WHEN IT COMES TO DIESEL engines, Singaporean customers tend to approach this technology with scepticism and apprehension. They can hardly be blamed as in decades past, punitive taxes dissuaded any notion of diesel passenger car ownership. To compound the issue, what little exposure most of us had to diesel cars was limited to underwhelming taxis that often emitted black soot from their tail pipes and the clatter of engines could be heard long before the car ever came into view.
Today however, diesel engine technology has come a long way, while local road taxes have been relaxed for the latest Euro V or JPN 2009 compliant cars to a more palatable level. Per kilometre, diesel compounds the value-for-money factor with a far lower average consumption than an equivalent petrol powered engine. If the dollar savings are not enough of an incentive, the convenience of having to fill up less often will likely be a more attractive proposition, especially for those of us who value time over money. For those who place a higher priority on performance, diesel engines also offer more torque than a petrol-burning equivalent. This translates into effortless acceleration, especially from a standstill or low speeds as diesel engines are designed to produce maximum torque from lower engine rpms.
In the real world, this has practical applications, as it may not always be possible to rev a petrol-powered engine to typically 4,000 or 5,000rpm to extract maximum torque. Most diesel engines dish out their max torque outputs by only 1,500rpm or less. Not only does this save the driver valuable seconds – in an overtaking manoeuvre for example – but the lower engine speeds mean quieter progress, which the passengers and on-lookers are more likely to appreciate.
The ability to deliver effortless acceleration as well as superlative fuel economy with a low CO2 output that qualifies for handy tax rebates sounds like a combination that’s too good to be true. Yet, these are exactly what the latest generation of turbo diesel engines are capable of. This technology makes it possible for manufacturers like BMW for example to build cars that are capable of delivering the type of performance as well as refinement their customers have come to expect.