with 6.7 litres per 100km average consumption, it does make up
for its performance shortcomings. The 75 CDti is available in sedan and wagon
variants and all models come with a 4-speed auto transmission.
Costing more than 50 grand new, a second-hand example will set you back
closer to 40 grand. It’s not our favourite pick, but it might be worth checking
out – especially if you can negotiate a good deal.
The most common Japanese grey market import cars with turbo diesel power is the Toyota
range of saloons from the late ‘80s/early ‘90s – the Cresta, Mark II, Chaser and
The LX80-series Cresta, Mark II and Chaser range (from 1989) look very
similar to the locally delivered 3-litre petrol Cressida but are available with
a 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel. The 2L-T diesel engine has a 21:1 static
compression ratio, a SOHC head, mechanical injection and a single turbocharger.
There is no intercooler fitted from factory. This engine puts out 69kW at 4000
rpm and 216Nm of torque at 2400 rpm.
Most come tied to a 4-speed auto transmission but a 5-speed manual was also
produced in some models. All are rear-wheel-drive and most are sedans except a
wagon version of the Crown was manufactured.
In 1992, the LX80 chassis was replaced with the LX90 version which uses
double wishbone suspension and a much more modern body and interior. Under the
bonnet, the engine was upgraded to the 2L-TE which uses electronic engine
management – as a result, output increases slightly to 71kW and 221Nm.
Interestingly, the top-of-the-range Toyota Crown was equipped with electronic
engine management since 1988 – but, oddly, output remained the same as the
mechanical injected versions (at 69kW). The turbo diesel Crown was then updated
in 1990 to generate 74kW and 221Nm.
At the time of writing there are a couple of these Toyota saloons on the
market at around six to eight grand. And, interestingly, it seems some name
swapping has occurred during the compliance process of some examples – we’ve
seen a Mark II registered and advertised as a Cressida...
Another interesting Japanese import vehicle available with a diesel engine is
the late ‘80s Mazda Capella (which is locally recognised as the Mazda 626/Ford
The Capella could be optioned with a RF-series 2-litre four-cylinder diesel
teamed with an intriguing pressure wave supercharger. Put simply, this type of
supercharger relies on the expansion of hot exhaust gas to force fresh induction
air into the engine. The exhaust gas pressure waves are controlled by a
belt-driven cylindrical cell rotor – the upshot being none of the lag associated
with a turbocharger. The static compression ratio of the engine is 21.1:1 and
output is 60kW and 181Nm at 4000 and 2000 rpm respectively. Four-speed auto and
5-speed manual versions were produced and the engine was tweaked in 1995 to produce
65kW/186Nm. In both cases, we don’t expect them to be particularly quick.
The Capella supercharged diesel is available in sedan and wagon versions and
FWD and AWD. There’s also a wide range of trim levels and some models come with
drum rear brakes.
At the time of writing there is only one example for sale in Australia but we
have previously seen them on several occasions – expect to pay between AUD$4000
and AUD$8000 depending on kilometres. Interestingly, the pressure wave
supercharged diesel was axed in the late ‘90s and replaced by a turbo diesel
engine. We have not seen any of these later-model Mazda diesels imported to