2014 Audi A3 ・ Photo by Lyndon Bell
Without question, the Germans rule when it comes to diesel luxury cars. This is reflective both of the higher fuel prices in Europe and the resultant longstanding demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles. Consequently, German manufacturers consider diesel power a necessity for pretty much every mainstream product. This includes such prestigious marques as Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. Contemporary diesel engines burn cleanly, run smoothly, and generate outstanding torque – while delivering exceptional fuel economy. Because of this, the best diesel luxury cars are quite capable of matching economy cars when it comes to fuel efficiency.
This new version of the Audi A3 actually marks the second A3 offering with diesel power here in the U.S. However, rather than a four-door hatch, this time it is packaged in a traditional four-door sedan. Power comes from a 150-horsepower 2.0-liter turbodiesel good for 236 ft-lbs of torque. Offering all of the attributes we’ve come to appreciate about Audi automobiles – at a more affordable price point – the A3 2.0 TDI’s fuel economy is rated at 36 mpg overall. Pricing starts at $32,600.
Buttressing the Audi A6 TDI’s extensive luxury features and cutting edge technologies is a joyfully delightful balance of ride and handling. Further, the A6 is both handsome and quiet. Power comes from a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 with 240 horsepower and 428 ft-lbs of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 29 mpg overall. Yes, it is entirely possible to have a powerful, luxuriously appointed car, and still experience solid fuel economy. Pricing starts at $59,500.
While the sleek profile of the Audi A7 may be the first attribute to garner your attention, the A7 also delivers a gorgeous interior treatment, outstanding ride and handling, exceptional power, and a long list of standard features. Also, like the A6, power comes from a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 with 240 horsepower and 420 ft-lbs of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 29 mpg overall, making it the most fuel-efficient car in its class. Pricing starts at $70,400.
Photo by Audi
The all-aluminum Audi A8 is one of the lightest full-size luxury cars offered today. It’s also one of the most handsome and luxurious. Furthering the case for the Audi is its exclusivity. For diesel power, you’ll be looking at the long wheelbase A8 L, which means an even more spacious environment. Power comes from a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 with 240 horsepower and 428 ft-lbs of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 29 mpg overall. Pricing starts at $85,100.
Among compact luxury crossovers, Audi’s handsome Q5 is one of the nicest examples of the genre. You’ll find a welcoming interior treatment, a comfortable ride, capable handling, and a wealth of contemporary comfort and convenience features. Power comes from a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 with 240 horsepower and 428 ft-lbs of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 27 mpg overall. Pricing starts at $47,500.
Audi’s seven-passenger Q7 is the marque’s foray into the full-size SUV category. While the company has done little to update the model since its introduction, the Q7 does benefit from having been so good in the first place. Its handling is quite remarkable for its size, and luxury features abound. Power comes from a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 with 240 horsepower and 406 ft-lbs of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 22 mpg overall. Pricing starts at $53,400.
BMW’s 328d is offered in four-door sedan and wagon formats. While BMW's turbocharged diesels lack the high-winding characteristics of their gasoline counterparts, they more than make up for it with abundant low-end torque. The 328d uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder, good for 180 horsepower and 280 ft-lbs of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 37 mpg overall for the sedan. With all-wheel drive, the wagon and the sedan return an estimated 35 miles per gallon. Pricing starts at $39,000 for the sedan, and $43,450 for the wagon.
BMW’s 5 Series sedans enjoy benchmark status. Offered with both rear- and all-wheel drive diesel powertrains, everything people love about the gasoline-fired 5 Series models translates rather well to the diesel car. An awe-inspiring 413 ft-lbs of torque spins out of the 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine – along with 255 horsepower. Fuel economy is rated at 30 mpg overall, regardless of powertrain. Pricing starts at $57,100.
The BMW 7 Series pairs diesel power with a long wheelbase, all-wheel drive, a palatial luxury quotient, and well above average driving attributes. The highly regarded full-size BMW 740Ld xDrive goes like sports sedan, but still offers the comfort of a flagship luxury model. Power comes from a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine with 255 horsepower and an eye-opening 413 ft-lbs of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 26 mpg overall. Pricing starts at $82,500.
Got your heart set on a luxurious compact crossover, but performance, handling, and strong fuel economy are key on your list of desired attributes? You’re looking for the BMW X3 xDrive28d. Yes, its 180 horsepower sounds tame, but its 280 ft-lbs of torque give you all the pull you need. The 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four also delivers an estimated combined rating of 30 miles per gallon. Go ahead, have some cake. And, it’s OK, you can eat it too. Pricing starts at $42,000.